Monday, November 18, 2013

Taste of Italy - Gala Italian Wine Dinner

Taste of Italy - Gala Italian Wine Dinner

This draft of my wine experience review is a work in progress... check back again for updates...

Dr. Dan hosted our latest wine dinner extravaganza and selected an Italian theme. Despite the fact that none of us focus on Italian wines in our collections, we were able to assemble a extensive flight including some extraordinary top rated vintage labels.

The wine collection included selections of Chianti, Barolo, Brunello de Montalcino, Amarone, Bolgheri Superiore and Super Tuscans. Top ranked and well known producers' labels included Antinori Guado Al Tasso, Ornellaia, Tignanello, Banfi, Nippozano, Villa Massetti and Poderi.

Prior to dinner Dan offered a spectacular flight of top ranked Champagnes and sparkling wine including Moet Chandon Dom Perignon, Piper Heidsieck Millésimé, Veuve Doussot and Sea Smoke Sea Spray.

To accompany the whites he served a broad array of appetizers - Shrimp Scampi. Chicken Piccata, Antipasto Platter ( Assorted salami, panchetta, meats, cheeses, artichokes, roasted peppers,  olives), tapenade, vegetable tray, Italian bread, and Capresse Salad.

Dan and Linda prepared five major courses including main course of spaghetti with 3 meat red sauce , Cioppino (fish stew) served over fettuccini, Tortellini served with a pesto sauce, green beans with slice almonds and garlic cheese bread..

After dinner there was a broad selection of deserts including Terri's mandarin orange cake, Linda's homemade chocolate almond truffles, and a broad selection of chocolates, caramels and fresh fruits.

Finally, to close the evening, Dan serve a flight of rare single malt Irish and Scotch whiskeys including:

Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey Blend Aged and Released in 2004 
Middleton's Legacy Barry Crocker Signature Release
Bushmill's 10 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whiskey

The Champagne / Sparkling Wine Flight - 

2004 Veuve Doussot Champagne Memory Cuvée Guy Joly

Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon Champagne, Epernay France 2002

We visited the temple of Champagne, Moët & Chandon during our Champagne Wine Experience in 2006. It was one of our highlights of the trip.

 Even in blind tasting I would've picked this out as my favorite. It was extremely vibrant and expressive with a rich full body. Normally, I don't have a lot of discrimination from one champagne to another. But then again, rarely if ever have I tasted a flight of such exceptional Champagnes.
RM 94 points. 

The 2002 is the 2nd Highest Rated Dom Perignon ever by Wine Advocate affording it a 96 rating.

The Ladies
Piper-Heidsieck  "Millésimé" Brut Champagne France, 2002

This was another stop on our Champagne wine experience 2006.  This is a classic vintage release label from this premier producer.

Rich, complex yet delicately elegant - fresh acidity with lively fruit, pear, nut and smoke with a hint of honey on the crisp clean finish. 
RM 93 points. 
Wine Spectator rated this 95 points.

NV Veuve Doussot Champagne L by VD

Sea Smoke "Sea Spray" Santa Rita Hills, Central Coast, California, Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine 2011 

A challenging tasting with so many great selections .... is it heresy to say this Californian may have been the consensus favorite against such top rated Champagnes?


The white flight - 

With the seafood cioppino Dan served two premium chardonnays - one a classic California Sonoma and one a Burgundian style Napa Carneros.

Ovation Joseph Phelps Freestone Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2007

Fantesca Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay 2005

I picked this up from the winery as part of my allocation that I shared with Dan. This chardonnay was the art work of legendary Nils Venge in collaboration with son Kirk.


The OTBN Crew - Lyle, Dan, Bill, Ernie, Rick

The red flights - 

Flight one ... 

Marchesi de' Frescobaldi Chianti Rùfina Nipozzano Riserva 2007

Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico 2007 

From Lyle's cellar, this was rated 92 points by Wine Spectator. 

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino 2000

From Lyle's cellar, this hearty Brunello showed very well with the red meat sauce and hearty pastas.

Inky purple colored, medium-full bodied, black cherry fruit flavors gave way to earthy leather with hint of cassis and violets on a moderate finish.
RM 90 points.

I brought these two classics from my cellar, a '97 and a '99 vintage wine that both received huge ratings and rankings upon release. I found the Tignanello to be my second favorite of the evening following the Ornellaia's.

The Guado Al Tasso was much lighter than I remember from earlier tastings, but then such comparison tastings such as tonight help calibrate wines and put them into perspective relative to their peers - hence the fun of a comparison tasting.

Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT, Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT 1999

Sangiovese based blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Franc.

Deep Ruby colored, huge floral bouquet, medium-full bodied, forward bright vibrant mouthful of black cherry predominates with notes of currant, spice, and hints of tobacco and leather on a lingering silky tannin finish.

RM 92 points.

Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Antinori) Bolgheri Superiore, Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Belvedere 1997

One of the 'Super Tuscans' that are largely Bordeaux varietals. We acquired this wine upon release back in '99 when it received huge ratings from all the reviews including a 96 points from WS who chose it #12 out of the WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 for 2000. This was the top label of the Guado Al Tasso line-up.

Guado al Tasso, means literally "Badger's Ford", named for a common sight at the estate of Tenuta Guado al Tasso, Bolgheri, where it is produced.

Tenuta Guado al Tasso is located 60 miles southwest of Florence, near the medieval village of Bolgheri, in an area known as the Maremma. The 2,200 acre estate stretches up from the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea to the hills. In addition to extensive vineyards, the estate also grows wheat, corn, sunflowers, tomatoes and olive trees. The Guado al Tasso label was first produced in 1990 with  successive vintages in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996 and this 1997. All the vintages were produced in limited quantities.

Winemaker's notes - "Intensely fruity, more of cherry than cassis, with hints of toast, coffee and dark chocolate. Finely structured and complex; balanced, with soft tannins and a lingering finish. Displays unmistakable varietal flavor while retaining strong regional character."
Alcohol : 13,5% Vol. 

Deep Ruby colored, medium bodied, This wine was much lighter and more subdued than I expected, was soft, smooth and polished with subdued berry fruits, hints of cassis, tea and toast on a moderate soft tannin finish. 
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Syrah
RM 90 points.

Arcanum Il Fauno Toscana IGT 2007

My two favorite wines of the evening were these two big powerful classics, Ornellaia - the 02 from Bill's cellar and the '09 brought by Ernie.

The 2009 may have been the biggest and most complex wine of the evening but it was too young to reveal its full majesty. The 2002 was more approachable and showed more elegance and polish having had an extra five years to settle itself. No doubt the '09 will present itself thusly in the years to come. Tonight, the '02 was my favorite of the flight.

These wines stood up well along with the hearty cheesy pasta and the beef cubes in the sausage, meatball and meat stew with red meat sauce. They begged for a big juicy beef-steak and were over-powering to much of the cuisine but wonderful none-the-less.

Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia, Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Superiore 2009

Dark inky colored, full bodied, tightly wound, full firm, concentrated black fruits, black currant, blackberry, and plum with hints of  tea and dark chocolate with a long lingering structured tannin finish.
RM 92 points. 

Tenuta dell' Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia, Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Superiore 2002

Between the 2002 and the 2009 wines tasted, although the lesser rated and cited to have the lesser aging potential, this 2002 was the wine most ready to drink now and was far more expressive and expansive of the two. Garnet colored, full bodied, complex, smooth and elegant with black berry fruits, tone of mocha and cola with layer of leather, coffee and olive tapenade turning to smooth soft tannins on the finish. Tasted almost like a mature Bordeaux.
RM 93 points.

Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo Costa Grimaldi 2000

Villa Mattielli Amarone della Valpolicella 2009

Lacking the big body and complexity of many Amarone, ruby colored, medium bodied, still has that signature raisin and fig tones with hints of anise, cola, vanilla and nut on a modest tannin finish. 

RM 87

Serafini & Vidotto Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008