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

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…

2 thoughts on “71 Gattinara Monsecco (Conte Ravizza), Lenny Bruce, and BrooklynGuy

  1. Hi,

    Yes, there isn’t lot of info on this wine despite early importation into the U.S. and that’s been to my advantage over the years. I had about 6 or 7 bottles of the 1971 Monsecco coutesy of Fine Wine Internation in SF for stupid money. They were trying to get rid of them and didn’t know what they had. I posted on these at West Coast Wine Network although the notes may have been lost. Excellent wine and all of them were extremely drinkable except one that was on the edge but still nice. I’m a huge Monsecco fan, having had the ’85, ’82 and ’79 as well. The ’85 was the best.

    Fraser

    • truly fascinating wine… I’ve got another bottle standing upright back in TX… I’ve got to open it soon and will do another post… thanks for the comment! :)

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