March 18, 2011

Lodovico with Lodovico

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I was fortunate enough to dine with Marchese Lodovico Antinori again tonight, at a dinner organized by Mayfair Fine Wines.  I last dined with Lodovico a year ago in a more intimate setting, where I really got to know the man behind the wines.  The group was slightly larger tonight at Pierre, which gave me a chance to meet a few more wine lovers.

I've tasted all of Lodovico's wines from his new projects after Ornellaia, but this was a rare occasion to taste virtually all of them in one sitting, spanning the globe from New Zealand to Hungary and of course Italy.  This was pretty exciting for me.

Can I resist any butter from Bordier, whether unsalted or smoked?  Hell no!  I pretty much inhaled the entire cone of smoked butter... plus some of the unsalted... and I was definitely restraining myself!

2008 Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc - nose of minerals, a little pipi de chat, toasty and a bit of muscat.  Fairly ripe on the palate with good acidity balance.  As always, a very refreshing drink.

Duck liver foie gras, glazed pigeon fillets, marmelade of apple and shallots with cinnamon; gellified infusion of artichoke with star anise; tree tomato iced pulp - this was a very busy dish, and to be honest perhaps a little too busy for me.  There were many, many different flavors and each mouthful contained a different combination.  The foie was presented as thin slivers, much like the pigeon.  The marmalade on top got me a mouthful of shallots... yum.  The tomato ice on top was very cool.

2007 Il Pino di Biserno - very ripe and jammy, fruity, cassis, herbs, sweet and almost bubblegum.  Lots of concentration here.  This wine was showing beautifully tonight, and the display of opulence meant it was probably drinking best among all the reds.

Sole fish cooked in the pan with butter then dried; watercress salad, leek stalks, green pepper.  Mariniere of razor clams with seaweed - the first image that came to my mind when I read "sole cooked in the plan with butter" was sole meunière, but of course you wouldn't find something so classic in Pierre Gagnaire's kitchen...  This was very, very good.  The sauce was a little creamy with good acidity at the same time.  Yummy sole, and the razor clams were good, too.  Wonderful combination of flavors.

2007 Biserno - concentrated, more reserved than Il Pino, minty, smoky, toffee, and much later sweet coconut butter.  Very silky tannins but they are definitely there.  Nice, long finish.

Around French milk calf: 
End of veal loin with lime and honey, Vichy carrots - sooo yummy.  I'm sure the carrots were already sweet enough, but the honey and lime made it even better.

Tenderloin, caper/lemon/Cremona mustard like a relish: spring onions, button mushrooms - the tenderloin was good but not so interesting for me.

2007 Lodovico - I had the privilege of tasting this wine with Lodovico before its release last year.  At the time Lodovico asked me not to name it in the blog, so I called it a "mystery wine".  I was totally blown away, and the wine was so young back then!  Tonight the nose was a bit ripe, concentrated and alcoholic.  But it was more muted and definitely not as open.  A second batch was opened during dinner, which was smoky and alcoholic.  Lodovico was disappointed in Lodovico - pun fully intended - but there's always going to be bottle variation...  I'm not worried, though... since I've got bottles stashed away that I'll wait to open over the next decade or more.

Nicolas usually sends out a selection of desserts, and tonight there were four:

This was a take on Asian sago rice, with coconut milk, vanilla, lychees, watermelon, watermelon sorbet and coconut jelly.

The cappuccino foam was milky and yummy.

The lemon foam was very lovely, too... as were the wild berries.

Finally, some very rich chocolate to finish off.

2000 Baron Bornemisza Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos - honey, apricot, marmalade, plastic, dates, and concentrated grapes.  Very sweet as expected, since this was a 6 puttonyos.

I had a wonderful time.  Conversation with Lodovico is always interesting, as he's extremely well-traveled, has very diverse interests and knows just about everybody.  He's also had years of wine making experience driven by his passion, and it definitely comes through in the wines.  Do I sound like a groupie going gaga over an idol?  Perhaps I am... but is that so bad?

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