at Primavera, NYC (07/28/2007)

Photos are here.

I haven't written up my detailed notes yet, but below is a list of the wines and my general impressions.

FLIGHT 1: Bruno Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda

FLIGHT 2: 1978 Barolo

FLIGHT 3: Bartolo Mascarello Barolo

FLIGHT 4: Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo

FLIGHT 5: Dessert

Some general comments:

This dinner started when I heard that Board member Mark Rosenthal was coming to NYC for a few days and Bill Klapp was willing to come up and join us from NC. I gathered a few of the "usual suspects" including Tom Maskell, Joe Gagliano, Greg, Jamie Wolff, and Mannie Berk. Antonio unfortunately was unable to join us.

The dinner was held at Primavera, a lovely Italian restaurant at 1st Ave and 82nd St. which was very accommodating to our needs. In particular, they customized the food to our requests and it was consistently excellent. Thanks to Bill for selecting it!

On to the wines:

I liked the 90 Rionda, but it was not as good as the best bottles I've had. I was disappointed in the 82 Rionda. I found this bottle flat and not nearly as good as previous bottles. I gave perfect scores to the 89 and 78 Rionda. These are perfect wines at different stages of evolution. I liked the 85 Rionda, but it did show as much more mature than the last bottle from the same case.

The 78 Vietti Rocche had a fabulous nose and was delicious, but the sourness of the cherries on the finish kept it from being truly great IMO. The 78 G. Rinaldi Brunate Riserva was terrific. My first experience with a G. Rinaldi this old. I look forward to many more! The 78 Giacosa Pugnane (white label) was a revelation. I have not had a Giacosa from the vineyard before, and I would never have picked this out as a Giacosa if it were served blind. Giacosa has a consistent style across all his Nebbiolo wines from Barolo to Barbaresco. This was different. The most Burgundian Giacosa I have ever had. A great experience! The 78 Monfortino was just the same old 78 Monfortino. (That is the most jaded wine note I've ever written.) Seriously, this was a great bottle which probably should not have been drunk for another 10 or 20 years, but if it had to be, I'm glad I was there.

On to the Bartolo Mascarello: What can I say. This great man's wines just move me. The 82 was terrific, but still quite young. The 71 was very good, but not great. The 64 was nearly perfect. Certainly the best bottle I have had. The 58 was sadly gone, totally and unequivocally gone. A friend of mine bought some early 1900s wines that had been badly stored where you could not tell the red Bordeaux from the Riesling based on color. This bottle was like those. I thought it looked and smelled more like regular Snapple iced tea than peach, but I won't quibble with Greg on that.

As we began the G. Mascarello flight, I began to wonder what I had done right in life to allow me this evening. The 85 Monprivato is a stunning wine. Impressive what a staunch traditionalist can do in a ripe vintage. The 78 Villero is still quite tannic and I wonder if it will ever come into full balance. Would have been a pleasure to drink on another evening, but pales in this company. The 70 Monprivato is the first that Mauro Mascarello made, and it is a terrific wine perhaps at its peak. It is all Barolo sweetness in the mouth. The WOTN on almost any other night. The 61 Barolo was fading fast. It had an apple cider nose and a light Madeira finish. Really quite pleasant, but OTH.

Finally, the 1991 Acininobili that I brought wasn't at its best and did not go well at this point. But nothing could spoil this great evening! Thanks to Mark to getting it all started, Bill for pushing it along and picking the restaurant, and everyone for showing up and bringing great wines!

One last thing. The group voting on WOTN. Everyone gave their top 3 in order and I totaled the points (3 for 1st, . . .). It's hard to pick only 3 on a night like this, so some wines that most or all of us thought were terrific, did not get votes. It might have been everyone's 4th wine. Anyway, here are the totals:

1. 64 Bartolo Mascarello (14 points)
2. 89 Giacosa Rionda Riserva (11)
3. 78 Monfortino (10)
4. 78 Rionda Riserva (6)
5. 82 Rionda Riserva (4)
6. 78 Rinaldi Brunate Riserva (2)
7(tie). 85 Monprivato (1)
7(tie). 78 Giacosa Pugnane (1)

A Sad Addendum

Mark Rosenthal passed away early in 2010. This dinner was the one time we met in person.

I met Mark through the Internet. He sent me this email in 2006 regarding the previous incarnation of my website:

Ken-- I just stumbled upon your Giacosa label website, thanks to Galloni's reference to it in the Piedmont Report. I was looking for info about a bottle of 1978 Giacosa Arione. I had bought two bottles about 20 years ago, drank one in 1995 (it was terrific) and was planning to bring the second to a friend's birthday dinner Friday night. Since I had never seen another Arione from Giacosa since then, I was wondering about it and your website provided the answer. By the way, I'm a long time Barolo collector and fan -- and a sports lawyer (mostly baseball). Let me know if you are ever in LA -- sounds like we have some similar interests.

This led to a lengthy correspondence between us, mostly about the wines of Piedmont and about baseball. In the fall of 2006 (knowing of my life-long love of the Mets), Mark got me 4 tickets to Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. I paid him back in Barolo. As it turned out, that was the last game the Mets won that year and it was a very special day for my family and me.

Last summer, Mark and his group out in LA organized a Giacosa dinner with loads of great old wines. I was sorely tempted to join him. Now, I truly regret that I did not accept his invitation.

This is a new thing we do here on the Internet, sharing our passion for wine across great distances, but the friendships we make are real. I cried when I learned of Mark's passing. He was a good man who will be missed.

Mark Rosenthal RIP.




All original content © Ken Vastola