06 Barolo Garblèt Sué, birthday fiorentina & the aeration condom

This year’s birthday celebration centered around a porterhouse cooked alla fiorentina: the steak is cooked upright so that the T in the t-bone release its flavor and the entire steak heats through without cooking the sirloin and tenderloin. This year, Tracie P bought me the steak three days before my birthday and we dry-aged it in the fridge (you just put it on a plate, uncovered, and let it dry out). It’s the simplest thing but it makes such a big difference in the tenderness and flavor of the beef.

When you see the marrow begin to bubble in the bone, quickly grill the steak on either side at high heat.

We paired with a bottle of 2006 Barolo Garblèt Sué by Brovia, one of my all-time favorite Nebbiolo growers and bottlers.

The Garblèt Sué vineyard is on the Bricco Fiasco and its name comes from the name of the farm that lies below, Garbelletto Superiore. (The dialectal inflection of the toponym, Garblèt Sué, was authorized in new legislation that went into effect in 2010 allowing for added geographical mentions, as they are called in red-tape jargon.)

Honestly, the wine was still very tight, even though I had opened it early in the day to let it aerate. But that didn’t diminish our enjoyment of this classic expression of Barolo from Castiglione Falletto, the township that lies virtually in the center of the appellation and is known for its balance of elegance and fruit (imparted by the more generous Tortonian soils to the west of the Barolo-Alba road) and opulence and tannic structure (delivered by the austere Helvetian soils to the east). Even though this wine wasn’t anywhere near its peak, a Saturday night with a Barolo by Brovia is always an undeniable and unforgettable treat for me (thanks again, Tracie P!). This was the second 2006 by Brovia that I’ve tasted this year and I’ve been impressed with how fresh and bright the vintage is showing from Langa.

Beyond the new flip flops (much needed) and the gorgeous brown agate cufflinks (much appreciated) that Tracie P gave me for my birthday this year, she has given me the greatest gift that anyone ever could: our little Georgia P, whose smile could light an entire city block and whose sweetness can wash away even the bluest blues.

We have so much to be grateful for and this year’s celebration of my birthday (my forty-fifth year!) reminded me of how rich our lives have been in the last year and a half. I love both of them so very much…

In other news…

Over at the Houston Press this morning, I explain why I don’t decant wines like the Garblèt Sué and offered a trick for allowing wine to breath over the course of the entire day: the “aeration condom,” I call it.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all the birthday wishes on the Facebook and the Twitter! :)

First kiss: Tracie P. First sip: Brovia 04 Barolo.

I dream of your first kiss… And then I feel upon my lips again…

The first kiss of 2011 tasted just as sweet as that very first kiss of 2008. A taste of honey, tasting much sweeter than wine…

Tracie P and I had wonderful New Year’s eve at Tony’s with cousins Joanne and Marty, Dana and Neil, Mary Kelly (Neil’s mother), and prof Jonathan, who took the photos above. Don’t I look like I just won the jackpot? ;-)

That first kiss was followed by a first sip of 2011: Brovia 2004 Barolo.

I have long been a fan of traditionalist Brovia and I finally got to taste at the winery in March 2010 when I was visiting Piedmont with a group of wine bloggers. That’s Brovia son-in-law Alex in front of the winery’s cement vats. (Check out Saignée’s excellent post on Brovia here.)

No pharmaceutical yeast here: Brovia’s wines always captivate with their balance of freshness, purity of fruit, and their power, and this wine drank surprisingly well as young as it was, with not overly generous fruit tempered by mushroom and earth. It was a fantastic way to start our 2011.

I posted some of the food shots from that night over at Tony’s blog, btw: Chef de Cuisine Grant’s risotto is always stellar IMHO, and his rich beef stock carnaroli topped with fried sweet breads were served perfectly al dente that night.

All in all it was an unforgettable night, our first New Year’s as a married couple and a celebration of all the wonderful things that happened for us in 2010. We have lots of adventures (and challenges) ahead of us in 2011 and we’re looking forward to our upcoming trip to Italy (more on that shortly).

But in the meantime, I’m gonna keep on dreaming about that first kiss, tasting much sweeter than wine… Happy new year, everyone!

Tracie P’s sfincione was amazing

Above: Last night we hosted the first couple of the Austin wine scene, Craig and April Wright Collins. Tracie P truly outdid herself with her cooking.

To borrow a phrase from friend and colleague Charles Scicolone, whose wife Michele is one of the best cooks I know, “I am truly blessed.”

Tracie P simply outdid herself last night with the dishes she prepared for a dinner party we threw.

Ever since cherished family friend Mrs. Reynolds (above) made us a sfincione to celebrate our then upcoming wedding (back in December), Tracie P has wanted to make this classic savory pie from Sicily.

That’s Tracie P’s, above, on the pizza stone we received for our wedding (thanks, Aunt Holly and Uncle Terry!). Did I mention that I’m blessed?

She also made a wonderful olive oil cake for dessert. Yum…

The 2005 Barolo Ca’ Mia by Brovia was stunning. (Check out Cory’s awesome post on Brovia here.)

That’s all I got time for this morning… gotta run… thanks for reading!

Umami blogging (and Nebbiolo gone wild)

Above: I poured an awesome flight of Nebbiolo on Tuesday night at The Austin Wine Merchant for my class “The De Facto Cru System in Piedmont.”

They say that parenting blogs, so-called “mommy blogging,” are the most lucrative: evidently, folks who write about parenting have no troubles finding advertisers. Among wine bloggers, however, the term “mommy blogging” denotes a sub-genre of posts in which bloggers “write home to mom,” telling her all the great bottles that they have opened. Italian Wine Guy often accuses me of this and I must confess that my mom does read my blog (hi mom!).

Since I am about to indulge in some flagrant, unapologetic mommy blogging, I’d like to propose a new sub-genre of enoblogging for your consideration: “Umami Blogging.”

Umami is one of the “the five generally recognized basic tastes sensed by specialized receptor cells present on the human tongue” and in wine writing, we often use it to denote a class of “savory” descriptors.

Umami, meaty, brothy, savory flavors were on everyone’s palates Tuesday night when I poured 7 bottlings of Nebbiolo from Langa at my weekly Italian wine seminar at The Austin Wine Merchant. Man, what a flight of wines! The de facto cru system of Piedmont was the topic and participants tasted bottlings from the east and west sides of the Barolo-Alba road as well as a Barbaresco and a Langhe Nebbiolo sourced in Barbaresco, where many believe the proximity of the Tanaro river adds another dimension to the appellation’s macro-climate.

Highlights were as follows…

Bruno Giacosa 2001 Barolo Falletto

This wine, from a classic Langa vintage, showed stunningly on Tuesday. Still very tannic in its development but as it opened up over the course of the evening, it performed a symphony of earthy, mushroomy flavors. The Austin Wine Merchant is selling this wine at release price (RUN DON’T WALK).

Brovia 2004 Barolo Rocche

My first encounter with this vintage from traditional producer, Brovia, one of my favorites. Here wild berry fruit ultimately gave way to a wonderful eucalyptus note. The wine is still very tannic, of course, but was suprisingly approachable after just an hour of aeration. I loved the way the fruit and savory flavors played together like a meal in a glass. Great value for the quality of wine.

Marcarini 2005 Barolo Brunate

This wine had a bretty, barnyardy note on the nose that was a turn off for a lot of folks but guest sommelier June Rodil (the current top Texas sommelier title holder) and I really dug this wine, which weighs in at less than $60. I love the rough edges of this rustic style of Barolo and only wish that I had some bollito misto and mostarda to pair with its vegetal, sweaty horse flavors.

Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 Barbaresco

Tracie B, who joined at the end of the class, and I agreed that this wine is beginning to close up. It is entering a tannic phase of its development and its savoriness overpowers its fruit right now. That being said, it still represents the greatest value in Langa today, at under $40. If you read Do Bianchi, you know how much I love the wines of Produttori del Barbaresco: I would recommend opening this wine the morning of the dinner where you’d like to serve it. By the end of the night, the tannin had mellowed and the fruit began to emerge.

To reserve for my Wines of the Veneto class (Nov. 3, a seminar dear to my heart because of my personal connection to the Veneto) or my Italian Wine and Civilization Class (Nov. 10, my personal favorite), please call 512-499-0512‎. On Tuesday, Nov. 10, we’ll all head over to Trio after class for a glass of something great to celebrate. Thanks again, to everyone, for taking part and heartfelt thanks to The Austin Wine Merchant for giving me the opportunity to share my passion for Italian wines with Austin!

In other Nebbiolo news…

My buddy Mark Sayre is pouring Matteo Correggia 2006 Roero Nebbiolo by the glass at the Trio happy hour at the Four Seasons. European wine writers have been paying a lot of attention lately to the red wines of Roero (an appellation better known in this country for its aromatic white Arneis). There isn’t much red Roero available in the U.S. and I was thrilled to see this 100% Nebbiolo in the market. It’s showing beautifully right now and is my new favorite pairing for chef Todd’s fried pork belly — my compulsive obsession — a confit seasoned with the same ingredients used to make Coca Cola.

See, mom? You can sleep peacefully knowing that your son is drinking great Nebbiolo! ;-)


Does anyone remember Tom Lehrer’s “So Long Mom, I’m Off To Drop a Bomb”?