Gabrio Tosti di Valminuta dined and wined our gang of New York oenophiles on July 21st at his home in Tribeca. The multifaceted theme of the evening was white burgundy of Premier Cru status or better, and/or a 10yr + Tuscan single grape bottle of red. As with all dinners of our group, this one did not disappoint! We also had the pleasure of two new faces to our group, Piers Davies and Luigi Mercone. Both Piers and Luigi, showing excellent forms for their first event, stole the show for whites and reds respectively. Damn those newcomers!
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the reviews! The list below is ordered based on how we consumed the wines over the evening; summaries are provided at the end of each section for preference. But first, our intro wine of the evening was a light and airy Lambrusco
(Fontana dei Boschi, 2004). I’ve quickly discovered that a Lambrusco is about as refreshing a drink as one can have on a hot summer evening.
This pleasant white was brought by yours truly. It featured minerality, with honey and tropical notes, a pleasant nose, and no oxidation. There wasn’t a ton of acidity and it had a short finish.
It’s very drinkable now and likely will not last that much longer in the bouteille.
2) 2004 Raveneau Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons
I also brought this delicious white burgundy from the cult producer, Domaine Raveneau
. Our group described this wine as lemony, musty, very focused, with a sharp finish, like a rapier. Many reviewers have suggested decanting this bottle; we didn’t quite have the luxury of a full decant prior to consumption, but did manage to keep a sufficient amount in the bottle for a re-examination 1.5 hours later. Decanting white you say?! Yes, decanting did make a significant difference; the wine was immediately more expansive and rounder vs. the first sip.
Nick brought this PM to the tasting. Our table review of the wine was as follows: buttery, vanilla (too much vanilla at the end), exotic, feminine and modern.
Ultimately this wine was disappointing, owing to that butter in the glass…a bit like a CA chardonnay in that respect.
Piers made the wise move of decanting this bottle for 1.5 hrs prior to opening up for our group, and this wine stole the show of the whites. It had a lemon-confit nose, a caramel/dulce-de-leche essence in the taste, and a finish that went and went and went. DELICIOUS!
For the whites, ranked in order of preference/votes:
And now moving onto our Tuscan selection. Before we started, Gabrio reminded/informed us that the signature essences of the sangiovese grape are violet, cherry, and leather.
This, our first red of the evening, evoked a variety of descriptions, including poo and a low-pressure system on the nose (as in, what the air smells like before a rain storm). Blackberries danced in the glass, with low acidity and a dry extract of fruit. This was a text-book Sangiovese, what you want from Sangiovese, and no surprises (in a good way).
Tina brought this wine (courtesy of Gabrio’s wine store). Another 100% Sangiovese grape, we had lots of violet on the palate. There was cocoa on the nose, with a definite expression of the terrior. The wine was tannic
, and one comment came back as “infanticide in the bottle” while another referred to drinking this akin to “she said she was 19.” Bottom line: dressing up to look like more but ultimately performing with less.
Robert brought this very berry of a camel red to the dinner. This was a “Parker Brunello,” designed to please the critics. It had a nice nose, modern structure, but no expression of terroir and every expression of Jamba Juice in the glass. Piers took ‘wine quote of the night,’ describing this wine as “an overly designed pair of Italian jeans.” If you’re into that sort of thing, knock yourself out!
8 ) 1988 Il Colle Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino***
Luigi pulled out all the stops (or at least corks) with this 20 year old wine. On the nose: a fart and a whiff of cork. In the glass: leathery, singular in character (individual style conveyed from the wine-maker), esoteric, and ultimately very young for a 20 year old wine. Find this wine if you can; it’s damn near impossible but a treat to consume amongst friends. Fun wine facts: Alberto Carli, the owner of the winery, insisted on cellaring the wines until they were ready to drink. He kept the winery secret from his family until his failing health prompted him telling his wife of her inheritance (thanks to Jenny Neill
for excavating this history).
9) 1998 Talenti Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino, Vigna del Paretaio
The last wine of the evening came from Gabrio; this elegant rosso was a finely balanced wine, with the violets and cherries expected of the varietal. Pepper laced the finish, and we all agreed that this bottle was another infanticide…give it another 10 years. Overall, a great showing, but not quite enough to top the Il Colle.
Summary of Reds
- Il Colle
Finally, those of us who lingered (re: will clean for drink) towards the end got a delicious taste Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Champagne.
By this point in the evening I was a bit toast-pointed, so I don’t have any notes to share, other than I liked it more than I disliked it (OK, a little yeasty and melony).
So, to sum up, thanks to all of our participants at this evening’s event. We obviously can’t do it without you, and I certainly appreciate the learning I come away with from each and every tasting.