One of the most exciting stops last week during my time in New York with my client Michele Marsiaj, owner of the Amistà winery in Nizza, was at LaLou in Brooklyn, Joe Campanale and Dave Foss’s French-leaning wine bar.
Those are the anchovies we ordered as an appetizer — minus one. One of the fishes is missing because when you sit down to eat with a bunch of Piedmontese and olive oil-cured anchovies show up, it’s like it vying for latkes with your two brothers at Hanukkah. I was lucky to photograph the last four. And they were excellent.
Crusty bread from the über-hip She Wolf bakery in Brooklyn really took that dish over the top.
Those are the wonderfully ethereal “Parsian” gnocchi, which were hard not to inhale. Another over-the-top winner dish that we all thoroughly enjoyed.
But the real show stopper at last Wednesday night’s dinner was a 21-year-old Merlot. Or should I say a Merlot-heavy blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet.
When you see a wine that old on a wine list at a hip Brooklyn spot, you know that there was someone who believed in and loved it enough to put it out there (they also had the 2000) despite its age and possible fitness issues.
The price was more than reasonable and so we ordered it. And man, this wine, from Edi Simčič in Slovenia, delivered freshness, slightly ripe red fruit, very light but perceptible tannin, and awesome drinkability and food-friendliness.
We were floored by how good it was.
We spend so much time paying attention to elegant classic whites and macerated whites from Friuli and Slovenia that we often forget that this transnational region for wine production is arguably the home to the best Merlot in this part of the world.
I’ll never forget drinking 1997 Merlot from Radikon with a group of sommeliers back in 2010 during a trip to Gorizia commune. You’d think that the film Sideways had never even been made! It was that good.
The Duet by Simčič isn’t even the estate’s top red wine. It’s part of their “essential line,” in other words, their entry tier. But man, this wine had it all going on. I can’t wait to get back in May to order the 2000.
I highly recommend the restaurant, the wine list, and, of course, the Merlot!
Joe and Dave, great place, great people, great vibes, and great times. We really enjoyed it.