Restaurant: Drago Centro [1, 2, 3]
Location: 525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071. (213) 228-8998
Date: January 22, 2017
Rating: Great high end Italian
Back to Drago Centro for “yet another” Barolo dinner, this time hosted by Liz Lee of Sage Society and featuring Luca Vietti and the impeccable wines of Vietti, one of the most prestigious Barolo producers!
Located on busy Flower in DTLA.
We had the private room and a LOT of stems!
2002 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Millésimé. A super impressive bright young Champ.
Chef Celistino Drago in white, and our hostess Liz Lee of Sage Society in black on the right.
2015 Vietti Roero Arneis. 91 points. A very nice bright food wine.
Scallop crudo, EVO, yuzu dressing, parmesan crisp. Super bright and delicious with a bit of a Japanese vibe. Perfect wine pairing too.
Non shellfish version with yellowtail instead of scallop.
2011 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza La Crena. VM 92. The 2011 Barbera d’Asti La Crena is deeply marked by the heat of the vintage and the inherent richness that emerges from these old vines. Black plum, dark cherries, licorice, melted road tar and smoke race across the palate in a deep, super-ripe Barbera that needs considerable bottle age to shed its baby fat.
agavin: our co-host Luca Vietti planted this vineyard 25 years ago!
2013 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Vigna Vecchia Scarrone. 90 points. Ripe, intense black fruit. Long, complex, rich and tasty. This is one I wish I could have spent more time with. It is very young and there is a lot going on. Should age beautifully.
agavin: Luca’s great grandfather planted these 100 year old vines right at the end of WWI!
Quail and foie porchetta. Fig jam. This was the oddest dish of the night, cold quail (with the bone) stuffed with foie and pressed into a lump. Tasted pretty good, but the cold thing was a touch “unusual.”
For the vegetarian, a lovely Sicilian pasta with almond pesto.
2012 Vietti Barolo Castiglione. VM 93. The 2012 Barolo Castiglione is a gorgeous, radiant wine. Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, wild flowers and spices all meld together in a sensual, radiant wine endowed with striking presence and intensity. In 2012, the Castiglione is especially lifted, radiant and expressive, with striking purity and nuance. With time in the glass, the wine freshens up considerably, so aeration is a good idea for readers who want to open the 2012 early. This is a striking, seriously delicious Barolo from Vietti.
agavin: I really liked this elegant blended Barolo, made up of a number of grand cru vineyards.
2012 Vietti Barolo Brunate. VM 94+. A dark, powerful wine, the 2012 Barolo Brunate is the most brooding and inward of these wines. With time and a good bit of air, the Brunate becomes a bit more precise and nuanced, yet it remains a bit monolithic next to the other wines in the range. A host of savory herbs, licorice, tobacco and dark fruits meld into the huge, explosive finish. There is no shortage of depth or character, but increasingly the Brunate is being outclassed by some of its siblings. The competition is pretty tough at Vietti these days.
2012 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito. VM 96. The 2012 Barolo Lazzarito impresses for its precision and class, two qualities that aren’t easy to find in wines from this Serralunga site. Iron, smoke and white pepper lift from the glass in a vertical, structured Barolo endowed with real pedigree. A rush of pomegranate, red cherry jam, wild flowers and blood orange meld into the huge, bright finish. In 2012, the Lazzarito reconciles power and finesse like few vintages in the past. For the last few years, the Lazzarito has been knocking on the door of the big boys in this lineup, the Rocche and Ravera. Today, the Lazzarito makes a strong statement that it has arrived.
Spaghetti chitarra, venison and mushroom ragu. Celistino always knocks this kind of “traditional” pasta out of the park. Just a gorgeous meaty winter ragu. It might be almost a “simple” Bolognese, but this was a deathly good dish. The texture of the delicate pasta was delicious and the rich meaty/mushroomy ragu. Bellissimo!
The vegetarian pile O veggies.
2013 Vietti Barolo Rocche di Castiglione. A lineup of three giant monster Barolos!
Prime NY steak, chives sabayon, potato puree. Delicious!
The branzino version for the meat adverse.
1999 Vietti Barolo Castiglione. VM 90. Medium ruby. Vietti’s Castiglione is a pretty, accessible Barolo. It offers a perfumed, floral nose and soft red fruit on a medium-bodied frame with fine but firm tannins and excellent length. My experience with this Barolo suggests it will reach full maturity around age 15. In 1999 Vietti did not bottle its Riserva Villero and that fruit ended up in the Castiglione, which no doubt contributes to this wine’s sense of overall balance.
2001 Vietti Barolo Rocche. VM 94. The mid to late 1990s were a period of considerable change in Piedmont, as the differences between traditional and more modern-leaning producers were especially marked during this time. Initially quite awkward, the 2001 Barolo Rocche takes a good few hours to come together. Now, fifteen years after the vintage, the track record for the 2001s is not as consistently brilliant as I had hoped. As a group, the wines are maturing faster and more unevenly than some of the surrounding top vintages, such as 1999 and 2004. Vietti’s 2001 Barolo Rocche is a good example of that. I very much like the wine’s demi-glace-like richness, but the bouquet only comes into focus after the wine has been opened for a number of hours. Even so, the 2001 gives the impression it will age faster than the 1999 tasted alongside it. These are pretty small quibbles, though, as all the wines in this flight are truly superb.
agavin: drinking superbly right now.
2001 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito. VM 92. The 2001 Barolo Lazzarito has aged quite well. Smoke, tar, incense and iron are some of the many notes that emerge from this powerful, intense wine. The Lazzarito shows considerable density and muscle, both of which will allow it to age gracefully. During this period Lazzarito was the wine that saw the greatest amount of French oak, and those notes, while present, are also nicely integrated.
Braised short ribs, risotto truffles. Amazing dish. Simple class truffle risotto perfectly executed with a nice fatty bit of meat on top!
And a version without the meat — still great.
1996 Vietti Barolo Brunate. VM 92+. Moderately saturated medium red. Complex, aromatic nose of redcurrant, camphor, mint, tobacco and brown spices. Lush, fat and chewy; denser and richer than the Castiglione Falletto bottling. Shows the powerful backbone and toothcoating tannins of the vintage. Late suggestion of mint.
1998 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito. VM 93. Saturated deep red. Highly perfumed nose combines raspberry, lead pencil, spices, dried flowers and truffle. Juicy, tight and high-pitched; sturdy, powerful and very firm. Finishes with serious but fine tannins and outstanding length. Very vigorous, youthfully unevolved Barolo with considerable aging potential.
agavin: drinking amazingly right now
1989 Vietti Barolo Rocche. VM 94. The 1989 Barolo Rocche is a bit reticent on this night. Although the 1989 is pretty, our bottles aren’t quite as explosive or intensely perfumed as the best examples can be. At its best, the Rocche is one of the finest 1989s. On this night though, the 1989 is merely outstanding. Much the same is true of the 1990 Barolo Rocche, which is very good, but also not quite as memorable as it has been in the recent past.
Assorted Italian Cheeses. Moleterno black truffle sheep pecorino. Roccaprina creamy goat cheese. Cassatica creme buffalo cheese.
Celistino drago in white and Luca Vietti in front of him in the blue sweater.
Overall another stunning evening from Sage Society. The wines were incredible and it was amazing to taste such a variety and lineup (including 3 grapes and many grand cru Baroli) from such a storied producer — and even more amazing (and storied) to here Luca Vietti’s entertaining tales about the wines.
Plus, the food and service were amazing. Celistino is a great host and his menu, created by him and Liz Lee paired spectacularly. A great evening.