Thursday Betsy made a delicous dish of cod with winter squash, finished with a balsamic reduction. I served the 2002 Saintsbury "Brown Ranch" Chardonnay (Carneros). Some oak and just a touch of butter on the nose, but not overwhelming. Good acidity for CalChard, nice Bosc pear fruit with a little lemon zest. A minerally edge to the finish. Nice, but a little empty in the middle. However, retasted Friday it had filled out a bit, and the oak had more fully integrated, a friend said it reminded him of a village Puligny. I don't quite agree, but good wine. B/B+
Friday we had an early dinner before Betsy headed to city. Sugar snap pea soup and farfalle with shrimp, scallops, saffron and ginger (from a recipe by Robin). I opened a 2004 Moreau Chablis AC. Good clear Chardonnay fruit, clean and unoaked. Good acidity, nice finish. I confess that even thought this was a good wine I felt slightly disappointed- so many strong reports on 2004 Chablis, but I felt this was just a touch behind the excellent 2002. B
After Betsy left I went to a friend's home for the first meeting of my local casual wine group since November. We got a fire going and sat outside - a little cool, but first chance of the year. Wines were served blind:
1999 Villadoria Barbaresco
Very tight upon decanting, it hadn't shown much more to me on serving a couple hours later. Group did very well with guessing (my wine, I didn't participate)- someone said Italian, then narrowed to Piedmont. Lighter style of modern Nebbiolo, bright cherry fruit and a little flowers and tar. Got better with time, others liked a lot, but I really wasn't that impressed. At this price level I prefer the co-op. B/B-
Next wine was very ripe. From a bit of olive and underbrush I guessed Rhone from a ripe vintage, but then blew it by suggesting St. Joseph or Crozes. Fred said it was a Chateauneuf, the '03 Beaucastel. I was kind of shocked, as it didn't remind me of Beaucastel. But when unveiled it was actually the 2003 Perrin & Fils Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. Sweet red fruit, a bit hot, and slightly short. But better than I expected with some '03 Rhone reports. B-/B
Next wine was pretty easy to peg as tired Bordeaux. Flat blackcurrant fruit, a hint of prunes, some leather. Storage conditions could have contributed to the demise of the 1995 Barons de Rothschild Reserve (Medoc), but I think this is really the kind of wine best drunk with couple years of release. C
I really flailed around trying to get a grip on the next wine, but really had no serious guesses. A little earth and ripe cherry fruit, someone suggests Burgundy but this seemed more New World. At same time it had the garrigue/underbrush note that made me think Rhone. Good thing I didn't make a guess, 'cause Spanish Pinot Noir wouldn't have been it (I should have gotten it, I'd tasted this before). The 1996 Torres Mas Boras was better than my previous experience, and almost a contender for WOTN. B+/B
Next wine quickly drew a Bordeaux consensus- cassis fruit, some cedar and leather, moderate tannins. A Bordeaux that needs some time, seemed a tad closed down. We're right, it's a wine I'm not familiar with, the 2000 Larose- Perganson (Haut-Medoc). Nice medium-bodied claret, at a slightly awkward stage, but assuming price was under $15 I'd buy (winesearcher doesn't show, guy who brought is a Frenchman living in Switzerland, former member who was visiting). B+
Last wine had a almost-porty nose, with figs and prunes. Some residual sugar, though not at all dessert-ish. Some dark chocolate notes over the ripe cherry and fig fruit. I guess a Valpolicella ripasso, and I got the region right, it's the 2000 Gaso Amarone della Valpolicella. I'm a little surprised, as this is texturally/structurally lighter than I expect from Amarone, but it's a fun drink (and I'm glad it came last). B+/B
Nice night with the guys. I felt pretty straight, but decided walking home (my norm in this Dobbs Ferry group) was still the wisest. Absolutely fabulous spring evening.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.