Driving into New York last night in the pouring rain, Stephanie said we might need to give up our reservation at Convivio, which we truly enjoy to go somewhere closer to the theatre to make sure dinner wasn't too rushed and we did not get too wet. She suggested BLT Steak. We had never been there as I am not a steak eater, but we had a bottle of 1988 G. Conterno Monfortino that had already been breathing for 90 minutes. It is a lovely restaurant, with flawless service, a great atmosphere and a thoughtful, interesting menu based around the classics. She started with a classic spinach salad that was picture perfect, but big enough for two. I had two small ravioli, filled with short ribs in a reduced horseradish cream, compact and rich but delicious. Stephanie ordered a venison loin with Juniper sauce and wild blueberries. It was the best venison either of us had ever had. I needed to have a great piece of meat to go with what we hoped would be an amazing Monfortino, Stephanie's first. I decided to splurge on the 5 oz, Kobe Beef Filet that is flown in daily from Japan. Hands down, it was the best piece of meat I have ever had, cooked perfectly, charred and crispy on the outside and medium rare on the inside. I hated to finish it. We had amazing onion rings, superb hen of the woods mushrooms and very good brussel sprouts. And now the wine. I tasted my first Monfortino at the Alto 1960's tasting and I was immediately drawn to it. In talking to Antonio, I determined that I seem to love these long aged classics and that Monfortino followed a similar process to Vega Sicilia and Penfolds Grange. i love those wines even though I do not like many Austrlians and like very much, but not love most spanish wines (although i need to explore them much more deeply). I asked Antonio the optimal drinking age and he said 20 years was the right mix of maturity, fruit and power. Since my cellar is filled with Barolos from the 60s and 70's that I love. i saw this as an opportunity to expand my range. i went out and bought a bottle of the 87, 88 and 90 as well as an 85 Monprivato, 2 89 Casica Francia and 2 1990 Aldo Conterno Cicals to contrast old style with new. This would be our first tasting. After I opened the bottle about 4 hours before dinner, I decided to look on In the Cellar forum for other experience in decanting and found this note from Antonio. " have seen a number of wines from this vintage age rather quickly over the last two years. Have not had the Bartolo in a while. The 1988Monprivato is not a very representative 1988 or Monprivato. Here's the story why. Mascarelloï¿½??s 1988 Monprivato is another gem. It is a classic Monprivato, with a clear red color, and perfumed. ethereal aromas that soar out of the glass. Showing plenty of vibrancy and freshness as well as clean, focused flavors in its suggestions of roses, anise, strawberries and raspberries, it epitomizes elegance and finesse. Although it is perhaps not the most complex or age-worthy Monprivato it nevertheless is a beautiful wine to drink now and over the next 10-12 years. "In 1987 I purchased a plot in the Monprivato vineyard from Violante Sobrero. The vines didnï¿½??t respond immediately to my pruning and for two years continued to produce the higher yields to which they had been previosuly accustomed. For that reason I have never been fully satisfied with my 1988," adds Mascarello. 91/Anticipated maturity: 2006-2018.
I immediately recorked and worried that i had chosen an atypical Monfortino for Stephanie first. i went back to the Parker database to check the tasting note to see if I had screwed up. Here it was:"1988 Barolo Riserva Monfortinoï¿½??Burnished dense ruby. The 1988 offers classic evolved aromas of spices, chocolate, animal, and beef broth. Structured and complex on the palate, with sensations of dark fruits, stewed prunes and a balsamic character which suggest this wine is at or close to maturity. Finishes with great length and class. 94 points/drink now-?, tasted 05/05 </p>Conterno makes two Barolos both from the Cascina Francia vineyard, one of the great monopole sites in Piedmont. The vineyard was purchased by Giovanni Conterno in 1974 and measures six hectares. Cascina Francia is made in a traditional style, with natural yeasts and temperature-controlled fermentation and maceration lasting 3-4 weeks. The wines are aged in large Slavonian oak casks and are bottled in the summer of the fourth year following the harvest. In great vintages a special selection of the best fruit is made in the vineyard and that fruit becomes the Barolo Riserva Monfortino, perhaps the single most iconic wine in all of Piedmont. Monfortino is also made with natural yeasts, although fermentation/maceration time is longer, lasting 4-5 weeks, and is carried out without the aid of temperature control. Current vintages are aged seven years in cask, but past vintages have seen as much as 10 years of cask aging before being released. Monfortino is legendary for its extraordinary longevity, which is usually measured in decades.
No mention of it being atypical. I love the Parker site for several varietals, but technically, you really have to work to get the most recent notes or info since data from dinners, forums, ESW and other tastings are not regularly updated into the tasting notes section.
Well all's well that ends well. The wine was magnificent from the first scent. Massive animalistic nose of dark fruits, chocolate and something floral, followed by an explosion in the mouth of earth and dark fruits. This haas all the complexity of a great aged Barolo, but much more fruit forward with a hint of something stewed, but delicious. I think this wine cannot get better than it is and I would rebuy it for current drinking in a heartbeat. 95.
A Perfect dinner.