OMG! When Dan and Ash put together a "casual" dinner just because, Ash's fresh pasta with wild mushrooms and Italian sausage, with shaved truffle cheese on top, served with the 1996 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cannubi (thank you Sandy!) was orgasmic, except in a more romantic and indescribable way. When that truffly, mushroomy, fennelly goodness of a pasta was brought in proximity with the 1996, I could no longer separate the wine from the dish - the aromas melded, the flavors married, I was in heaven! The charm of the perfectly aged Barolo from a classical vintage was irresistible. Next to it, by comparison, I am sorry to say, the very impressive 2001 and 2005 Cavallotto Bricco Borschis Barolos just seemed out of place -- too young and primary (even the 2001). Cavallotto was clearly top-notch stuff, but the 1996 Michele Chiarlo brought smiles to my face - Barolo at its prime - suave, confident and firm, with a palate of strawberries and leather, roses and tar, truffles and licorice, all that and more... This was my first encounter of Michele Chiarlo Barolo - great showing of the '96 vintage, with many more years ahead of it. Don't know if this wine will win competitions against Piedmontese greats, but it was a perfect wine for a perfect dish on a perfect night.
Not to overlook any other gourmet dishes and fine wines at that glorious dinner, Dan's hazelnut and pistachio home-made gelato (made from the "grand cru of pistachios" -- Bronte pistachio paste -- imported from Italy) was unreal, especially with a bottle of 1990 Sauternes from Chateau Suduiraut - wow, what an unbelievable Sauternes flavor - "cardamom, pine and grapefruit" (Dan's description), salty & sour caramel, preserved fruits, nice acidity, a kaleidoscope of notes playing on my tongue.
We consumed I think nine bottles of wine among six of us during this amazing meal (that also included three glorious tomato and sashimi appetizers from Dan, and a delish cheese platter from Scott & Kate). A blur of ecstasy, a night to live and die for!
It was very very tough to get up for tennis this morning. But heroically, I did.
Thank you so much, guys - you rock!