I don't think we've had as glorious a day with clear blue skies and warm gentle sunshine since the last gathering back in October. The big windows at Dali Wine Bar let in the sun and gave us a great view of the Dallas Arts District. Thanks to Paul Pinnell and his generous staff for putting up with us for the afternoon. The food was delicious and extremely wine friendly. And, as always, thanks to Scott for putting this event together and coordinating everyone's schedules.
When I arrived the table was jam packed with bottles in brown bags and we jumped right in. Readers of the blog might have noticed a recent tendency to shy away from straight tasting notes, but with a day like today, I will just run through the wines. No back stories today! I made the (seemingly) astute remark that it seems like we never have white wines, but boy was I wrong. The spring like weather brought out some beauties.
#1 A pale gold with hints of green on the edges exploded from the glass with grapefruit, guava and minerals and shouted "I am Sauvignon and I am New Zealand!" Matt wanted to say with all his heart that it was from somewhere besides Marlborough, but sadly, could offer no alternatives. Spy Valley 2008.
#2 As this pale, copper-tinged salmon wine was first poured, I was writing down Domaine Tempier, but when I felt the tall riesling style bottle, I knew I was sunk. Slightly sweet and redolent of creamy strawberries, floral perfumes and hints of honey, the wine was simultaneously bright, crisp and silky. Guesses start popping: Tavel? Grenache? France? No. Italy? No. Slightly sweet, pink? Bradley isn't bothered. He's just sitting back texting, the rest of us are stumped. The answer? Kessler Spatburgunder Rose 2007. Pink pinot noir rose from the Rheingau? Give me break! Rachelle arrives as we are starting the next wine, takes a sip and says. "Pinot Noir." Just like that.
#3 Yet another pale golden straw colored dry white. Lean, with very reticent aromatics. Slightly salty on the palate, flavors begin to emerge. The wine is getting interesting with very subtle notions of grapefruit emerging both on the nose and palate. Matt makes a bold declaration, "If anyone guesses the variety, I'll buy them lunch here for a year!" The guessing game starts again. France? No. Italy? Much discussion here, but finally, no. Portugal? No, but you're getting there. Finally the salt triggers my brain, "Tchakialokolioli, or whatever!" Close enough. I got the appellation (sorta) but not the variety. Hondaribbi Zurri (Chris forgive me, how could I forget?) Txakolina is the correct spelling. Itzas Mendi 2007 is the wine.
#4 Pale, golden (what was that I said about no white wines?) but exotic aromatics. The perfume is so intense and so familiar. It's pure honey! Perfumed floral aromatics infuse the honey and the palate shows hints of residual sugar and anise. Italian? Yes! Piedmont? Yes! But not moscato (maybe) or arneis (not so much). Cortese! But this is not the dry, minerally wine of Gavi, it is a light and delicate wine. L'Aurora Cortese 2007, from Icardi.
#5 The table arrives at immediate consensus on this wine. 2000-01 Left Bank Bordeaux, Saint-Julien or Margaux, a low classified growth. Definite. Final Answer. No discussion necessary. Then the question is asked, "Laura, what do you think?" "I think it's delicious! With long lingering notes of black cherries..." Oops! The wine is revealed. Chianti Classico Nippozano, 2004 Riserva! Arms jerk to raise glasses in a rush of rapid, rampant revisionism. Damn, scratch that Sangiovese blog I've been meaning to write.....
#6 Deep, dark and redolent with vanilla and smoky blueberry pie, Brad and John both jump on this right out of the bag! Archaval Ferrer? Yes! "Finca Altamira?" asks Masseto Man. Yes, but this time it's the 2007. The 2006 was one of the crowd's favorite at BT 3. And so this wine becomes one of our first to taste in two vintages!
#7 The light ruby colored wine shows notes of cherries, raisins and prunes with hints of leather. The flavors aren't quite in sync with the color and a guessing game ensues as we chase the wine from Burgundy to the Rhone Valley and Spain, then finally to Italy. But not to the Veneto! Oops again. 2003 Tommasi Amarone.
#8 Everyone breathes a sigh of relief as we have a wine that offers familiar footing. Blackberries and cassis drive this wine with authority. It is Napa Cab 06. We try to get it closer. The intense dark fruit speaks of mountains, the midpalate speaks of Oakville. Were we right? I don't know. The wine is Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006.
#9 The color moves from brick to pale ruby, aromatics move from tar and creosote to cherries and delicate notes of anise. First ideas start in Burgundy, but as the wine opens in the glass, thoughts go South to the Rhone. I was surprised that it was not an older Chateauneuf du Pape. I was even more surprised to find it was a Cotes du Rhone, it was way too sophisticated and complex. The wine was an intricate jewel box of nuance and delicacy. Oh, but of course, it's Chateau Rayas Fonsalette, Cotes du Rhone 2004. Old school and spectacular in a very un-modern way.
#10 More big red wine. The onslaught is underway, batten down the hatches, we're back on the highway. Cabernet? Yes! Italy? Yes! Super-Tuscan? Yes! Sangiovese? Yes! One more grape gives us a pause. Finally, petite verdot. But which wine? Who knows. The answer: Brancaia, Ilatraia 2005.
#11 Wow, the nose is arresting. TCA? Definitely NOT! Brett? Maybe. Menthol? Definitely, Espresso? Definitely. Bordeaux? Yes. Big, gritty tannins. 2005? Yes. Left Bank? Yes again. Chateau Rauzan-Segla, Margaux, 2005. This wine has a long, long life ahead of it! Mr. Parker suggests that you start drinking it in 2017!
#12 The brick rimmed dark garnet wine offers notes of roses and tar and Brad quickly calls Barolo. The tannins are tight and gripping and the wine is reluctantly giving up intense notions of soy, black cherries and hoisin and more tannins. The youth seals the vintage. Brad calls it one more time. He's obviously feeling it today, the move from amateur to the pro ranks has certainly made a difference! The wine was the 2004 Barolo Brunate from Macarini. Another old school wine that could have lasted for a long, long time, but instead we enjoyed it today.
#13 Wow! Nothing reticent here! Explosive wild cherries, plums and a melange of red fruits jump from the glass amid heady the heady perfume of rich, super-ripe Pinot Noir. Exotics acids, minerals and sweet integrated tannins keep the long finish lingering on the palate. Hirsch Vineyards, 2006 Estate Pinot Noir. A rare treasure from this tiny Sonoma Coast grower.
#14 Ok, get down, bring on the FUNK! This is some dense stuff here!! There's a touch of amber on the rim to suggest a little bit of bottle age. Some of the funk blows off the glass and layers of soy, spice, black tea grudgingly reveal glimpes of dark cranberries and black cherries at the heart of the tannic core. Older Brunello? Maybe Riserva? Close. La Poderina 2001 Brunello di Montalcino.
#15 Ashland Park, California Red, 2005. I missed the backstory on this low-priced jewel, but I gather it's mainly Sonoma County Cab and Merlot and apparently it is going fast at Binny's in Chicago. I've never seen the label in this market. Some internet sites suggest it has a history as a controlled/private label. This release would fly out of the store at the price John's been paying!
#16 Coho 2007 Napa Red. This meritage blend is big and rich, with with massive servings of rich blackberry cobbler and smoky vanilla aromatics.
Is that all? I don't think I missed a wine this time. As always, a good time was had by all. The evening crowd was beginning to filter in and um, I think we were starting to get a little rowdy. I wonder why?
Time to head to the Ginger Man, where no notes were taken.
OK Masseto Man, I did miss a wine. But I did get to taste it, unlike the wine I missed totally at the last event. And while we have had many bottles of Bordeaux and Pinot Noir and now 6 (count 'em, SIX) Italian wines, Syrah is woefully under represented.
#17 Especially when the wine is like the Rockblock Reserve Syrah 2006. Made by famed Oregon pinot producer Domaine Serene from Walla Walla fruit, this wine had rich full body with deep red and black fruit and just a hint of the dark side. So smooth, so easy to drink yet so complex. Everybody loves Syrah's when they taste 'em, but nobody wants to buy 'em! What a shame.