Our favorite local restaurant is reopening – hooray! – and we were invited for a sneak preview, so a few choice bottle were in order…
First, a Donnhoff Dellchen GG 2009. Hugely intense, with shimmering near-effervescence even after open two hours. Sharp on the palate, with a lime and saline flavor profile that made me think of margaritas. Completely dry, of course. Worked very well with seared scallops, even though I would normally pair with a richer, rounder wine. Somehow a couple of glasses remained, and even two days later it was no worse for the wear. I have never had a bad wine from Donnhoff.
The somm, a friend, loves older rioja, and the Faustino Gran Reserva 1970 was right in the zone. Double decanted an hour prior, the color was a tad rusty, but the wine was surprisingly bright and fruit forward at the age of 49. There was a lot going on here, mostly a delicate strawberry and plentiful spices (cinnamon? nutmeg?), tobacco leaf and maybe distant burning leaves. At the end of the night I recorked about 1/2 glass that remained and again, like the Donnhoff, the next night it remained absolutely beautiful. My experience with Faustino has been that they need a LOT of time, and this experience certainly validated that thesis.
Last, an old standby, Sociando Mallet 2000. I decanted this one about two hours prior. Honestly, if tasted blind I doubt I would have nailed this one. There was nothing in the way of vegetal/cab franc/bell pepper. It was all cassis. Very big, very long, very well balanced, very young. So much so, in fact, that I almost wondered whether this might actually be a mislabelled “Cuvee Jean Gautreau”? (I had the 2000 JG in this very restaurant a few months back.) Like a young second growth.
The other key with Faustino and many older Riojas from good years is that they need plenty of air to wake up–an hour or two, or even more. I think many folks fear that they will fade, so consume them before they’ve woken up, and conclude they are over the hill. In many ways very much like older Barolo.
Kelly- nice wines and notes! I Have had a good run with 1970 and 1973 Fustinos the past couple years. Echo all the comments here. I still look for them at auction where they can often be found for decent prices. Cheers.
I’ve easily gone through a case of this 2000 Sociando. I think there is a fair amount of variability based on my experience, but most have shown a degree of pyrazine that is greater than one would expect from a 2000, even from a Sociando. I tend to love the herbal notes in Sociando, but even my last bottle was almost, just almost too green for this Chinon-lover. I’ve not had one that drank like your bottle, and you are right, that does sounds like the JG! Ha. Hopefully my remaining bottles drink more like yours than my last bottle.
I usually just double decant a couple of hours (2) before, partially because I’m usually taking them somewhere and need to get them off sediment. sometimes I’m a bit of a chicken and only do it an hour ahead of time, particularly if the wine seems sort of fragile, but most often in this case the wine blossoms at the very end of the tasting, or the next day. the last wine was a 1970 CVNE Imperial, which I double decanted about 1 1/2 hours ahead. it was pretty reticent until late in the evening, and was gaining strength 4-5 hours into it’s exposure to air.
Thanks, guys. Yes that Sociando was surprising. I have had the 2000 several times prior, and it has typically been as Robert described – not at all a bad thing IMHO.
Agreed on the need to decant older rioja. A few years back I remember bringing a 1929 Patermina gran reserva (blind) to a tasting at Bobo in the West Village. One other very experienced tippler knew what it was, and encouraged me to decant. I thought he was nuts! It was remarkable to see a wine in its 80s develop with a few hours of air.
FWIW, the holiday weekend ended last night on an oenophilic high note, with Mom over for rib eyes and a 2000 BAMA. Decanted two hours. Such a feminine wine, unlike even any Margaux I’ve ever tasted.
I decanted half a bottle of the 1970 Berberana Carta de Oro Reserva an hour in advance tonight based on this thread. Obviously I can’t compare to how it would have been served PnP, but it was really nice. Round, full, and sweet. I was even brave enough to put the other half of the bottle (which I never poured into the decanter) back into the cellar for tomorrow night. We’ll see how that turns out.
On night one, as a reminder, I did not decant the entire bottle, but rather poured half into a decanter and served it an hour or two later, and then stoppered the bottle and left it in the cellar for night two.
On night two, I brought it up 20 minutes or so before serving to let it come to temp a bit, and then unstoppered and poured it right as we started eating. It was again delicious, maybe even a touch more full than night one, but after about an hour or so on night two it did start to go mute a bit. Luckily, I had drunk most of my share by then!
All in all, quite a treat especially for the relative song Rare Wine Co sold it for a few years ago.