As I poked around Peck I tried to take a couple pics. Got scolded. Apparently Peck - an historical Milanese fine food emporium - is as famous for its image control as it is for its vast stores of wine, olive oil, and ham.
It's a little baffling. Peck has neither the design elements nor the security risks that might warrant overzealous image control. It's a fine food shop, not a museum, not an embassy. Some fine food shops fulfill a quasi-ambassadorial role, it's true: think Turin's Eataly. But in comparison to the grandiosity and festival atmosphere of that place, Peck seemed a bit quaint, even at 3500m2 over three floors. The short young clerk who instructed me not to take pictures had been the same one who'd shadowed me as I perused the wine racks of Peck's basement level, offering little in the way of advice.
This happened to suit me fine, as I didn't need any. We had 20 minutes to kill in central Milan after lunch, and my friends M and V kindly indulged my desire to spend it all perusing shelves of Italian wine classics. In retrospect this may have been a mistake, since it meant that during our perambulations throughout the city later that day I was burdened with numerous cult-status bottles I'd been unable to resist.
I picked up several, but one that might be worthy of mention is Laura Aschero's 2011 Pigato. This is a wine I used to sell through an import company I worked for called J.K. Imports. "J.K." are the initials of the owner; coincidentally they also constituted the abbreviation that my buyers seemed to anticipate each time after I'd quote them prices. Suffice it to say that despite J.K.-the-person's gifted palate and admirable ideals, J.K.-the-company had a nigh-on unworkable portfolio consisting solely of darling bottles, the sort of high-end curiosities that wine directors purchase mainly to drink themselves.
Aschero's Pigato - a delicate, Riesling-like lance of saline tones, sea scrub, and snow-pure white fruit - constitutes a high-end curiosity in the states. Aschero herself died in 2009; the business, founded in 1980, is now run by her son and granddaughter, with aid from consultant oenologist Gianpaolo Ramo. The 5ha estate produces 6000 cases each year, but - at least when I last worked with the wine - so few of them were allotted to the US market, and these were sold in such tiny allocations by J.K., that one rarely saw it one wine lists for less than $90 (presumably higher by now).
I was accordingly quite excited to find it retailing for 15€ at Peck. A whole shelf-full, like it was just more white juice with which to wash down a tuna sandwich. It was all I could do not to buy more than I could carry, even as I wasn't overly pleased at supporting an historical Milanese fine food emporium known for stiff hospitality...
The rest of the selection at Peck was very strong, if ever so slightly weighted towards what might accurately be termed "banker bottles" (especially in Milan). For every Aschero bargain there was a bottle of shoe-polish super-Tuscan, or Barolo at prices that, in the wake of last August's visit to Monforte, didn't strike me as overly kind, given the proximity of Piemonte from Milan.
Anyway, Peck is still worth a peek if you're passing through. The wine section contained maybe 70% of the bottles I'd been specifically seeking when I walked in, a fair achievement in any city.