Earlier this month, Joe Perry was kind enough to invite me along to a little get-together with 8 other wine lovers at a local eatery to celebrate his birthday. It was a lot of fun, with excellent wine, and Joe brought my personal Wine of the Night--gotta love that in a guest of honor!
1997 Weingut Willi Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner Kamptal Alte Reben. This wine has a pale gold color and a nose of poached pears and apples. In the mouth, it is on the round full-bodied side, with a leesy plantain character, and a bit of coconut milk, a touch of wood and a faint spiciness. The acidity grows a bit on the finish, where there is more cut to this otherwise fleshy-textured wine. It was a very nice wine with which to open the evening.
2000 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Alsace Grand Cru Schlossberg. (This bottle may have been the Cuvee Ste.-Catherine—others who were present can chime in and let me know). There’s a very nice nose on this wine, with petrol, white flowers, lime zest and lanolin. In the mouth, it is dry, medium-bodied and nicely layered with pear flavors. It has a clean lasting finish, but overall it just didn’t seem to me to have that extra bit of excitement on the palate—perhaps try again in a few years.
1997 Coppo Barbera d’Asti Pomorosso. This bottle shows an uplifted nose of dried red berries, cedar, spice and a new leather. It is soft and easy in the mouth, more voluptuous than heavy, and could maybe use a bit more acidity for structure. Part of it could be that this seemed a bit too warm in serving temperature. In any event, it shows pure gobby fruits and is a fun drink.
1995 Domaine Jean & Jean-Louis Trapet Chapelle-Chambertin. Ok, so this was the first wine to reach out and grab my undivided attention amongst the birthday revelry going on around me. That is because it is a delight to sniff, exhibiting a beautiful nose of crushed red berries, aged leather, sous-bois elements, pencil shavings and something like lightly toasted walnuts. It has medium weight and caresses the palate with tart cherry fruit pie flavors on the attack and in the mid-palate before a bright shot of acid kicks in toward the back to remind you it is there. It turns more dark-fruited on the very persistent finish, where some tannins reside to indicate this can go a while longer. This was my second-favorite wine of the night.
1991 Giuseppe e Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato. I let this one sit in the glass for a while before getting around to it. When I did, it hit me with a nose of coffee grounds, lively red berries and red licorice. In the mouth, there are very juicy red fruits and deeper cherry liqueur flavors, along with substantial amounts of fine-grained tannins. It finishes bright and acidic. This does not have the complex character of the 1990, but on this night I think I actually enjoyed it just a bit more.
1990 Giuseppe e Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato. I was a bit perplexed by this bottle. It showed undeniable amounts of personality, but I sensed what I took to be some faint oxidative notes in this bottle (and I think at least one other taster was with me on this) that kept me from enjoying it fully. Many others had it as their wine of the night from what I could tell, so I am just not sure. Anyway, the nose has roasted nuts, toasted caramel, red berry and sherry notes. There is a lot of sweet, warm and round fruit in the mouth, with an excellent grippy mouthfeel and some nutty balsamic notes in the background. The tannins are a bit drying, but not at all harsh on the lengthy finish. I guess I am just going to have to try another bottle of this…
2000 Finca Allende Rioja Calvario. The nose is very deep and very modern, with black cherry syrup, blueberries, herbs and spices. However, there is also the slightest wet cardboard aroma floating above all of this on every third sniff or so. Yes, it is corked. Too bad, as the mouth shows a bold and flashy wine with lots of blackberry fruit and spices on a very velvety frame. Again, though, the corkiness is faintly present, marring an otherwise exciting modern-styled wine.
1999 Domaine de Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape Vielles Vignes. The nose on this wine is tightly wound, even after an hour or so in the glass. It slowly unfolds to reveal some clean aromas of bright cherry, caramel, pepper and herbs. In contrast, it makes an immediate and strong impression in the mouth, with great verve and drive underneath mixed dark berries, cocoa and spices. It really expands through the middle and kicks into another gear on the pure, expressive, dark chocolate-tinged finish. Overall, it is clean and pure and gives a lot of pleasure right now, but feels like it is just showing the tip of the larger iceberg. Give this several more years of cellar time and watch it unfold.
1989 Bodegas Vega Sicilia Ribera del Duero Unico Gran Reserva. This wine is simply like nothing else on the table. It is an inky dark purple color. I found it to have a huge, soaring nose of eucalyptus, cedar, dried flowers, black currant liqueur, dried plums and black pepper that is exotic and corpulent and seemingly bottomless. It is full and velvety textured in the mouth, with a blend of red and darker fruits. The tannins are fairly integrated at this point, and the whole experience is pure and driving. The acidity is soft, but it is in keeping with the overall personality. Still, it seems well-balanced and keeps strongly-delineated in the mouth. Needless to say, I found it a real pleasure through and through. It makes me wonder what Unicos are like from more heralded vintages! Thanks for sharing, Joe.
1997 Rene Rostaing Cote-Rotie Cuvee Classique. This opens with aromas of grilled meats, charcoal ash, roasted herbs, cherry syrup and liquid minerality. Later, with some additional air, it turns more to dark boysenberry, white pepper and a touch of bacon fat. In the mouth, it starts by showing more of its tough-edged, savory side. Again, though, with some air, it evolves to take on more of a plush personality, with seamless texture and big but integrating tannins pushing along mixed berry, chocolate and dark caramel flavors.
1999 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva Vigna Pipparello. I was a bit worried about this bottle, as the cork was not all the way in. Once the foil was off, it was evident that the issue was that the corking apparatus didn’t get the ingoing angle quite right, rather than any heat damage having pushed it out. Indeed, when the cork was pulled, there was no sign of any seepage or other damage. The nose shows dark roasted espresso, blackberry jam and fudge, with a slight bit of volatility around the edges. In the mouth, it exhibits black raspberry fruit and other flavors reminiscent of a chocolate hazelnut torte. It has an interesting mouthfeel, which is plush and not quite chunky, holding a fine line on smooth and rich, all the way through to a persistent finish. It is young and very promising, showing signs of much to come with additional bottle age.
1991 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume. The color is dark gold, showing a nice nose of quince paste, caramelized sugar and pit fruits. It exhibits full body and flavors of marmalade, crème brulee and soft caramel. It is moderately sweet and is more about the nicely-integrated whole right now than it is about a lot of complexity. The finish is lovely, though, and it was a nice cap to a delightful evening of wining and dining in celebration of Joe’s birthday.