TNa: 98 Cavalotto Barolo, 95 Clerico "Pajana"...

Ciao Berserkers,

For Easter dinner WTW requested lamb, so I roasted a rack of lamb with herbs and garlic. To go with it I chose the 1998 Cavalotto Barolo “Bricco Bsochis” out of the caves beneath my ancient estate house here in Wilmington, DE (ok, the basement in my Beaver Cleaver neighborhood crib).

  1. 1998 Cavalotto, Barolo “Bricco Boschis”. Decanted and separated a medium amount of sediment from the wine about three hours before dinner. Good cork. The color is still dark for a 13 year old (almost) Barolo, a blood red all the way to the rim, as I remember the last bottle of a few years ago. A very floral nose, however, lovely, spicy dark fruits like black cherry, black raspberry, and dare I suggest it, even some blackberry?

On the palate a beautiful, lovely texture, lean and lithe, good acidity, medium tannins on the finish, dark and spicy fruits as in the nose, very fine match for the lamb, drinking well now but certainly no rush to drink it. I brought a few fingers of wine that were left over to my friend’s the next night for him to try and it was even more open and delicious.
Grade: solid B+/A-.

Friday night I hopped into the BGM (Big Green Maxima) and cruised on up to Fishtown for dinner at bistro99 with chef larry99. We had four courses. Salad, homemade tagliatelle with home made pancetta and peas, rabbit loin wrapped in prosciutto with a jus and fried polenta, and duck confit and magret duck breast with mushrooms and jus.

To start we had the most recent vintage (don’t remember the year, probably 09 or 10) of the Proprieta Sperino Rose, called “Rosa del Rosa”, made from Nebbiolo. Sperino is Paolo di Marchi’s estate in Lessona, northern Piedmont. Fantastic red cherry color, great fresh red raspberry/strawberry nose, and a nice cutting acidity that made it a delight to drink and a worthy contender to Cantalupo’s “Il Mimo” for best Piedmont rose wine. Grade: A-.

We then moved to the 2008 (?) Brunori Rosso Conero, a nice, simple everyday red that went well with the pasta. A Moore Brothers wine. Grade: B+.

With the rabbit (which was so good it almost made me cry) we had the 2007 Sperino “Uvaggio”, which I believe is mostly Nebbiolo, with some indigenous Vespolina and Croatina (similar to Gattinara and Ghemme) and the DOC is “Coste della Sesia”.

A pretty garnet red color, quite floral, with some rose on the nose, some spicy red cherry/red raspberry fruit, medium bodied, delicate, elegant, lean, good acidity, no hint of oak to my palate but larry says he thinks it sees some barrique, not necessarily new though. Lovely with the rabbit, it would be interesting to see how this ages. Drinking well now however. I liked it a lot, although IMO it is not in the same league as the cru Ghemme from Cantalupo or the Gattinara “Tre Vigna” from Travaglini. Grade: solid B+.

With the duck we had the 1995 Clerico Barolo “Pajana” from the “Dave bin” in bistro99’s caves. Decanted two hours before dinner, a good amount of sediment was removed from the wine. The cork was excellent. The color was a medium black cherry, like the Cavalotto on the dark side, especially for a 16 year old Barolo, although I suspect that is due to the barrique aging this wine saw. Big, complex, developed nose of black cherry and black raspberry, black licorice, Asian spice and a most delightful element of cedar or pencil shavings, as in a Bordeaux, and not the usual vanilla cream I find in new barrique aged wines.

On the palate still fresh, black cherry and black raspberry fruit, earth, spicy, lean, still pretty tannic for a 16 year old, and a long, cedary finish. Wonderful with the duck. Grade: B+/A-.

For dessert we had a strawberry whipped cream log from a local bakery here in Wilmington, and some fried ricotta cheese, along with a bottle of Maury from southern France. After copious espressos, I hopped back in the BGM and zipped back down to Wilmington. Thanks to larry99 for another great meal.

ciao, dc.

Dave, what/where is Bistro 99?


bistro99 is in Fishtown, a neighborhood in Philadelphia.

It is my friend Larry Kelsall’s crib, a nice old brownstone. Not a real restaurant, just his home, but he has mad skillz in the kitchen, and is a fantastic amateur chef (in addition to playing base guitar in a reggae band, being a software engineer working for the Navy supporting mine countermeasure ships all over the planet, and raising three girls along with his awesome wife). I gave it the nickname of bistro99 because his old moniker at another wine page was larry99, and going up there for dinner is just like going to a great restaurant. He also is a wine geek with a special passion for Italian wines, like me. I have a “bin” in his cellar (basement) I keep some of my wine stash in, to make sure we have big boy wines to go with his exceptional meals. Professor Frank Deis has eaten at bistro99 many times with us and will testify to larry’s culinary genius. dc.