Before it all becomes an even more distant blur, here are some haphazardly scribbled notes on wines enjoyed during the holidays. And what a spectacular wine season it was.
Listed more or less in chronological order:
These three were part of the ‘Christmas Cabs’ flight at a wine bar at Dulles Airport. Obviously over-priced there, so I won’t even mention their suggested retail.
– Fidelitas Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Columbia Valley, Washington. The first of three I tried. Packs a wallop at 14.4%; vanilla, cherry and plummy. Dig it. Nice welcome to the USA.
– Hope and Grace Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Napa Valley. Understated and elegant. The best of this trio. And it’s a shame I don’t have any more because this will absolutely rock in a decade or so. That sucks.
– Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon Special Cuvee 2005, Mt. Veeder. This was fairly well-balanced, but a little heavy on the tannins at this point. I’m sure it’ll be much better sometime soon after George Bush finally leaves office. Be patient.
First impressions? When have California wines gotten so strong?
– Devour Pinot Noir 2005, Napa Valley, Carneros. 13.8%. Bottled by Chateau Diana in Healdsburg, more cherry than plum on the palate, and that was about all I got from this. Didn’t live up to its name. This $12.99 (in Ohio) could be better spent.
– Chateau Loudenne Medoc 2004. Bordeaux, 13.5%. Intense ruby color, loved the blackberry bouquet! Great for another decade. $22.99 (in Ohio).
– Perrin & Fils Chateauneuf de Pape 2004 Les Sinards. 14%. Dark ruby, ripe, with sexy supple tannins. Terrific now, but if you can hold on to it for another 3-4 years, you’ll be very happy that you spent a few minutes reading this. $34.99 (in Ohio. Kinda steep. Bad Ohio, bad, bad.)
– Michael and David Phillips 7 Deadly Zins 2005 Zinfandel, Lodi, Calif. A star is born. I absolutely loved this wine! Bold, fruity, earthy and oak. The gimmick? Seven Lodi growers contributed fruit from their oldest vines, thus the titillating name. I want to sin some more. $15.99 (in Ohio).
– Maison Champy Beaune 1er Cru Burgundy Champs Pimont 2000. 13.5% Beaune Cote D’Or. 13.5%. Playful elegance. The breadth of aromas was so wide I simply lost track after scribbling “strawberry and cherry-lite”. $41.99 (in Southeast Ohio).
– Chateau Cos-Labory Grand Cru 1990 Saint-Estephe. It was a special occasion; a gathering of old friends who I rarely get to see, so spending $70 on this wasn’t a big deal. Particularly since ’90 Bordeauxs are extremely difficult to find, and especially since I earn euros. It was a gorgeous wine from the get-go, but we weren’t terribly patient. This needed air, and lots of it, but we were thirsty. (Bless me Father, for I have sinned…)
– Movia Chardonnay 1998, Brda, Primorje, Slovenia. Mirko and Ales Kristancic have probably done more internationally for Slovenian wines than any other winemaker. And this wine is just one reason. We tried this twice; beautiful light gold color, supple buttery notes, honeysuckle and passionfruit. Still extremely yummy and will continue to be for quite some time.
– Movia Cuvee White 1997. A blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, pinot blanc and rebula. Like all the Movia labels, its oak-aging gave this a luscious gold hue, just beautiful to look at. This still rocks hard a decade later. Enough said.
– Charles Krug Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998. Plummy, leathery, hint of chocolate. Great fruit on finish. This should drink well for at least another five years.
– Robert Pecota Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, Kara’s Vineyard. Calistoga, CA, Napa Valley. 12.5%. I’ve read about Pecota in the past, but his wines were always out of reach financially. Not that they’re all that easy to find in the first place. Which is why I’m really glad that my sister married Mike, who received this bottle, along with others in this batch, from his boss for Christmas. Simply fabulous, probably the best of the bunch. Not sure how much longer this will improve, so if you have a bottle, pop it open to celebrate the end of the Bush era next January, ok?
– Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Limestone Coast, Australia. The Jip Jip Rocks are a sacred area to aboriginals, a 350 million-year-old outcrop. This 55% shiraz, 45% cabernet sauvignon was twist-off goodiness! Strong at 15%, it will mellow a bit but delicious now. I think the aboriginals will approve.
– Kunde Zinfandel 2004, Sonoma. Nice, but slightly disappointing for a well-know and relatively pricey producer.
– Bernardus Marinus 1994, Carmel Valley. Another gift my brother-in-law shared, this is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, and petit verdot from the upper Carmel Valley. And yet another sensational 13-year-old.
– Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Barossa Cuvee 2005, Australia. For $13.95 (about 9.50 EUR), this shouldn’t be so damned good. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot and cabernet franc, it’s elegant and vibrant, brimming with energy. If any importers in Slovenia are reading this, get in touch with these folks ok?
Oh! The Martell XO cognac was caramel apple joy with a capital J.