Nicole and Travis arrived with a magnum of Dom Ruinart Champagne. It was too warm to drink so I put it in the freezer. They also brought a bottle of Grand Cru Chablis, which I immediately put into the refrigerator. Just to make the evening interesting, they also had a bottle of 1962 Vino Nobile. But what should we drink while we were waiting for the magnum to chill? Everyone seemed to want to start with Champagne and luckily I had a bottle on ice.
We started with two Blanc de Blancs champagnes that were very different .The first was a Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV from Ulysse Collin. The owner/ winemaker Olivier Collin would like to be 100% organic but at the moment he cannot afford it. Being practical, he uses a mixture of organic and conventional methods. He is also working toward becoming biodynamic. He only uses indigenous yeast and the alcoholic fermentation is as long as needed followed by malolatic fermentation. He uses very little dosage or no dosage at all. This is a very dry wine, with good acidity and white peach aromas and flavors. It was the perfect way to start the evening.
Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1993 Dom Ruinart (Magnum). Founded in 1729, this is the oldest Champagne house. In his book Champagne for Dummies, Ed Mc Carthy says about this Blanc de Blancs “… it is unique among the great blanc de blancs Champagnes in that it combines the elegance and complexity of the best villages of the Cote des Blancs (54%) with the power and depth of Chardonnay from Ruinart’s own Grand Cru villages on the Montagne de Reims (46%).” This is a medium bodied elegant wine, toasty and smoky and a pleasure to drink. Many feel that this is an underrated Champagne house in this country.
In the spring I had lunch with Antonio Michael Zacchero the owner of Carpineto and we drank the 1985 and 1988 Vino Nobile. The 1995 was aged over 2 years in oak and one more year in bottle before release. They only make a riserva and it is aged one more year then the law requires. This was a younger version of the two older wines. There were aromas and flavors of red fruit, hints of porcini mushrooms and a touch of spice. It is a wine that will last for many more years.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva Speciale 1962 Fattoria Bologna Buonsignori. Sheldon Wasserman in Italy’s Noble Red Wines states, “The few wines we’ve tasted from this producer have been outstanding wines of style and balance. They are, or were, the zone’s finest. Unfortunately, Sig. Bologna Buonsignori has retired, and the wine is no longer being produced. The last vintage he bottled was 1979.” I was looking forward to drinking this wine because it is no longer produced and I only had it once before at a dinner in my house with Wasserman which we matched steak. The wine was showing its age–all of the fruit was gone–but the wine was still alive. Once again, we ate it with a steak. Sangiovese can age very well and for me it is the only grape to drink with beefsteak.
Vino Rosso Toscano da Tavola 1982 Grato Grati 100% Sangiovese. This wine is aged in large Slavonian oak barrels. This wine is declassified Chianti Rufina. I have been drinking wine from this producer for a number of years now; in fact it is my favorite Chianti. The vintages I have had over the last few years have been the 1979, 1982,1988,1990,1995 and 1997(the last three are labeled Chianti Rufina) and have never found them wanting. To my great regret they are no longer available in NYC.
Chianti Classico Brolio Riserva 1964 DOC Casa Vinicolo Barone Ricasoli. Made from 75% Sangiovese, 12% Canaiolo, 8% Malvasia Bianco and 5% Colorino. The wine was aged for 3 years in large Slavonian oak barrels. The governo method (drying 10% of the grapes) was not used. I had a bottle of the 1958 in July and this was not showing as well but that was because the ‘58 was so good. We also drank this wine with the steak and it was also a perfect match.1964 may have been the best vintage of Chianti in that decade. I wrote to the estate and asked them if they had any information on this wine. I was told that all the records were lost during the time when they were owned by an English company.
Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos” 2007 Vincent Dauvissat. Last winter I was lucky enough to have had a bottle of the 1993. This is an outstanding wine from the best of the grand cru vineyards, a great producer and one of the best Chablis that I have ever tasted. The 2007 was a younger version of the 1993. The 2007 was drinking very well but would be better with a few more years of age. It went very well with the cheese course.