November 25, 2010

Italian wines and white truffles

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I met up with some fellow wine lovers tonight for dinner at Otto e Mezzo.  After my recent trip to Burgundy I was suffering from OD on wines from the region, so we settled on bringing  Italian wines for the evening.  Of course, someone insisted on bringing wines from her favorite regions - which are not in Italy - and they turned out to be the best wines of the evening.

The amuse bouche was almost like a meat and cheese pastry roll, served over a thin slice of ham.

Egg in raviolo, ricotta cheese and spinach, hazelnut butter and white truffle - this was a classic from Chef Bombana's days at Toscana. Made using Japanese Taiyoran eggs (太陽卵), the orange-colored yolk is clearly distinguishable.  Chef Bombana came and gave us very generous shavings of white truffle.  The fragrance of the truffles is just amazing.  Throughout the evening as diners in the restaurant are served their truffle courses, the lovely scent would be floating my way again and again.  I was tempted to get the traditional risotto or fettucine, but opted for something that took us less stomach space...  The combination of the egg yolk, spinach and cheese was delicious.

Colorado rack of lamb, artichoke purée, black olive and lamb jus - the last time I had this was 5 months ago, and I just couldn't resist the temptation to have it again.  It was soooooo goooood...  The meat was pink, tender and juicy.  There was delicious lamb fat around the edges, which were perfectly charred and smoky.  As usual I picked up the bones to strip them of any leftover meat, but I noticed a distinct look of disapproval from one of my fellow diners...  Well, I'm uncouth like that.  I gnaw on my bones when I find them delicious, and I'm not giving that up for anyone.

Chocolate Mille-feuille, pistachio cream and mandarin sorbet - once again I picked this dessert because of the mandarin sorbet.  It was just really, really good... with bits of mandarin rind confit at the bottom with the cream.  Millefeuille was excellent, too.

There was a lot of wine... so much that I - once again - left "early" as I could not finish everything in the glasses in front of me.  9 bottles was a lot for the 6 us of, methinks...

Jacques Selosse V.O. - there isn't anything that Anselme Selosse makes that I don't like.  This had a yeasty, sweet caramel nose.  A lively and lovely wine.  I could drink this all day...

2007 Clos des Papes - nose was very alcoholic and sharp, metallic, sweet with tropical fruits like lychee.  Really hot and sweet on the palate.  A little too much for me.  Probably needs another 10 years to soften up.

1985 Gaja Darmagi - classic Bordeaux-blend nose, with lots of grass, smoke, a little brett, mint and green peppers.  Medium acidity.

1985 Giuseppe Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore - this was not decanted, and smelled a little "dusty".  Huge toasty and smoky nose with grilled corn, black pepper, green and vegetal.  There was sweet fruit underneath but took some time to reveal itself.

1997 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche - I joked that I was "Burg'ed out" and wouldn't be drinking anything from Burgundy this evening, but I got a pour from the waiter anyway...  Sweet, very floral, violet, with ripe fruit, game meat, leather and bacon fat.  Soft and lovely.  What an amazing wine!  Certainly my favorite wine tonight.

1997 Lamborghini Campoleone - I've been waiting to open this bottle for a long, long time, and finally had the occasion to do so.  Initially I thought the nose was very muted while my friends all thought the nose was open and lovely.  There were notes of mint, a bit of smoke and a hint of licorice.  Very concentrated on the palate and surprisingly tannic.  My second pour ended up being spilled on the tablecloth, and my third pour was much better.  Nose was much more open with additional notes of herbs and coffee grounds.  This is an interesting blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.

1997 Soldera Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - sweet and clean, with a little herbs at first.  Later on overripe honeydew notes emerged, almost turning into turpentine and very alcoholic.  A little more tannic than one would expect from the color of the wine.  Also needs another 10 years of cellaring.

2004 Gaja Camarcanda - sweet and ripe fruit, mint, a bit smoky, honeydew, sharp and alcoholic, herbs and pine needle.  Pretty tannic as the wine is still young.

2005 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocce del Falletto di Serralunga d'Alba - alcoholic and hot, a hint of medicine, herbs and smoke.  Just a little too young to drink now.

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