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Lunch with Friends

October 2007

A gorgeous sunny Sunday in rural New Jersey provided the backdrop for this relaxing, leisurely lunch. Highlights included the polenta with shrimp and spicy tomato sauce and perfectly grilled veal chops, one of my favorite dishes. A large glass of the 1997 Percarlo was immensely pleasurable. This massive wine offered a voluptuous, seamless texture and a generous personality loaded with fruit. Lingering notes of sweetness on the finish worked well with the spiciness of the tomato sauce on the polenta.

A flight of Angelo Gaja’s 2000s was spectacular, even if the hot vintage had attenuated the differences that make each of these wines so unique in cooler, fresher years like 2001 and 2004. The Barbaresco was very 2000 in its gorgeous, seamless texture, open aromatics and sweet ripe fruit. The 2000 Costa Russi revealed a darker profile and a more generous palate presence. It was an incredibly rewarding wine to drink. As is usually the case, the 2000 Sorì Tildìn was the most feminine and nuanced of the Gaja’s wines from Barbaresco, even if the vintage had toned down some of those qualities. Still, it was a relatively accessible and delicious Sorì Tildìn. Gaja’s 2000 Sorì San Lorenzo stole the show on this afternoon. This deep, powerful beauty offered compelling balance in its stunning dark fruit in a remarkably open style for this wine. It was the freshest and most vibrant of the Gajas and was magnificent to catch at this stage.

Giuseppe Quintarelli’s 1997 Alzero was majestic, as it has been every time I have had it so far.  This particular bottle appeared to be more structured than is normally the case. It was nevertheless an immensely pleasurable wine to drink. Exotic Cabernet Franc aromas were interwoven with sweet dark fruit, spices, tar, roasted coffee beans and a multitude of other flavors that emerged as this wine opened with air. It was a great showing by one of Italy’s most profound wines. The 1995 Recioto was equally moving. Plums, prunes, dark cherries, new leather, spices and licorice all flowed from this concentrated, opulent sweet wine. Our bottle was finished in an instant, yet its aromas and flavors lingered for hours.


Assorted crostini

Polenta with shrimp and spicy tomato sauce


Grilled veal chops

Artisan cheeses

Brasato al Barolo

Selection of cheeses



San Giusto a Rentennano Percarlo



Gaja Barbaresco



Gaja Costa Russi



Gaja Sorì Tildìn



Gaja Sorì San Lorenzo



Giuseppe Quintarelli Alzero



Giuseppe Quintarelli Recioto


--Antonio Galloni