Booked up for Christmas

Some wine books make you want to drink, and a few may make you think, but I don’t know of any that do both, except for “Matt Kramer On Wine,” recently published and the book I’m giving my godson for Christmas (while saving my copy for my son, for when he’s ready to pull his first cork).
       This is mostly a collection of previously published pieces, essays from the New York Sun and the Wine Spectator and a few chapters from Kramer’s books that underscore and tie them together, as well as a long (and fascinating) profile of Angelo Gaja commissioned but never published by the New Yorker. They are arranged loosely by subject, and seeing them in context—looking at the whole garments, as it were, rather than the threads in the weave—they’re even more provocative and thoughtful. Wine writing’s a genre not notable for subtlety or rhetorical skill, but they’re here in abundance, often presented so adroitly that you’re not quite aware of the seriousness of the point being made until it comes back around and nudges you afterward.
       For example, an easygoing essay on Rosé sidles up to some historical background about color

Roll out the Barolo

Some of my happiest times in Italy have been in the Piedmont (including my honeymoon), so when my favorite Italian restaurant, Enoteca Turi, announced a Nebbiolo dinner, I moved a lot more quickly than usual—the food is dependably excellent, but also, owner Giuseppe Turi is as knowledgeable as he is passionate about wine. With a superb five-course meal, we enjoyed six wines from the Piedmont (a Spanna, three Barbarescos, and two Barolos, notably from the 2001 vintage—classic, still nicely developing—and the 2004, which is at once sensuous and powerful, fulfilling all the promise of a fine vintage; best of all, though, was a 2003 Barbaresco Asili from Bruno Giacosa).
       There was an anomaly included, and a marvelous one at that: a Valtellina Superiore (DOCG) “Ca Morei” 2006 from Sandro Fay, in Lombardy, up in the mountains north of Bergamo. The vineyards are high-altitude, steeply terraced, in a beautiful alpine landscape, and the wine is a tart, vibrant, even slightly nervy rendition of Nebbiolo’s classic aromas and flavors (a little less tar and more roses). It’s definitely a wine worth searching for, and a good reminder of why we trust great sommeliers: they know more than we do.
copyright 2010-2018 by Brian St. Pierre