1971 Monsecco (Gattinara) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby G

February 6, 2012

A couple of my favorite rock stars were over on Friday night, to meet Georgia P and to share a special bottle of a wine.

The 1971 Gattinara Monsecco by Conte Ravizza was vinified the same year that David Garza was born: David (above, center) is one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever had the fortune to work with and he played on our last album “Freudian Slip.” And he’s also just a super cool dude to hang with.

Céline Dijon (right, holding Georgia) currently calls New York (not Paris anymore) her home and she was in town because we’re working on material for our new album. (BTW, our band Nous Non Plus playing in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles this week, Thurs.-Sat.; click here for the show details.)

I had saved the 1971 Monsecco for David. It had been given to me by Brooklyn Guy’s good friend Dan when we visited in Brooklyn in January 2011 (when we tasted a bottle of it together; here are my complete notes together with the research I did on the bottling).

After a Texas summer in my home cellar (the hottest on record), I wasn’t sure how the wine was going to stand up but we were all impressed with how bright the wine was, with healthy acidity and gorgeous fruit — thoroughly delicious paired with Tracie P’s risotto al radicchio veronese served all’onda. It just goes to show that even in tough vintages, great producers can make great wine (I reported Wasserman’s notes on the harvest here).

David was so sweet: he taught me how to play a new lullaby he wrote and he sang it for Georgia… too cute for words…

If you’re in California this week, come see me and Céline at one of the shows!

Here’s another shot from Georgia P’s recent photo shoot (by the amazing Nichols family):


71 Gattinara Monsecco (Conte Ravizza), Lenny Bruce, and BrooklynGuy

January 27, 2011

One last “wines and the city,” killer wines I tasted last week in NYC…

Beyond the “farmed content” found on aggregate sties (which tries to get you to land on their pages in order to show you advertising), there’s not much info out there in the interwebs about the 1971 Gattinara Monsecco Conte Ravizza by Le Colline, Vercelli, which I got to taste last week thanks to the generosity of BrooklynGuy’s childhood friend Dan (who reminded me, in all the best ways, of my favorite Litvishe Jew, Lenny Bruce, and as it turns out, whose father represented Lenny Bruce is his legal battle against censorship! Incredible!).

The bottle we shared (thanks to Dan, paired with BrooklynGuy’s stunning bread-crumb- and marjoram-encrusted rack of lamb, above) had a strip label on the front that reported: “selected and shipped by Neil Empson, Milan.” On the back, there was a round label that reported: “Acquired from a private cellar [by] Acker, Merrall, & Condit,” the famed rare wine broker of the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

In 1985, Sheldon Wasserman didn’t offer a tasting note for this wine in Italy’s Noble Red Wines, but he did write that “Luigi & Italo Nervi places 1971 among the worst vintages [for this appellation] and Travaglini puts it with the best! Antonio Rossi gave it three stars, Niederbacher, one. Obviously a controversial vintage. We never agreed with the three-star rating. Nevertheless, we find that all are too old now. At Le Colline they consider their ’71 Monsecco on a par with the ’64, so it should still be good.”

Dan mentioned that he had experienced some serious bottle variation in the lot he acquired but, man, this wine was off-the-charts good. Fresher than I would have expected on the nose (topped off? perhaps; the bottle was definitely reconditioned), with gentle berry fruit on the nose and on the palate, and wonderfully integrated tannin. I agreed with BrooklynGuy’s approach of not decanting this wine and opening it right before service (for the record, Dan had brought it over a few nights before and BrooklynGuy left it standing up right for more than 24 hours). Great wine…

Before we got to the Gattinara, BrooklynGuy reached into his cellar for a 2000 Moccagatta by Produttori del Barbaresco, which paired superbly with a savory mushroom flan that he prepared for our Brooklyn repast. Frankly, I was surprised by how tannic this wine was, especially considering the fact that Moccagatta tends to come around earlier than some of the more powerful crus (like Montestefano or Rabajà). At 10 years out, it seems to be closing down but with a little aeration we coaxed out some bramble and red berry fruit balanced by the mushroom and earth that are Produttori del Barbaresco’s signature. Killer wine…

This last trip to NYC was an intense one: after heading back through the sludge to the city, Verena and I wrote one more song before calling it a night… Someday, if that nowhere song for nobody ever gets recorded, I’ll play it for BrooklynGuy.

I didn’t get to do a lot of socializing or fancy eating this time around. But I was really glad to connect with BrooklynGuy, who’s become a super good friend.

I remember a time, not so many years ago, when he and I first met in person, in San Diego. Life then for me was good but didn’t have the direction and purpose it has today. At a taco shop in La Jolla (where Tracie P and I would later hold the rehearsal dinner for our wedding some two years later), BrooklynGuy — with the wisdom of a rabbinic Lenny Bruce — reminded me gently of the goodness in me and pointed out confidently that I would find my path again. He probably didn’t realize then how much those words meant to me. I hope some day I can return the favor…


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