Category Archives: Wine Dinners

6th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine: A Culinary Extravaganza

What would you choose for a special meal if you knew it was going to be your last? This is a question often debated amongst chefs when they relax with colleagues at the end of a long night of service. Continue reading

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Glorious Italians – Barolo, Brunello and Amarone

The single most fun wine event for me so far this year, as well as the most excessive (i.e., 26 wines amongst 10 people), was a mid-week dinner featuring a host of mature Italian wines—Barolos, Brunellos and Amarones—along with some tasty white Burgundies as starters. Continue reading

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A Raft of Mature Baroli & Barbareschi from Rare Wine Co.

The old Barolos (and Barbarescos—the other great manifestation of the Nebbiolo grape from the neighboring hills) that really excite me are the traditional style Barolos (or “Baroli,” if you want to use proper Italian). Most producers made them this way up through the early 1980s: long macerations (often up to a month); submerged cap fermentations; and long aging in neutral, older Slavonian oak casks (known as botti). Continue reading

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Stunning Barbarescos: Marchesi di Grésy’s Martinenga

This was another delicious and enlightening Rare Wine Company dinner, this time focused on wines from one particular, and very special, Barbaresco vineyard–Martinenga. Martinenga sits between the more famous vineyard sites of Asili and Rabaja. Rare Wine Company owner Mannie Berk collected the wines for this event for eight years. These are tremendously impressive Barbarescos, with delicious, detailed fruit; lacy texture and elegant structure. I found myself especially admiring the Camp Gros bottlings from year to year, but all of the wines were surprisingly consistent, with wonderful perfume and complex, detailed and delicious on the palate. Continue reading

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Mature Burgundies and Bordeaux at Gravity Wine Bar; Upcoming Donato Enoteca Italian Winetasting

Is there a better way to spend a Tuesday evening than sharing Burgundy and Bordeaux from great years with old buddies? I don’t think so. In honor of one of peripatetic, legendary wine offline host Jonathan Dinh’s rare visits our way these days, since he moved to Singapore a couple years ago, we gathered at Gravity for good food and some stellar wines from specific years. The Burgs hailed from the great Burgundy vintages of 1978, 1985, 1990, 1993 and 1996 (okay, so a ’91 crept in there too). The Bordeaux were products of the incredible years 1982 and 1989. And our lone Super Tuscan, which turned out to be my WOTN, was a 1993 Tignanello. Yeah, a memorable Tuesday alright. Continue reading

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More Mature Riojas 1961-1998: López de Heredia, Ygay, Cune, Bodegas Riojanas

We started with a flight of white Riojas. For me, at least, these complex, gorgeous, savory wines, in an intentionally oxidative style, nearly stole the show. After that flight, I very much want to try an entire lunch or dinner devoted to aged white Riojas as I think they would hold their own not only with salads and appetizers, but virtually any savory dish or protein a chef might throw at them. It would be fun, as well, to try to pair some of the savory spice-oriented tertiary flavors one gets from these wines, like cumin and saffron, with dishes featuring those ingredients. The whites we tasted came from López de Heredia–probably the most familiar and popular source of oxidative, ageworthy white Riojas in this country–and Marqués de Murrieta. Continue reading

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Great 1950s Cabernet from California’s Big Four: Beaulieu, Charles Krug, Inglenook & Louis Martini

I’ve written here a number of times about the delights of California Cabernets from the “good old days,” i.e., before the mid-’80s or so, when ripeness, alcohol levels and concentration started to rise significantly. Those reports, however, were on great Cabernets from the late sixties and early seventies–wines that had already established a reputation, from producers who had been at the making of serious Cabernet for a decade or two already. What made this tasting so special and astonishing was that these were great Cabs, that were appealing and well structured, from a time when a handful of pioneers in California were just starting to make serious Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals. Continue reading

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