TN: Some really interesting (and great) Italians

SOME REALLY INTERESTING (AND GREAT) ITALIANS - Primo Vino (Little Italy, Cleveland) (8/9/2017)

There is a restaurant that most Clevelanders’ know called Primo Vino. It sits at the top of hill in Little Italy and has been there for 35 years. Robert Fatica is the owner. You don’t go for trendy or even great food. You go because it is comfortable. We don’t go a lot, but when I do, the owner seems to know everyone in the place. He also has a deep and extensive wine list. All things must pass, however, and Friday night will be the end of the run. My friend Jeff is good friends with the owner, so we arranged to meet for dinner and some wines from our cellar. It was a bit of a melancholy feeling. The restaurant was packed with large groups celebrating the last few days. Spirits were quite high as was the volume. It was nice to be a part of the festivities even if I wasn’t a regular.

The wines were opened originally with dinner. After dinner, we were joined by the owner and a couple of others who were having their own wine tasting. The back up bottles got opened and it was a fun night of enjoying. Fwiw, here are my thoughts on the wines.

We opened with a nice glass of white off the menu but I didn’t catch the name or vintage.

  • 2007 Umani Ronchi Rosso Conero Cúmaro Riserva - Italy, Marche, Rosso Conero
    Purple in color. Really nice vibrant and youthful nose on this wine. Dark cherries, a bit of dust, scorched earth and with air, plums. On the palate, this kept opening up all night long. Really pretty wine. I have had lower end wines from the winery before but this is the first for this IIRC. It is a modern styled wine showing a bit of warmth, earth and lots of fruit. There are medium tannins left which may lead to future development. (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Oasi Degli Angeli Kurni Marche IGT - Italy, Marche, Marche IGT
    Wow, what an unusual wine. Great wine, but not for everyone. Blind, i think I might have guessed Amarone or even a dessert wine. Purple in color. The nose has raisins, then dark cherries, but copious amounts of chocolate and blueberries drift in and out. Voluptuous texture. Tons of fruit. Enough acid and structure to hold it. Sweet, not cloying, but sweet. Long finish. It seemed to get better all night. Fascinating take on Montepulciano. (95 pts.)
  • 1982 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
    I bought this about 15 years ago on what I think was a winery release. It is ruby with a bit of browning in color. The nose is great. I was expecting Brett and there was hardly any. Just a hint of barnyard butt very subtle. There were cherries and plums with a bit of dust and dried fruits and also a dried gravel note. On the palate, it was initially a bit oxidized and shrill but it kept coming back all night as it revived. We did not decant at all but some slow ox might have been good. We were, however, in no hurry, so no problem. It does drink old but with plenty of life left. Complex and layered with cherries, plums, forest floor and dust. Nice finish. Very food friendly. I suppose this was past its prime but really none the worse for wear, just older. I can relate, so perhaps that counts. In any event, great wine to share with Italian wine lovers. (92 pts.)
  • 2005 Opus One - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Certainly a wine that wine geeks love to hate. I have always said, it is a great wine, if a bit over priced. As other wines have skyrocketed past its price tag, I am not sure that is even true anymore in a relative sense. Anyway, Robert brought it over for us to open, so who I am to say no. And it was great. Purple in color. The nose has cassis, some cedar, spice and even a bit of a violet quality. On the palate, there are still some tannins but most are resolved. There is a nice depth and layering here. Not a powerful wine but plenty of fresh fruit. I think at the early stages of peak. No hurry but starting to turn into a mature wine. A nice treat. (94 pts.)
  • 2013 SonkinCellars Unmasked - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
    Obviously, I am biased, but I will say it was nice to add this to the celebration and offer strangers a glass as we became friends. This is starting to open up although I would still say to cellar it if you have only one bottle (or give it air). The Halcon fruit is very pure but still a bit reticent. It was fun to get some feedback on it from Italian wine lovers.
  • 1970 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Honestly, i brought this thinking it was probably doa. It was for fun and then I had other wines. But, that’s why you pull the corks. This was in a great place. Pop and pour. Ruby in color with little browning. The nose is classic. It took only a short time to blow off the bottle stink, then cherries, rose petals, slight tar, dust and a bit of dried cherries and dried roses. On the palate, plenty of cherry fruit, good acidity. Layers of fruit with some forest floor and a bit of underlying tar. The tannins are just about completely resolved. Nice finish. For a wine approaching 50, this drank just fine. No need for qualifications. Well done. (92 pts.)
  • 1982 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    I think Robert opened this (not sure). It was a treat although i found it to be past prime. Still, it had something to offer and was not dead yet. Ruby in color, brown at the edges. The nose has dried fruits, a bit of decayed flowers, with air some cherries and tar. On the palate, no tannins left. There is mostly dried cherries, but some fresh. Good acidity. Showing a nice layering of dried fruits, earth and forest floor. Good finish. Fun to try and certainly worth drinking. (88 pts.)
  • 1997 Romano Dal Forno Recioto della Valpolicella - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Recioto della Valpolicella
    It was nice to open this to celebrate and mourn the occasion. What a great wine. Purple/ruby in color. The nose is great with prune, chocolate, Italian pastry, spice and also some dark cherries. Complex and deep. On the palate, there is so much going on here. Prunes, chocolate, dark cherries, a confectionery cake quality. Its sweet but not overtly. Thick and viscous. Just delicious but contemplative too. Long finish. Just a gorgeous wine. (97 pts.)

As it turned out, about an hour before I picked up Jeff, I watched on the internet as my college frat house got demolished to make way for a new and better home. While it was a good thing, watching a place I lived in for 3.5 years in college was more draining than I expected. Walking into Primo Vino, it seemed a bit like a wake. But then, the laughter and conversation started and though it was indeed a bit like a wake, it was a good thing as well. Thanks to Jeff for including me and to Robert for adding to the mix. Best to luck to all as life moves on.
Posted from CellarTracker

Nice note on the Pepe, and like (and can relate) to your reminiscences.