Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

GregT and Eric Guido to the rescue!

Posted by Richard Foxall, Nov 29, 2012.

So you can follow it on the other threads, but I was supposed to fly into New York for the dinner on November 2, but this storm thing messed that up--our cousin had to let his sister use the apartment when she lost power at her home in NJ.  Plus the airlines were saying I might not even get in, and they'd refund the miles.  It was going to be a big surprise, with a celebrity guest and everything.  Next time. 

But I was still on for my Thanksgiving trip and GdP said we could get together on Sunday, November 18, until he pretty much went off the radar--hey, call me, maybe.  GregT, prince that he is, called me Sunday afternoon and assured me that GdP was not ducking me, he was completely incommunicado.  And the trains from Brooklyn weren't running, so could we make it Monday?  I bought some overpriced food at Eataly and a half bottle of Chianti and headed for the Upper West Side for the evening. 

Monday, GregT called and said GdP really was unavailable but he would rustle up Eric Guido and we'd go out.  The resto GregT had in mind had disappeared, but LaSirene, a BYOB restaurant at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel, about two blocks too far north to be in Tribeca, was a good option.  BYOB meant no corkage, but it was also cash only.  I was prepared--hey, no one gets mugged in NYC anymore, right?  Greg would bring two bottles, Eric had an Italian wine, and no one would miss my Spottswoode that is still sitting in Snooth world headquarters thanks to Sandy.  (Note to GdP: Kirsy has my mailing address, so you can send me those when you have a minute.)

I headed downtown, managing to knock out the contact lens in my left eye while waiting for my first train.  Half blind, I still managed to follow GregT's perfect directions and arrived at the resto at the appointed time of 6:30, embarrassingly early for New Yorkers.  EG had arrived just before me.  The place was tiny, although GT later insisted it had doubled in size since he had last been there.  We had a window table, and EG opened a Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, a 2001.  (I'm blanking on the maker, since I'm no expert on Vino Nobile.)  This was tight, and hard like a Syrah or maybe a Cab, but not oaked like a Cab.  Still so youthful at 11 years old, but the structure was there.  I swirled it, sipped it, put it aside--it was going to need lots of time. 

GregT came in, apologizing for a late train.  He had a bottle of white in an Alsatian shape, and made Eric and me guess the varietal.  By the nose, all petrol-y, I would have said Riesling, but the flavor was extravagant--like a grapefruit and its blossom, no rind, all flesh and flowers.  Eric guessed Gewurz, because it just wasn't rocky and minerally enought to be Riesling, and I seconded it.  There were also hints that it could be muscadet, but that bottle was wrong and it was too bright and forward.  Turns out it was a bone-dry riesling from Greg's birth state of Michigan.  Greg said he had planned to have it with the earlier dinner, but would have brought something less dry to drink with Asian food.  We had curried mussels for an appetizer and I thought it was just terrific. GregT was eating foie gras as well.

GregT also brought a Chateauneuf from Usseglio, from 2003 I believe.  This was a classic grenache dominated CdP which opened right up, with raspberries and herbs and just a touch of heat.  We managed to convince our attractive server to have a couple glasses of wine while we talked and slurped. 

For the main course, Eric had a cassoulet--a large, rich bowl of meats, vegetables, and beans topped by a confit of duck.  As a chef, Eric's gotta appreciate the time that goes into this seemingly homespun dish.  I had a hanger steak, which the waiter (we'd outlasted our first server already) recommended "no more than medium rare." This launched talk of homemade steak tartare--I swear GregT and I have the same father--and the presence in our childhood homes of meat grinders (all three of us, Italians and middle Europeans being big sausage makers) and meat slicers (my mom likes veal scallopini but we were on a tight budget).  Then there was talk of rose veal--really, it's okay to eat veal again, especially after that foie gras--and Eric's website and business.  By now it was time to go back to that Vino Nobile, which was just starting to open up.  Eric said the winery had been passed to the children after the 2001 vintage we were drinking, and they had become enamored of oak, making the wine something far less enjoyable for him.  I had to agree that this wine needed no more oak, but it could use more time--it was great but still a little tight, and showed lots of aging potential.  You might want to look at traditional Vino Nobile for a birth year bottle, if this was any indication.  Definitely not as cherry flavored and sharp as some sangios, and not as dusty as a Brunello.  GregT was eating the fruits de mer quite contentedly, while assuring us the place was quainter and cheaper before it expanded. 

Our plates clean, Greg asked if we should get a cheese plate.  Eric reminded Greg that he had just finished a rich cassoulet.  I begged off, too.  Eric acted the adult and got out his phone to calculate the bill, we all realized we had spent three and a half hours eating and drinking, and headed to our respective homes or accommodations--I had the easiest commute and still managed to miss my transfer to an express at the first opportunity, owing more to an obsession with a new app than the three bottles of wine we had consumed. During dinner, I was so engrossed with the conversation I also forgot that I was missing a contact lens. 

Thanks, guys, for the event.  Next time, I'll bring the wine.


Reply by JonDerry, Nov 29, 2012.

Sounds like a nice dinner, some interesting wines too. 

Reply by GregT, Nov 29, 2012.

Cripes, wish I had been at THAT dinner instead of the one I attended!

Still, was good to see Fox and Eric and FWIW, the place has more than doubled. It used to be the space between 2 buildings, then they got the place we were in and turned it into a kind of cabaret, then they left town and the new person combined the spaces. Far far nicer interior these days and it's nice to have a little French place - they used to be quite common but these days French isn't so trendy and Italian dominates.

As far as those meat grinders, I was just thinking the other day how nice it would be to have that - my sister ended up with it.

Glad you had a good time and don't worry about bringing wine next time - we'll find plenty.

Reply by EMark, Nov 29, 2012.

Excellent report.  It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun.  I can't believe you passed on the cheese plate, though.

Reply by GregT, Nov 30, 2012.

Me either!

Reply by Eric Guido, Nov 30, 2012.

It was a great time and both the food and company were very enjoyable.

As for the cheese plate, I simply couldn't do it.  That cassoulet was so good that I had an overwhelming desire to lick the bowl clean (but I didn't).

The wine was the 2001 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Antica Chiusina (link below).  It's still so young yet there is soo much potential.  I was really hoping that GdP would have been able to make it out, because I've wanted to have him taste this for a while now.  I'm down to only two more bottles and I think I have to hide them away for another five years.


Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 30, 2012.

Thanks for that link, EG... now I have to find a few bottles lying around gathering dust at some retailer. 

I could see EG eying the bowl even after it was spoon-clean.  That was one rich looking cassoulet--one of these days I am going to start one on my counter and keep it going for a while, which is the traditional method, or so I was told by the folks at our great French institution, Le Central, in SF. 

Funny that GregT thinks that we should have had the cheese plate after all his talk about "push aways." I've been trying to practice a little restraint since my layoff from exercise earlier this year. 

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 30, 2012.

Looks like the only bottle available is at Raeder's in Albertson NY. Looks like Eric's sitting on some gold...perfect example of why we cellar.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 30, 2012.

Well, that's the online search results, JD, but I'm not hopeful that I can do any better with my network out here.  Library bottles of California wines aren't that hard for me to scrounge up, and the more obscure the better (not saying SQN, but more like smaller wineries that need cash, or distributors that couldn't move something).  But the imports are tougher--probably the importer is back east, limited distrib here to begin with.  I'll keep my ears open and let people know.  Unfortunately, I wouldn't have known enough to be interested in that wine when it was released--that was probably the second Vino Nobile I have ever tasted.  (I vaguely remember being poured some before I was really into Sangio, probably when I had an Italian/Portugese g-f really into wine.)

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 30, 2012.

Sounds like an opportunity for wine searcher to add a third user level: standard, pro, and industry. Or not. 

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