Jackson Hole Wine Auction Charity Dinner at Alto

Alto [Closed]

11 East 53rd Street,

New York, NY 10022

Tel: (212) 308-1099

May 2009

This magnificent dinner at Alto was held to benefit the Jackson Hole Wine Auction. Chef Michael White prepared an extraordinary menu to match a selection of wines pulled from my cellar and that of the winner of this lot, collector David Stout. The focus was on Friuli, Piedmont and Veneto. Not bad. Among the guests were several prominent Philadelphia restaurateurs, including the irrepressible, boisterous Mark Vetri who I had the privilege of sitting next to. A great time was had by all.

We had no problem polishing off two bottles of the sublime 1995 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque to start. What a wine! Our bottles were superb; clean, precise and intensely aromatic, with endless layers of fruit and phenomenal balance.

Our first course, a perfectly seasoned soft shell crab with cicerchia, fennel and arugula was very nicely done. I chose three cult Friulian whites to pair with the crab, and they all showed beautifully. The 2006 Miani Tocai Filip was in a class of its own. Elegant, pure and graceful, it revealed layers of citrus and mineral-infused fruit that married very well with the crab. Edi Kante’s 1999 Sauvignon Collezione, a Riserva bottling, was sublime in its perfumed, aromatic fruit. At ten years of age the wine was still impeccably fresh and elegant. Borgo del Tiglio’s 2001 Tocai Ronco della Chiesa had acquired notes of petrol, smoke and licorice, all of which came together in a fairly full-bodied style.

Chef White’s pappardelle with roast baby lamb ragù was a showstopper. I could have easily eaten another portion. All of the flavors and textures came together with superb richness and purity. The wines with this course were truly inspiring. A magnum of Roberto Voerzio’s 2000 Barbera d’Alba Pozzo, from David Stout’s cellar, was magnificent. Gloriously ripe and seamless, the wine showed extraordinary purity and enough freshness to drink well for at least another decade. It was magnificent, and on its own the most impressive of these three wines. Giacomo Conterno’s 2001 Barbera d’Alba was by comparison decidedly elegant and Burgundian in style. 2001 was the first vintage in which Conterno decided to give his Barbera more time in barrel, and this was clearly a wine that reflected an inflection point in the estate’s history. Vietti’s 2000 Barbera d’Asti La Crena was easily the most enjoyable with the pasta. The La Crena is one of the hidden gems in the Vietti lineup and on this night it was terrific. A myriad of smoke, earthiness, tar, minerals and dark fruit melded seamlessly with the food to yield an unforgettable pairing.

As soon as Chef White presented his dry-aged strip steak I knew we were in for a treat. The steak was magnificent in every way. The morels, mushrooms and cipollini spoke eloquently of the bounties of spring. Giacosa’s 1998 Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano enjoyed a good showing, with its layers of perfumed, spiced fruit on full display. It was gorgeous and impeccably balanced; even if this wasn’t the very finest bottle of 1998 Santo Stefano I have had recently. The 1989 Barolo Villero remains the hidden gem in a vintage that is one of Giacosa’s two or three finest. This was a feminine, graceful Barolo endowed with layers of roses, tar, minerals and ripe red fruit, all framed by impeccably silky, sweet tannins. The wine was wonderful. The 1986 Barolo Falletto Riserva was even better. This dark, brooding Barolo flowed with tremendous depth and richness in its dark fruit, spices, menthol and minerals in a powerful focused style. It was easily one of the wines of the night.

Any dinner that includes a wine from Giuseppe Quintarelli is likely to be unforgettable…but we had the privilege of drinking four bottles, including some of his all-time legendary wines. The 1990 Amarone Riserva was sweet and ethereal, with delicate notes of perfumed fruit buttressed by silky tannins and exceptional overall balance. The 1995 Alzero (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot) was deep, rich and concentrated in its blackberries, cassis and grilled herbs. The sheer opulence of the finest vintages was missing, but it was nevertheless a beautiful wine to enjoy with our cheese course. Sadly, a bottle of the 1981 Amarone was impossible to assess with any accuracy. 

I went back and forth as to which of the two Reciotos but it was an impossible task as both wines were extraterrestrial. This was my last bottle of the 1983 Recioto Gran Riserva, a mythical, legendary bottle that more than lived up to expectations. I will never understand how a wine can be so complex yet so youthful, but that was exactly where the 1983 was. This immortal Recioto flowed with the essence of rich cherries, violets, chocolate and minerals in a regal style fit for kings and queens. The 1990 Recioto Riserva was incredibly rich, seamless and opulent, all while somehow staying light on its feet. The 1990 had a touch more depth than the 1983 Gran Riserva but perhaps a shade less overall complexity. No matter, both wines were profound. The torrone dessert was delicious, but in the end I chose to spend a few last contemplative moments with these two masterpieces from Giuseppe Quintarelli.


Semolina-crusted soft shell crab, cicerchia purée, baby fennel, arugula

Wide ribbon pasta, roast baby lamb ragù, taggiasca olive, summery savory

Creekstone Farms dry aged strip steak, morel mushrooms, asparagus, cipollini

Artisan Cheeses

Piedmontese nougat semifreddo, hazelnut cake, warm chocolate sauce 



Dom Pérignon Oenothèque



Miani Tocai Filip



Borgo del Tiglio Tocai Ronco della Chiesa



Edi Kante Sauvignon Collezione



Roberto Voerzio Barbera d’Alba Pozzo (magnum)



Vietti Barbera d’Asti La Crena



Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba



Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano



Giacosa Barolo Villero



Giacosa Barolo Falletto Riserva



Quintarelli Amarone Riserva



Quintarelli Alzero



Quintarelli Amarone



Quintarelli Recioto Gran Riserva



Quintarelli Recioto Riserva


--Antonio Galloni