Festa del Barolo 2013 Gala Dinner
Tonnato with Olive Crostone, Caper Shoots, Parsley Stem & Lime Cells
Agnolotti with Grana Padano
Verdi al Ragù Bolognese
York Strip Steak with Parmigiano Puffs, Wild Mushroom & Bone Marrow Sauce
of Piemontese Cheeses
The spirit of sharing and camaraderie
the world’s best wines inspire was in evidence at La Festa del Barolo, where I
was fortunate to enjoy a range of emotionally moving, transcendental
I conceived La Festa del Barolo because
in my opinion there were no truly great events focused solely on Italian wine.
I dreamt of putting together a series of tastings and dinners that I would
personally want to attend as a lover of Italian wines. I talk about the genesis
of La Festa del Barolo in this video.
Well, the irony is that La Festa del Barolo’s Gala Dinner has been a great
success in its two editions so far, but because I am working, I mostly live
through the vicarious pleasure of others! These are some of the many wines I tasted, but
they represent just a small subset of the eye-popping bottles I saw crossing
the room on what turned out to be a truly unforgettable night. Readers who
missed La Festa del Barolo might enjoy this short video
I shot with Del Posto owner Joe Bastianich prior to the Gala Dinner. In
addition, all of the videos from the afternoon tasting are available here.
table is named after a Barolo vineyard
From the beginning, it is clear that
the Gala Dinner is going to be amazing. It has been two years since the last
Festa del Barolo, and the vibe in the room is positively electric. Even though
it is La Festa del Barolo, Champagne always makes a welcome guest appearance. I
am thrilled with the two wines we have chosen to serve during the cocktail
Coeur de Cuvée 1er Cru is vibrant, chiseled and drop-dead
gorgeous. I love the energy here. The 2002
Dom Ruinart is quite a bit more extroverted and boisterous in style, with
terrific richness, body and resonance. What a beautiful Champagne this is. I
have been fortunate to drink the 1982
Krug Vintage on a number of occasions recently. This is another epic
Champagne from Krug right in the middle of its prime drinking window.
the wines ready backstage
It is a real pleasure to share three
of the Selosse lieu-dit Champagnes (all
2012 disgorgements) with guests at the Vinous table. Anselme Selosse’s NV Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Les Carelles is a
real stunner. A Champagne that takes over all the senses, the Carelles is pure
pleasure from the very first taste, and the finest of these three wines. The NV Ambonnay Le Bout du Clos Grand Cru
is a close second. I adore the intensity and power of Ambonnay. Even though I
have never loved the NV Mareuil-sur-Aÿ
Sous Le Mont I bought a few bottles to follow the evolution of the wine.
Well, I am still not enamored. What can I say?
Veal Agnolotti with Grana Padano
I am happy to see Bruno Giacosa’s 1999 Barbaresco Santo Stefano showing
so well. This has never been a great vintage for the Santo Stefano, but the
1999 remains fresh, perfumed and nicely balanced. Giuseppe Rinaldi’s 1999 Barolo Brunate-Le Coste is
gorgeous on this night, with a combination of aromatics, fruit and structure
that makes the best wines from this vintage so appealing.
Bruno Giacosa’s 1990 Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano is a great example of the
vintage. Expressive and wonderfully immediate, the 1990 rushes across the
palate with an exotic and beguiling array of aromas and flavors, all with that
extra bit of 1990 volume that makes this vintage so appealing. The 1989 Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano
is like a drug. Impossibly sweet, layered and silky on the palate, the 1989 is
firing on all cylinders today. This is just about as good as it gets. Bruno
Giacosa’s 1989s are among my favorite wines from anywhere in the world.
handful of reference-point, epic Barolos from Giacomo Conterno
Brovia’s 1982 Barolo Rocche dei Brovia provides fascinating insight to a
period in the estate’s history when the wines were often excellent, but not as
consistent as they are today. Endowed with terrific overall balance, the 1982
is layered, expressive and striking in its beauty, with gorgeous fruit and
impeccable class. Bartolo Mascarello’s 1985
Barolo (from magnum) is fabulous. This is one of the better magnums of the
1985 I have tasted. Most other examples have shown some signs of tiring, but
this magnum is fresh, powerful and absolutely gorgeous. Luciano Sandrone’s 1985 Barolo Cannubi Boschis blossoms on
the palate with expressive aromatics and layers of fruit, both supported by
silky tannins. An early masterpiece from Sandrone, the 1985 is peaking today. I
don’t imagine it will improve much from here, but it is stunning right now.
New York Strip Steak with Parmigiano
Puffs, Wild Mushroom & Bone Marrow Sauce
What is this, I think as I am handed
a glass. Aldo Conterno’s 1988 Granbussia
in magnum is the reply. Wow. What a wine. Still powerful, young and structured,
the 1988 simply dazzles with its pure density. I have always considered the
1989 the greatest Granbussia, but the 1988 makes a very strong argument to be
included in that conversation. The 1999 Granbussia
almost certainly suffers from following such an iconic wine in the 1988. In
this context, the 1999 comes across as a relatively delicate, forward
Granbussia with mid-weight structure and solid overall balance.
and Elisa Scavino revisit their 1978 Barolo Bric del Fiasc, the first release
Conterno’s 1999 Barolo Cascina Francia is one of those wines that continues to
grow with time in bottle. A classic bouquet of rose petals, tar and minerals
graces the palate in a Barolo of pure and exquisite pleasure. Frankly, I wish I
owned more of the 1999. Tonight it is sensual, layered and absolutely
impeccable. The 1990 Barolo Cascina
Francia comes across as much more classic and old-school next to the 1999.
Layered and expressive, the 1990 also shows some slightly frayed edges. This is
a very good bottle, but not the most perfect example I have had. Conterno’s 2002 Barolo Riserva Monfortino is
surprisingly open for a young Monfortino, something that has come through in
several recent tastings. Perhaps that is the result of the extra year in barrel
Conterno gave the 2002. Regardless, tonight the 2002 is rich, powerful and
deeply expressive. The 1999 Barolo
Riserva Monfortino, on the other hand, is a wine for the future. Massively
constituted and tannic, the 1999 impresses for its super-classic personality.
If I had to choose a modern-day Monfortino that might one day develop into
something like the 1971 and/or 1978, the 1999 (along with the 1996) would be at
the top of my list.
embarrassment of riches
Thanks to the incredible generosity
of friends I have an opportunity to revisit two of the greatest Barolos ever
made. Bruno Giacosa’s 1978 Barolo Riserva Collina Rionda is second only to the celestial 1989.
Here it is the wine’s structure and depth that impress above all else. The 1978
remains one of the greatest wines of Giacosa’s career. The 1971 Barolo Riserva Rocche di Castiglione is one of the few wines
that can stand up to the 1978 Rionda. Sweet, perfumed and impeccably silky on
the palate, the 1971 Rocche is beyond stunning and beyond words. What a
privilege it is to taste this mesmerizing, breathtaking Barolo.
forward to the next Festa del Barolo
I would like to thank the entire
staff at Del Posto for pulling off a fabulous evening. Executive Chef Mark
Ladner and his team did a brilliant job with the menu. Wine Director Jeff
Porter oversaw a team of sommeliers drawn from the country’s top restaurants. Between
the afternoon tasting and the Gala Dinner the demands on the sommeliers were
significant, but everything came off without a hitch. As I surveyed the room at
the end of the evening, I think it is pretty safe to say that nowhere else in
the world were so many of Piedmont’s iconic wines opened than at La Festa del
-- Antonio Galloni