Lucky The other night I was lucky enough to join some gentlemen at the restaurant Manducatis in Queens. Most were in the wine industry and the plan was that it was a 'guy's night' but that was before a lovely female winemaker who had just happened to land at LGA popped by. Manducatis opened 20-30 years ago and is still run by the same family. The mother apparently runs the kitchen, but the evening we were there she was in Italy and her very capable (and friendly) son was running things. The food is solid. Classic Italian-American dishes but done from scratch and with skill. It's good food. The family is feeding you.
Wine List Oh, the wine list. I'll imagine that I am writing this for that one remaining wine-dork out there in NYC who has not been here because I assume everyone else has. Good golly. The wine list. Staggering.
It's around a dozen pages and in alphabetical order with no reference to if the wine is white or red or sparkling or whatnot. You kind of need to know your way around Italian wine. But the real reason we are here are the two most important aspects: old vintages and fair prices. I don't know what their markup is, but it is nothing like what other restaurants would charge for 10-15 year old wines. The prices are very reasonable for these wines.
This is what we had...
Started with a white. Ceretto's Blange is a refreshing and very light white wine made for the Arneis grape. Really, this should be the go-to wine for your summer. It's a very neutral and lovely wine.
Barbaresco! We then dived into our first red: Moccagatta Bric Balin Barbaresco 1998. Barbaresco wines come from the Piedmont region in northern Italy. These wines are traditionally 100% Nebbiolo, and although they have to live in the shadow of their more popular neighbor Barolo, they are some excellent wines and age beautifully (I had a 1982 recently - crazy good).
Next we had the Produttori del Barbaresco "Moccagatta" Barbaresco 1997. The gentlemen who ordered these two wines was very familar with them and explained the connection, but my brain has lost it and the interwebs isn't helping right now. What I do know (or think is correct) is that Moccagatta is the estate/vineyard name. So these two wines, different vintages, came from the same land.
Both were drinking extradoniarly well.
Then: Prunotto Bric Turot 1997. The producer is Prunutto and the wine is another Barbaresco from a small vineyard (5 or so hectares) named Bric Turot. Lovely.
Marziano Abbona: Vigna Faset 1996
Another very good Barbaresco, although some of us who were feeling a bit immature (that would be me) made jokes about the vineyard name (Vigna Faset).
Barolo Vietti Barolo Brunate 1996
Now, my notes (I didn't take any) are a bit fuzzy at this point but I am pretty sure this was the first Barolo that was opened and it was astonishingly good. Unlike any Barolo that I have ever had. Those normal aromas and flavors were still there (I always look for the aromas of anise) but it also had this amazing chocolate note... dark and bittersweet with a bit of Tootsie Roll. Oh, and coffee. There were coffee aromas.
Craziness. Brain numbingly good.
Beni de Batasiolo Barolo Riserva 2000
This was our young Barolo and one of the youngest reds we had for the evening. I don't think I got a glass of this one (but I didn't mind as I was enjoying the last one too much).
I believe there was a third Barolo as well. I think.
And then the end We had the Barolo with veal and chicken (both quite good) but we also wanted to end the night with an Amarone so the kitchen prepared a round of steaks. Good lord. It's amazing I made it to work the next day.
Fratelli Tedeschi Amarone 2000 Amarone is a special wine and I have had them before but never in the proper framework of a meal - they were usually at academic-esque tastings. This is a unique wine that comes from the Valpolicella region of Italy (kind of NW of Venice) and is made from grapes that are left to raisinate (i.e. dry and shrivel up like... raisins).
The combination of the grapes used and the drying process produce a very full bodied, rich, and often high in alcohol wine that goes really well with lots of beef, lamb, and game.
All of this wine made the ride home on the G train quite enjoyable (I forgot who thought that was a good idea).