Man, I was just blown away last night by Vinny Montecuollo’s wine list at Potente in downtown Houston last night. The breadth and range of his 350+ lot Italian program, the aggressive pricing (he’s using the retail-plus-corkage formula), and the balance of modern vs. traditional winemaking represented across the board… This is the type of list that has something for everyone, from the big spender who wants to share a trophy label with her friends to an average punter like me who is completely stoked to find Cantina del Pino 2011 Barbaresco for just $70 (!!!).
Vinny, who’s been on the job with the official title of “wine director” for less than a year, is hosting his first wine dinner there next week (March 6) with Gaia Gaja. The price of admission? A consumer-friendly $200 a head, a great price if Gaja is your bag.
I was also impressed by the food, like the savory squid ink macaron (above), stuffed with salmon mousse and American caviar. The signature spaghetti with black truffles were also spot-on, with high-toned egg flavor in the long noodles, cooked perfectly al dente, and not overwhelmed by the other flavors in the dish. Great stuff.
But the wine that really stole my heart last night was the Colterenzio Müller Thurgau from South Tyrol. Man, this wine had it all: zinging but not overly flashy acidity, gorgeous white flower notes on the nose and rich apple and pear in the mouth.
I also loved the wine’s soulful lack of punt. Yes, a flat-bottom bottle, folks. People who have followed Italian wine long enough know that in another era, the old-school Italians didn’t have punts (think, Quintarelli Ca’ del Merlo and similar). Today, environmentally aware Italians are returning to this bottle format because it requires less glass and energy to make, thus reducing the wine’s overall carbon fart.
Really awesome wine and really cool price at just $38. How friggin’ sweet is that? Wholesome, delicious, authentic… at a price someone like me can afford.
No collusion here…
The one thing I regret about the Slow Wine tasting coming to Houston this year (March 5) is that my colleagues want me to take them out for BBQ on Monday night after the big event. That’s fine with me but they should really be checking out our groovy Italian wine scene here, at places like Potente and its sister Osso-Kristalla, Divino, Camerata (I know, shitty name!), Amalfi, Sud Italia, Vinology… So many great high-end, high-concept restaurants and wine bars that feature wines from the garden of Europe. Hope to see you on Monday at the tasting and seminars!