Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Go Ouest Young Man

For our last night in Manhattan, we decided to head out on the town and have an early celebration dinner for Boo's upcoming birthday. Since the Wicked show was my b-day present, I figured it would only be fair to take him out for a wicked dinner. With recommendations from both Berra Yogi and Chowhound, we decided to stick with our Upper West Side neighbourhood and headed to Ouest.

Interestingly enough, one of Vancouver's perpetually top rated restaurants started its life as "Ouest." It's subsequently changed its star chef and its name to "West." We have yet to make it there, so this Ouest seemed a perfect fit. Despite the lackadaisical service, the evening was a fine way to finish off the vacation. We had a lovely corner table; the food was thoroughly tasty and the wine was nothing short of perfect for the evening.

89. 2006 La Spinetta Ca di Pian (Barbera d'Asti DOC)

La Spinetta was another of the wineries that we went to visit while in Italy last year. I didn't really read any further on the restaurant's wine list once I saw that it was available. Our ability to buy La Spinetta is limited in Vancouver - largely because most of the bottles that you can find are well over $100 a pop. Ca di Pian is far more reasonable and I haven't ever seen it in Vancouver.

The wine is 100% barbera and the 1985 vintage was the first red wine that La Spinetta produced. It is also the red wine with the highest production for La Spinetta among it Piedmont wines.

I hadn't actually heard anything specific about La Spinetta prior to our visit to Piedmont. I vaguely remember seeing the distinctive label on the high end shelves of one of the local private stores, but it became a choice to visit when one of the shop's staff recommended it as a "don't miss" winery when thinking of appointments to make. We're glad we took him up on the suggestion.

It turns out that La Spinetta is one of the top producers in Italy. It is one of only two wineries to have received three stars in Italy's top wine journal, Gambero Rosso. The other winery is the legendary Angelo Gaja.

I mentioned that I remembered seeing the distinctive label previously. The primary label features an old woodcut drawing of a rhino and our tour guide mentioned that the question that she gets asked the most is "what's the history behind the rhino on the label?" Both she and the web site state that the unspectacular truth is that the winery's founder, Giorgio Rivetti, has always had a great admiration for the Albrecht Durer drawing. The story behind the drawing is perhaps more exciting but that's for another time.

The wine was lovely. The dinner was worthy of a birthday. And we had a plane to catch in the morning.

I hope we can find more of this wine at home!!

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