Il Caberlot

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at Murray Circle at Cavallo Point, San Francisco, California

As recently as 2005, virtually no one in America had ever heard of Tuscany’s Il Caberlot, let alone tasted it. It had long been established as a hugely coveted cult wine in Europe, yet it was simply anonymous here.

There were two reasons: the first was its tiny 200-case production that went into private European cellars, one or two magnums at a time. The second was that Bettina Rogosky, the charming Berliner who makes it, had not found a US importer she was happy entrusting her baby to.

We met in 2004, and after a year of conversation, Bettina decided to appoint The Rare Wine Co. as her first American importer since Caberlot was born in 1988. We have been working with Bettina ever since, loving not only the wine but her. But until recently, she had not visited the US since living in New York decades ago.

Finally, in February 2012, she came to San Francisco, to receive an award from Slow Foods. While she was in town, we seized the opportunity to host the first Il Caberlot dinnerand probably the most extensive Caberlot vertical tastingever to take place on American soil, at Murray Circle at Cavallo Point on Wednesday, February 6.

A Rare Clone

Il Caberlot is the only wine in the world made from a very rare clone discovered in an Emilia-Romagna nursery in the 1960s. For twenty years, the clone's owneran agronomist named Remigio Bordinirefused all requests from producers to plant the vine.  It was not until 1986 that he consented to letting Bettina and her late husband Wolf work with the great enologist Vittorio Fiore to have it exclusively at their Carnasciale estate overlooking Tuscany's Arno River.

The grape is not a cross between Cabernet and Merlot; it gets its name because it combines the aromatic and flavor profile of the two grapes. At times, Carnasciale's Il Caberlot reminds us of a great Pomerol, and at other times an important Graves.

Since its first vintage in 1988, Il Caberlot has more than fulfilled its promise as one of the singular wines of Tuscany. To quote Antonio Galloni, the wine beautifully expresses the uniqueness of its terroir, varietal and the quality-obsessed philosophy of proprietor Bettina Rogosky.

The Dinner

Galloni may be the only American ever to taste ten vintages of Caberlot at one time, but he had to travel to Tuscany to do it. On February 6, 2013, guests had the same honor, without leaving the Bay Area. Accompanied by a four-course menu created for us by Justin Everett, we were treated to ten vintages of Il Caberlot, all shipped directly by us from Carnasciale or hand-carried by Bettina. Many of these are now quite rare.

Here's the line-up, all from magnum:

1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009

The Setting

The dinner was hosted at Murray Circle at Cavallo Point, the acclaimed resort that occupies an early 1900s army base in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is the same spectacular setting as for our Joseph Swan Pinot Noir dinner in June of 2012.

Cavallo Point offered incredible views of San Francisco. Chef Justin Everetttwho was handpicked for Murray Circle by Michelin-starred Joseph Humphreyprepared a special four-course dinner to accompany the wines. And, of course, there was no substitute for having an expert sommelier like Murray Circle's Gillian Ballance handling the precious Il Caberlot magnums.

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