Per Se

10 Columbus Circle

New York NY 10019

Tel (212) 823-9349

March 2007

I had been looking forward to this dinner at Per Se for some time. Located in the stylish Time-Warner Center, Per Se is Chef Thomas Keller’s New York restaurant. The main dining room is elegant and spacious in its design. We were seated in a private room which offered lovely springtime views of Central Park. Chef Keller is known for his fanatical quest for the very finest ingredients. His menus consist of a series of small tasting portions designed to tantalize the senses. Many of Chef Keller’s creations combine the simplest and most luxurious foods, such as the sublime egg custard with truffles and the oysters with tapioca sabayon and sturgeon caviar, just two of the many courses that were phenomenal. Other signature dishes are playful, contemporary interpretations of French and American classics. This was a great evening of fine food, wine and conversation. Dinner at Per Se is truly an experience. The food was outstanding and the service highly professional. Tasting so many exceptional wines from magnum was a reminder of how well wines age in larger formats. It also gave us an opportunity to revisit the wines often during the course of the evening and follow their evolution.

The 1988 Bollinger Grand Année, from magnum, was terrific. Still quite fresh, it revealed a lovely sense inner sweetness, with suggestions of brioche and toasted nuts. It was the perfect way to begin the evening. I have long been a fan of Ramonet’s Bâtard Montrachet and the 2004 was stunning. Superbly long on the palate, it exhibited a compelling tension between the richness of its fruit and the underlying notes of minerality that framed the wine’s texture. Bartolo Mascarello’s 1954 Barolo was faded in color, its fruit completely gone, leaving behind a weightless, almost Madeira-like wine of incredible delicacy and etherealness. Clearly a wine whose peak had passed, it was nevertheless fascinating to taste this from a perfectly stored bottle.

The magnum of Mascarello’s 1958 Barolo that followed was pure magic in a glass. Some years ago when Bartolo Mascarello was still alive I somehow persuaded him and his daughter Maria Teresa to part with a few of their older vintages, many of them in the 1.9 liter bottiglione format. At the time the 1958 was by far the most expensive wine I had ever purchased. I can still remember the look of shock on my soon to be wife's face when I paid the bill for the wines I bought that day. We had been looking forward to opening this bottle for some time. To say our high expectations were exceeded would be a gross understatement as the wine was breathtaking. It showed a fresh color, enticing aromatics and a powerful personality packed with layers of fruit that continued to dazzle us over several hours, constantly revealing new shades of expression. Notwithstanding its 49 years of age it came across as youthful, with plenty of underlying structure in reserve. The 1958 is quite possibly the best Barolo I have ever had from Bartolo Mascarello and it was truly spectacular from bottiglione.

We had great luck with a magnum of Giacomo Conterno’s 1990 Barolo Riserva Monfortino. It revealed a stunning, sweet ripe nose that opened seamlessly onto masses of opulent, dark fruit, with an engaging, sensual personality. The wine remained accessible for about 30 minutes of pure pleasure prior to slowly going into a shell. It was so primary and structured that it almost came across as a new release of this wine! Unfortunately I don’t own magnums of the 1990 Monfortino, but if I did I wouldn’t touch them for at least a decade. A magnum of Giuseppe Rinaldi's 1989 Barolo Riserva Brunata provided a fascinating contrast. While the Conterno closed down on itself, Rinaldi’s 1989 Brunate was much more open for business yet also came across as having plenty of life ahead. It too was deeply colored and packed with fruit. With air, brooding notes of iron and meatiness developed in the glass, but those darker notes were beautifully balanced by brighter eucalyptus and menthol overtones.


Tuile filled with salmon tartare

Creamy sunchoke soup

Pearl tapioca sabayon with oysters and sturgeon caviar

White truffle custard with black truffle and duck ragout

Caramelized globe artichoke salad

Ricotta agnolotti with shaved black truffles

Dover sole with pistachios

Butter poached lobster

Rabbit wrapped in smoked bacon

Lamb rib-eye

Goat tomme

Pineapple sorbet

Milk chocolate crémeux




Bollinger Grand Année (magnum)



2004 Ramonet Bâtard Montrachet



Bartolo Mascarello Barolo



Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (1.9 liter magnum)



Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino (magnum)



Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Riserva Brunata (magnum)


--Antonio Galloni