A few weeks back I was out in NYC, on the town, you might say, with a couple of friends who wanted a good bottle. A really good bottle. Life was short and wine needed to be long, that sort of thing. We went to a resto, new for us. The wine list was great, hidden gems and great prices. We weren't going cheap, or rather my friend wasn't going cheap. I was to be one of the lucky recipients of his largesse.
The main sommelier was off on that holiday weekend, but the assistant let us know of some off-the-list beauties, such as perhaps you'd be interested in a 1955 Cappellano Barolo?
I'm not sure of the price, it was somewhere around $500 and even though high, its a bargain.
It arrived tableside, already opened. Half decanted.
I wasn't happy. I always like to be asked, "Madam, would you care for your plonk in a vase?" or some such question.
It's a thing. I rarely want an older wine decanted. I'd have said no. I don't mind sediment and on a wine that old, I just don't want that much oxygen and the wine turn into a mirage.
We were miffed but the wine was so lovely, we cut him some slack. The '55 had this etheral delicacy and rose and depth and intensity. Beautiful. Ghostly and a pretty one at that.
1955 was the year the Giuseppe Cappellano died, and sometime after, the late Teobaldo returned to revive the estate. In short, I have no idea who made that vintage.
But if it was only half-decanted, where was the rest? The rest was in the bottle and there was also something else inside there, an interloper. "It's the cork!"
A cork was floating in our $500 gorgeous bottle of B, and the sommelier didn't think it was relevant enough to tell us, "Oops, guys, I kind of goofed." Or, (and perhaps I'm being sexist here), maybe he was just being a guy and trying to get away with something.
Well, we were kind of having a very good giggle about it and I wanted to have a word with M. Sommelier about it but was voted down. So I happily chugged the wine, floating cork and all.
We were soon joined by a friend who is a sommelier. Who, after the moment of awe, seeing a cork soakin in the 1955, whipped out a napkin. It took sweat and determination, but she eventually extracted the long, dense cork.
Here's the way to do it, according to Anita Lo, it's a lot less risky than sabering a champagne with a saber. (Really, just do it with a butter knife.)
But still, I am trying to understand one thing: Did the sommelier, who was kind enough to let us know of the off-list stash, think we weren't going to notice?