Spent a lazy afternoon at a neighborhood pizza and pasta place with a few friends and some bottles of wine. Nothing was tasted blind, nobody was trying to wow anyone. The wines were the excuse for conversations that started with the wines and as food and wine will do, they shrank the world to the space around us as our thoughts and ideas expanded.
The wines were all interesting. The Freeman Pinot Noir 2007 is a Russian River Pinot Noir new to the market. It is another terrific 07 Pinot in the big rich Russian River style. Big aromas with unmistakable perfumes of Pinot Noir, mouth-filling flavors with rich plums and berries covering the hints of forest floor that linger on the spicy finish. A big wine for a big price and a big meal.
Everyone's first thought was that the next wine should have been opened first. The Fire Road Pinot Noir 2008 (another nice New Zealand Pinot under $20) was a clear pale ruby color and looked like a dark rose'. Complex aromas of fresh strawberries led to flavors of creamy raspberries, strawberries and blueberries all dancing with a vibrant acidity. I know the description sounds like a rose', but there was way too much going on both in the glass and on the palate. Conversation drifted to bacon wrapped shrimp and paella, chorizo and smoked paprika.
While the Freeman was as big, luxurious and delicious as it should have been and certainly lived up to what $50 should deliver in the current Pinot market, somehow, the Fire Road, with its pale color and big flavor managed to capture our fancy. Maybe it was just the pizza!
We then jumped to Italy for the 2007 Tre from Brancaia. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot that sees time in barrel, the Tre comes in around $20, definitely on the high end its category. The wine was very tight at first, but its heritage began to show more and more as the afternoon passed. The black fruit of the Bordeaux grapes came out first and eventually the Sangio' woke up and the wine showed its true Italian heritage with flying colors.
And last there was a Brunello. 2004 Casanova di Neri. When we really started to tuck into the wine it had been about 4 hours since the wine had been double decanted and the wine was flat out singing with dark aromas of soy and cherry leading to a fruity core of black cherries and cranberries mingled with earth, brush, spices and integrated tannins. Priced in the mid $50's, the wine is a veritable steal in the pricey world of Brunello's.
At this point, the pizza was gone, the wine was gone. Other customers had long since left the restaurant and there was maybe time to get something done before the afternoon was over. Or not. There was talk of espresso. There was more talk of grappa.....