Last night, Steve and Paula Saxon, Brian and Kari Abramson, and Jeff and Deb Twersky came over on last-minute notice for a big dinner and wine throwdown. As usual, the quality company was the reason for the gathering, and wine just a pretext for the bacchanale. But the wine was pretty damn good, too.
1996 Dom Ruinart: I have had quite a few of these over the past few years, with a few great and more not that great. The really good ones have a nice, round, mouthfeel, fine mousse, and chalky minerality. The not-so-great ones (this bottle included) are a bit sugary – for lack of a better term – and flabby, and just generally lack interest. This also suffered by comparison to its stablemates tonight.
1995 Krug: Great bottle of wine tonight. Deeper golden color; powerful, intense bubbles; Lemony, yeasty, acidic, slightly oxidized note; amazing with some of the stronger cheeses, pate, and rillettes.
1996 Salon: As always, a killer bottle of wine, and such a great style comparison to the Krug. Spiny, almost painful minerality and acidity at first; very fine mousse; lighter on the yeast than the Krug but more lemon and green apple; beautiful hay color. Less of a food wine than the Krug, but to me the more enjoyable one.
1993 Chapoutier Ermitage ‘L’Oree’: This was the sole still white wine and thus didn’t get as much attention as it deserved as people quickly moved on to reds. I thought this was a flat out great wine. A brassy gold color, rich, oily, but with nice acidity. Love the slightly oxidized note. Some orange peel, lemon bar. Really a hard to describe wine, but very good with food. My wife and I shared the remaining couple of glasses at lunch today with leftover pate and rillettes, and that was a great combo. I’d think this would be phenomenal with smoked salmon.
1977 Weinert Malbec ‘Estrella’: Very interesting wine; smoky; still amazingly youthful; tannic, spicy, earthy. Amazing wine. Would be great with a massive steak.
1978 Bachelet-Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet rouge: Steve brought this as an educational bottle, and it turned out surprisingly lively. Interesting nose – cabbagey/funky at first, but eventually a baking spice, underbrush, fresh dirt, and somewhat fruity nose; the palate was pretty stripped – not much fruit left and not a lot of tertiary either. Obviously a testament to vintage and producer here that it gave as much as it did.
1991 Dominus: This was poured double blind to all but Steve. Bordeaux nice but umistakably – to me – California cabernet. A really gorgeous bottle of wine with years of enjoyment ahead, but certainly mature and drinking beautifully now. Another wine that demanded a porterhouse. Next time…
1998 Chave rouge: I served this next to the Lillian both double blind to everyone but me. I decanted them about 4 hours before folks arrived. This was really open and drinking beautiful; some pepper and smoke, really beautiful mix of red and darker fruit, which I love about Chave: raspberry, plum, currant, raisin. Still a little too tannic on the palate, but plenty of fruit and certainly starting to develop lovely spicy secondary notes. A great bottle of wine and absolutely blew away the Lillian.
2000 Clos du Caillou ‘Les Quartz’: I don’t drink much Southern Rhone wine because I generally like higher acidity wines, but this was great and really understated in a good way. Didn’t spend as much time with it as I would have liked, but nice raspberry and licorice, plummy sweetness, some minerally backbone that really brought the sweet elements together nicely.
2001 Giacosa Barolo Rocche del Falleto Riserva: This may have been my WOTN. Absolutely stunning wine. Surprisingly open, yet youthful. Really beautiful flowery nose, baking spices (a sort of rhubarb crisp impression), minerally (freshly turned earth). Absolutely silky mouthfeel; tart cherry, raspberry, fine-grained tannin. Wow. This has a long, long life ahead, and I imagine in 15 years or so will be absolutely killer.
2001 Rousseau ‘Clos St. Jaques’: I served this blind next to the Auteur, and no comparison in quality. This had a really pretty nose of violets, red fruits, slighly autumnal, underbrushy quality. I love the 2001 burgundy vintage for the aromatics, and this didn’t disappoint. A little austere on the palate, tart cherry, starting to develop some of the secondary characteristics I love in red burg (forest floor, old leaves, mushroom), though still with plenty of life ahead. I slow ox’d, opening the wines a few hours before folks arrived but didn’t decant. Not as good as other bottles I’ve had, and not sure why. Just not showing as much love as in the past. I think some of the subtleties in a wine like this are lost in a big group with so many great bottles.
2005 Lillian Syrah: Decanted for a few hours. Pretty nose of violet and spice. Way too much oak, giving it a one-dimensional palate and a somewhat bitter and tannic finish. Not enjoyable to me, and not sure if time will improve this wine. Anyway, my last bottle of Lillian.
2007 Auteur Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: Outclassed in this group, and really just an ok bottle of wine. A little soft for my taste. Lots of lush, sweet red fruit, but no acid, mineral or earth to balance it out.
A really great time, and in particular, great company and lots of laughs. Please let me know if I forgot to list any wine.