The other day, I went with some friends to dinner at Ristorante Lorenzo in Forti dei Marmi on the Tuscan coast. I had heard a lot about this family-run eatery, and how the fish is amazing. Moreover, Lorenzo Viani recently created the menu at the new Armani/Ristorante 5th Avenue in New York. Now that I have been to both, I can say the new superchic Manhattan restaurant doesn't compare to Viani's Tuscan original. Armani may be well-designed in a 1980s hipster sort of style, but the fish isn't close in quality.
Anyway, my friends and I worked our way through several bottles of Champagne and whites from both Italy and France. The best of those was a 2006 Cantina Terlano Sauvignon Alto Adige Terlaner Quarz, with its fresh minerally, flinty, grapefruity character and bright acidity. However, the wine of the night was a red. We all just couldn't face a great dining experience without finishing it off with a glass of red.
I found a bottle of 2001 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle on the list for the fairly reasonable price of $180. So we ordered it. After a quick decanting, the wine was in our glasses—and what a wine it was! It showed loads of meaty, spicy and gamy aromas, as well as bright dark fruits. The palate was rich yet supersilky and refined. It was wonderfully balanced and pleasing. My Italian friends loved it. I gave it 93 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Get the original blind-tasting review and current auction price for Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle 2001 (97 points, $127 on release).
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values in Rhône reds.