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The Last Bottle of the Night

Posted: Sep 21, 2007 4:15pm ET

My colleagues from the magazine’s New York office – Gloria Maroti Frazee and Kate Elia -- were looking a bit tired this morning in Tuscany. I noticed Kate was carrying a large plastic bottle of Panna water. It was like a new appendage for her.  They were loading up their Ford Focus station wagon with all their video gear for a drive to Florence airport to catch a plane for New York City via Paris. I think you are all going to see some fun and informative videos in the future from Tuscany after they spent close to 10 days here.

But it reminded me of what I call “the last bottle of the night.” It can be a killer. It can be the head banger, the one that finishes you off for the next day. Luckily, I have learned to pace myself after years of experience. But it can sneak up on you. Do you know what I mean? Particularly sneaky can be those late night bottles of vintage Port that seem to miraculously surface on the table from my cellar. Those can be like hollow bullets to the head, if you are not careful.

Anyway, we drank a couple of 1997 Barolos at dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants in Tuscany – Canto di Maggiore. They went down perfectly with the roasted rabbit. All the wines were fresh and rich with lots of ripe fruit and soft yet silky tannins. They were certainly open now but they had plenty of structure for long term aging. They included a 1997 Pio Cesare Barolo and 1997 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Enrico VI. They were both excellent. The group preferred the latter, but the former was drinking wonderfully as well. It was in the magazine’s Top 10 in 2001.

When we got back to my house after dinner, we all  – there was also tasting coordinator Jo Cooke and editorial assistant Rosanne Quagliata -- decided to have a nightcap that included a bottle of 2000 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive and a 1995 Leoville-Las Cases. I barely remember tasting the 2000 Giacosa Barbaresco. They drank it like explorers lost in the desert and finding an oasis after a few days full of clean, fresh water. The bottle was empty in minutes. I never knew our video experts were such lovers of Nebbiolo. 94 point, non-blind. I would leave it for another four years.

The Las Cases went pretty quickly too. And it was just starting to open up. It showed dense and rich cassis, berry and mineral character and very silky tannins. I thought it needed another three or four years of bottle age to be ready. 95 points, non-blind.

Someone wanted a different “last bottle of the night” after the Las Cases. Luckily, I convinced them to all go to bed. Otherwise, we would have all been carrying Panna water bottles this morning ...

John B Vlahos
Cupertino Ca. —  September 21, 2007 5:21pm ET
James, life is too short to always drink cautiously, 'specially when you have fines wines and good company.
Michael Mock
West Des Moines, IA —  September 21, 2007 9:47pm ET
Port is the devil ... but I will gladly pay the price the next day!
Gloria Maroti
NY, NY —  September 22, 2007 9:23am ET
On the flight back, Kate and I agreed that our Tuscan adventure was fabulous (even as we sipped VDP Merlot from Southern France after learning first-hand the French word for strike, or greve, at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Talk about a return to reality!).

John from Cupertino nailed it when he mentioned fine wines and good company. Thanks to James, his generosity sharing stunningly great wines and his contacts with dynamic winemakers throughout the region, we got fantastic footage in Brunello, Chianti and the Maremma. We¿ll start posting our videos in the next week or so.

If you haven¿t visited Tuscany yet, what are you waiting for? Back to John from Cupertino, ¿life is too short.¿

Finally, a big thank you goes to Jo Cooke for showing us the road (if you¿ve ever driven in Italy, you know what I mean) and to Rosanne Quagliata, who coordinated our jam-packed schedule and took us to the best coffee shop in town.
Dr J Rosenblatt
Montreal, Canada —  September 22, 2007 7:01pm ET
James:I will be in Tuscany next week. I would love to go the local restaurant you mentioned, Canto di Maggiore. Can you give me a phone number and/or address? Can we bring our own wine?
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento,CA —  September 22, 2007 10:56pm ET
I am not sure how you can live with yourself...drinking all that great wine and eating all that wonderful food...or am I just jealous!
James Suckling
 —  September 23, 2007 4:09am ET
Here is a link to a story I did on Canto di Maggio and other trattorias that I like. it hasn't changed.http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Archives/Show_Article/0,1275,2660,00.html
Dominic M Dela Rosa
NJ —  September 23, 2007 6:05pm ET
Always looking forward to seeing new videos at WS Online especially on Tuscany!
Dr J Rosenblatt
Montreal, Canada —  September 23, 2007 11:33pm ET
James, thanks a million. Can't wait to get there!
Glenn S Lucash
September 24, 2007 9:49am ET
I just read your link to the Tuscan restaurants. A note on La Grotta. Fabulous. A bit of a walk down hill from town but well worth it. The food and service was as great as any fine restaurant. When we finished, we asked for a taxi to take us to our car which must be parked outside of town and the walk uphill was not an option. The owner informed us that BOTH taxis were otherwise occupied but one of the waiters graciously offered to drive us....and wouldn't accept a tip for his kindness! Don't miss this place. Sit in the garden and enjoy life.
Michael Culley
September 24, 2007 10:28am ET
What? no Tuscan wines? All those Piemonte wines are a minimun of 14%, right? Tough lifestyle though...
Kevin Lawrence
Vail, Colo. —  September 24, 2007 2:21pm ET
Another "not to be missed" dinner spot is the Gorelli family's -La Potazzine-. It is 60 yard TD pass from the fortress in Montalcino. One of the best meals I've had, and quite fairly priced for being where it is.
Dr J Rosenblatt
Montreal, Canada —  September 24, 2007 9:52pm ET
Thanks for the tip (warning!) Glenn. Much appreciated.
Dr Patrick Frenchick
Germany —  September 25, 2007 3:04am ET
Nothing like evenings with friends, good food and fine wines...and the occasional armagnac.James, what would be your guess on the '95 Leoville Barton, drink or hold yet?
Glenn S Lucash
September 25, 2007 8:45am ET
Dr Rosenblatt....a small note. You can drive directly to La Grotta. We arrived earlier and walked around town not knowing that the restaurant was on the other side and down the hill. My suggestion is to walk around, go back to your car and get directions to La Grotta. Also remember, the restaurant doesn't open until 8. You can arrive a little earlier and view the very nice church across the street.
Dr J Rosenblatt
Montreal, Canada —  September 25, 2007 11:26pm ET
Glenn, appreciate your suggestions. We will likely do exactly as you have recommended. Best to you - Jerry.

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