Cascina Spinasse

This casual, yet impeccably run restaurant is located in the hip Capitol Hill district of Seattle and specializes in northern Italian (specifically Piedmont) cuisine. All of the pasta is made in house and in addition to individual plates, they offer the option to try everything on the menu served family style. I was here with a handful of eRP friends, who had all dined here before, so I simply kicked back and let them do the ordering; by the end of the evening there was only one or two items on the menu we didn’t try. Standout dishes included the Tajarin Pasta with a Rabbit Ragù, thinly sliced lamb (think Carpaccio) with capers, Risotto covered with a nettle puree mixed with a raw egg yolk, and a completely hedonistic and rich mix of pork, foie gras and potato that was wrapped in Swiss chard. In addition to each course being unique and perfectly prepared, the whole meal was staged perfectly so as not to be overwhelming or heavy, which given the amount of food, was no easy feat.

As to the wines, we started with a delicious bottle of 2006 Chateau Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. A tank aged blend of Clairette and Grenache Blanc, it had a musky, ripe melon and mineral-driven profile with a vibrant acidity and an overall fresh feel on the palate. Still youthful, it has plenty of prime drinking ahead of it. While it wasn’t that well received at the table, I liked it quite a bit. Even better and with classic aromas and flavors, the 2002 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanee was firing on all cylinders with rich, nutty aromas and flavors as well as the purity and cut on the palate that white Burgundy seems to deliver so easily. No premox here and it too has years of life ahead of it. On the reds, the 1967 Gaja Barbaresco was still amazingly fresh and ethereal on the nose (rose petal, mint, sappy flowers), yet fell a tad short on the palate with medium-body and juicy acidity starting to dominate the fruit. At just under 50-years of age, it is, nevertheless, a gorgeous Nebbiolo that’s an absolute joy to drink. Also at full maturity, the 1998 Chateau Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape evolved beautifully in the glass and possessed the inherent sweetness of fruit that is a hallmark of this estate. Not up to the top vintages of this wine, it is silky, layered and pure Grenache deliciousness. I don’t see any reason to hold off on these and would enjoy bottles over the coming 5 years or so. The most structured and rich of the night, the 2004 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne was decanted for about an hour prior to dinner. Still a baby, yet with the fruit to shine even now, it offers up knockout aromatics of kirsch, flower garden and rose petal to go with medium to full-bodied richness and layers of sweet tannin on the palate. Give bottles another handful of years and enjoy over the following decade or longer. Overall, a brilliant, relaxing evening with great people, food and wine, and I can’t recommend this restaurant enough.

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