This is the holiday season but it is also the season for white truffles. As the weather turns colder one can dream of Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo and il tartufo bianco of Alba on pasta, risotto and eggs. Sometimes the dream becomes a reality. On Tuesday afternoon, a friend called and asked if I was free Thursday night. When I said yes, he invited me to join him and two friends for the white truffle gala dinner at SD26 in NYC. Of course I accepted!
Beni di Batasiolo, a wine producer from Piedmont whose wines I know and like would supply the wines. It promised to be a very memorable evening.
The main dining room was filled to capacity. Tony May and his daughter Marisa May, the restaurant owners, graciously welcomed the guests.
The hors d’oeuvres were served at the table and included robiola cheese and mushrooms on toast, crostini with cured lard and anchovy (a favorite), and tartra Piemontese with crispy sage and paddlefish caviar on olive oil potato purèe
The wine was the Gavi del Comune di Gavi “Granee” DOCG 2012 100% Cortese. The vineyards are at 100/200 meters and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. They use the Guyot system modified into small arches. There is soft pressing with static decanting, and the alcoholic fermentation is under strict temperature control. The wine is bottled after malolactic fermentation. The wine has aromas of white flowers with hints of white peaches, citrus and good acidity which made it go very well with all the hors d’oeuvres.
Each table of diners received a very large white truffle placed on the table with a truffle cutter. The truffle was ours to grate on the next three courses. Tony May spoke about the truffles and showed us how to grate it. Every one covered their dishes with the truffle, but it was so big that there was some left over and each of us took some home. Michele made pasta with the truffle the next evening.
The first course was Fassone beef crudo with fresh porcini and olio extra virgine novello served with the Dolcetto d’Alba 2011 “Bricco di Vergne,” 100% Dolcetto. The vineyard is located between the towns of La Morra and Barolo, on very steep slopes facing southwest at 480 meters. The soil has layers of sand and sandstone, which lightens the structure of the mainly marly soil. Grapes are harvested by hand around the last week in September. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place with maceration on the skins between 8 to 10 days. This is an elegant, well balanced fruity wine with a lot of red fruit and a hint of cherries that worked very well with this dish.
The menu said Sunchokes and Potato Gratin with young Fontina and chives, but what arrived was toast with melted Fontina topped with a poached egg. The warmth of the egg brought out the aroma of the truffles we shaved on top. It was wonderful–I just love truffles and eggs.
We had this with the Barbera D’Alba “Sovrana” 2011, 100% Barbera. The vineyards are in Barolo and La Morra at 400/450 meters, facing south and southwest in the area that is usually reserved for Nebbiolo.
It is calcareous soil rich in potassium and the vines are 55 years old. The excellent position and the age of the vines along with the soil makes it a Barbera with unique qualities that can age. The harvest took place on Oct 2nd. Alcoholic fermentation with maceration on the skins is in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days. In the spring the wine is transferred into oak barrels (second passage) where it matures for 12/15 months. After careful sampling the wine is assembled into the final product. The wine remains in bottle for 8/10 months before release. This is a Barbera with good structure, tannin, fruit and acidity and it will age.
The next course was the Toma Piemontese filled ravioli del plin, with toasted hazelnuts and sage, a classic Piemontese dish. This was a perfect combination with the Barbaresco DOCG 20010 made from 100% Nebbiolo. The area of production is the semi-circle of hills surrounding the three ancient villages of Barbaresco, Nieve and Treiso and part of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a tiny village overlooking the Tanaro River. Harvesting takes place from Oct 10 to 20. Alcoholic fermentation takes place along with long maceration on the skins in stainless steel. The wine is aged for one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle. This is a very traditional Barbaresco and it was perfect with this dish.
Last but not least there was pan-seared saddle of venison, barbera wine infused pear, and foie gras. Two Barolo’s were served with this dish. The Barolo DOCG “Vigneto Boscareto” 2003 made from 100% Nebbiolo in its subvarities: Michet, Lampia and Rosè from the village of Serralunga. The soil is marl composed of limestone and clay, intermingled with sand. The terrain is hilly and the vineyard faces south/southwest at 300 to 400 meters. There are 3,700 vines per hectare and the average age of the vines is 25 years. The training system is classic guyot modified with arch canes. Harvesting of the grapes takes place the last week in October. There is traditional red wine fermentation with maceration on the skins for 10 to 15 days. After fermentation the wine is aged in traditional oak casks for at least two years and one year in bottle before release. 2003 was a very hot vintage but this wine was showing well. There were hints of ripe fruit, plums, spice, figs and tea.
Barolo “ Corda della Briccolina” 1996 100% Nebbiolo from the three sub varieties. The vineyard is facing southwest which in this area it is called a vigneto di mezzogiorno. The soil is calcareous marl rich in limestone and calcium carbonate. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place followed by 15 days of maceration then a decanting process. The wine is aged for at least two years in barriques and one year in bottle before release. 1996 was an excellent vintage for Barolo. This wine has aromas and flavors of red berries with hints of cedar, spice, licorice and a touch of vanilla.
For dessert there was a “Domori” Dark Chocolate Tortino and white truffle gelato. Moscato D’Asti “Bosc D’la Rei” 2012, made from100% Moscato Bianco accompanied the dessert. The grapes are grown in soil that is marly and calcareous and the terrain is hilly. The exposure is northwest, there are 3,500 plants per hectare and the vineyard is at 380 to 410 meters. Average age of the vines is 15 years. The training system is guyot modified into small arches. Harvesting is by hand the last week of September. A soft pressing of the grapes takes place and the juice is cooled to 0°C. and stored in refrigerated vats. Fermentation (partially fermented with abundant residual sugar) begins a month before bottling. It is a very slow process and the alcohol reaches 5.5% by volume. This is an elegant aromatic dessert wine with hints of overripe fruit.
The Executive Chef at SD26 is Matteo Bergamini
The event and dinner exceeded my every expectation!