Sometimes it’s better not to know the value of a wine. Otherwise, you may never drink it, or you might sell it instead. It’s meant for drinking.
I was thinking of this yesterday during a lunch in Los Angeles with some friends, Michael Frey and his lovely wife Catherine Bloom Frey. They invited me to their house in Beverly Hills for Sunday lunch and when I arrived we went straight to the kitchen to pick out some wine.
Michael had already decanted a bottle of 1998 Henri Jayer Echézeaux. I took a double take when I saw it sitting on the counter. “Wow," I thought to myself. "Michael is really into wine. He is being super-generous today to open an awesome bottle of Burg. Does he know what it’s worth?”
I was certainly not complaining. He then pulled out a bottle of 1997 Dalla Valle Maya Napa Valley. This was to go with the salami and aged pecorino cheese for the starter. The California red was gorgeous. It was so fresh and showed a wonderful balance. I loved the raspberry, blackberry aromas with hints of mint and sage. It was just as my colleague James Laube describes in his tasting note in our database. I didn’t give it 98 points though. I think that 96 points, non-blind, is ample, but who’s splitting hairs? Great red.
I was happy to drink that wine, because I went to a tasting of California cults from 2001 and 1997 versus Super Tuscans a little over a year ago in Florence, and the Maya was corked. It would have compared nicely to the other wines in the tasting, which included Harlan, Colgin, Redigaffi, Masseto and Galatrona.
Anyway, the 1998 Jayer was sublime, especially with the rich and decadent roasted lamb. It was still very tight, but it showed a wonderful refinement, with ultra-fine tannins and beautifully fresh acidity and ripe fruit. The nose was pure crushed berries with hints of minerals. The medium to full-bodied palate was seamless in texture. I am not a great fan of 1998 Burgundies because I find many of them herbaceous, but this wine was everything but green. 93 points, non-blind.
I couldn’t stop thanking Michael for his generosity after the lunch as we smoked a cigar. Michael owns Casa Fuente in Las Vegas – a good place to smoke cigars -- and he is a major investor in restaurants and clubs in Vegas, such as Pure and Tangerine. I have known him for a long, long time.
He asked me how much it would cost to buy another bottle of the Jayer, as we puffed on our La Flor Dominican cigars. I told him I didn’t know exactly, but may be a thousand or two.
I thought he was going to choke on his cigar. But then he had a smile on his face. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. "It was great to share it with you and that’s what it is there for.”
Steven Balavender — Tampa, Fl — January 7, 2008 4:38pm ET
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James Suckling — — January 9, 2008 11:07am ET
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James Peterson — San Antonio, Texas — January 9, 2008 10:21pm ET
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