If you put together a “Best Of…” list for Dallas – all the things you would take a foreign visitor (or someone from New York) to see, to show that we don’t ride horses to work or just buy F-150s – then a “World Class Wine Program” award would go to Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Not only does the cellar have over 2,300 different wines, but the breadth is backed by incredible, balance sheet busting, depth.
An integral part of the program is the quality of the people who make the purchases, store the wine, and rotate the list to reflect the subset of bottles that are ready to consume. It was on show on Friday night when Pappas held one of their monthly ‘forensic’, quality, wine tastings. Forensic, because the wines went back a full decade. Quality, because they picked the title “Hidden Gems of Italy” and lived up to it.
No country on the planet has more indigenous grape varieties than Italy. No country has more types of wine. That makes the subject both target rich and difficult to navigate. Fortunately, Pappas Bros. sommelier Barbara Werley MS had chosen virtually every single wine that had gone into the Pappas cellar over that period of time and so had a criminally prosecutable level of inside information as to what to bring out.
We tasted our way through 13 wines. From the A-Listers that disappointed, to the unknowns that blew us away. I thought that the (unknown) 2003 Vie di Romans “Flors di Uis”, Friuli Isonzo was the wine of the night. This white, from an area of Italy generally discredited both for of the quality of its white wines and its Series A soccer teams, had a nutty nose, a taste of rose petals in a mouth of prodigious body, and an affinity to food (like the lobster tail on the Pappas menu) that would be hard to match. Like all of the wines in the tasting, it is on the Pappas list.
My disappointment (and I tried two bottles) was the Brunello (2006 Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino). Its nose was dominated by burnt fruit and its taste had only muted fruit. By contrast, Piedmont shone. The Barolo, a 2006 Edoardo Sobrino was just old enough to exhibit the best aspects of ageing. The fruit was sweet, oaky, with a dry tannic backbone that complements red meat. The Barbaresco, the 2007 Produttori del Barbaresco “Ovello” Barbaresco was a template for modern Barbaresco wine. High acid on the palate Medium oak.Very ‘food friendly, meaning either red meat or red sauce paste dishes. It is hard to believe that such quality comes from a farmers cooperative.
The other monstrous success of the night was the dessert wine. The non-vintage Cascina Chicco “Arcass”, Roero had the same stunning impact that d’Yquem had on me, the first time that I tasted it. I was reduced to sniffing it for several minutes before actually drinking a single, unctuous drop.
The bottom line here is that Pappas monthly walk around tastings are unsurpassed in Dallas. Serious wine lovers should sign up at the web site above and plan on peppering the Pappas staff for their expertise when they arrive.
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