TN: Bob Ross
Janet, Richard and I had dinner last night to celebrate Richard's 50th birthday. The venue was Scalini Fedeli in Chatham, New Jersey.
A delightful shrimp amuse bouchee started us off. Our meal choices: Rigatoni with Veal Shank Ragu and Tuna on Mash of Potatoes and Carrots; Egg Yolk Ravioli stuffed with Rigotta and Spinach and Monkfish with a medley of Vegetables; Roasted Tiger Shrimp and Chicken Breast with Vegetables. Roasted Pear and Apple with Cinamon Ice Cream and Fresh Berries with Zabaglione. Excellent Cappuccino. Every dish was delicious, lightly seasoned, melting smooth. The restaurant showed well last night, still deserving of its high rating among New Jersey diners.
To celebrate we ordered a bottle of the 2000 Gaja Barbaresco. Barbaresco is Richard's favorite wine, and he had never had a Gaja, one of Janet's and my favorite Italian wine makers. None of us finished our glasses.
The wine looked beautiful -- glistening red color, medium hue, a perfect color for the high ceilings and subdued colors of Scalini Fedeli. Perfection ended there.
The aroma was very subdued, with hints of violets and tar and earth and mushrooms; the faint promise of the aroma was not enhanced on the palate; the wine lacked attack, definable tannins and depth. There was a bit of acidity, but little fruit, and the finish was dull and uninspired. I would like to say it was closed down, but it lacked that solid bit of unevolved flavor that you believe will open up over time and release all of the wonderful flavors and aromas that Gaja is famous for.
The sommelier agreed that there were no obvious flaws -- but that the wine was without life and not what it really should have been. We received a small refund, but unless there is an obvious flaw of some sort, we are uncomfortable returning a wine we chose on our own from a list that is just below the standard we expect. And perhaps it was just too young -- I know that commentators have been all over the lot on this wine generally, and also on its aging peak. Based on this bottle, the peak is not now. 2*.