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The Cavalieri del Tartufo – the “Knights of the Truffle” - is a society based in Piedmont, dedicated to the preservation of the traditional food and wine of the region. Those things are so popular now that it’s a little hard to believe that they were ever threatened, but in the 1960s they were rapidly disappearing, and the diligent work of the first generations of Cavalieri brought widespread appreciation of the culinary riches of the region, assuring that we can still enjoy them today.
I am very proud to have been made a Cavaliere in 2017 – I’d like to call it a grand professional recognition for my love and support of the wines, but (aside from being invited by a friend who was a member) the truth is that all I had to do was fill out the forms and pay the dues.
The investiture ceremony (in our case at the Cavalieri’s beautiful medieval headquarters at the Castello di Grinzane Cavour) was gratifyingly old fashioned, including splendid robes and some funny hats, being knighted with a grapevine, and the bestowing of a bling-y medallion.
The fine dinner that followed included the first time I’d been served the very traditional “Agnolotti del Plin al Tavogliolo”, or plin served without any sauce in a napkin, which you eat with your hands; nothing distracts from the subtlety of the pasta and its filling, which in this case was very delicious.
A Special Dinner of Cavalieri Wines
Beginning in 1975, the “Maestri Assaggiatori” (the “Master Tasters”) of the Cavalieri del Tartufo annually selected a few wines to receive the special honor of the Cavalieri label. At the time quite a few of the members in the Order (and therefore we can assume the Maestri Assaggiatori) were among the best Barolo and Barbaresco producers. The market was very different then, so the Maestri had a lot of choice, and they were able to designate wines that already had some significant age but that had never left the producer’s cantina. For example, the 1978 Prunotto Barolo that we will taste (at the dinner detailed below) was selected by the Cavalieri in 1988. The Cavalieri wines are now very rare – it’s taken me quite a long time to assemble these bottles – so this is an unusual chance to actually taste part of the distinguished history of the Cavalieri. Jamie Wolff
In the company of distinguished Cavalieri, we will taste the Produttori del Barbaresco 1971 Riserva Ovello and 1982 Barbaresco; Franco-Fiorina Barbaresco & Barolo 1970 and 1971; Francesco Rinaldi 1971 Barolo, 1971 Cannubio, and 1971 Cannubio Vigna del Gioch; and Barale Barolo 1982. In addition, my fellow Cavalieri have planned a traditional menu - and they attest to the great food at Feroce (105 W. 28th St).
(2 damaged labels)
A special bottling: in translation the label reads: This wine comes from a part of the 1500 bottles bottled at the Cantina, and was selected in the spring of 1980 by the Master tasters of the Order of the Knights of the Truffle and the Wines of Alba" The Rinaldi Barolo 1971 is a great bottle of wine, so this too should be very special. Jamie Wolff