It was 2006 and my wife and I were closing in on our anniversary and we had discussed doing something very special to mark the occasion. The call came very last minute, from a contact at one of our finest distributors, “We’re hosting Joe Bastianich for dinner tonight in Boston with some restaurant buyers and there is one open seat if you want to join us.” I jumped at the chance, I have jokingly have described myself as a Joe Bastianich stalker, I love his book Vino Italiano, it is a terrific guide and Joe’s explanations of the places and cultures surrounding the overwhelming number of Italian wines has been indispensable to me. Not to mention that Big Y Wines is listed as a recommended source for Italian Wine in the index. Dinner with Joe was very fun, we tasted the wines from his winery in Friuli/Venezia Italy. But even better was after the dinner we had a chance to hang out and chat without him having to be “on” presenting his wines. The topic of his flagship restaurant Babbo came up and he was more than generous to offer to get me in. Just a few weeks later my bride and I were the proud holders of a Saturday night 8pm reservation at Babbo. We went in with eyes wide open, and after a few minutes of perusing the menu and encyclopedic wine list we entrusted our server to select for us, he had the green light to feed us what he felt would give us the best experience at Babbo. We had a lovely blood orange salad and the legendary pig’s foot, and for the main course we had the Osso Bucco for two, and of course he strongly suggested a Barolo to match. So we went for it, what the heck? It’s not like we have these chances every day….or even every year! The pairing was sublime, I’ll always remember how the Barolo had that little bite of tannin and then with the meat it became so silky. Braised beef with Barolo has become a go-to special occasion dish at our house ever since. The next time we have it, likely this weekend, I have found the wine!
Giovanni Manzone Barolo “Gramolere” 2010- $59.99 I have been a longtime fan of the wines of Giovanni Manzone. Founded in 1925 in Monforte d’Alba this is quite a great winery. Every grape for every wine is grown by the family, and the range of wines all hit the mark for me in their respective categories. There are four Barolo’s made, Gramolere, Castelleto, Bricat and Gramolere Riserva. This is a wine that we have enjoyed selling many times over the years, and so having this particular wine from a truly great vintage like 2010 in it’s window of drinkability is especially gratifying. Blessed with bold cherry and raspberry fruit, and a spicy edge this wine seems to have great balance considering the ample tannin, sappy and rich, this tremendous wine is screaming with joy. Let’s be honest, this is a wine that will age effortlessly for more than a decade from now, but it has shed it’s adolescent brusqueness and with some air (decant for one hour), and especially with some braised beef it can be enjoyed now.
“Rose, cherry and underbrush flavors highlight this elegant red. Silky and firm, with snappy acidity marshaling the flavors through the long aftertaste. Balanced, with an aftertaste of dried berry, tobacco and mineral. Best from 2018 through 2033. 950 cases made. 94 points.” Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator, 4/2015
“A powerful, deep wine, the 2010 Barolo Gramolere wraps around the palate with gorgeous resonance. Mint, pine, menthol, spices and new leather are all beautifully expressive in the glass. The tannins are firm, but also very nicely integrated. It will be interesting to see how the 2010 ages. Today, it is full of potential. 94 points.” Antonio Galloni, Vinous, 9/2014