I organized a lunch yesterday with some wine trade and collector friends in Zurich in what is one of the best Italian restaurants in the city – Ristorante La Rocca. Most of the invitees brought along some interesting bottles to try. There was no real theme, just the chance to hang together and taste some good wines.
I brought some young Italians that have impressed me recently including 2001 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino, 2003 Petrolo Galatrona and 2000 Giacomo Grimaldi Barolo Le Coste. These wines have all been scored in the magazine -- 98, 94 and 96 points respectively. Everyone thought they all showed wonderfully and exactly as they should, although the Valdicava Brunello and Petrolo pure Merlot were still babies and need another four or five years of bottle age.
Another buddy at the lunch brought some bottles of cult Rioja from Benjamin Romeo. They were the 2003 La Cueva del Contrador and 2003 La Vina de Andres Romeo. These are handmade, modern Riojas with loads of bright fruit and sex appeal. I really was impressed with the latyer, which I scored 93 points. (Obviously, it was not an official blind tasting). The fruit-forward La Cueva was a point or two less. These are excellent examples of new-wave Rijoas – although I almost fell out of my chair when I heard they sell for about $150 and $100 a bottle.
Then another wine merchant friend bought a bottle of 1975 DRC Montrachet. At first, I thought he was incredibly generous. And everybody was super excited at the table. Then I realized that the bottle was completely ruined. You could see that the wine was already a dark brown color through the green glass. It wasn't even worth tasting.
The other wine he brought was a 1967 Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouche, but you could see that the cork had already fallen in the bottle!
I was sort of perplexed about his wine selection so far….. I guess he had a late night the evening before, or something.
He did redeem himself with the lunch party by pouring blind a 1967 Laville Haut-Brion, which was still fresh with lots of waxy, green apple and mineral character. I thought it was something from the Loire because it was slightly off dry on the palate. No one figured white Bordeaux. (91 points)
The lunch was excellent with wonderful anti-pasti such as homemade sausages and grilled eggplant on small toasts, yummy pastas and juicy grilled meats. Chef and owner Maurizio Brocca is originally from Puligia and transports the region’s sincerity and quality in its cuisine to Zurich – which isn’t easy! It's no-frills, real Italian food here.
Lunch finished and we went over to one of my friend’s wine shop, Casa del Vino, which specializes in Spanish wines. And we tasted another wine from Romeo. The 2003s from this producer are surprisingly fresh and rich, and not at all jammy like I thought they would be, even considering the hot growing season.
We all decided to go afterwards. Unfortunately, my friend who brought the two dead-solider bottles backed into the door of my other friend's 575 M Ferrari as he left. He was already the slightly unfavored lunch guest of the day....
One of those zany tasting lunch days….even for Zurich.
Ristorante La Rocca
Casa del Vino
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