WINE & SPIRITS
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Right now, Bastianich the collector is big into vintage Champagne. "There's a mania around vintage Champagne," he said. "Collectors are after bottles from the turn of the century and from the 1920s. Prices are through the roof. They're buying large–format bottles, nothing is quite as decadent." He planned, he said, to serve a jeroboam of Krug at a dinner party he was hosting in Greenwich that weekend.
Like so many collectors, he was eager to regale me with stories of decadent nights snatching bottles from the cellar. "Recently, we drank a vertical of six different Cristal vintages from the 1970s," he said. "The '76 is not just a great Champagne, but one of the greatest bottles of wine available, period." In 2005, Bastianich won the James Beard Award for "outstanding wine and spirits professional." He waxed poetic when I asked what the award meant to him. "I love wine, I love the business," he said. "And I love being involved in the life cycle of the vine. I consider it a privilege on every level to be a part of the creation, marketing and consumption of wine."
So what's left to accomplish, I wondered. "One day," he said, "I would love to make my own Barolo."