Vito’s Café

Another excellent meal at this excellent BYOB Italian trattoria in Cockeysville, Maryland included homemade, top-flight, simple, rustic yet flavorful food. This is not sophisticated, chi-chi, refined cooking, but the ingredients are high quality, the execution is spot on and the flavors are intense. As a result, this small venue is packed just about every night of the week.

We started with a beautiful bottle of 1999 Louis Roderer Cristal, a Champagne I had somehow never tasted. Still young, it revealed notes of wheat thin, orange rind and buttered brioche, lots of effervescence, medium-bodied flavors and impressive purity. From a somewhat irregular vintage for this varietal, Martinelli’s 2006 Chardonnay Zio Tony exhibits abundant quantities of exotic tropical fruits, buttered citrus and orange marmalade. This full-bodied, pure, fruit-driven Chardonnay is a hedonist’s delight. We then moved to two Bordeaux I had double decanted three hours earlier. Surprisingly, the difference in evolution and quality was much less than I had anticipated. The 1990 Cheval Blanc, unquestionably one of the great wines of the vintage, appears to have reached a point I would call mature, but still in late adolescence. The wine gained and gained in the glass, revealing a dark plum/ruby color, lots of forest floor, mint, plum, mulberry and black currant fruit, full body and noticeable but silky tannins. This beautiful 1990 eclipses the slightly fading 1982, and is probably the greatest Cheval Blanc for current drinking between 1982 and the young, massive 1998. The 1990 Canon La Gaffelière has been mature for 7-10 years, but it shows no signs of falling off the cliff, one of the great trademarks of top-flight Bordeaux. Displaying a slightly lighter color than the Cheval Blanc (it is beginning to show some amber at the edge) along with aromas of cedarwood, licorice, incense and sweet cherries and plums, this full-bodied, opulent, vigorous, fresh, lively 1990 should be drunk up as I do not believe it will improve further. It’s a beauty.

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