I always enjoy visiting my friends Louise and Ernie. Louise is an excellent cook, and Ernie has a great collection of wines but most importantly, we really enjoy their company. Conversation never seems to end and we always have a lot of fun.
On our most recent visit, the first two courses were prepared by their 17-year-old grandson, Steven, who has been interested in cooking and eating well since he was a young child. While Steven was in the kitchen preparing, we were in the living room drinking Champagne Roses Jeanne Blanc de Noirs 2008 Cédric Bouchard, a perfect way to begin the afternoon.
With Steven’s first course, sparkling fresh sushi with watermelon and yuzu, Ernie switched to the Champagne Roses Jeanne Blanc de Blancs 2008 Cédric Bouchard. The champagnes from this producer always impress me. I believe he only produces single vintage, single vineyard wines and that they are fermented and aged in stainless steel and the winemaker interferes in the process as little as possible. The bubbles were very small and it had a crisp, fresh taste with subtle citrus fruit flavors that would make it go very well with food. This producer also makes a Champagne from 100% Pinot Blanc! The fresh flavors of the sushi were a perfect compliment to this Champagne.
With the arrival of the red wines came our next course, pappardelle with black truffles. The pappardelle were cooked perfectly, coated with sweet butter and blanketed with shavings of aromatic truffles. We savored every bite and thanked Steven for the delicious starters, sad to see that he had leave for his volunteer job at a charity kitchen. Santenay Gravier 1985 Jessiaume Pere & Fils. 100% Pinot Noir. The vineyard is 4.76 hectares and the soil is hard limestone enriched with marl. The wine is aged for 12 to 15 months oak barrels, 20% new, then 5 months finishing is stainless steel bulk tanks before bottling.
It is a very elegant wine and very easy to drink.
Barbaresco 1978 Gaja 100% Nebbiolo was or next wine. According to Wasserman’s Italy’s Noble Red Wines, Angelo Gaja had been experimenting with barriques in 1969. By 1976 he was in charge of the winery and began to use new techniques such as, shorter fermentation (two weeks or less), and adding 40 to 70% whole berries to the fermentation must for fruitiness and to balance the tannins and oakieness from the barriques. The 1979’s were the first wines made entirely in the new style.
A few years ago at La Pizza Fresco in NYC I was fortunate to drink the 1978,1979 and 1982 side by side. There was a marked difference in the wines. The latter two wines were more concentrated and the oakieness had taken hold. They were a different style of wine.
This 1978 is a great wine showing very few signs of age, with black fruit aromas and flavors and hints of leather and balsamic. 1978 was a great vintage.
Our main course was a tender and juicy chicken breast stuffed with Fontina Valle d’Aosta prepared by Louise.
With it, we drank Barolo Riserva “Vigna Rionda Di Serralunga” 1982 Cantine Duca d’Asti, Michele Chiarlo. Made from 100% Nebbiolo (Lampia and Michet sub-varieties) Wasserman in Italy’s Noble Red Wines gives the vintage his highest rating: 4 stars. When it comes to Barolo I always felt this winery was underrated because it is better known for its Barbera and Moscato di Asti. This is classic traditional Barolo with dark fruit and hints of leather and tea showing no signs of aging. I do not believe they make this Barolo today.
Eselshaut Mussbacher Rieslaner Beerenauslese 1990 Muller Catoir. This was a very interesting dessert wine. It was not very sweet and had hints of apricot, peach and a touch of orange and went very well with the dessert, pear tart with sicilian orange mamelade and whipped cream.
Watch for Michele and I on WNYC channel 25 at SD26 for i-italy|tv Saturday at 11PM and Sunday at 1PM or catch us on line.