Saturday, February 7, 2009
A Winter Dinner with Friends: Falanghina and Cabernet
One of the great joys of winter is sitting down with good friends in a warm and cozy house. Last week we had just such a day when our dearest friends Alden and Maureen came from Brooklyn to be with us. We hadn't seen them in some months so just the thought of seeing them again brought joy to us. Mary planned one of Alden's favorite foods: brisket of beef with some hearty vegetables. The brisket was so big we had to cut it in half and use two pots on top of the stove to prepare them. Mary used carrots, string beams, onions and potatoes to accompany the brisket.
Before dinner, however, we indulged in some antipasto. We offered an Italian blue cheese, a French brie with an accompanying shrimp cocktail. Mary made the cocktail sauce herself. It was mild but excellent. The horseradish was just right for my taste. For the pre-dinner selection I picked a well touted white Italian 2007 Terredora Dipaolo Falanghina. None of us had ever tasted a Falanghina. I'm glad we did. Falanghina is grown in the Campania region of Italy, just north or Naples. It is a savory, very well balanced wine. The color is an amazing yellow unlike most I have seen. The nose was fruity and refreshing. On first taste Mary and I sensed a minerality that was seductive and exciting. I thought it was hinting at green apples though Mary sensed pear. It was perfect with the shrimp and I would say the Falanghina would be wonderful with fish dishes in general.
Dinner was equally interesting. Alden brought a bottle of Cellar No. 8 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Asti Winery in Sonoma California. Alden mentioned that it was, I think, under $10.00 a bottle. Cellar No. 8 has a real history to it in the annals of Oliva/Brown wine tasting. Some years ago I found a bottle of Cellar No. 8 Zinfandel at the Stewart Spirits Wine Shop in Floral Park (now defunct). I was unsuccessful in finding another bottle until Alden came across it in Carrol Gardens, Brooklyn. For the price, it is a fine, well bred wine. The nose was a bit muted but the color was full and almost grape juice looking. The upfront flavor was not strong but it was full and well balanced with a strong spice to the finish. The wine possessed a plum or dark cherry flavor. I had hoped for a tad more strength and complexity but it was very pleasing and went perfectly with the brisket of beef. Which, by the way, was superb. Mary cooked it until it nearly melted at first taste.
The day was very successful. We enjoyed seeing our friends once again both human and varietal.