I was honored and thrilled to be invited to a white truffle dinner featuring about one pound of fresh white truffles for a group of seven of us, with some old friends and a couple of new ones. Aria lived up to its usual standard of excellence, with a terrific menu put together by Chef Gerry Klaskala and outstanding service from the well-trained staff. Add in good wine and great company, and you have an incredibly memorable evening. Special thanks to Don Cornutt for arranging to obtain the truffles and Alan Gottlieb for coordinating the planning and menu.
Siberian Sturgeon UGA Caviar
We kicked things off with a delicious morsel of Siberian sturgeon UGA caviar in a hollowed out Persian cucumber with Neufchatel and chives. The caviar is from Siberian sturgeon that are sustainably farmed in north Georgia by the University of Georgia.
- 2004 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut - France, Champagne
Razor sharp acidity and minerality at the core, on the linear side at the moment but with enough flesh on the bones to keep it from being too austere. Right now it is better with food than on its own, but just sipping it still delivers plenty of pleasure. (93 pts.)
We enjoyed the remnants of the Krug and started on the white wines with a chicken liver pate on toast topped with shaved white truffles, a last minute addition by Chef Gerry, then enjoyed the white wines with a pan roasted jumbo sea scallop on a celery root puree with brown butter and shaved white truffles. The chicken liver pate was quite good, but the scallop and white truffle combination really sang. The Marcassin's richness was a particularly nice match.
- 1999 Marcassin Chardonnay Alexander Mountain Upper Barn Alexander Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
Great weight and texture, lush without being overbearing, lemon curd fruit with a touch of vanilla, a little flabby but drinking very well. I’m not a huge fan of the producer but this one was very appealing. (93 pts.)
- 2011 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
It needs air, which brings out honeysuckle and lemon, almost delicate with a pleasantly tart finish, it drinks well if a bit austere now. (92 pts.)
- 2006 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
Screaming seashell minerality, great persistence and depth, but still a baby. (93 pts.)
Next came a naturally raised, seared, and chilled tenderloin of veal with a white truffle emulsion and shaved white truffles, which was my favorite course, and one of the best dishes I've had in a long time. The dish was both elegant and intense and paired perfectly with the Dujac.
- 2006 Domaine Dujac Bonnes Mares - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Bonnes Mares Grand Cru
Dark cherry and spice, quite intense, it really needs more time but it pairs brilliantly with a delicate veal carpaccio with white truffles which tones down the Dujac and brings out more depth. (93 pts.)
The oyster mushroom lasagnette with besciamela, parmigiana reggiano, and white truffle was another standout course that again matched the wine beautifully.
- 1998 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
A little natural wine tang, earthy with fresh cut green briar vines and white truffle woven through complex red fruit, fantastic. (94 pts.)
Some of the group would have preferred that the carnaroli risotto with shredded short rib of beef, parmigiana reggiano, and white truffle would have omitted the beef, which they found overpowered the delicate truffle aromas and flavors. They had a valid point, but I enjoyed the course quite a bit.
- 1988 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Pretty, with well-knit leather and fruit, a touch of VA, showing more age than I’d expect but still quite nice. (92 pts.)
- 1982 Vietti Barbaresco Masseria - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
Maderized and over the hill, but not completely unpleasant. NR (flawed)
The roasted breast of guinea hen with braised endive, chanterelles, natural jus, and white truffle raised some of the same concerns as did the previous course, with particularly objections to the endive's dominance over the truffles. I found that the rich, nicely reduced jus brought out some interesting nuances in the truffles that I hadn't found in prior dishes and loved the crisp skin on the guinea hen.
- 1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Asili - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
A lot of menthol, but with a good bit of depth, it is enjoyable, but still very young and it really needs more time for the menthol to fade and the other flavors and aromas to become more prominent as it is pretty monolithic at the moment. It had been double decanted at least a few hours before dinner, if I recall correctly. (92 pts.)
- 2001 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
The essence of Barbaresco, a scintillating prism of flowers, tar, and fruit, it is outstanding but still with room for improvement. It had been double decanted at least a few hours before dinner, if I recall correctly. (95 pts.)
My memories of the dessert are kind of hazy, as I was somewhat distracted by conversation I recall an ice cream over spiced fruit and a not-too-sweet little cake with caramelized sugar on the top. I also recall devouring it with relish.
- 2002 Alois Kracher Scheurebe TBA #10 Zwischen den Seen - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee
Apple pie filling in a bottle, very nice and sweet but lacking acidity. (90 pts.)