Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Rhino on the Bottle

Early on this evening, I was in a special know when EVERYTHING you do seems to come out absolutely perfect? Despite the rain, I had a really nice and productive day that ended up with an amazing massage (@ Acqua Spa with Tommy -
After my massage I went shopping for some fish & veggies for dinner (right next door actually @ good'ol'no lines'Garden of Eden - who needs Wholefoods!?) and stopped by USQ Wines ( where I grabbed a bottle of 2007 Ca'DiPian - Barbera D'asti. Even though I was having fish I decided to stick to a bold wine. I can't help it...I am a bold wine girl. And my wine drinking choices usually go with what the weather is like and also my state of mind more so than the food I am eating it with. Sue me. the weather was truly awful. As my friend Sofia says, we had monsoonic style rain. That is the kind of weather that when you are out, walking around, all you can think of is the moment that you will you walk into your cozy home and take off your wet clothes, put your feet up and chill. Barbera D'asti seemed like the wine of choice. I got home and I could hear the crazy strong winds coming though the crack of my kitchen window. I live on the 9th floor, with no obstruction views on a 360 radius. That also means that my building gets hit first by the weather. Well let's just say... we New Yorkers had some intense rain this evening. Time to open that wine bottle and play some good music to go with the mood - I chose Oscar Peterson.
At Garden of Eden I bought a beautiful piece of organic salmon that I cooked in the most simple way possible: Place the salmon filet in an aluminum foil. Generously coat the fish with olive oil and himalayan sea salt (yeah, that makes a difference - wrap it, and place it in a pre-heated toaster oven ( I used a toaster oven because it is faster but you can use the conventional oven as well)
Let it cook for 15 minutes. I also made myself some broccoli, just because I LOVE broccoli and because it goes really well with salmon. I steamed the broccoli and sprinkled it with a really flavorful olive oil. Done. After a short while, I had a perfect meal. Low fat, beautiful, flavorful, healthy and can we call it FAST FOOD? All it took was 20 minutes. Boy that salmon was cooked to perfection! :) So full of flavor too! It needed nothing, no herbs, no pepper, no lemon. Just salt and olive oil...
So back to the wine and the rhino. The wine that I chose to drink with my dinner was such a beauty of a wine, that I decided to post a little picture of the bottle on my Facebook page. I had my dinner, I chilled, and I waited to see if the rain would subside in time for me to go to a friends party on the Lower East Side. If you are a New Yorker, you must know how absolutely impossible it is to find a taxi when the weather goes bonkers like this. I was not looking forward to standing on a corner for hours, getting soaked and I waited...and waited... Finally after 12am the rain thinned out a bit, and I decided to go for it. When I came home, after the party, I saw a comment that a friend posted about the label on the wine bottle that I was drinking with my dinner. My friend was wondering why someone would use a Rhinoceros on their wine label.
That question intrigued myself as well. Since I was also curious about this somewhat inexpensive but yet absolutely delicious wine I had, I decided to investigate. Here is what I found out about the wine, the winery and the rhino:

In a little less than a decade, Giorgio Rivetti, owner and winemaker of La Spinetta in Barbaresco, has become one of the leading forces in Piedmont. He’s making exciting ripe, fruit-forward Nebbiolos that would give many highly rated New World wines a run for their money. Now he’s making waves in Barolo….Rivetti is first and foremost a winemaker—one of the best and most innovative winemakers in Piedmont today. But he is also in tune with today’s consumer, whom he believes shares his preference for wines that are more approachable on release.” -- The Wine Spectator

"This is a very strong set of releases from La Spinetta and proprietor Giorgio Rivetti. The 2004 Barbarescos are easily the best of his career. The wines still see 100% new French oak, but toast levels have been reduced and the Barbarescos now spend 12 months in oak rather than the 18 months they saw in previous vintages. Both changes have had a remarkably positive effect in allowing more site-specific character and Nebbiolo fruit to come through. The 2003 Barolo Campè shows that Rivetti is making important strides with this wine as well...In the past La Spinetta was an estate that relied just as much on style as substance. The 2004 Barbarescos, and especially the Starderi, are the first wines that truly live up to the glamorous image that Giorgio Rivetti has masterfully succeeded in creating." -- The Wine Advocate, Oct 2007

Giorgio Rivetti’s magic touch with Moscato, Barbera and then Nebbiolo took the world by storm. He produces approachable yet age-worthy wines that capture the attention of wine critics and consumers year in and year out with their lushness, concentration, aromatics and length. Rivetti’s path, from Moscato producer, to Barbaresco and then Barolo vigneron, is studded with success,The genius of La Spinetta encompasses a vast array of great wines, all boasting Giorgio Rivetti’s inimitably approachable and voluptuous style. From Moscato to Nebbiolo to Sangiovese, whatever Giorgio touches turns to gold. His pioneering single-vineyard Barberas and Barbera/Nebbiolo blend Pin are considered to be the best of the Langhe. His Barbarescos and Barolo are the Ne Plus Ultra of their category, as confirmed by the Wine Spectator, which recently awarded the 2003 Barolo 95 points – one of the highest for the vintage! Let it never be said, however, that the greatness of La Spinetta is unavailable to the average consumer: from the long-time favorite Barbera d’Asti “Ca’ di Pian”, recently named #2 on a New York Times list of the Top 10 Barbera to the Langhe Nebbiolo, a bottling of young-vine fruit from the famed Starderi vineyard in Barbaresco, La Spinetta offers incredible opportunities to experience the beauty of La Spinetta’s best crus at a fraction of the cost.

Why the rhinoceros?

... is certainly the question we get asked most often. The animal that decorates our bottles catches people’s attention. Quite frankly there is no real connection between this animal and LA SPINETTA. There remains the unspectacular truth of Giorgio Rivetti always having had great admiration of this celebrated drawing and woodcut by the German artist Albrecht Dürer.

Although there is no rhino story of LA SPINETTA, there certainly is a great story behind this particular rhino, which perhaps is one of the reasons why Giorgio fell in love with this artwork.

The drawing records the arrival of an Indian rhinoceros in Lisbon, Portugal in 1515. It was the first animal of its kind to be seen in Europe. As a gift by the governor of Portuguese India to the king of Portugal, it was arranged that the rhino fought an elephant. The elephant apparently turned and fled.

A description of the rhino soon reached Germany, presumably with sketches, from which Dürer prepared this drawing and woodcut without ever having seen the actual animal.

So convincing was Dürer’s fanciful creation that for the next 300 years European illustrators borrowed from his work, even after they had seen living rhinos without plates and scales.

For our first Barolo Campè, we also chose a pencil drawing by Dürer, the lion. As Barolo is generally known as the king of Italian reds, we thought that the king of all animals was a fitting match. Website:


1 comment:

  1. I am going to try to make your salmon dish. :-)