Here are some notes from my wife’s birthday dinner at home with the extended family.
2011 La Tosa Colli Piacentini Terrafiaba Valnur. This is a lightly sparkling wine that features a gently sweet and flowery bouquet of peach juice, honeysuckle, quince and green melon aromas that are soft and pillowy. In the mouth, it is again very soft and gentle, with airy flavor sensations of peach, melon, chalk and flowers that are supported by a welcome shot of underlying acidity at the end. It makes me think of a cross between a sparkling viognier and a moscato d’asti. It’s an interesting and fun sort of summer sipper.
2007 Aubert Chardonnay Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast. This wine takes a while to sort itself out, coming across as oaky and a bit disjointed over the first half hour or so that it’s open. We ended up decanting it another 30 minutes, and that really seemed to do the trick. At that point, a myriad of big and rich aromas began to present themselves—including notes of pistachio nut, creamed corn, lemon oil, poached pear, apricot, vanilla bean and all kinds of barrel spices. It’s a bold mouthful of Chardonnay on the palate, really expanding out to fill all the recesses of the mouth with its intense flavors of pear, liquid caramel, sweet cream and vanilla. It is awfully young, and almost feels a bit tannic to me on the palate, but it has a sexy class to it that is hard to deny. The icing on the cake is the fine streak of crystallized minerals and freshening acidity that comes further and further forward the longer you stay with it. Overall, I’d recommend holding off on this a few more years, but it’s certainly capable of delivering a lot of bold flavor right now for those who prefer to drink it young.
2004 Ovid Experiment E0.4 Napa Valley. One finds a warm-fruited nose of baked cherries, raspberries, tobacco leaf and vanilla aromas on the layered and gently candied bouquet of this open and inviting wine. It doesn’t seem quite as rich or powerful as the first bottle we opened 18 months earlier, now seeming a bit mellower and further along aromatically. In the mouth, it’s very smoothly-polished, with a sliver of licorice flavor running beneath the core of medium-weighted red currant, cassis, baked cherry and stone flavors. The finish pulls in a strong streak of leafy tobacco and a little bit of dusty earth that leave one with a lasting impression of smooth distinction.
2000 Château Langoa Barton St. Julien. This was decanted about 2 hours. It presents an intense and slinky bouquet that is both intriguing and highly inviting in its myriad scents of blackberry, black currant, scorched earth, new shoe leather, pen ink, dried blood, animal fur and cigar ash. Over time, it turns increasingly toward cassis tones over the blacker fruit, just adding to the appeal. In the mouth, it follows a similar progression, starting with smooth black currant and blackberry fruit slowly yielding to cassis and black cherry over time, but always staying smoky, savory and minerally. It unfolds more and more over the course of the evening, but stays a bit rigidly-structured at its center. All in all, it is a delicious wine that can definitely be easily enjoyed today, but ought to have a long life ahead, as well. I was gratified with its performance on this evening.
2001 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac. This wine features a delightfully dark and penetrating bouquet of black lava, black currant, blackberry compote, dark plum, gunmetal, gypsum, cracked pepper, cooled bacon fat and charred embers that make me think of an old-time blacksmith’s shop for some reason. The aromas soften and continually deepen all evening long, alternating between serious, gorgeous and steely all the while. In the mouth, it’s dark and spherical, serious and black-fruited. It feels sleek as a bullet, but wrapped in a bow of sweeter currant fruit and soft herb flavors. The finish is fabulously balanced and dry, ending with a lasting, cool character. The tannins seem to stay in check most of the time and I’d have to say that it’s drinking wonderfully right now, with no danger whatsoever of dropping off anytime soon.