Ok, so after all my talk of Valentine’s Day and the unauthentic splurges it generates like so many embers from a fire of burning love letters after a bitter break-up, I thought I’d go the total hypocrite route and (finally) detail the samples I cracked open on V-Day. So sue me. Whatever.
I’m going to ignore Bollinger’s PR push to promote their affiliation to the royal family in the UK (who have awarded Bollinger with the Royal Warrant since 1884, and which is now reached a fever-pitch of hype with the recent royal engagement), because I now find the whole thing too annoying, in stark contrast to this very sexy but possibly-overpriced sparkler. It’s predominantly Pinot Noir, with the Chardonnay and Pinot Munier playing more supporting roles, and the results are quite Pinot-ish as you’d expect, with the initial impressions being tart cherry fruit and a sizeable mouthfeel despite a relatively modest 12% abv. This might explain why it got low-90s scores from most of the established wine mags, who might have been too quick to pronounce judgment – it takes a good 45 minutes in the glass for the Bollinger Brut Rose to open up, but when it does you will get some incredible baked red apple coming at you, and a great match for appetizers of almost any stripe.
More after the jump…
2006 Napa Angel “Aurelio’s Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, $90)
I am finding it very difficult to believe this is a first vintage for Napa Angel, despite the Montes pedigree behind it. In a word, it’s stunning. The fruit is from Oak Knoll and Yountville, and it’s heavy on the blackberries and black cherries, yet somehow gets just enough acidity to balance out, counter the 14.8% abv and deftly avoid fruit-bomb territory. The main draw, though, is the almost perfect integration of French oak – if there’s a Napa Cab with more heavenly cedar overtones than this, I’ve yet to taste it. About 4K cases made. Expect to have your ass kicked.
2005 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance (Constantia, $50 500ml)
The 2005 of this sweet, luscious South African nectar set an almost impossible bar for Klein Constantia, but the 2005 stands up to its older sibling quite admirably. Muscat de Frontignan (a.k.a. muscat blanc á petits grains) is the variety, and while this vintage is a bit more honeysuckle, lime & tea leaf and less tangerine and orange rind than the 2004, I’m not complaining. Not one bit. Rounding out the sexiness are a gorgeous golden hue, a fascinating history behind the resurrection of the style at Constantia (let’s not forget that the likes of kings, emperors and Charles Dickens once praised this stuff), a suggestively-shaped bottle, and tons of acidity to make dessert pairing a decidedly less risky endeavor.