Ciao famiglia,

It was Cassoulet night at bistro99 in Fishtown. There was a big crowd, including the Beckers, Madam Frommage, and artist/foodie Mike Geno among others, and the chefs being larry99 and his sister Jean (the real kitchen star). We had a variety of wines (and great cheeses selected by Mike and Madame F.). The Italian standouts were:

1. 1998 Oddero, Barolo "Vigna Rionda". From the "dave bin" deep in the cave beneath the bistro. Excellent condition. Decanted and aired for about three hours or so. Gorgeous color, classic healthy, mature brick red/garnet, old school color. Fragrant nose of roses, raspberries, spice, smoke/incense. Drinks so elegantly, medium bodied feel, slight tannins, silky, good acidity, long finish, just a beautiful Barolo. No rush to drink this one though. Grade: A.

2. 2008 Zenato, "Cressaso", 100% Corvina. From Ed Becker's stash. Wow, what a gorgeous red, deep and dark red color, rich, warm nose of amarena cherry, full bodied, intense black cherries and blackberries on the palate, luscious and delicious. Has many good years to go. Grade: A- now, solid A in another 5-8 years (?). Thanks Ed!

3. 2012 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Amarone. With the cheeses. Gorgeous Amarone oozing amarena cherry, Veneto spice, raisiny blackberry, full bodied, warm, rich, delicious, soft and ready though I am sure one could cellar this for another 5+ years no problem. Seems to be in the more modern style, perhaps there is some barrique in there, not sure. A Christmas gift, but Wine Searcher quotes a price around $55 or so. Grade: B+/A-.

Although not Italian I did not want to mention the 1998 Pomerol in magnum Ed brought (his anniversary year). Don't remember the producer but the wine was fabulous, the best Pomerol I have ever tasted (my experience is limited with them but this was awesome). Grade: solid A. Thanks again Ed!
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