Last night a few of us gathered at a Cafe Piazza, a local Trattoria,  for some excellent southern Italian cuisine and some fine vino. Chef Antonio Ruffa, from Calabria Italy, left us in the hands of his capable second, Johan.  We didn’t feel like ordering from the menu, so we simply told Johan, “Fate Voi” – “Do as you please”.
The first course that appeared was a plate of cheeses, roasted peppers, fried artichokes, and olives.  The artichokes were absolutely amazing, and the highlight of the dish.   Since neither of us had brought a white, we started right in on the reds.  
The 2004 San Filippo “Le Lucere” Brunello is not to be missed. This was the wine that turned me onto this estate and I’ve been buying it ever since.  It’s a beautiful dark ruby/violet color with slight bricking at the rim so typical of many Brunello. The nose is redolent with perfume, berries, flowers, dust, and leather; complex and amazing. In the mouth the core of dark red fruits is so delicious and the wine has a juicy freshness to it. The acids and tannins are in balance and while drinking great now, it will age effortlessly for 3-5 years more. I will note that the aromatics increased as the wine warmed, so I advise decanting for 30-60 minutes if you’ve got these.  Gorgeous wine.  94 points, about $42. 

2004 San Filippo “Le Lucere” Brunello di Montalcino
The second course was shrimp, clams, and mussels over broccoli rabe.  While this dish may not have been perfectly suited to the wine, it didn’t stop us.  We forged through to the third course, Johan’s amazing take on “Paella Risotto”.  As soon as the plate hit the table, I said “What’s in this, it looks like Paella?”  and Johan confirmed it was his interpretation.  The dish included slightly spicy arborio rice, shrimp, crab meat, sausage, peas, diced bacon, tomato, carrots and was topped with a bacon wrapped scallop. It was absolutely stunning.

“Paella” Risotto – simply amazing!
With the risotto, we broke into the second wine;  The 2004 Moccagatta “Bric Balin” Barbaresco.  In the glass, the wine is a dark, brick ruby. Generous aromas emerge from the glass and are so wonderfully Piemonte! Dark sour cherry fruit, floral spice, and mushrooms emerge. Flavors echo the aroma, with a round ripeness to the fruit. More tannic than the Brunello, the finish is shortened a bit. We knew this wine would be a bit young and it was, but it is lovely and shows some amazing potential.  92 points.  About $50

2004 Moccagatta “Bric Balin” Barbaresco

Finally the last course arrived: braised short ribs in rich tomato sauce over papardelle. For the life of me, I don’t know why I didn’t snap a photo of this, but c’est la vie.  We finished off the previous two wines and got working on the last.  The 2001 Convento Cappuccini Barolo shows it’s maturity a bit more than the others. Classic soft brick color in the glass, the aroma is absolutely amazing with smoked meats, roses, red fruits and huge anise spices.  In the mouth, it’s about earth and dried cherries, and the tannins are still very much dominant. Initially the wine was a bit too cold and I think as it warmed, the fruit plumped up to match the intensity of the tannins.  Decant it for an hour if you’ve got them.  91 points.

2001 Convento Cappuccini Barolo

Thus ended quite the delicious dinner, save for espresso and some “Limoncello Gelato” that refreshed the palate after all that wonderful food.  Until the next…..

Ci Vediamo! 

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