Festa del Barolo Rare Wine Charity Dinner
11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Tel. +1 (212) 889-0905
Chef’s selection of passed hors d’oeuvres
Scallop with tapioca, celery and black truffle
Salsify roasted with apples and black pudding
Mushroom sautéed with teff and pine Nuts
Guinea fowl roasted with bacon and parsnip
Duck with tardivo and parsnip
Goat cheese, aged with pistachio and wild spring greens
Like all New Yorkers, Marzia and I were deeply
affected by the devastation Hurricane Sandy left in its wake last October.
Given the fast pace of the world we live in, it is easy to forget just how many
people are still struggling to recover from Sandy, even today. This year’s La Festa del Barolo kicked off with a charity dinner
at Eleven Madison Park to benefit Robin Hood’s Sandy Relief Fund. David Saltzman,
Robin Hood’s Executive Director, shared details on the work his organization
has done thus far, which includes disbursements of over $70 million.
Specifically, the $45,000 we raised at dinner will be directed towards the
rebuilding of homes that were damaged during the storm.
For the occasion, I brought out a number of my finest
and rarest bottles, many of which I sourced directly from the wineries years
ago. Readers can view a short introduction to the wines of the evening here, and can also watch Eleven Madison
Park’s Wine Director Dustin Wilson as he decants Bartolo Mascarello’s 1958
Barolo from 1.9 liter magnum. Executive Chef Daniel Humm and his team rose to
the occasion with a brilliant menu. I have eaten at Eleven Madison Park many times
over the years, and this was easily one of the very finest meals I have ever
had at EMP.
Standing in the kitchen just before service, I can
already tell it is going to be a great dinner as I watch the chefs set up their
stations. The raw ingredients look amazing, including a tray of gorgeous mushrooms
that catches my eye. A short time after, the most pristine and beautifully
prepared hors d’oeuvres
start emerging from the kitchen. One of the highlights of the menu is the scallop with tapioca, celery and black
truffle, which pairs beautifully with a flight of three diverse and equally
compelling whites. I also adore the mushroom sautéed with teff and pine nuts,
an earthy, flavorful dish perfect for Barolo. Eleven Madison Park’s chefs take
it up another level with the Guinea fowl roasted with bacon and parsnip,
followed by the duck with tardivo and parsnip, two signature dishes that are
flat-out great. Watch as Executive Chef Daniel Humm and I discuss the menu
and some of the wines here.
Scallop with tapioca, celery and black truffle
Eleven Madison Park's signature duck before plating
Duck with tardivo and parsnip
what about the wines? Well they are pretty spectacular, to say the least.
2002 Comtes de Champagne (magnum) is one of the greatest Champagnes ever made. In
magnum, it is especially explosive and heady, not to mention superb alongside
Daniel Humm’s hors d’oeuvres, where the brilliance of the wine plays off the
flavors and textures of the food brilliantly. What a great way to start this
2009 Tocai Buri is virtually impossible to find in the market. I have
never seen any magnums outside of the winery. This bottle is magnificent, with
plenty of Tocai and Buttrio signatures, all given soft contours by the warm
vintage. The 2001 Chardonnay Selezione
La Bora di Kante from Edi Kante,
is firing on all cylinders with its Chablis-like intensity, minerality and pure
drive. But it is the last wine in this flight that leaves attendees speechless.
Last summer, during a visit to Terlano, in Alto Adige, I had the opportunity to
taste a number of older wines back to the 1950s. I knew right away we had to
have one of the wines for this dinner. The 1955
Terlano Pinot Bianco Vorberg is stunning. To provide some context, I am
seated next to a group of wine lovers who have had the world’s greatest bottles
many times but have never tasted a white with this much bottle age and pure
pedigree. Tonight, the 1955 is spectacular. It simply doesn’t get much better
Time to move on to the reds. The 2001 Barolo Ginestra Vigna Casa Mate from Elio Grasso is outstanding. There are plenty of Ginestra signatures
in the glass. At the same time, I can’t help noting that this small, family-run
estate has since gone on to far greater heights. Still, the 2001 is an early
gem from Gianluca Grasso. Roberto
Voerzio’s 1999 Barolo Cerequio, from one of my favorite vineyards, is
another wine I have always adored, and it is once again magnificent.
I don’t remember when I bought Cappellano’s 1998 Barolo Pie Franco Otin Fiorin, but this is my one
and only magnum. One of the most texturally pure and beautiful wines of the
night, the 1998 shows all of its class and finesse. The 1998 Barolo Brunate-Le Coste from Giuseppe Rinaldi, also from magnum, looks like a fake, as Rinaldi
sold me a few magnums years ago, but insisted that I put on the labels myself,
which I did, and with little skill. No matter, the wine is big, rich, intense
and everything one could ask for.
Scavino’s 1990 Barolo Riserva Rocche dell'Annunziata (magnum), here
in its first vintage, is another of the wines of the night. It boasts
extraordinary intensity and vibrancy, not to mention remarkable polish. Still
young, it is simply magnificent. Luciano
Sandrone’s 1990 Barolo Cannubi Boschis is the wine that made him a super star,
and rightly so, as it is tremendous. Still, this is one Barolo where I am
starting to see limited potential from further cellaring.
Giacosa’s 1989 Barolo Riserva Falletto is another of the wines of the night. The pure
texture, aromatic presence and structure of Nebbiolo are simply captivating.
The 1988 Barolo Rocche from Vietti is pure class, even if 1988 isn’t
one of the truly great vintages for this iconic Barolo. Brovia’s 1985 Barolo Rocche makes for a fascinating contrast, as
the warmer year yielded an open, rich, resonant Barolo loaded with sexiness.
1982 Barolo Riserva is outstanding, but frankly it is a bit overwhelmed
next to some of the other wines on the table. Cavallotto’s 1978 Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe,
from one of the all-time great Piedmont vintages, is superb, even if the style
is a bit rustic. The 1971 Giacomo
Conterno Barolo, from the pre-Cascina Francia period, has long been one of
my very favorite Conterno wines, and these bottles don’t disappoint. Here the
elegance and finesse of one of Monforte’s top sites is beautifully balanced by
the structure of the year.
What can I say about the two Bartolo Mascarello magnums from the 1950s? More than wine, these
bottles are historical monuments that represent one of Barolo’s most important
families and estates. Opinions are varied throughout the room. Some guests lean
towards the 1958 Barolo, which
remains powerful and structured, but I have a slight preference for the 1955 Barolo, as it is more perfumed,
silky and finessed. Both are drop-dead gorgeous.
Rinaldi’s 1961 Barolo, a last minute addition, is fascinating. We open two
bottles, both purchased from Chambers Street Wines, one of New York City’s most
reliable shops. The first bottle is unusually dark and intense, probably from
the addition of Barbera, the other is more inline with what a 50 year-old
Barolo should be. Both are interesting to taste, to say the least.
& Fils "Devant La Porte" Grande Champagne Cognac, a single
cask of 1951 Cognac bottled by
micro-négociant Nicolas Palazzi, is a fitting end to this great dinner. Still
as fabulous as it was a few years ago when I first tasted it, the Devant La
Porte remains stratospheric.
-- Antonio Galloni