The inaugural dinner of the Wine Century Club was held on the Feast of Bacchus (March 16th) at one of New York City’s newest Italian restaurants, Lo Scalco. Acclaimed chef Mauro Mafrici prepared a sensational 5-course dinner, and Jamie Wolff of Chambers Street Wines expertly paired each course with a different offbeat Italian wine from his store’s extensive selection.
When guests started to arrive in the wine cellar of the restaurant, a
sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley – the only French wine of the
evening – was swiftly circulated by the resident sommelier and her crew,
along with hot hors d’oeuvres. Soon the room was aplenty with grape geeks,
wine lovers, and professionals from as far off as California, Colorado and
Kentucky. With a full house and dinner ready to be served, Steve De Long,
host and President of the Wine Century Club greeted the crowd and introduced
the event. New members were then initiated: commemorative tastevins were
hung around their necks, filled with sparkling Chenin and raised to the
club’s motto of “Veni, Vino, Vici.”
Dinner followed: each course was imaginatively presented on crisp white porcelain, while each matching wine was poured from blue velvet bags so guests could partake in the informal blind tasting. Swordfish was served with a Falalanghina del Taburno; Dover sole ravioli with an Erbaluce di Caluso Cariola; gnocchi with veal alongside a Lagrein Riserva; filet of beef with a Sagrantino di Montefalco; and finally, for dessert, a mascarpone zabayone with Marsala.
Guest Speaker Robin Garr of the Wine Lovers Page set the tone for the evening with his praise for odd and interesting grapes – Pineau d’Aunis, Picpoul de Pinet and Greco di Tufo (to name a few). He spoke of the intrepid wine geek who readily seeks out these oddities and drinks them, marching to the beat of his or her own drum (read the article based on Robin’s talk at the wineloverspage.com). Additional entertainment was provided by the vivacious and exotic Jennifer ‘Chotzi’ Rosen, wine columnist of the Rocky Mountain News and author of the newly published book ‘Waiter There’s A Horse In My Wine’. Jennifer performed a rhythmical, sometimes rhyming piece about grapes, regions, appellations and wine attitude; names rolled off her tongue as she dexterously moved in the center of the room, waving her hear, rolling her head and almost ready to do one of her famous belly-dances!
Finally, guests who had participated in the blind-tasting (everyone had a go!) were asked to share their answers, and as it turned out, six people guessed all four wines right. Names were placed in a velvet bag, and Robin Garr picked out the final winner, who happened to be Jennifer Rosen. A handsome drinks case stocked up with some of the wines from the dinner was awarded as her prize (read Jenifer’s article based on the event at The Rocky Mountain News). Bravo, and congratulations to LeNell Smothers, Leslie Deamer, James Koch, Vince Bielski and Tony Fletcher who also identified all of the grapes correctly.