Food, Wine & Friends Page 276
Having just returned from Europe, I was interested to taste a
couple of potentially interesting wines from two different producers I'd
We contacted some eaters and drinkers and set about trying these wines.
We began the evening with some of Sergio Germano's marvelous bottle fermented
bubbly called Rosanna.
The wine is named after Sergio's Mom, Rosanna. It's
Nebbiolo from vineyards near his winery in Serralunga and the base wine is
mostly fermented in stainless steel, with a small percentage of the juice
fermented in wood (just to give it a shade more complexity).
The wine has nice aromatics...vaguely yeasty, but mostly featuring red fruit
It's crisp and quite dry...the tricky part of making such a wine is avoiding
picking up tannin from the grape skins, lest you have a really aggressive,
coarse sparkling wine.
Sergio has become a master with bubbly...the wine is beautifully balanced,
This little fellow was hoping to have a slurp of bubbles...
Our glasses were emptied fairly rapidly with such a lovely, crisp bubbly...so
Monica took care of second pours.
JP brought an unusual bottle of wine from one of his
It's from the winery of Ličen Marjan in the town of Branik, Slovenia.
This is about an hour drive southeast from the big Friuli city of Udine.
The grape is "Zelen," an indigenous grape variety from the Vipava
Valley, as we understand it.
The grape had nearly died out and it's making a comeback, thanks to some
enterprising and hard-working Slovenian vintners.
The name "Zelen" is the Slovenian word for "green."
It's said the wine, if unfiltered, can have a greenish hue to it.
Since tasting this, in doing a bit of research, the variety has been described
as showing notes reminiscent of cucumber, green apple, gunpowder green tea,
floral, lemon, peach, herbal (rosemary, thyme), etc.
This bottle had a bit of thyme, in fact, and I could perhaps see some tea-like
elements with a faintly woodsy note.
As everyone sat down, we had a small souvenir from my little 2015 Euro-Adventure
And then we opened the first magnum...
Drautz-Able 1999 Spatlese Riesling (Trocken).
We prepared a salad featuring some smoked trout...
The Riesling had a beautiful nose. It was nicely developed, but still
And it was dry, so it paired handsomely with the salad (mixed greens, arugula,
shaved fennel, tangerines, tomato and a bit of mildly salty smoked trout).
We had a great visit at Drautz-Able in March and were very impressed by the
range of wines being made their by a young, soon-to-be-married couple.
Someone grabbed my camera and started snapping away...
We had a pasta course next, so Connie opened Barbaresco from
two Rocca wineries:
BRUNO ROCCA 2009
ALBINO ROCCA 2010
"Damn! The Brewers lost again!"
(Baseball season just began its 2015 campaign...hope springs eternal, as they
The Barbaresco wines were both quite good.
The 2010 from Albino Rocca was the more traditionally-styled wine. Nice
fruit and a mildly earthy tone...medium-bodied and moderately tannic. It's
young and will do well with another five to ten years of cellaring, but it was
good in its youth.
A bit more internationally-styled (read that as
"oaky") was the Bruno Rocca 2009 Barbaresco.
This displayed some dark fruit fragrances and flavors and the oak was present,
but not overwhelming.
This was rather showy and the bottle was emptied rather quickly, so I suppose
the guests "voted" their approval.
The pasta was filled with ground beef and onions...a simple tomato sauce with
tiny little mushrooms...very nice!
Our little pal expressed his interest in the pasta.
Or maybe he wanted to sniff the Barbaresco?
Next we had a Brasato al Nebbiolo (they bill is as "Brasato al Barolo"
on menus in Piemonte, but I'd be surprised if any chef actually uses Barolo)...
In addition to the wine used to "season" the beef, there's a bit of
fresh rosemary, onions, carrots and the je ne sais quoi
is a stick of cinnamon.
The contorno is a plate of mixed vegetables, featuring Cardoni, Zucchini,
Red peppers, Portabellas and Artichoke Hearts...
Then we needed to decant the magnum of 1998 CASCINA FONTANA BAROLO, one of the
centerpieces of the evening.
The bottle was fresh out of the Fontana cellars in Piemonte, carried back in our
luggage for this occasion.
As JP pours the Barolo, Ralph is praying the wine is good.
Monica, of course, worked this past harvest in Barolo and so she was especially
anxious to taste a good 1998.
Ralph pours the 2007 Bonny Doon "Le Cigare Volant" which JP brought.
The wine showed a dark cocoa note as if there was a wood component here.
We liked the dark cherry and mild brown spice notes. It was medium-full to
full-bodied and seemed like it was reasonably close to its peak.
It paired well with the beef...
I do not recall what was so amusing to these two...
This little fellow knew there was something potentially good to eat on the table
so he got ready for a little treat.
A big "GRAZIE" to our friend Mario Fontana for providing this
wonderful magnum of Barolo.
Fontana is a smallish cellar near Monforte d'Alba in the little village called
He makes one of the best Barolos you've never heard of.
A cousin of Maria Teresa Mascarello, he uses Uncle Bartolo's recipe of blending
fruit from three vineyard sites to produce a wine of greater complexity than
most single vineyard "cru" wines.
The 1998 vintage was overlooked by most, coming on the heels of the warm 1997
vintage and the classic, muscular 1996 harvest.
Today, though, many of the 1998s are hitting their stride, still young, but
opening nicely and showing a level of complexity few expected when the wines
first hit the market.
This was a wonderful bottle, still with nice fruit and earthy Barolo tones.
It can certainly live many more years.
Naturally my glass was emptied on a regular basis.
"That beef was pretty good, Uncle!"
Monica poured another bottle she and JP brought...a "Mystery Red."
This was light like a Pinot Noir, but not as complex.
Someone guessed it to be Gamay...
...A good guess, I thought, but I suggested it might be Valdiguie.
The next bottle was not much of a mystery, though...quite
It's a Moscato di Barolo.
The vineyards are in the Barolo sub-region of Serralunga and
the main reason Moscato can be grown there is that the large winery of
Fontanafredda has made Moscato forever.
When they were drawing up the delimited area for the rules and regulations of
"Moscato d'Asti," Serralunga, where Fontanafredda is situated, was
Our friends at the Massolino winery have some Moscato and produce this
magnificently fruity, mildly fizzy version.
I tried making a Hazelnut Torta and included a bit of chocolate in it...
This turned out to be wonderfully aromatic...here I gilded the lily with some
I also made a batch of Vanilla Gelato to pair with this...
And we had some fresh raspberries to further adorn this
The little fellow wanted to see if this batch of Gelato was a
good as the previous batch.
He said it was.
And with that, we adjourned the proceedings.
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