This dinner was a long time coming but, possibly slightly arrogantly, was well worth the wait. My favourite producer and my favourite restaurant.

When we are planning these dinners there will always be an advanced party 2-3 weeks before and to taste the menu and go over any potential tweaks  that may be required. In this instance so well does Sam Harris (Chef owner of Zucca) know the wines and what we were after that all 6 courses hit the spot just right. The menu is below:

Tropea Onions, Fonduta & Hazelnuts
Vitello Tonnato (done two ways)
Yellow Polenta, Peas, Broad Beans and Castelmagmo
Agnolotti, Butter & Parmesan
Slow Cooked Ox Cheek, Chicory, Borlotti, Pine Nuts & Raisins
Custard Tart & Hazelnut Ice Cream

Through the dinner there were several speeches from Roberto all heart felt. You get a real sense of the responsibility and fortune Roberto feels for being able to head this great estate. He has a great story about make-up too but that might get me in trouble..

The wines we showed were all from the Cascina Francia vineyard, it would have been good to show something from Cerretta (started in 2008) but so small is the production that it was not really an option.


We started with a pair of the Cascina Francia Barbera.

Cascina Francia Barbera 2011
Very pure, inky, rich, has a black forest fruits character. There is minerality but behind the abundance of black cherry. An extrovert wine with a long future.

Cascina Francia Barbera 2007
A little like 2011 (and 2009) this is a warm vintage that really suits Barbera. There is a little savoury grunt here as well as a little bit of “animal”. Fruit is still black with a mellow palate, Cascina Francia’s saline element comes through too. Nice now but no rush.

Then it was onto the Barolo with:

Barolo Cascina Francia 2009
I’ve drunk this a few times and always enjoyed it greatly. There will be no Monfortino in 2009 so that barrel is in here. There is a lovely elegance to this wine and a gentleness but at the same time there is plenty of tannin that is just “under” the fruit. It makes me think of a 1er Cru Volnay in style. I don’t see it shutting down too much. There is an airy freshness to the red fruit that makes this a wine with a massively broad drinking window.

Barolo Cascina Francia 2000(magnum)
Poised and drinking perfectly now. A little bit of tar with tannins that sit perfectly, there is little salty development and animal in the mix but fundamentally this is still a wine of red and black fruit. Got better and better with the air. Great now but again no rush.

The finale was:
Barolo Monfortino 1998(magnum)
Tight and taut with slightly pronounced acidity, it is a little dry but has a very leathery and masculine, slightly developed, persona. I think it will suit being an “older” wine. It has a depth to it.

The wine and the food made for a great evening, sparking a lovely atmosphere and much good “chat”!!

“Bravo Roberto” and “Bravo Sam”…