Guests began to arrive at 5pm. Because it was a mid-week affair, I had planned to have dinner on the table around 7pm. As people came in and bottles were opened the tempo began to pick up. Many, many bottles of wine were beginning to accumulate on the side table. Lots of Barolos, but oddly enough this crew is also a Bordeaux loving crowd. There was also the odd bottle of Fado Blanco, a Portuguese white wine from the Alentejo region that we've loved all summer. We had the oven revved up to 550F so Mike could start rocking out the pizzas. This was a Berserker party in full swing.
The 2003 Domenico Clerico Pajana was pretty much as I anticipated. It is a testament to the winemaking skill of the estate. The fruit was a little subdued, but still very lively. The tannins were still assertive and the wine still retained a pleasantly surprising amount of acidity. Unfortunately many of the Bordeauxs that were brought that evening were spoiled by cork taint including two Ducru-Beaucaillous, the 1986 and the 1998 and an '86 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Luckily I had a 2004 Pichon sleeping in the cellar. I brought it up and opened it. Although still young, it was drinking very well.
The pizzas tasted as good as they looked. The soup was met with raves and the veal shanks were meltingly tender. All the guests were satiated and very content.
With food and wine surpassing expectations, these ten friends ate, drank, and enjoyed each others company in the full knowledge that this was just the beginning of a week full of this kind of fun.