I knew that this would be great . . . and indeed it was! Daniel Posner (on the right), owner of Grapes the Wine Company, North White Plains, NY, organized a dinner at Morello Bistro in Greenwich, CT, with a broad sampling of Cavallotto wines. Alfio Cavallotto (in the center), grandson of the founder, runs the winery with his brother Giuseppe and sister Laura. Alfio provided the color commentary while John Fritas (Morello Sommelier, on the left) and his team managed the wine service. Arriving guests were greeted with a pour of Freisa from 2010. This is an obscure varietal from Piedmont that is light in color with aromas of raspberries and violets. Yet its slightly frothy character, and the subtle bitterness of the varietal, has caused divergent reactions: Hugh Johnson called it “immensely appetizing”, while Robert Parker called it “totally repugnant”. Neither is accurate, but even with Cavallotto’s take on the varietal, I was not impressed.
Not so with the Barbara d’Alba Bricco Boschis. I was impressed with both the ’07 and ’08 vintages of this wine served with an excellent Beef Tartare. I preferred the grip of the ’07, which stood up nicely to the caper, mustard and anchovy favors of the Tartare. You need those tannins to cut through the fatty character of the raw meat. Delicious. The second course was Farotto with Ramps, Italian for risotto made with the grain farro. Cavallotto’s Nebbiolo Langhe Bricco Boschis 2009 was perfect with the Farotto! The Nebbiolo delivered licorice and Modena balsamic hints that perfectly complemented the creamy, buttery Farotto. At $23 a bottle, this wine was a steal, especially when you consider its pairing versatility: think of how many dishes one makes with chicken stock, butter and onions!
For the third course, I chose the Grilled Lamb Chops over the Grilled Tuna. A mini-vertical of Cavallotto’s Barolo Riserva San Giuseppe 2004 – 2006 ($180 to $100) was poured. All great with the lamb, polenta and the tomato conserva. I thought the 2006 vintage was the best of the three, perhaps because of its youthful brightness; just seemed to pair better with the grilled meat. All had cherry-red fruit on the attack, with rich tannins and a long finish.
The last course was an assortment of cheeses served with another mini-vertical of their Barolo Vignolo Riserva 2004 – 2006 ($93). I found these wines to have an elegant yet exotic quality to the nose and mid-palate; they were also a bit more feminine than the San Giuseppe – my preference because femininity offers greater versatility in pairing. Red wines with cheese (except Vintage Port with Stilton) can be challenging, and I normally prefer whites with most cheeses. But these Vignolo Riservas, especially the ’04, were great.
In summary, these Cavallottos exceeded my expectations, and confirmed my recent realization that I don’t have enough Baroli in my cellar. I recommend you lay down as much of ’08 vintage you can afford. On April 27th, I will attend the Barolo wine tasting at La Feste del Barolo in NYC – 15 Barolos from the 2008 vintage, hosted by Antonio Galloni. Should be great, and it will be the subject of my next post.