"The lineup of our Italian wine gems, and a flash of Margherita pizza."

I recently dined with a few friends at one of my favorite restaurants here in New York, Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Otto.  The place has a great casual vibe and the antipasti, pizza, and gelati are not only amazing, but reasonably priced.  They also have a totally sick Italian wine list, which we of course taped into.  We had an idea of the regions we wanted to drink, but we were well guided by the sommelier, who always have amazing recommendations at all of Mario Batali’s restaurants.  We started with a more modern style Barbaresco from Bruno Rocca.  Modern in that it is aged in barrique, your typical wine barrel, as opposed to the tradional botti, very large wooden vats.  We next had the Costanti Brunello, and although they are a traditional producer, this wine had a very forward modern feel to it.  And we rounded things out with a surprising recommendation from the sommelier, the 1985 Conti Boca.  This hails from the Piedmont region in northern Italy, the same region as the Barbaresco.  Barbaresco and Barolo wines must be 100% Nebbiolo, the Conti Boca is a blend of 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Vespolina, and 10% Uva Rara.  It was a unique and amazing wine to say the least, as were the other bottles.  After our meal we were also treated to a taste of Vin Santo, Italy’s ubiquitous dessert style wine.  It is not as rich and red as Port, more of a light woody amber in color, but amazing.  A must try for dessert wine lovers.

1996 Bruno Rocca Rabaja Barbaresco

Medium dark violet in color, with violets on the nose as well as plum, fresh cut herbs, and eucalyptus.  There is a freshness to the aromatics of the wine and it seems very youthful for its age.  The acidity is good and the mid palate solid, but the finish is quite drying.  It softens a bit as the wine breathes but it may take some additional years in the bottle for it to soften fully, if ever.  But none the less, a very good Barbaresco.  Barrique aged, but wood is not present in the wine.  RECOMMENDED

2000 Costanti Brunello

On the nose there are liquorish, plum, and cranberry notes.  The fruit is bright and sour cherries and the mouth feel is very plush.  Medium weight silky tannins make this a very approachable bottle of wine.  A very delicious Costanti which should please any palate.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

1985 Conti Boca, Piedmont

Sommelier’s choice, and what a great surprise.  There is an amazing nose of dried fruit, pistachio, amaretto, and liquorish.  There is a meaty hint of blood sausage, tar, and dark cocoa powder as well.  Yet the wine remains lithe with a medium body and good acidity.  For a wine 25 years old, it is very fresh and is drinking well now, no browning in color at all suggests it will continue to age well for another 10-15 years.  Great stuff.  MUST TRY – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

"A selection of fine vegetable anitpasti at Otto."