Sunday, November 8, 2009

Earthquake epicentered at Enoteca 100

Next door to the ultra-affluent Atherton and Palo Alto, a new volcano has emerged in the center of the previously sleepy Redwood City. The little town with its endless supply of taco joints and random mom-and-pops, has been undergoing revival especially around the downtown area.

With the arrival of chef Donato Scotti, Redwood City has awakened. On Saturday, November 7, a major "earthquake" epicentered at Donato Enoteca shook the core of the wine business, as the inaugural wine & food tasting event Enoteca 100 got under way - an affair featuring 100 wines embodying the soul of Italy - its food, its drink, and its vibe of life that envelops a guest as if he or she is transported to Italy itself. Except it's better - at Enoteca 100, the wine director Eric Lecours managed to bring together a veritable array of Italian importers, all in one place, showcasing their inspired wines that could only be matched by Donato's deft culinary hand. A special whole roasted suckling pig, served with pesto sauce and rock salt was magnificent!

From noon, when the VIP ticket holders showed up, all the way to 4pm, the restaurant was a giant food and wine orgy, with hors d'oeuvres coming non-stop, and the never-ending row-after-row of top-notch wines poured by enthusiastic Italians. Not as big as the legendary annual Tre Bicchieri tasting in San Francisco, this was a grand event nonetheless. The fact that Eric was able to arrange this sort of high-end extravaganza with impeccable selection of wines was hardly shocking - considering that the restaurant that had just opened a few months ago has already been included into the 2009 edition of the Michelin guide, and had numerous positive mentions in media, including Donato's appearance on ABC just last week. In this economy and in this city, they must be doing something right. On Saturday, it was patently obvious!

Unlike typical large-scale trade tastings designed to let wine retailers and restaurateurs sample and order wines, and unlike large scale consumer tastings like Zinfandel Festival at Fort Mason where food and wine are offered for sampling but not purchasing, at Enoteca 100 guests (i.e. consumers) could order direct anything they liked. Instant gratification at work, order they did! - as I was leaving, a long line formed to submit their order forms. In the wine industry aching in the current economic downturn, the owners of Donato Enoteca have synthesized what in my opinion appears to be a new concept - a kind of event that raises the bar on what wine can do for a restaurant by blurring boundaries between a trade tasting, a consumer tasting, a wine bar, a wine shop, and a restaurant. A stroke of creative genius and a win/win for all parties involved.

And yes, the wines were very good indeed!

Yours truly Iron Chevsky found many marvelous items that shall enrich my own cellar shortly.
For me, the star of the show was a 1995 Amarone magnum, smooth, distinctive, complex, with 15 years of age, in a beautiful magnum bottle by Cesari, from Siena Imports. Great wine at a relative bargain price ($50-something).

There were many very good Nebbiolos from various Piedmont appellations - Roero, Barolo, Barbaresco. Hard to go wrong there in the 2004 vintage. The 2005 vintage is looking good for Barbarescos so far as well. One Nebbiolo-based wine was particularly interesting -- 2005 "Albareda" Sforzato di Valtellina by Mamete Prevostini, carried by a relatively new importer Trilussa (founded by Stefano Biscotto). Sforzato di Valtellina is made from 100% Nebbiolo in Amarone style - which means the grapes are dried on mats until they lose some amount of moisture thus concentrating the sugars, like raisins. Incredibly soft and smooth, the slightly off-dry wine seemed to be melting on my tongue like cherry ice-cream - an amazing tactile experience. Stefano also showcased an impressive 2006 "Poveriano" 100% Cabernet Franc by Selvagrossa winery from Marche region of Italy (on the Adriatic coast).

Another interesting wine turned up from the DSWE imports (Domain Select Wine Estates) - a very expressive 2006 Pinot Noir "vigne la tour" by Les CrĂȘtes from Valle d'Aosta region in the Northwestern Italy. Bursting of cherry and spice, I could almost taste the freshness of the Alps!

2004 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino carried by Terlato Wine International was excellent. Of course Movia, Il Molino di Grace, Massolino, Pecchenino, and many many other producers known for their high-quality vino were offered, too many for me to describe here, but I included the complete list of wines from the event at end of the post.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Giustino Bisol whose family owns the Ruggeri estate in Veneto region of Italy, represented by Villa Italia. Ruggeri is famous for their Prosecco, one of the top sellers at Vineyard Gate.

The young Mr. Bisol explained that "Ruggeri" was the last name of his grand-father's partner who together with his grandfather founded the estate in 1950. Eventually the two parted ways, and the Bisol family has been running the estate for two generations, yet the original name was kept.

The food kept coming, the vino flowed. It seemed that after several months of operation, the staff are well trained, as food delivery seemed under control and on time, without anything looking hectic in the kitchen. Chef Donato even had time to socialize with guests, while Pedro, Donato's sous-chef, backed him up behind the counter.

Enoteca 100 demonstrated why both "Donato" and "Enoteca" are in the name of the restaurant. The event was abuzz with energy as I left satisfied and impressed with both the culinary effort and business creativity of Donato Scotti and Eric Lecours.

For reference, I am attaching the complete list of wines at the event:

Salviano Turlo
Feudo Maccari Renoto
Agricola Punica Barrua
Donnafugata Anthilia
Biserno Insoglio Del Cinghiale
Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni
Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino
Planeta La Segreta Bianco 2007
Planeta Cerasuolo 2007
Planeta Santa Cecila 2006
Rocca Della Macie Chianti Classico rsv 2005
Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio 2008
Anselmi Soave San Vincenzo 2008
Fonterutoli Badiola 2006
Col D'Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino 2004
Sella & Mosca Cannonau 2005
Feudi Falanghina 2008
Ca' Bianca Barbera "Chersi" 2005
Lamberti Prosecco NV
Nino Negri Sfursat "Valtellina" 2005
Rapitila "Piano Maltese" 2007
Ca' Del Bosco Cuvee Prestige NV
Il Poggione Rosso 2007
Il Poggione Brunello 2004
Mazzoni Toscana Rosso 2006
Gaja Ca Marcanda Promis 2006
La Battagliola Lambrusco DOC 2008
Bianco di Annibale 2008
Rosso di Annibale 2008
Cascina Del Santuario Moscato D'Asti
Il Sogno di Annibale Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene
Casamatta Bianco 2008
Bastianich Vespa Bianco 2006
La Mozza Morellino "I Perazzzi" 2007
Odoardi Savuto 2005
Bruno Rocca Barbera D'Alba 2006
Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Coparossa 2004
Brandini Barolo 2005
Selvagrossa Poveriano 2006
Tenuta di Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino 2004

Prevostini Sforzato Albareda 2005
Prosecco Brut Carpene Malvolti
Il Calepino Brut "Fra Ambrogio" 2001
Ribolla Gialla Spumante "Fenis" 2007
Lambrusco Grand Cru AriolaSauvignon "Lahn" St Micheal Eppan 2007
Braide Alte 2004
Antinoo Casale del Giglio 2007
Barbaresco "Narin" 2005
Aglianico del Vulture Re Manfredi 2005
Black Label I Balzini 2004
Brunello di Montalcino, La Lecciaia 2003
Mater Matuta Casale del Giglio
Amarone Cesari 1995

Sassotondo Rosso '08
Renzo Castello Dolcetto '07
Anzivino Gattinara '04
Scarpone Montelpulciano '07
Nicolis Ambrosan Amarone '03
Ruggeri Prosecco Gold Label
Il Trullo Primitivo '08
Marotti Campi Verdicchio dei Jesi Sup. '08
Nanfro Insolia '08
Fratelli Alessandria Barolo '04

Bisol “Crede” Prosecco di Valdobbiadene 2007
Terredora Greco di Tufo 2008
Suavia “Monte Carbonare” Soave 2006
Statti Gaglioppo (Calabria) 2008
Cantele Primitivo 2005
Pecchenino Siri d’Jermu Dolcetto Dogliani 2006
Le Salette “I Progni” Valpolicella Ripasso 2006
Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2005
Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Damilano “Cannubi” Barolo 2004
San Lazzaro, Offida Pecorino 2007
Volpe Pasini Pinot Grigio Grivo' 2008
Cascina Val del Prete Arneis Luet 2007
Valle Isarco Kerner Aristos 2007
Marisa Cuomo Fiorduva 2006

Veltliner Aristos 2008
San Vincenti Chianti Classico Riserva 2003
Cascina Val del Prete Barbera d'Alba Serra de Gatti 2007
De Conciliis Aglianico Donnaluna 2007
Poderi San Lazzaro Rosso Piceno Superiore Poderi 72 2007
Carossa Langhe Nebbiolo 2006
Badia di Morrona Taneto 2006
Graci Etna Rossa 2007
Querceto di Castellina Merlot Podalirio 2005
Valle dell’acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2006
Carossa Roero Audinaggio 2005
Carossa Barbera d'Alba Mulassa 2005
Cascina Val del Prete Nebbiolo Vigna di Lino 2004
Caprili Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Francesco Rinaldi Barbaresco 2005
Baudana Barolo Sori Baudana 2004
Venturini Amarone 2004
Palari Rosso del Soprano 2005
Poderi San Lazzaro Grifola 2005
Querceto di Castellina Chianti L'Aura 2006
Giusti Lacrima di Morro d'Alba 2007
Palari, Faro 2005Coppo Chardonnay Costebianche
Vitiano Rosato
Valle Reale Nouve Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
Castellare Chianti Classico
Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre IGT
Movia Ribolla
Quattro Mani Toh Kai
Les Cretes Pinot Noir
Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico
Massolino Barbera D'Alba
Nozzole Le Bruniche Chardonnay
Tenute Silvio Nardi Rosso di Montalcino

1 comment:

Iron Chevsky said...

The account and wine scores by Richard Jennings:

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