Mom had mentioned that she particularly wanted to taste Donato's much-acclaimed thin-crust pizza. So I brought a bottle of 2007 Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino that I thought should be great with pizza but would also scale to the rest of the meal, which it did.
This was the second time in the past month I had this Rosso, with mixed reactions. The first time at Renee and Andy's wedding, this wine followed Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 basic Barbaresco. The Barbaresco was so much juicier, brighter, and tastier that the Rosso came off as simply dull. My thinking was that Rosso di Montalcino would be a "baby Brunello" and have the oomph to follow a lighter-bodied Barbaresco. Baby Brunello this was not. But true to my preachings of giving a wine a second chance, and out respect for Il Poggione, whose 2004 Brunello I like very much, I decided to try the wine again for Mother's Day.
Without prelude or distraction of another wine, the Rosso did much better. My family approved. The wine was solid - balanced, perfumed, not heavy, a good match for the food; however, in my opinion, it lacked certain depth and personality, which, in its defense, are hard to expect from a $20 Sangiovese. Good wine for what it was, but not an over-achiever, occupying a vague slot between simple Chianti and serious Brunello. (In contrast, I recently tasted a 2005 Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino and for ~$25 the wine was more complex and full of character. And that is not to say that there aren't serious Chiantis - just check out Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva Il Margone 2001 mentioned here.)
The amazing array of lip-smacking dishes followed, flavors exploding in my mouth, textures caressing my tongue, some prepared for the first time ever specifically for Mother's Day. (Mouse over the pictures to see descriptions.)
The meal finally made its way to my favorite chocolate dessert that I ordered specifically for the next two wines I'd brought. The dessert had to be chocolate, because of the two bottles of Malaga fortified sweet wine produced by Tierras de Mollina from Pedro Ximenez grape, with a small amount (under 15%) of Moscatel blended in, using a solera system. One wine - Carpe Diem Añejo - was aged for average of 8 years. The other - Carpe Diem Trasañejo - was aged in a much more extensive solera that had begun in 1809 resulting in a wine of approximate average age of 25 (i.e. there are traces of wine from 1809 in those barrels!) The wines are not sold in the US and were shipped to me directly from Spain after I zeroed in on the Añejo at the Spanish Cellar & Pantry tasting earlier this year. At that time, I had mentioned to the producer that I thought this sort of wine would gain complexity with extended aging, and as it turned out they did carry (though not at the tasting) a much longer-aged version. The producer helped answer the question by sending me samples of both. I have to say - I was absolutely, unequivocally right. The 25 year old Trasañejo was outstanding - the best Pedro Ximenez sweet wine I'd ever tried - deep nutty orange caramel, excellent acidity, relatively low alcohol for a fortified wine (15%) with no perceptible heat, and small amount of old box woodiness reminiscent of an old Port. The more I kept sipping, the more I liked it. Despite the thick texture and high sugar content, it was not syrupy, was easy to drink and was simply heavenly with the chocolate soufflé (shown below). So much so that I am trying to convince Eric the wine director of Donato Enoteca to figure out a way to add it to his venerable list. What a finish to a great meal!
And so on this Mother's Day, mission was accomplished, mama Chevsky was happy and a little tipsy, and the mishpucha around her breathed a sigh of relief! With a little heaviness in our stride, we stumbled out of the restaurant, 5pm still early enough to perhaps sneak a mid-night snack before turning the lights off on the sweet weekend.