A dinner and a lunch last weekend afforded me the opportunity to taste some interesting wines.
Last Friday, my colleague Kim Marcus invited a few friends over for grilled rib eye steaks and salmon. We started with a Raveneau Chablis Blanchots 1997, followed by Franz Hirtzberger’s Riesling Smaragd Wachau Spitz Singerriedel 2007 from Austria.
The Chablis showed the lemon, flint and honey typical of Chardonnay grown in Kimmeridgian soils with 10-plus years of bottle age, but there was also an appealing touch of grassiness that recalled Sauvignon Blanc. I liked its intensity, racy structure and almost weightless feel (94 points, non-blind).
Singerriedel is one of the truly great vineyards for Riesling in Austria. This was terrific, offering spice and white pepper aromas and flavors over a base of stone. More savory and mineral than fruity, it was crisp, balanced, saturated and long (93 points, non-blind).
With the steaks and salmon, I opened and decanted three reds. The first definitely needed more age. It was Domaine Bertagna’s Clos de Vougeot 2004. I bought a few cases of the ’04 reds from Burgundy to enjoy while waiting for my 2005s to mature. Yet, from the reticent nose and firm tight structure, even after decanting, this clearly was closed up. Delicate cherry, red fruit and spice flavors were there, but will benefit from another 2 to 3 years of aging (91 points, non-blind, at its peak).
The Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi 2001 turned out to be my favorite red of the evening. It offered a big tar and dried cherry nose, followed by more cherry and a hint of licorice on the palate. Rich, concentrated, firm and dense, it packed youthful power (93 points, non-blind).
I thought the Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1998 would be rocking, with 10 years of age and hailing from a ripe, opulent vintage. Though outstanding, it was the most disappointing of the reds. It started out big, rich and alcoholic, with dried fig, plum and cherry fruitcake aromas. With air, it mellowed and my second glass showed less heat and tannins. The finish was long, so maybe it’s just developing at a snail’s pace (92 points, non-blind).
The following day, I had lunch with a friend. He prepared sautéed shrimp with garlic and red pepper flakes, followed by roasted poussin with heirloom tomatoes and potato salad. We started with a candied fruit and toasty Jean Lallement Brut Champagne Cuvée Réserve NV, which had been aging on the cork for two years (91 points, non-blind).
It preceded the Frédéric Esmonin Ruchottes-Chambertin 1997, a wine that has reached its plateau and was ready to enjoy. It revealed a lovely bouquet of forest underbrush, raspberry, wild cherry and a hint of tar. Sweet and mature, red fruit, spice and smoke flavors played out through the lingering finish (91 points, non-blind)
For dessert, we kept it simple: A glass of Château de Malle Sauternes 2001. The 2001 vintage was great in Sauternes, one of the best in the last twenty years. The nose was complex and enticing, featuring rose, apricot, honey and fig. The botrytis is very clean, enhanced by vibrant acidity and augmenting the dried apricot, quince paste and coconut flavors (93 points, non-blind). A very impressive dessert wine, whose hallmarks are purity and balance.
T Revor Rowan — Australia — May 10, 2011 5:00am ET
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