Tuesday, October 26, 2010

1964 Oddero for the Birthday Girl

A birthday celebration for a good friend. Birth year wine, courtesy of her husband. A meal prepared especially for the occasion and the wines by Chef Pierre Calmels at Bibou, one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. Was I to turn down an invitation like that? Hell no! It was an honor and pleasure to join in for the festivities.

While the anticipated bottles of the night waited in the wings, we got things rolling with some fantastic grower Champagne from Laherte Frères (more on that at a later date).

Chef Calmels' trout gravlax — diced, ringed with cucumber, drizzled with basil vinegar, and topped with baby mustard greens — was one of the stand-out dishes of the night and a lovely match with our bubbly. After another course or two (corn soup with duck prosciutto, a terrine of sweetbreads), it was time to visit the birthday girl's wines.

All I can say is, "Thanks, Kelly, for being born in a good year." I'm a year younger (I'll leave the math to you, kind reader) and was not so lucky. In fact, I've yet to even have a wine from my own birth year, generally considered fair at best, more often bad to worse, in just about every wine growing region on the planet.

These '64s from Oddero, though, were drinking impressively well. My pal Bill had picked them up, especially for Kelly's birthday, from a shop that occasionally buys and sells wines from private collections. While the corks in both were showing their age, crumbling upon extraction, both wines were startlingly young in both appearance and structure.

The 1964 Barbaresco, I think we all agreed, was the wine of the night, still showing a dark red, only slightly going-to-garnet color in the glass; a rich, supple texture; and fruit tones that started out surprisingly primary then took on aromas of spice, roses and dried red fruits with air. The '64 Barolo, in comparison, was a touch darker, similarly evolved but much more brooding and animal in its aromas and textures, showing even greater overall youth and, as expected, more muscular structure. Both wines were a joy to experience but both, I feel, could easily have continued to develop for another couple of decades (though perhaps not without being re-corked).

Of the dishes that Pierre matched to the old Barbaresco and Barolo, my favorite was a last-minute surprise: veal ribeye and baby brussel sprouts on a bed of white bean purée and veal jus. Executed perfectly, the dish was a very fine match with the aromatic complexity and mid-life structure of our two Nebbioli.

Having been clued-in to the birthday girl's surprise, I'd brought along a much younger bottle from Oddero, their 2006 Barbaresco "Gallina." You know, simply for academic purposes. It, too, was on a good night, pure and vibrant, as surprisingly approachable in its near-sinful youth as the '64s were surprisingly youthful in their... well, like I said, you can do the math.

15 comments:

Do Bianchi said...

I am GREEN with envy... what fantastic wines dude!

we missed you in Groover's Paradise.

You going to Joe and Steven's Friuli dinner?

David McDuff said...

You would've dug those old Nebbioli, J. Haven't booked a spot yet for the Friuli dinner at Osteria, but I'd definitely like to attend.

Alfonso Cevola said...

nice...I've had Gattinara from that year and it was a very good vintage. Thanks for sharing. Don't worry about Jeremy, he hasn't missed a beat with good wines this week

David McDuff said...

Oh, don't you worry, Ace. I already spotted the magnum of '60 Vega Sicilia "Unico" (not to mention the '04 Els Jelipins). Jeremy's been drinking mighty fine, with many thanks to you I might add....

croosadabilia. said...

also envious here... love oddero!

charlotte c. said...

Great Wines!! thanks again!

croosadabilia said...

unfortunately, i can also relate with a terrible birth year of '84 in the for the world of wine....

David McDuff said...

Charlotte,
You're more then welcome. It's really I (and we) that should be thanking you and Pierre for such fantastic food and hospitality. But I'm certainly glad to know you enjoyed the wines.

Croosada,
The '64s were indeed splendid. And while you're correct that '84 wasn't great in too many places, at least you still run a reasonable chance of running into a birth year wine now and again. I spotted a magnum of '65 Barolo (don't remember from what producer) in the private collection at Elvio Cogno this spring but my "hint" didn't get a bite. I think it's Valter's birth year, too; plus, I seem to remember him saying it was a gift. One of these days, I suppose....

TWG said...

Thin or non-existant pickings for 2005. Just think of all the money you'll save. 1959 seems like a good year but it's terribly expensive.

David McDuff said...

Tom,
I'm a little puzzled by your 2005 comment. Did you mean 1965 or were you referring to something else?

Anonymous said...

David ,
Maybe you were conceived in 1964?
I'n 1963 ...so I don't even have that luxury

lowelife@mac.com

David McDuff said...

Nice thought, @lowelife (John), but nope... conceived and born in '65.

TWG said...

1965 is what I meant, not to mention non-existent, a result of bad proofreading. Where's that edit function?

TWG said...

Armagnac or Scotch that's your best bet, maybe port

David McDuff said...

Tom,
There's no edit function in Blogger comments, I'm afraid. You're definitely on the right track; I've always figured Armagnac or, maybe, Madeira would be my best bets for some decent birth year tipple. We shall see...

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