My wife and I hosted a dinner party a little while back for us and another couple, with each of us donating bottles to go with the various courses.
NV Krug Champagne Brut Rose. Although the disgorgement date was not clear, this bottle was purchased at retail 3 years ago. It is a beautiful pale-pink color and exhibits a very fine bead. The nose is ever-changing and focuses mostly around classy notes of strawberry-vanilla, biscuits, melon, pink citrus and graphite. On the palate, it is still rather tensile, yet very graceful and harmonious at the same time. It has outstanding drive to the strawberry-tinged minerality at its core and a lifted quality to the pink citrus flavors riding on top. It could use a few more years to truly expand open and lengthen out on the finish, but it is really finessed, focused and lovely.
2002 Peter Michael Chardonnay Belle Cote Sonoma County. As has been typical of this wine for a while now, it has a rather cloudy appearance to it and there’s a pea-green tint to the color. Aromatically, I have described this as Bohemian in the past and that descriptor comes flooding back the moment I put my nose to the glass. It features intense aromas of lemon oil, patchouli, incense, vanilla bean, crushed Brazil nuts, toasted bread, baking spices and sweet oak. Indeed, a second glass is even more expressive and extroverted on the nose than the first. In the mouth, it opens up and fans out across the palate right off the bat, maybe turning a bit more open-knit and less focused at this stage of its life. It lays itself wide open to the rich, oily-textured flavors of yellow apple, lemon-cream, ground nutmeg and hazelnut. The structure is melting away here but the wine is so full of character and lovely flavors that it still provides a lot of pleasure. I would start to drink up pretty soon, though.
2008 Varner Chardonnay Spring Ridge Vineyard Bee Block Santa Cruz Mountains. This starts out with strong notes of struck match, but those eventually recede to reveal aromas of chalk, cedar, mint, ripe pear and light honey. In the mouth, it has good focus but also full flavors of smoke, lemon, pear, vanilla and nutmeg. It has a fairly rich mouthfeel to it and I suspect it will improve or at least hold for a good while yet to come.
1997 Azienda Agricola Montevetrano Montevetrano Colli di Salerno IGT. This is simply a wonderful wine. It possesses a gorgeous bouquet that leads out with Bordelais notes of charred leather, grilled green peppers, black lava rocks, tomato leaves, limestone and dusty back road riding atop a lovely but subdued core of sweet blueberry, blackberry and black currant fruit. It is wonderfully complex and also rather delicious on the palate, which feels slinky, inky, glossy and giving all at the same time. It features gently sweet and beautifully-flowing flavors of black fruit and baked earth over a wiry and precisely-balanced frame that leads to a poised and classy finish. It is definitely a serious and chiseled wine but has such a giving underbelly of fine flavor that it is hard to find anything to complain about.
2001 Azienda Agricola Montevetrano Montevetrano Colli di Salerno IGT. The 2001 is more immediately warm and sexy on the nose, with aromas of spiced plums, figs and minor notes of green pepper, black lava rock and grilled meat rising from the glass. In the mouth, it is again warmer in tone than the 1997, with a richer, plusher texture but also considerably more tannic grip to it. It is fuller and fleshier, and not really as finessed as the 1997, but it does show off excellent density and a meaty personality that bodes well for some longer-term cellaring. It was really a fascinating comparison, with the 1997 seemingly at peak and the 2001 a few years off still. Indeed, after two nights in the fridge, this 2001 may have gotten even more compelling, whereas the 1997 was tailing off a bit.
1997 Icardi Barolo Parej. This wine shows a lot of character on the nose and I find myself really liking its aromatic profile of dried red flowers, tar, cinnamon stick, bright lifted cherries, red licorice rope, and earthier notes of forest floor and balsamic tones. Moreover, the wine is delicious to drink—featuring lovely flavors of black raspberries, mixed currants and sweet cherries riding atop dark earth tones. It is cool-toned and slippery-textured, with the tannins pretty far in the background—making this very easy to drink and enjoy right now. The acidity comes increasingly forward as the night goes on, with the wine cinching up just a bit, but otherwise this offers excellent drinking today.
1997 Luigi Pira Barolo. This is a whole different creature—with a much more masculine nose that seems dark, meaty, serious and introspective--with its aromas of black leather, dark earth, tobacco and fudge that just seem dour and devoid of joy. In the mouth, it is dark, rich and pasty—with tannins definitely in play right off the bat. It again seems rather inward-facing and unrelenting, with dark and serious flavors of chewy black cherry and dark chocolate leading to a bitter-tinged finish. On day two, it is still thick and chalky in texture—with a rich fudgy core and tons of tannin. I’m not sure if this is just far from ready or if it is just going to be a tough bird.
1998 Muller-Catoir Rieslaner Haardter Burgergarten Beerenauslese Pfalz. This is gorgeous stuff. It offers up amazing aromas of tangerine peel, dried nectarine, orange slice, caramel, iced tea and fine wisps of honeysuckle and rosewater that are pure and lifted and intoxicating. It is luscious and creamy, yet lifted and lively on the palate. It has a rich oily texture that carries along the beautiful flavors of nectarine, creamsicle, orange and clover honey to a tangy, juicy, intense and vibrant finishing kick.
1999 Tommaso Bussola Reciotto della Valpolicella Tb. This is amazingly rich and decadent, starting with the sexy, slutty bouquet of cocoa butter, dark chocolate, shaved coconut and dark cherry liqueur and continuing onto the palate with its pitch-perfect flavors of succulent blackberries, cherry liqueur and chocolate paste. It is never cloying or sticky, instead showing great cashmere texture and flow, and fine juiciness on the finish. It is the absolutely perfect pairing with our chocolate mousse cake dessert.