Gaja meets pork at the Village Pub

A quick tribute to Nebbiolo is in order. Absolute killer combo: pork - courtesy of Village Pub in Woodside (home of the rich & famous), and Gaja Barolo - courtesy of Iron Chevsky. Juicy pork chop with sautéed cherries, and cherry-loaded 2003 Gaja Barolo “Dagromis”. Oh yeah baby!

The much-maligned 2003 (due to extreme heat wave in Europe) nonetheless yielded some decadent wines in the hands of competent producers, and there are bargains to be had! (Just ask Jeremy Parzen over at DoBianchi blog.) After an hour of decanting, this rich 2003 was bursting with intense aromas of pure concentrated cherries jumping out of the glass, balanced by requisite acidity and soft tannins, the wine drinking superbly, while your 2004’s and 2001’s are tucked away aging in the cellar. This Gaja will undoubtedly get more subtle and complex with a bit more age (~3-5 years), but it’s a knock-out right now.

Gratuitously, I felt compelled to post the photo of the truffle decadence (shown below). The wine worked ok with the ravioli and black truffles, but not quite with the green peas. A more earthy Nebbiolo with more age on it would have been better, such as perhaps '99 Moccagatta Bric Balin or 2000 Malvira Roero, both loaded with truffley classical Nebbiolo goodness (both producers highly recommended).

Killer wine. As for the Village Pub... the dishes looked fantastic, but taste-wise, they were more aspiring than inspiring, missing a little something that separates the men from the boys. We got friendly with the som, shared our Burgundy and Barolo, and at the end got the $60 corkage bill - that ain't cool in my book.


Dan Raveneau said…
Yep, I am quickly learning that the corkage issue is the most hotly debated thing in all of restaurantdom! It is like two extreme and opposing religious views, or Mac vs. PC, haha, unwinnable! On one side you have the restaurateur who does need to make a living and pay staff, and build a cellar. On the other hand you have us consumers who feel we do a lot – spend $$ on lots of food (and wine), bring in customers, share wine with staff. I guess the best compromise I have seen is policies like “you buy a bottle, we waive a corkage” type stuff. It is especially painful for a well-intentioned customer when they share 1/4 of their bottle with a friendly staff then get hit with full corkages all around, but I see the restaurant’s side too. That’s why I guess a compromise will be the best resolution, and I especially appreciate the restaurants that at least make some effort to please both sides!
Do Bianchi said…
thanks for the shout out Gary.

$60 is pretty steep for corkage but not unheard of. When you look at it from a restaurateur's POV, it really makes sense and depending on the average price of a bottle on a list, $60 was probably fair.
Iron Chevsky said…
So you guys don't think that the som should have been more "accomodating" after seeing that we are serious wine people and after we shared (and she accepted) wine with her? And at any rate, charging $30 corkage is a rip-off IMHO - I can understand $15-20, but $30?! (Yes, Manresa charges $35 and French Laundry $75 or so, but they can get away with that rip-off because they are in a different league). Anyway, it's not a big deal, just thought they could have handled it in a smarter way.
Unknown said…
My impression has always been that when a restaurant proprietor or sommelier waives corkage (or any fee, for that matter), it's with the intention to compensate for an insufficiency in the quality of the experience-- e.g. lost reservation, etc, and even when it's not the restaurant's fault, such as having unruly patrons at the next table during the meal.

It seems to me that waiving corkage to acknowledge your appreciation for, and accepting your offer to share your wine, would be somewhat beyond that scope. Perhaps she felt that waiving corkage in this case would have been perceived as a tacit disapproval of the corkage policy, or may not even had discretionary authority to waive it at all.
Anonymous said…
here's the worst case for a restaurant. party comes in at 7 pm, stays to 9 or 10 on a busy night and thus blocks the turn of the table. they bring their own wine and share dishes. food sales per person are low. no wines sales and an additional seating is lost.

here are some factors that can be taken into account as to whether to waive or not:

regularity of the guest
food bill per person
restaurant wine purchased
attitude of the guest

here are some factors used to determine the amount of a corkage fee:

average cost of bottle on list
inventory value of wine cellar
wine staff expenses
wine glass/decanter expenses

chain restaurants like pasta pomodoro charge $15/btl. michelin-starred restaurants with wine programs and staff can't charge such a small amount. the type of wine brought in is also different. it takes quite a bit of work to open up and decant three bottles of reds from the 80s with old corks and sediment.

generally speaking, from a management point of view, sharing wine with staff is not a factor in waiving corkage. offering staff a taste is proper etiquette but not required.

servers however can often "forget" to charge corkage and then the guest appreciates this with a larger tip. essentially the corkage fee paid to the server rather than the restaurant. a waived corkage should show on the bill and then be deducted, not just not be noted.

a lot of restaurants are hesitant to waive corkage for non-regulars who bring in multiple bottles of high-end wine but don't purchase wine from the restaurant, especially on their first visit. an expectation will be set and customers will forever be dissatisfied if a corkage fee shows up on their bill. it becomes a lose-lose situation.

if you want corkage waived: be a regular, arrive at 8:30, order a nice bottle of champagne, the tasting menu or equivalent and enjoy your bottles!
Iron Chevsky said…
How about this scenario...?
When we ask the somm to open the first wine, the somm notices that we are not regulars, and politely reminds us "Just wanted to remind you guys of our corkage policy...blah blah blah... and "just between us", I'd be happy to waive corkage if you "blah blah blah" (order a bottle, for instance). Or after we shared the first wine (white Burgundy) and chit-chatted with the somm, clearly showing we are not casual wine drinkers, and when we ask the open and decant the second bottle (Gaja Barolo), perhaps at that point, the somm would diplomatically remind us of the policy and give us a suggestion? Otherwise, yes, the somm did nothing wrong, but nothing smart either. And btw, we ended up paying $80/person for the meal, and as I mentioned, it wasn't spectacular.

Oh, I know no one cares :), but about that 2003 Gaja!

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