Saturday, March 16, 2013


Between Boo's work schedule being all over the map and Beamer's parental duties and child delivery services, getting together can be somewhat problematic. When the opportunity arose to catch up with Beamer and The Divine Miss M over dinner, we snagged it. Miss M came up with another winning suggestion for the locale, L'Ufficio - the little brother or wine bar as the owners refer to it of La Quercia (Vancouver Magazine's 2011Restaurant of the Year) - and we were set.

It was a first time to the restaurant for all of us, but The Divine Miss M was under the impression that you could order either the wine bar's offerings or the dishes from La Quercia next door. Turned out that we could only order dishes from L'Ufficio but that was no problem. We started with a large platter of mixed charcuterie, cheeses and condiments that went down as easily as the Tuscan red that we chose.

1271.  2011 Pertimali Sassetti Livio - Rosso di Montalcino (Rosso di Montalcino DOC - Tuscany - Italy)

The wine list was completely Italian (except for a couple of high end Champagnes) and, at our waiter's suggestion, we went with a producer that I hadn't run across before. The Rosso di Montalcino was 100% Sangiovese Grosso and the Sassetti family has been making wine in Montalcino for three generations. The Pertimali vineyards and estate are located on the Montosoli hill, outside of Montalcino, in one of the most favourable locales for growing Sangiovese. The family is noted for producing traditionally styled wines that are meant to go with food and Livio Sassetti was one of the founders of the Brunello di Montalcino consortium in 1967. Indeed, an oft-quoted excerpt from The Wine Advocate stated that "If I had only one Brunello to drink, it would be Pertimali. This producer has been making spectacular wines since 1982."

We didn't go with the bigger Brunello, but the Rosso di Montalcino was very approachable and much lusher than the Tuscan Chiantis that we see so regularly as the Italian entries on local wine lists. The bottle was long gone before our main course arrived. So, we really had no choice but to order another bottle to go with our beef. Boo was apprehensive about ordering the family style entrée and he made sure that he told the story of our dinner in Cortona where we let the restaurant choose our menu for us and the shared plate of bistecca alla fiorentina had a sticker price far beyond anything any of us had imagined - more like the cost of a side of beef back home.

We didn't have to face that issue here, however, and the far more reasonable price prompted us to splurge a little on our second bottle. One that I'm a little more familiar with.

1272.  2009 La Spinetta Langhe Nebbiolo (Langhe DOC - Piedmont - Italy)

We don't tend to see many entry level Spinetta wines in our market but I've yet to meet a Spinetta wine that I didn't like. La Spinetta hasn't been around nearly as long as the Sassetti family but their wines immediately grabbed the attention of wine writers, critics and consumers when they arrived on the scene. Even the premium Barbarescos and Barolo are known for being approachable upon release, but this entry level Nebbiolo is particularly ready to be quaffed. The winery website notes that the Langhe Nebbiolo is made from the younger vines from one of their vineyards (Starderi) but by "younger," the winery means 12-14 years of age. The fruit from more established vines is reserved for La Spinetta's noted Barbarescos and Barolo.

By the time we'd finished the beef and the Nebbiolo, we could have easily called it a night, but Boo was tempted by a specialty of the house - a pine cone infused grappa. We were told that they add the pine cone to the grappa and leave it on the roof of the building to fully impregnate the flavours. As far as "guest alcohols" go for this blog, this was one of the more intriguing ones - and, once Boo had ordered it, we succumbed to our urge to order canolis and zeppoles (Italian doughnuts) to go with it. It was a good thing that we had a bit of walk as part of our journey home after everything.

As mentioned, we don't tend to have many chances to connect with Beamer and The Divine Miss M but, without fail, you can be pretty much guaranteed that they'll be full of food, wine and stories. Just like tonight was. Here's hoping that the next occasion won't be too far off into the future.

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