Bobby Stuckey M.S.
Last week, Bobby Stuckey M.S. and Lachlan Patterson came to NYC to spread some Friuli love. Like a one-man Medicine Show, Stuckey stood before a crowd of over 40 industry folks, looking to cure whatever might ail us with his passion for all things Friuli, most especially his and Lachlan's own elixirs, Scarpetta Wines. As an entertainer, a jokester, a barker and a lover (who favored strip notecards with his wife to study for the M.S. exam), Stuckey worked the crowd with historical notes, cultural reflections and personal anecdotes, all roads that led to a glass containing any one of Scarpetta's five wines.
With Lachlan working down below at Charlie Bird to prepare the plates with items brought in directly from Frasca –the duos' Friulian destination in Boulder, Colorado–Stuckey poured and talked us through the wines, from the Scarpetta Spumante Rosé to the Scarpetta Barbara.
Charlie Bird NYC
Located next to Friuli, Venice receives some five million Americans a year. "But only 50 come to Friuli," said Bobby, "usually my staff and people who come to drink wine with me," he added and laughed. Welcoming attendees with a glass of Spumante Brut Rosé as they entered, Stuckey said, "This is old vine Franconia [60%] and old vine Pinot Nero [40%]. The Charmat method in the last decade has been bastardized...[but] this style can be applicable to great wines," including Scarpetta.
As the Frico (made with Montasio) was served, Bobby poured Scarpetta Friulano 2012, a wild varietal to Friuli. "The wine world is smaller than it's ever been," he began. "Clonal diversity is everywhere. Every once and a while, you need a breath of fresh air, something indigenous." Coined Tocai ('the grape of here') until 2007, Friulano is "an original varietal," he said. "You can't go into a nursery and order clonal selections. The cuttings all come from local plantings. The green clone and the yellow clone. That's it." Grown from the yellow clone, the Scarpetta Friulano offers floral notes with bitter almond. "It's Mother Nature's cross between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc....It's Italy's Austrian white wine," he added, with a mouthfeel that has "more weight, more dry extract," with herbal notes.
Tasting sheet by Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews
Noted as "Friuli's secret weapon," the Scarpetta Sauvignon Blanc 2012 was poured next, which got Bobby thinking about Didier Dagueneau in 1997, when Bobby was taking the advanced exam and hanging in San Francisco with the likes of Rajat Parr and a handful of other somms. "Didier was on a different wavelength," Bobby reminisced. "He [has since] passed, but we don't have another Didier Dagueneau. His Sauvignon Blanc had apricot and ripping high acidity, white pepper and 16 other flavors." And while Bobby didn't make the claim that Scarpetta SB was anything like that of Didier's Pouilly Fumé, the influence is clear. "The next Didier won't come from Loire," he added, "I think he'll come from Frilui. It's the one spot where you can drink Sauvignon Blanc with ripping high acidity with that extra gear box."
After pouring Scarpetta Pinot Grigio 2012, Bobby said, "Nobility is if a wine takes you on a trip. If we drink Chablis we want to taste Kimmeridgian Clay soil. We want it to take us to that place. Riesling from Mosel? We want slate. Nobility doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to take us there." Composed of compressed seabed marl, ponca soil is "Friuli's Kimmeridgian clay."
"Pinot Grigio can be noble in Friuli," Bobby added, but "it must be planted to ponca soil," which in this case yielded a PG with crushed shell minerality and citrus fruit.
As the risotto ai fruitti di mare was served, Lachlan took to the stage. "It gets you to think about fish broth in a different way," he said of the dish, as if he could sense our thoughts at first bite. Made with shellfish and snapper and steeped in aromatic herbs then processed in a food mill, the broth is cloudy and murky with tons of flavor. "Its the same thing as leaving Pinot Grigio on lees," he added. "It's broth on shellfish lees." Which made for the most amazing seafood risotto that we'd ever tasted.
"There is no other place like New York City to drink Barbera," said Bobby, when the final dish of pork had been served. "At French Laundry, it was my job to change the wine list from Napa Valley to the world, but at the time, my friends and guests didn't have the palate for Italian wine. Barbera is the gateway drug to Italian wine." Asking guests, many of whom he knew by name, to name five world class Barberas, Bobby emphasized the fact that in Langhe, "every last centimeter is planted to Nebbiolo." Aged for 12 months in neutral oak, Scarpetta Barbera del Monferrato 2011 is bright and juicy. "It's set to meet you on the corner of thinkable and drinkable," said Bobby. "It's truly Italian but everyone can enjoy it." To which the empty classes around the room could attest.
Big thanks to Bobby and Lachlan for an amazing event, and for also coming out to Buffalo and Albany to play. Cheers to Charlie Bird for hosting, and thanks again for all of you who could make it on a rainy fall afternoon.