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Maximilian Riedel visits Tony’s…

riedel decanters

“My father Georg always eats at Tony’s when he’s in town,” said Maximilian Riedel when he visited the restaurant last week for lunch. “He loves it that much.”

Maximilian is the eleventh generation of the celebrated Austrian glassmaker Riedel, founded in 1756 and owned and managed by the same family since its inception.

If you’ve ever eaten at one of Tony Vallone’s restaurants, you know Maximilian’s family’s products well: all of Tony’s stemware is by Riedel — considered the benchmark for fine wine glasses — including the company’s trademark decanters (Tony’s currently features the Flirt, Black Tie, Escargot, and Mamba decanters).

Editor of the Wine Advocate and leading U.S. wine authority Robert Parker Jr. has called Riedel’s stemware “The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes… The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.”

The family’s contribution to the world of wine has reshaped modern wine connoisseurship. Not only did it develop the concept of grape-variety specificity in stemware (with a line of wine glasses for every major variety), its quest for excellence in design has also earned its “Sommelier” series stemware (featured at Tony’s) a place in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, New York.

Max had planned a visit to Tony’s, he later confessed, to indulge in one of his favorite guilty pleasures: White Truffles from Alba (Piedmont) paired with Champagne. (Max took the photo above with his iPhone; you’ll find a stream of photos documenting his gastronomic adventures on his Facebook).

He managed to turn more than one head in the restaurant that day when he requested that the Tony’s wine steward decant a bottle of 2002 Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne.

“All Champagne should be decanted,” he explained. “In fact, before the invention of the méthode champenoise” whereby Champagne is disgorged to eliminate its sediment, “all Champagne was regularly decanted, in order to separate the lees [i.e., yeast] from the wine.”

“By decanting the wine, especially a ‘tight’ wine like this one from the excellent 2002 vintage in Champagne, you allow the floral and fruit notes to emerge together with the notes of yeast. After all, what is Champagne? In most cases, it is made predominantly from Pinot Noir.”

And while many of Tony’s guests will naturally reach for a rare bottle of red Burgundy, Barolo, or Barbaresco when pairing with white truffles from Alba, “I always pair truffles with Champagne,” said Max. “It’s an excellent match, taught to me by [Barbaresco and Barolo great] Angelo Gaja. Whenever I visit him in Piedmont, we always pair truffles and Champagne!”

Please do not hesitate to ask your wine steward to decant your wine at Tony’s, if desired.

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