My wife and I were in Torino at the end of a trip to Piedmont recently to celebrate 20 years of marriage together. I had emailed Luca M. hoping he might have the chance to meet when we were in Italy, but he was off in Korea during the first half of our visit. He mentioned the outside chance of getting together with us in Torino when he returned. Things worked out, mainly due to the kindness of Luca's friend Dario and his gracious wife Alessandra, who hosted a wonderful evening in their beautiful home in Torino.
FROZZA Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Sur-Lie Metodo Ancestrale quite frothy and persistent bubbles, floral notes, a touch of saline minerals, bergamot, bone dry without any bitterness and ultimately very refreshing. A great aperitif and a nice start to the evening.
Antipasto was a delicious pate made from fresh tuna, and a salami from Tuscany, with some focaccia and grissini.
CORBON Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru Avize Cuvée Prestige This was the most basic bottle from Corbon. Slightly oxidized nose of nuts and baked bread, light but complex in the mouth, chalky green apples, brisk and tense acids. I thought this was a very fine blanc de blanc, but Luca thought there was a problem with the cork and the wine was more advanced than it should be. It is quite a shame this fine RM champagne doesn't make it to the US. When I was told this was purchased for 8 Euros, I wanted to cry.
The next two wines were served with agnolotti with butter and sage sauce.
THOMAS-LABAILLE Sancerre La Fleur du Galifard 2004 This is a bottle from Labaille that isn't imported into the US. Pale color, chalky minerals with a slight citrus flavors. This seemed nicely balanced and concentrated, with a long finish. Dario and Luca seemed to think this wasn't as good as prior bottles, I think they found it a touch sweet. To me it was the best 2004 Sancerre I've tried to date. My wife was a little incredulous when everyone dumped their glasses to move on to the next wine. I think this was her favorite white of the night. Great with the little raviolis.
GULFI Sicilia Igt Bianco Carjcanti 2000 My first carricante. Luca pointed out that this was still somewhat of an adolescent in terms of its aromatic development. It had a fascinating nose, wet stones, an herbal pine resin note and what seemed like the beginning of Riesling like petrol. Very fresh and crisp citrus flavors. Nice.
VIGNA TERRE ROSSE Colline Saluzzesi Pelaverga 2005 Luca was being a little sly here, stating this bottle was appropriate to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Despite trying, I could not get him to translate the meaning of pelavarga for my wife. This had a lovely floral and orange rind nose and was medium bodied, but very spicy on the finish. Luca mentioned pink peppercorns. Elegant wine with a funny name, though.
With a slow braised beef (the cut was similar to brisket) and a sauce of several varieties of olive oil pureed with the braising vegetables, Dario brought out some old Barolos.
MARCARINI Barolo Brunate 1976 Smelled musty from the start, some old leather, tobacco, earth, and was pure silk in the mouth. Unfortunately in the next few minutes the damp wet cardboard became dominant. What a shame. There was still a sense of a great wine lurking underneath the TCA.
ODDERO Barolo 1970 This was an old Barolo epiphany for me. The nose was complex and opened and evolved with time. Lots of earth, mushrooms, rose petals, curry spices and there was even some raspberry fruit remaining. Nice acidic structure with the tannins almost fully resolved. A great wine and perfect with the dinner. Easily the WOTN, and for me the best wine of my entire trip.
E Pira Barolo 1968 Light rose colored, the nose offered truffles, earth, walnut liquor but it was clearly over the hill.
With a chocolate torte with vanilla sauce there was an Ice wine from the Val d' Aosta that I didn't catch the name. It was brownish orange and smelled like sherry and tasted of carmel apples. The consensus was it was heat damaged or something.
RIZZI Piemonte Moscato Passito 2004 this was very nice with apricots, candied pears, flowers and some acidity to counter the sugar.
Thanks again to Luca for organizing this, and to Dario and his wife for hosting. The kindness and generosity of wine geeks never ceases to amaze me. A cherished evening to end a great trip.