Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recent Wines - A Laundry List

During the past two months I had the chance to drink some very special wines, mostly thanks to the generosity of friends, but since I took a bit of a break from writing, I haven't shared a lot. Time marches on and I finally admit that I will never get around to writing what I wanted to write about some of these wines. But I do want to share a little bit:

1994 Stony Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay, price unknown. This is the oldest vintage of Stony Hill that I've had, and this was a brilliant bottle. Delicious from the very beginning, but it was only after an hour open that this wine hit its apex. Elegant, well defined, and crystal clean aromas that showed a lovely harmony between rich roasted nuts, delicate flowers, and pungent mineral earth. Perfectly harmonious on the palate too, still showing hints of fruit, but more about grace and texture, and I loved the slightly oily, smokiness that lingered on the finish. Stony Hill has for decades been making Napa Chardonnay that pleases the old world palate, and the wines are affordable. You won't spend more than $40 on recent vintages, and that's a pretty good deal for what I would say is among the very finest California Chardonnay. If you haven't tried Stony Hill, you should.

1996 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly Fumé Pur Sang, price unknown. I thought this was pretty astounding, although I liked it more than the other guys did. The wine was completely secondary and had very little to do with fruit. It was liquid rock, perfectly harmonious, and with a wonderful depth of aroma and flavor. I've never had a wine like it, never mind a Sauvignon Blanc like it. I wish that I'd been buying Dagueneau's wines back when I could have afforded them.

2000 Domaine de Montbourgeau Vin Jaune, $75, Imported by Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant. A friend brought over a bottle that had been open for three days, and it was ridiculous. A chorus of strikingly pungent aromas and flavors, as if a friendly elf waved a magic wand and we were drinking the liquid essence of salted, curried cashews. Is this even made from grapes? Such harmony, so satisfying.

NV Bodegas Hidalgo Amontillado La Gitana Napoleon, $18 (500 ml), Imported by Classical Wines. This is the first time I've seen this wine in NYC, and I'm very glad for it. Further away from flor than other amontillados I've had recently, but not so much so. Almost delicate flavors of roasted salted almonds and toffee with a buttery hint to the finish. The texture is interesting in that it is here that I sense the flor character, the creamy feel. Only the slightly grainy and harsh textural element to the finish prevents this from being truly elevated wine, and it is a great value in amontillado.

1995 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino, price unknown. Although this wine never finished opening up, the depth of material was evident. Tangled and intense flavors of cherry and licorice and herbs, with an earthy floor. We enjoyed this immensely and it piqued my curiosity about the real Brunello.

1996 Cims de Porrera Priorat Classic, price unknown. We decanted this for over an hour and it was still unwinding when we moved on. I have yet to love a Priorat, but this one was definitely interesting and very tasty. Rich, full in texture, deeply flavored, but not entirely well articulated. Still, with a bloody steak rubbed in garlic and thyme...not sure that I'd spend my own c-note on it but I'd happily drink it again.

1998 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, price unknown. I had this wine about a year ago and it was entirely different this time. Red, red, bright red fruit - high toned raspberries, maybe even currants, some herbs. Strong acidity, nicely structured, altogether a delicious drink. I continue to be intrigued and impressed by Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Beaucastel, Vieux Telegraph, and Donjon, but not as much past 2001. Again, too bad I wasn't buying back when...

1997 Noël Verset Cornas, $75 (purchased a few years ago). A fantastic showing, hit every possible aspect of its potential. There is a bit of rusticity, but not much, and the wine is perfectly harmonious. Vivid bloody brothy notes to the nose, along with stone and fur and hints of flowers. The nose evolves over a few hours in the decanter and continues to enchant, turning a bit olivey in the end. Beautifully structured - firm but completely smooth and gentle, and although there is not quite as much midpalate concentration as you might like, the wine is seductive and complex and vivid from start to finish. A great experience, and Mssr. Verset is sorely missed.


Clotpoll said...

Whoever put together this group of wines is a baller.

I haven't drunk that much good wine in a year, much less one sitting.

Joe Manekin said...


Just brought that Hidalgo Napoleon back in. Lovely stuff.

Cims de Porrera can be fairly chock full of VA (as is much Priorat) though I'm glad you got to try an older example. In fact, given that around 2000 was the year things changed in a big, sloppy, oaky, cellar trick way in Priorat, I bet that a 90's retrospective of some of these would surprise people.

Given the opportunity to put together a line-up and taste these with some folks, though, I'd be sure to brown bag them. You know, it's not cool to admit to liking something Spanish that's not sherry or LdH, let alone a PRIORAT.


Sharon & George Gmelch said...

What a great collection of wines. I truly appreciate the aged bottles the most. So much history in such a relatively small bottle.

Do Bianchi said...

man, would love to drink some great Brunello with you sometime... 95 is an awesome year for that wine... someday...

Falanghina said...

Woow i'm inspired by this wines ... and i envy you as i have much time/money needed to reach such collection.