Wednesday, May 2, 2012

BT #8: A Gathering of Eagles

Well, this tasting was so long in the scheduling, it needed an impressive title.

Five of us gathered a week ago in a back room at Urbano's to enjoy an evening of blind tasting. And enjoy we did. 

Bradley went to the cooler at Jimmy's deli next door for a bottle of Coquerel Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and cold, grassy with a kiss of citrus, it was the perfect beginning. 

d1:  We decided to order some appetizers to start with and get the evening underway.  I brought a white wine, so I pulled the cork and we poured away and were met by a wall of citrus aromas, smokey notes of rich tropical fruit and a creamy wall of acid and mineral. "Wow, full malolactic, but young." "It's really not a question of what it is but what appellation." I assumed that everyone else assumed it was white burgundy of a significant order. Puligny? Chassagne? No, Meursault. Domaine Guy Fichet, Tesson, 2008. Fichet is a young vigneron. Instead of blending less than premier cru into a 'village' wine, he makes wine from single parcels that have blinding precision.

The wine was terrific with our appetizers: Mussels in a tomato sauce, Caprese Smores, Risotto balls. 

sepi1:  Roses, cherries and hints of tar and acid wafted from the glass. Everyone wanted to go Italian and I thought it had to be Nebbiolo until I tasted the wine and was floored by the lack of tannins. That left Burgundy and that's what it was. The wild cherries and berries took my memory back to Gevrey Chambertin and that's what it was. Harmand-Geoffroy Gevrey Chambergin Vielles Vignes 2003. Pure, focused and delicious. "Gee, I thought I knew Burgundy..." lamented Scott. (BT's are a humbling thang!)

As Bradley pulled out the next wine, he announced that he had shown serious restraint and had only brought one wine. 

"What, you brought another wine?" he said when I announced that I had brought another bottle. 

"White wines don't count," I said.

b1:  Bradley's wine exploded from the glass with cherries, fresh tobacco and blackberries, cut with cedar and vanilla. Then John launched into a rhapsody about 'boozeberries.' A Thanksgiving treat made by soaking cranberries in sugar and cognac and then popping them in a microwave. As we sat in awe of the wine in our glasses, we entreated Bradley just to unveil the damned thing. "I don't want to think about it," I said. "I just want to drink it. Kapcsandy 2006 Estate Cuvee. State Lane Vineyard. Napa. 

As our first entrees of the Beef Tenderloin and a special request of a Mushroom Risotto were being delivered, I explained my problem. I was concerned about the viability of the wine I had opened. It had been totally brown and devoid of any notion of red fruit. It did not taste flawed, but just very dried out, thin and oxidized. I didn't expect much, but wanted their input before opening another bottle. 

d2:  As I poured and everyone examined the wine, it was evident that my fears were unfounded. The silky rich flavors danced between dried fruit and fresh fruit and the tannins and structure were firmly in place creating space for the aromas and perfumes. Not unlike stained glass in a cathedral. The wine did not provide much challenge for blind tasters. Old Bordeaux? No doubt. 1990 Pape-Clement. 

41:  John's bottle announces itself: it's a hefty piece of glass. And a magnificent wine, intense black fruits with a kiss of smoke that just goes on forever. There has to be a mountain of tannin somewhere in this wine to keep it going, but it never makes itself evident. The group is confused trying to place the wine. New world? Old World? Certainly not California or Australia. Too ripe for Italy or France and where in Spain would this wine come from? NCZ, I ventured quietly. John nodded. Parker said it was like Lafite in a good year. 2004 Catena Zapata, the flagship Malbec/Cabernet blend from Nicolas Catena. 

Our second round of entrees arrive (we were passing them family style) another order of Tenderloin (duh!) another mushroom risotto and a seared duck breast. Oh. And more wine.

Sepi2: (I wasn't the only one to bring two) Another big glass bottle, another big massive wine. Distinctive notes of tomato leaves and tomato jam float over the dense mass of black fruit, big oak and truffle. Oh my. It's Napa all the way. 2005 Bucella Merlot. "Vinyl rocks and poly-phenols, it's just singing!" Sepi says with a big smile. Hmm. Might be starting to get a little late thinks I.

But wait, Scott has a bottle too! And it's not Pinot!

Scott1:  "Cali Cab, 06 or 07" announces Brad, on the basis of second hand aromas revealed when Scott pulls the cork. The wine in our glasses correllates his astute evaluation. Wow, what extraction. Wow, what integration. It's too dark in the restaurant for photography, but it's not too dark to see the the rich colors dancing on our white napkins. It's even better to taste: screaming blackberry cream with dark bing cherries in the background eventually culminating in a mouthful of tannins. #4 declares emphatically, "I'm a sucker for oak and fruit. I will stand and salute you!!!" And he did. And we did. Araujo 2006 Eisele.

And did we have something chocolate for dessert? Seems like. We did pull out cell-phones and everyone committed to a date for the next event. Like in a month or two instead of a year or two.


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