Thursday, March 26, 2015
The wine for this course was a 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia from Napa Valley. This particular Insignia vintage has some history behind it - it was the Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in 2005 and it is a wine that Robert Parker scored 100 points. That's a lot of hype for any wine, and the type of hype that would normally send me running in the opposite direction.
I pay attention to Mr. Parker and to James Laube, the California Cabernet Guru of the Spectator, for unusual reasons. Their palates and mine do not agree so they serve as a great guide on wines to avoid. That said - I liked this wine, but I didn't love it.
Things began with inky dark colors and a full on fruital assault on the nose. Immensely fruity wine with black cherry and blackberry jam flavors. The tannins had settled in and provided a structure without insisting on playing a leading role. Even with the richness of the fruit there was still ample acid to support everything. The finish was quite lengthy and finished with a fruity but dry note. This wine was full of itself without being overpowering. And yet, something was lacking and I'm still not sure what it was. Perhaps the best way to describe this wine was to say that it wonderfully correct and beautiful but lacked any personality to make it stand out.
2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia. Napa Valley red wine. 14.5% alcohol and $270.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
I was responsible for the first course and it was well received and very good. There was lobster ravioli in a brown butter sauce finished only with some fresh white pepper. There is a local place that makes ravioli daily and these were from them, saving me much work.
The wine was a Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Grand Cru Chablis, Vaudesir from the 2011 vintage. It was a beautiful wine in the glass with a pale gold color. One sniff was all it took to know that this was Chablis. Rain on dry earth (petrichor) and ocean spray were strong. The wine was closed up a bit and took half an hour for a true taste to emerge, though the dry and crisp mouth feel was evident from the start.
When the wine did open up the flavors were bold with hints of fresh picked, green grapes and a bit of citrus, but this wine was more about its place than its flavor. It was Chablis and it tasted like spring. With the ravioli it was even better as it cut both the richness of the lobster and the pungency of the brown butter. A wonderful pairing.
2011 Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Grand Cru Chablis, Vaudesir. 13% alcohol and $70.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
My notes on a 1979 Chateau Montrose, a second growth Saint-Estephe written in 1989.
Lots of cedar and cigars in the nose. Dark color with no browning on the edges. Strong flavors of cherries, cedar and graphite. Long finish with lots of fruit. Strong tannins. Dinner was a lamb stew. Shared with Steve M.
The wine may have been memorable, but apparently Steve M. wasn't because I have no idea who he is these twenty five years later. Perhaps another bottle of Montrose would help me remember. ☺
Thursday, March 19, 2015
The wine was one of my favorites - a Riesling from Alfred and Rolf Merklebach in the Mosel. Specifically it was and Urziger Wurzgarten Spatlese from the 2009 vintage. With it's sharp acidity and its taste of ripe apples it was just a dream with the fatty pork. And the sharpness of the vinegar on the surface of the chop was a perefect partner for the residual sugar in the wine. This was a treat. I have never had a Merkelbach wine that hasn't been a thrill to drink.
2009 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Riseling Spatlese. 9% alcohol and $20.