Mentioned in this episode:
- Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town D.C.
- Erika Strum
- The Capital Grille
- Destination Riesling
- Quinta do Vesuvio
Mentioned in this episode:
Last week, I had the (relatively rare) treat of a double-date night with our groovy neighbors. Since this excursion into the (now strangely fascinating) world of conversation that doesn’t involve Elmo took place at a fabulous BYOB joint in (a recently revitalized and restaurant-friendly) downtown Phoenixville, PA – Majolica – you might actually care, in a “tell-me-about-the-BYOB-part” kind of way. All of the wines mentioned below were samples, from different sources and picked (somewhat randomly) for the event.
Double-Date Night (DDN) began, as most quality date-night’s do, with a sparkler: in this case, a non-vintage NV Lamberti Rose Spumante. I hadn’t had a Spumante in what felt like forever, so I was stoked to try this. Our waitress just about recoiled from the aggressive opening procedure of this bottle; the only thing keeping the cork from achieving escape velocity into Earth orbit was the (now slightly worse-for-wear) Majolica ceiling. That should have been a warning sign about the aggressiveness of the mousse on the Lamberti, but I ignored it anyway and I nearly injured my brain when I stuck my schnoz into the glass for a good sniff. When the aggressiveness died down a bit, the flowery components really came out (a function of the Charmat method of production, I suppose?) but overall it’s a wine for Now and not a wine for “Wow!”
For appetizers, I went for a 2009 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc (a fave of the groovy neighbors). I get a good deal of grief for liking the larger-production New Zealand SB producers, but there’s something to be said for going with a winning formula and overall I really dug the aroma profile of this wine, though it was also a bit aggressive (our dinner table review was summed up as “it’s like having gooseberries shoved up your nose while you’re mowing the lawn; but in a good way”).
It was the final two wines of the DDN, however that were, for me, the real winner and loser of the event – for which I expect I’m gonna get some more flack…
“A bottle of good wine, like a good act, shines ever in the retrospect.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson had it right about special wines being eminently memorable, though he forgot to add the part about how wine tasting, like a hot date, owes so much to anticipation.
And as much as I like to think that I am inching ever closer to the Zen mystery, it’s really difficult not to put expectations on a tasting in which magnums of 1995 Champagne and Graham’s Vintage Port (1977), as well as bottles of 1981 Vieux Chateau Certan, take second billing.
Which is exactly what happens when you have a bottle of (genuine) 1929 Haut-Brion in the lineup.
That’s because the 1929 Haut-Brion is one of those extremely rare triple threats: world-class producer, renowned vintage (before every other release was deemed “vintages of the century” in Bordeaux) and rare old wine (in decent condition).
Or so we had hoped, anyway.
As it turns out, that fabled bottle that had me (and several other guests at the Columbia Firehouse restaurant in old town Alexandria, VA) buzzing with anticipation last week had apparently leaked at some point in it’s 81-year history.
We (a group of about 15 people) were assembled as the hand-picked guests of my buddy Jason Whiteside, DWS (Washington Wine Academy instructor, friend of the Dude and frequent guest poster here) to celebrate the achievement of his WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits (a pre-req for entrance into the Masters of Wine program). It’s a difficult and hard-earned achievement, well-worthy of opening some special bottles. As our generous host put it after inspecting the most special of that night’s bottles, “this wine could be deader than Lincoln”…
As in, three 2005s, or 3 different wines all from the 2005 vintage.
Other than their harvest year, they’ve got little in common apart from the fact that I tasted all three as samples over the last week or so, and in a rare case of vinous serendipity found all three to be excellent (a real treat for me) and probably worthy of your time (and your cash). So much so that I decided to write a “what-I-drank-last-week” style article, which I don’t often do (not to be taken as a “statement” on the validity of such pieces, by the way).
An alternative title for today’s post might be “Dude-i-locks And the Three Reds,” seeing as how one of these wines is a bit overpriced, the other a bit underpriced, and the price of the third is juuuuust riiiiight.
Let’s start with the slightly overpriced wine, Trefethen’s 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley), which you can sample as part of their ingenious “mini bottle” offering before you decide to plunk down $100 on a full 750 ml bottle. This wine is most decidedly not a wine for now. It’s a wine for 5-7 years from now. Tasting it right out of the bottle now, you might exude a heavy sigh and a look that says “Oh shit, what did I just spend a hundred clams on?!???” – a veritable mess of dense dark fruits, tight tannic grip, vanillin oak and booze all vying for your attention. BUT… a day in the decanter will show what this wine is capable of becoming in a few years, which is downright magical. It’s like a miracle will happen in that decanter, which on day two will greet you with an enormous wine of power and depth, waves of black fruits, red jams, chocolate, and tiny amounts of nuts and black olives to really seal the deal into awesomeness. If you don’t think Napa Cabs are capable of aging, then you and I ought to split a bottle of this, come back to it in 2015, and see who won the bet.
And now, our second wine, which is probably slightly underpriced (I know, right?)…