Scolca Black Label
It was years ago – before Chowhound, before Anthony Bourdain, heck: before any celebrity chefs or cooking shows – a friend invited me down this small, dark alleyway in the U-district of Seattle, saying “you just gotta try this restaurant.”
Italian and tiny, it had maybe six tables, with a three-burner kitchen. The dishes were simple but, of course, amazing.
The first course I’ll never forget –a glass of chilled white wine with the flavor of poached lemon rind, lanolin, a hint of oregano, salty brine and wet stone. And so very long in flavor! This was well before I had ever discussed a liquid in terms of its “length.”
So long, in fact, that a sip lasted until the chef brought over a small burning-hot slab of Hawaiian rock salt, place a squared-off tuna loin on it, seared it, flipped the loin, seared it again, then doused it with very fresh olive oil, parsley and lemon. Thus started one of the greatest meals of my well-nourished life. And the white wine was Gavi.
I don’t remember the rest of the meal (we drank the whole bottle of Gavi). I’ve tried to go back to that place, but it’s gone. I can’t find the restaurant, I can’t even find the alleyway. But that dish and this wine sent me on a lifelong love affair with Gavi.
Gavi…a region for white wine made with the Cortese grape. It can be vapid wine-that-might-as-well-be-water that doesn’t really pair with anything at all. But, this being an Italian wine, the common denominator in no way clues you into what the best can be. This is the case with La Scolca’s Etichetta Nera Gavi, the very top, the highest of the high you can get in Gavi.
Now how can I prove to you that this is amazing wine? Let’s try this:
I’m now surrounded everyday by a collection of people training for the Master Sommelier exam. That’s interesting, but to me, not nearly as interesting as a really well-crafted bit of food and wine porn. But I digress. My point is that when poured blind, almost all of our future Master Somms called out, “Grand Cru Chablis. Flint, mineral, acidity, structure, subtle texture, firm, dry concentration, subtle citrus and apple, brine, subtle almonds and hazelnut, very long finish.” And then they taste again, and add “very, very long finish.”
I can understand the confusion, and I’d like to use it to convince you to try a bottle. You like Grand Cru Chablis, heck, I like Grand Cru Chablis. And it’s getting more and more expensive. If this tastes anything like a Dauvissat Grand Cru Chablis (it doesn’t taste like Ravenneau, sadly), isn’t it worth the $35 ask price?
I’d say yes, and I’d bet a tuna loin on it. Try just one, and it will be a summer-enhancing experience.
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