Frank and Louise Deis were in Vancouver for the weekend and we got together for dinner with another local couple. I was so excited to finally meet this man who I've considered a friend for a long time and about whom the phrase "a gentleman and a scholar" could not be more apt. I chose Dinesty, a Chinese restaurant, for it's hip modern décor and extensive food choices that could pair with almost any wine.
2001 Château d'Yquem Sauternes (375ml)
Unbelievably, Frank surprised me with this wine, which we opted to drink as an opening aperitif with some lightly seasoned walnuts and pecans Frank had picked up earlier. Apricot, lemon and vanilla bean strike first on the palate. As one savors, loquat, honey and yuzu marmalade fill out the layers with fleeting hits of mango, kumquat and kaffir lime leaf. Flawless concentration and elegance--stunning beyond belief. Thank you, Frank Deis, thank you.
2013 Château Pegaü Vin de France Pink Pégau
We opened this (my bottle) to go with some of this restaurant's famed Shanghai-style soup dumplings. Was most dismayed: lackluster and absent the flavor and delineation of the 2012s Bob and I dispensed a sixpack of last summer. Simplistic, dilute and acid-driven; no summer joy.
2012 Beringer Vineyards Chardonnay 'Luminus'
I really wanted to bring a white wine to go with the Ancient Chile Fish I intended ordering: a bold Szechuan style bowl of broth, cabbage and poached fish. Chardonnay made sense, and though I held a few white burgundies in my hand as I made my selection, fearing prem-ox, I instead chose this Californian and hoped I wouldn't appear to lack imagination. The course was filled out by a bowl of dan-dan noodles that Frank chose. Classy, elegant chardonnay very different from the California norm. Fruit's in the apple and pear range with good concentration and no tropicality, and moderate oak adds spice and complexity but does not dominate. A perfect blend of power and finesse, and it stood up well to the strong flavors in this course.
2006 Copain Pinot Noir Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley
For two duck dishes, one very good (duck and greens fried in a crispy soybean wrap) and one quite boring (roast duck in brown sauce), I offered this pinot noir, nicely in that space between young and mature where you can easily see the tracks of where it's been and where it's going. Someone named 'Thomaskeil' on CellarTracker captured it perfectly about a year ago, and the wine hasn't changed a hair since: "Garnet with some orange/brown. Fresh red fruits with pine, asian spices and a little earth. Palate has medium weight fruit with some depth of flavors and persistence. Mineral/rock acidity and soft tannins that add a soft texture, making the palate interesting/complex."
With several beef dishes, we drank:
1990 Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT
I'm a fan of Tig and have had other bottles from this vintage that showed better than this one did. While not a total dog or flawed in any conventional sense, it lacked the silk and nuance of maturity I remember and was somewhat muted on the midpalate, a condition I'm going to suggest was travel-shock from the five mile hike in a backpack to the restaurant with its owner. Good but not great, not what it could be.
1996 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc Nebbiolo
Frank's wine. The effusive nose of flowers, wet earth, red berry and spice made the Tig's shortcomings even more apparent. Immediately modern, youthfully big bodied and giving, it backed up the nose with concentrated flavors of dried fruit and more spice. A bit of tobacco lingered on the supple finish. Just superb, with a good life ahead of it.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov