NGW: Cavit Alta Luna Phases Dolomiti 2009   3 comments

Here’s where the snob in me starts to emerge.  I see the name Cavit and my instinct is to turn the other way.  I associate the name with cheap magnums of “party” wine.  But for parties at some else’s house.  Recently, a guest of ours brought a magnum of this stuff– the Cavit Pinot Grigio– for dinner.  I certainly did appreciate the thought though it was not to my personal taste.  And it probably cost him around $15, which for many people (myself included) is a lot of money for fermented grape juice.  And if you’re not a wine person, you’re not likely to take a chance on a label you’ve never seen or heard of before.  (That’s where this blog hopefully helps to fill in some blanks.)  But there it was, cheap white wine, sitting in the fridge, waiting for its moment. 

But first, an aside. 

A year ago we went to a Food Network event at Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City with friends of ours.  It was a lot of fun, we tasted a bunch of wines, had some decent food and then went to the casino after where Ms. R magically turned $50 into $150.  This paid for some of the stuff we bought– including a very cool, but dangerous five and a half-inch chef’s knife designed by the recently deceased F.A. Porsche.  (You can read his obit by clicking on this link to the New York Times on-line) Yes, THAT Porsche– the guy who designed the Porsche 911.  Like all things Porsche, it looks great, it feels great, but if you’re not careful during use, it will hurt you. 

The knife, known as the 301, fits beautifully in my hand. 

This knife rethinks how a kitchen knife should be held.  A typical knife’s handle rests at the intersection of the top part of the palm and the 4 fingers that wrap around the handle.  Go to your kitchen and try it.  See what I mean?  The 301 by marked contrast rests comfortably and diagonally along the lifeline of my palm and is held in place by the middle through the pinky digits.  The forefinger and thumb then rest against two rounded nubs that protrude from the sides, lending stability to the cutting action.  As a result, unlike any other knife I have ever used, it really does become an extension of my hand.  The connection is seamless. 

From a design perspective, the knife is made of one piece construction.  From the horizontally flat handle, the design narrows and swoops into a vertical blade.  Though not evident at first, that transition is broken by the two rounded nubs that communicate with the hand that it should not move further down the blade.  The package is design genius.  The blade effortlessly slices through anything.  Friends that I have let use the knife marvel at its inventiveness and efficiency.

Looks great and feels great.  But there is a down side– a design flaw which must be mentioned.  The knife is uniquely balanced with more of the weight in the handle and along the top seam of the blade.  This adds to the feeling of connectivity between skin and steel.  However, when placed on a counter top, the knife will have a tendency to roll, Weeble-like,  and come to rest with its blade facing upward.  Yes, take your eyes of the road and it would be easy to slam into something.  Take your eyes off this knife and you are likely to slice into your own skin as I have done.  After a couple of mishaps, I had decided that I did not like this knife.  I have other great choices including two fantastic Shun knives and my old reliable friends from Henckels.  And yet, this is the first knife that I usually reach for in my kitchen every day.  What does that tell me?  That I am now looking to purchase my next one– the larger chef’s knife.  I guess I like to live on the edge…

Back to the Cavit, however.  Another less useful thing we purchased at the Food and Wine Expo was a fruit flavored mix that could be combined with white wine and blended with ice to make what essentially amounts to a wine Slurpee.  Our crew, being a few sheets to the wind at that time, were drawn to the irresistible chemical fruitiness of this concoction like suburban johns to a 12th Avenue whore.  It was ugly.  But I went along and purchased a package of the “mix”.  And there it sat, in the bar, at home, for a year.  I finally gave it to these dear friends of ours as a memento of that trip.

Over the Labor Day weekend, these same friends of ours decided to throw a party and being among the invited, and also knowing what it takes to get a party organized, I volunteered to arrive early to help with the prep.  There it was: the peach-flavored mix.  It was peach colored, if you want to call it that.  Actually, no peach that I have ever seen has this color, but somehow, it is still refered to as “peach” in the crayon box.  We stirred the contents into a magnum of cheap white.  It was god-awful.  We needed more white wine.  “I know,” I thought, “we have this magnum of Cavit Pinot Grigio sitting back at the house and it would be ‘lovely’ with this.”  A quick phone call and it was in Ms. R’s bag en route to party central.  And there, it made its mark.  I was thrilled to make room in the fridge once we got this thing out of there.

So you can see that my expectations for Cavit wines are at a pretty low threshold. 

When I first saw today’s NGW, it was marketed as Alta Luna Phases, by my wine guys.  A good move on their part as I would likely have taken a pass had I seen the Cavit name.  Once I got it home, I just about groaned when I spotted the brand moniker at the bottom of the label.  But don’t be so hasty, Bubba Louie, rating wine is not as easy as spotting good guys from bad guys.  You have to open the bottle first.

From the shadows of the Dolomites in the Italian Alps, this is a winner worth seeking out.   This comes close to a *** rating: **3/4 as Ms. R was saying.  But we don’t give quarter stars.  No matter, at this price, it is now the reigning house wine in the SS household.  That is our highest praise.  I like Cavit, I really do.  Who knew?

Alta Luna Phases 2009Cavit Alta Luna Phases Dolomiti 2009 ($9).  A terrific blend of Teroldego, Lagrein and Merlot, this reveals a sense of place with hints of fecund and dusty earth, touches of cinnamon, sweet spices and bright red cherries.  Yet this might have faltered without what comes then.  Pear tomato emerges setting up a structural acidity tempered  by the merlot tannins.  Are those tannins velvety or silky?  Who cares, try this and make up your own mind.  Rated **1/2

The little guy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

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Posted September 12, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

3 responses to “NGW: Cavit Alta Luna Phases Dolomiti 2009

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  1. The knife is very, very cool. A suggestion- get a tall, narrow bowl/container, fill it with dry beans or rice and stick the knife in there instead of on your board…just a thought…

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