The Fullerton Hotel, The Ballroom

This gala dinner showcased great terroirs and grapes of Italy. The menu was designed by Antony Genovese, the chef of Rome, Italy's two-star Michelin restaurant, Il Pagliaccio. Perhaps the fact that there were more than 350 guests hampered the chef's ability to translate his brilliant cooking in Rome to Singapore. In any event, as impressive as the menu sounds, I thought the food itself left a lot to be desired, and I could not get excited about any of the dishes that were served.

That was not the case with the wines. The two crisp white wines with which we started, the 2011 Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico and 2011 Livio Felluga Terre Alte Rosazzo, were both delicious. I had a slight preference for the Felluga Terre Alte Rosazzo, but both were beautifully dry, crisp, light to medium-bodied whites offering attractive fruit and floral notes, and no oak.

The first flight of reds (lighter-styled reds) included the 2009 Girolamo Russo Etna Rosso San Lorenzo, which was pleasant but uninspiring. The same could be said for the 2008 Tasca D'Almerita Rosso Del Conte and 2006 Elena Fucci Titolo Aglianico Del Vulture. The latter wine had more stuffing than the first two, but they all seemed somewhat compact and one-dimensional compared to the wines that followed. Things picked up beautifully with the stunning 1998 Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Riserva. This loaded, inky/ruby/purple-colored 1998 possesses lots of tar and volcanic/scorched earth-like notes intermixed with plenty of red and black fruit, spice, pepper and meaty characteristics. Another stunning wine was the 2007 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto. I rarely get a chance to taste these wines, but this cuvée was stunning. Opulent, rich and complex, it is seemingly a quickly maturing effort.

We then enjoyed a stunning 2004 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve as well as a sumptuous 2006 Ornellaia. In fact, every vintage I had of Ornellaia on this world tour of Asia was dazzling. Changing gears, especially in aromatic and flavor profiles, was the 2004 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo. This great vineyard that produces Barbaresco exhibited stunning notes of cherries, licorice, tar, and rose petals along with a big, spicy, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and a lush finish. I was surprised by how delicious it was at age ten. We ended with two nearly perfect, monster, massively concentrated reds that should last for another 30+ years. The 2000 Quintarelli Giuseppe Amarone della Valpolicella was more rustic, revealing notes of animal blood, roasted meats, crème de cassis, blackberries, licorice, scorched earth and charcoal. A more modern-styled offering, the 2006 Romano dal Forno Amarone della Valpolicella was enormously endowed with nearly over-the-top levels of concentration, ripeness, blackberry and cassis fruit, licorice, tar and floral notes. Both are spectacular wines (probably hitting 15-16% natural alcohol) and were killer efforts to have at the end of this somewhat disappointing meal.

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