Our wine dinner group recently enjoyed a fine meal on the outside garden patio at the Plow & Angel Restaurant on the property of the esteemed San Ysidro Ranch. The wine theme was “winner gets dinner” meaning the one who brings the most revered wine, gets their dinner free.
I find it very interesting to see what others believe is the real deal that will win and in this group, it usually results in many big and in your face bold wines. The last time we did this, I won with an 04` Switchback Ridge Petit Sirah which was actually in perfect balance and harmony. On that night, we bagged all wines to hide the identity which was not the case on this evening.
We each ordered off the menus which also included the more elaborate one for the parent restaurant, The Stonehouse which is upstairs from the Plow.
2005 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BdB- having had this with this group a few weeks ago and it shined brilliantly, I figured it might do the trick; as I noted then, this is atypical from the usual profile I associate with Comtes; it does have the bright acidity, but in this case, the citrus notes especially lemon lime, are laced a hit of toast, brioche, saline and pepper; it has great texture and depth, is quite robust and coats the palate with delightful elegance; this is more like a Dom than CdC; I loved it and so did the group as the 8 of us emptied it in a 2 passes around the table. A winner?
2010 VINCENT GIRARDIN LES FOLATIERES PULIGNY MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- drinking so well, this had everything going for it; refreshing, crisp and more of the lemon lime fruit profile here along with a touch of spice and its all delivered in a creamy oily substance all the way to the back end; a great QPR of Grand Cru quality.
2000 LUR SALUCES “Y” YGRET BORDEAUX SUPERIEUR- the dry version of d
Yquem, this has consistently been a fun and gratifying experience over the past couple of years as we have had many; as before, the texture is very soft and creamy and it gives up some hints of cinnamon apple with some apricot and peach notes chiming in; its solid, seamless and nicely structured and should be good for many years down the road; 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc.
2010 DOMAINE de CRISTIA CUVEE RENAISSANCE CDP- a new exposure for me, I found this to be very intriguing; the wine rep who brought it stated it is made of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre and is aged in 25% new French oak for 18 months; it expresses more of Northern Rhone to me than Southern with some nice pepper and spice accents usually found in Syrah; it`s teeth staining dark purple color and very fruit forwardness makes for a serious statement; it got better and better with time; I recommend decanting this; it has the structure to suggest longevity.
2010 CARLISLE OLD VINES MONTE ROSSO VINEYARD SONOMA COUNTY ZINFANDEL- 96% Zinfandel, 4% Grand Noir; 15.9% alc.; this was the only one that came around in a brown bag and no one got the varietal; I had it as a Sangiovese with its tart red cherry notes, but there
s also blueberry and plum coming in, all with some spiciness; its young and vibrant, full bodied and balanced.
2000 PAVIE ST. EMILION- there
s some talc and sandalwood up front merging with the tart wild red and black berries that receive a dollop of chocolate and licorice; its rich and full bodied and structured for the long run; this was a good bottle and i`ve had a few that were even better.
2010 ALAIN VOGE LES CHAILLES CORNAS- I got an amazing amount of rosemary in the nose that moved on into the mid palate and was joined by pepper and clove spiced raspberry; the lady in our group got a touch of Brett which I searched for, but did not come up with; I`ve learned to yield to the feminine olfactory sense which is in general, renown for being much more perceptive than for most males.
1998 R WINES CHRIS RINGLAND THREE RIVERS DRY GROWN RANCH SHIRAZ- another gem from this renown Aussie producer and a bottle I would expect going in could compete for WOTN; it drank well enough, but met some stiff competition upcoming; aged for a long time in new French oak, it was loaded with nice primarily toasted chocolate covered blue and black fruit; it was big and complex and yet had that finesse that these wines usually show; big tannin components and lots of acidity insure a long successful life.
1998 CHATEAU de la NEGLY COTEAUX du LANGUEDOC CLOS des TRUFFIERS COTEAUX SYRAH- new to me and bought by one who is quite passionate about this wine and this producer; it definitely shines brightly; it`s big, bold, real fruity, complex and has a full body with a long finish amidst a very pleasant mouthfeel; a pretty complete package and a wine that speaks out for this region which is why I suspect it was tasted blind to avoid any bias.
1997 GIUSEPPE QUINTARELLI della VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO AMARONE- a little sip will do ya on this heavily concentrated beauty; it
s really a big statement and the maple flavored dried black currant notes sing out; theres some tobacco and leather to add to the depth of the taste profile; it was silky smooth and for those who like this style of wine, a serious player.
Dessert wines [not eligible for the voting]:
2003 RIEUSSEC SAUTERNES- 375ml.; interesting coconut in the aromatics that I
ve not experienced previously; otherwise, its the usual rich peach and apricot delight served up in a creamy texture which prolongs the pleasure by leaving the palate coated with a film of goodness.
2001 SELBACH- OSTER BERNKASTELER BADSTUBE SPATLESE RIESLING- honeyed stone and citrus fruit dessert in a glass; vibrant, viscous and full on.
1994 PAULECZKI SZOLOBIRTOK TOKAJI ASZU ESSENCIA- from Hungary and 100% Muscat, this was so wonderful, rich and delicious and forever on the palate; honeyed nutty and full of stone fruit nuances.
What! No red Burgundy? No Northern Rhone Hermitage or Cote Rotie? No Barolo? I think the wines selected for this night show that many are moving or have moved toward big and bold and showy vs. elegant, balanced and sophisticated, IMHO of course although the Girardin definitely fits the latter descriptions.
Now for the vote for the top 3:
#3- 2010 Girardin
#2- 1997 Giuseppe Quintarelli
#1- drum roll-
1998 Clos des Truffier
Personally, I`d choose the Taittinger over any other wine on this evening as an aperitif, and/ or for the main course and/ or for the dessert wine. So much for my preferences.