Notes from a wonderful dinner with friends, the wines served blind.
1995 Drapier Cuvee du Millenaire - this Champagne fooled several of us. It had
some colour, the nose complex and yeasty, in the mouth an initial impression of
softness and perhaps sweetness, followed immediately by the acidity that
allowed it to finish quite dry and crisply. We were thinking it to be a mid to
late 80s wine (85-88) and were surprised to find it such a young puppy. From
magnum. I am glad I have a few of these in my cellar!
Served with miniature tapenade cookies, halibut cheek with basil oil, smoked
salmon on warm, crisp little risotto cakes that were soft in the middle, a
wonderful juxtaposition of soft-crisp with hot-cold, and a seafood stew in
1997 Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer Mambourg Vendage Tardives - alas, I have drunk
through all of my stash of this wine. Instantly identifiable as an Alsatian
wine, we had to ponder a bit on the varietal, but I did wind up with Gewurz.
Showing nice colour, the nose fat and oily, and smooth and long in the mouth,
sweet but not excessively so.
Served with asparagus soup with a parmesan custard.
1994 Ch. St. Jean Belle Terre Chardonnay - I should mention that our host has
the practice of serving whites from the fridge and reds at cellar temperature
just to make the guessing harder for us, and to offer the impatient guesser
rope with which to hang himself. This was just such a case, as the wine showed
significantly differently when we first tasted it. The nose was an unusual
lanolin and soap melange that stumped us a bit, but we found that the longer it
warmed the more oak came out, so we were figuring a Chardonnay, perhaps a
Burgundy. There were caramel hints on palate, but the balance seemed to finely
wrought for it to be an American chard, and we didn't go there even when the
oak became positively forward and the slight heat of the 13.5% alcohol began to
Served with Petrale sole with a parsley crust.
1988 Podere Il Palazzino Grosso Sanese - this is a VdT sangiovese cabernet
blend, and this Super Tuscan couldn't hide the acidity that gave it away, nor
the nose of warm rubber and prune that had us thinking it might have been a
recioto style wine. It was hot and raisiny in the mouth with good length and a
bit of tannin but lots of acidity. The bite of the abundant acidity was nicely
duck and porcini ragout with penne
1996 Produttori dei Barbaresco Pora - after the sangiovese, this Nebbiolo based
wine didn't scream Piedmont to us, but was again obviously another Italian, and
we sensed a theme developing. The nose took some time to open up, displaying at
first a fairly non-determinate fruit quality, and developing the tar and roses
only with time in the glass. The balance was quite tart with some tannin. A
good wine in a traditional style that should age gracefully.
1990 Produttori dei Barbaresco Pora - we detected the additional age in this
wine, as the colour gave it away at the edges. Less acidity and fuller in the
body, it developed a smoked meat element in the nose with time, and definitely
showed more complexity. It really opened up as it warmed, and for me was the
better wine fro drinking now, but I wonder if the 96 will show even better with
Served with braised rabbit with fennel and white truffle oil
1976 Martin Ray Cabernet - this was my wine of the night. I could identify it
as American cab readily enough, but stumbled when I thought it was an 84 - 87
example. It could have been thought to be an early 90s wine - you'd have
believed it if you were told it was, the wine was so youthful. Made from Howeel
Mountain fruit, it was balanced and beautiful - probably a tannic impenetrable
beast in earlier days, and while it drinks well now, it will last another 20
years. I do not believe they make any wines like this in California any more,
nor have done so for many years, with a few possible exceptions - Dunn and
such. I think that is a shame, but today's instant gratification seekers would
have no truck with wines like this, or the 1975 Bordeaux.
Served with Parmigiano Reggiano and fruit nut bread.
1988 Ch. d'Arche - I have had this wine 3 times in the last couple of years.
Medium colour, not as much coconut in the nose as the last time, nor was the
Botrytis as evident, but this time there was a pleasant element of oranges.
Sweet on palate with the balancing acidity coming in late, not an overly
complex wine, but a pleasant end to a wonderful dinner, and I believe it is
drinking as well now as it ever will, though it seems to be holding nicely.
- posted 16 years ago