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Rahsaan

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WTN: Dinner: Southern Italy on Chestnut Street

by Rahsaan » Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:06 pm

If it’s Monday night it must be dinner with Larry Stein, and the Massachusetts Visitors Thor and Theresa, at A16, a very fine and very delicious place specializing in Southern Italian food with a California twist, and we ate a lovely lovely meal.

(Whether it was lovelier than the Combined Physical Attributes of the waiter and the sommeliere, you’ll have to ask my companions, because serious Me was much too much focused on my plate and glass…)

The first wine for thirst slaking and asparagus and walnut crema matching was the 2002 Dettori Vermentino Bianco, which was an unfiltered beauty of savory cloudy lemon yellow fruits, balanced off by a crisp toasty edge, and then the real winning element for me was the cloudy spongy texture. Well worth drinking for a few glasses to start the meal.

Now A16 caters to quite a respectable clientele, so when the Distinguished Gentleman and his Two Lovely Ladies at the next table could not finish their 2002 Marcassin, ‘Zio Tony Ranch’, Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, they offered some to us because we seemed like such Wine Loving people. Of course you can imagine the levels of inner snickering, public politeness, and gratefulness all at the same time, although our table was sort-of split down the middle, with Theresa and Larry finding it more appealing than they expected, Thor finding it absolutely repugnant, and of course Serious and Focused Balanced-Perspective Me found it to have nice elegant and crystal clear classy acidity, but not really my flavor profile of choice, whether due to the oak or the inherent chardonnay profile, I couldn’t tell, because as I blurted out “How often do you actually drink Chardonnay? It’s hard to remember what the damned stuff should taste like” until I was hushed in order to be polite to our Distinguish Gentleman.

Plus, he wouldn’t stop pouring and now was offering us the 2003 DeConciliis ‘Naima’, Prignano Cilento, Paestum, 100% aglianico, and 100% frightening sweet red hot tannins. Whoah. Please make it stop.

Luckily we had our own bottle of 2002 Argiolas, ‘Korem’, Isola dei Nuraghi which I found to be quite delicious with its dusty ashy charcoal fruits that were a bit tannic at first but then integrated with air into a very pleasing elegant and firm drop of wine.

At this point we were debating a final bottle, and the sommeliere suggested a late-harvest primitivo from Puglia, which sent me into momentary conniption fits and I had to calm myself with thoughts of the refreshing Thévenet Morgon I had waiting at home, but, the crowd wanted the wine, and I was game to go along, so the 1994 Vinicola Savese, Primitivo di Manduria was opened, poured, and enjoyed by all for its sweet hot and thick self, but with juicy crisp acidity underneath as well. I called it fine fun-ish but simple, Thor claimed he could enjoy it now but only because it’s mellowed with age, Larry said “When South of Rome, do as those South of Rome”, and with that we’re off into the night…

Good times.

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