Saturday, 29 September 2012

Moresco amongst many treats at Zucca

The Glorious Trio
As some of you know I am no stranger to Zucca but even by their standards this was an extraordinary display. Sam Harris, chef/owner, was sat with us, he doesn't miss these sorts of evenings and there is a reason for this! The wines had all been organised by Eric with all the guests bringing a bottle. To kick off it had to be Ca’del Bosco Franciacorta, Cuvee Prestige, as glorious as ever, I love this stuff, never pretentious but appetising and balanced, flows down a treat, all three bottle that is. Once the assembled had all got their bottles out and those that needed decanting were resting we all sat down for the bread - Focaccia, Grissini and Cripsy Pasta. The later was a new one on me, linguine with lots of salt and crisped up, very moreish.
The first of four starters - a very elegant Sea Trout with fennel - was served up with a wine that was new to me Paleo 2009 from Le Macchiole a blend of 70% Sauvignon and 30% Chardonnay, it had a nose that I thought was a little like a dry white Bordeaux from one of the Sauternes houses but an extra layer of texture from the Chardonnay. I had a few visits back to this wine during the evening and I enjoyed it more and more as it evolved, well worth trying. The next step was back to bubbles and this time a serious and decadently aged bottle in Billecart Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois 1990 with Tuna & Crab involtini, a cracking combo. The Billecart was at a lovely stage, rich but still fresh enough, mature rather than old, I remember having the 1988 many years ago and this was more refined. So with half the starters done - this was not an evening for the small eater - it was time to have my contribution Meursault 1er Cru Sous Les Dos d’ane 2007 from Domaine Leflaive, in magnum, with Grilled Langoustines that had arrived from Scotland earlier in the day. This worked well. a combination of Meursault's broader structure and the leanness of 2007 went well with the gorgeous Langoustines. I am professionally biased in favour of Domaine Leflaive but this was showing really well and white Burgundy in magnum is just the job for 10 people.
The centrepiece of this dinner was 3 vintages - 1970, 1974 & 1979 - of Barbaresco Giovannini Moresco. In his prime Moresco owned 28 acres in one of Piedmonts most famous vineyards, Pajore. Between 1967 and 1979 he made just five Barbaresco's, so to have 3 of them in one sitting was a great treat. The land was ultimately sold to Angelo Gaja and is now used to produce Sito Moresco which is a blend of many different varieties including Nebbiolo but in a minority, such a shame and one not to think about too much. The wines themselves: The 1970 was very elegant, fully mature with a hint of frazzles, light in colour a wine with a real balance, I think it will start to fade gracefully from here so this timing was terrific, it complimented the Beef Carpaccio, fresh Porcini superbly. The first bottle of 1974 was the wine of the night for me until the second bottle which amazingly surpassed it. It was quite simply one of those wines that had everything; elegance, depth, fruit, florality (new word I think), savoury balance, weightless but evident structure. Not the sort of wine were fruit adjectives work well or come easily. The Risotto, Borettone Onions was a good foil to it as it was a subtle and balanced dish with great texture made even better when Sam decided we needed a covering of white truffle (it's a hard life!). When the 1979 came round I just remember liking it! It was a little more savoury and masculine but I was still slightly under the spell of the 1974 in honesty.
The next two wines were from two big names in Barolo and two with a firm association with the more modern styled wines, these were both good. Barolo Granbussia Reserva 1985, Aldo Conterno was a lovely bottle with real depth, balanced but rich and masculine with a savoury yet luscious texture, it is not going to fade at all but this struck me as a great time to be drinking it, very good. Chitarra, Veal & pistachio meatballs was again a good compliment to the wine, the pasta having a great texture to it. Barolo Rocche 1996, Vietti was up next, youthful but not too young, I like the savoury density of the 1996's and this had that but was more open than I expected. The Vietti wines do impress me as they age, the quality of the fruit comes though the oak. I'd love to see their fruit made into Barolo is a more 'neutral" way.
The two mags and Paleo 2009
That signified the end of the Nebbiolo and with Venison and Wild Mushrooms to come we were onto two magnums - Rauzan Segla 1999 & Sassicaia 2001. They were not to disappoint, both good, very different but within a similar framework. I was interested to taste the Rauzan as I saw a couple of the team from Chateau Margaux recently and asked which vintage they like to show at the moment that wasn't from a "glamour" vintage and they said 1999. A colleague at another dinner the same night had the Pavilion Rouge 1999 in mag and I think you can say that the Margaux commune 1999's are pretty dam good and now. This was very Margaux, elegant, fragrant, floral with enough weight but not in any way overpowering, a wine where you feel the winemaker let it happen rather than forcing anything (always a good thing in my book). The Sassicaia was spot on, the most that I have enjoyed a "young" Sassicaia. It had it's classic ripe green bell pepper, the trademark of the wine for me. It was open and slightly loose knit which worked well. The two mags made a great pairing.
We were approaching 11.30 by now but there were still two puddings to go!! The first of which, fortunately, was very elegant and refreshing; Raspberry jelly, lemon thyme with Saracco Moscato d’asti 2011 poured over it. I had never had Saracco before, very good it was too. The second/main pudding was simply brilliant - Custard tart, pine nut brittle, vanilla ice cream and olive oil - and the Olive oil bit is not a stunt, it works a treat, the pepper and texture of the Oil making you think, but in no way is it awkward. The Vin Santo 2001, San Giusto a Rentennnano was a great wine to have with it, intense buttery sweetnmess but with a good acidity. After so much food and wine I have never seen a pudding so well enjoyed...what an evening...I'd do it all again any day!
The Risotto before it's "covering" of white truffle!

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