Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wines to Obsess Over

"This was one of those wines that make you realize why you spend 2/3 of your waking time thinking, reading and writing about wine, as well as drinking it." - Sharon Bowman, in her post about the 1985 López de Heredia Rioja Rosado Viña Tondonia Gran Riserva.

That resonated with me when I first read it several weeks ago. Every so often we are lucky enough to drink a wine that provokes that sort of sentiment, a wine that dominates our thinking for a while, a wine to obsess over. This can be something of a curse too, if the wine is unavailable, or priced high enough so that my wife would kill me if I were to buy it.

I've been obsessing about several wines for the past few weeks since I drank them at the Polaner tasting. I know, that sounds like a contradiction - you don't really get to drink a wine at an industry tasting, it's one of many that you quickly taste, and then move on. But these wines I actually did drink.

All of the López de Heredia wines were very good, but the 1985 Rioja Rosado Viña Tondonia Gran Riserva, the very wine Sharon spoke of, was just drop dead gorgeous. Such an incredible perfume - roses, the softest and most well-worn leather belt, raspberries, so fresh and pure and youthful at 24 years old. This wine ended the tasting for me. I begged for a half glass and the woman pouring the wines took pity on me and said "Yes, I want people to drink my wines." I took my small glass of this amazing wine, found a table off in a corner of the room and spent the next 15 minutes savoring it. I can't stop thinking about this wine! The next time I have $90 burning a hole in my pocket, a bottle of this wine comes home with me.

Earlier at the same tasting I drank a wine that Peter Liem has written about, a very special Sherry made by Equipo Navazos. This is an unfiltered fino Sherry and like the other La Bota Sherries, it is a special selection of the finest wines from the finest barrels in an old solera. In this post Peter discusses Equipo Navazos a bit further and describes why what they're doing is so unusual and special.

I was thrilled to see a La Bota table at the Polaner tasting, and the wines were just sitting there - no one was tasting them. I spent almost a half hour there, tasting and "re-tasting" the absolutely beautiful
La Bota de Fino #15 Macharnudo Alto. Impossibly fresh and pure, the cleanest and most incisive flavors, so brisk and refreshing, and astoundingly deep, all in one package. The La Bota de Amontillado #9 Jerez was also wonderful, but in a totally different way. Burnished amber and incredibly rich, like an intense chestnut honey, this wine was so intense that it made it difficult to taste or smell anything after drinking it, and I would prefer it at the end of an epic meal. Tasting it there in that crowded room felt out of place, it was too intimate of a wine for that setting. But the goodness! I ran into a friend and insisted that he taste it with me, which necessitated a "re-re-taste" on my part. The great thing is that this wine, what is perhaps the finest example of fino Sherry on the market today, can be had for $40. I bought a bottle and now have to stop myself several times every day from opening it.

1/3 of my day is essentially over and I've already used up most of my time allotted for thinking about wine...


Deetrane said...

Yeah, I think we used the '85 as a palette cleanser between the '54 and the '61 when we were down in the vault.

Anyway, drinking a 2002 La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva right now. Is it just me, or does La Rioja Alta make wines that taste like they are infused with dill? In a really good way?

Peter Liem said...

Ahh, La Bota. Incredible. I think I daydream about drinking La Bota sherries at least once a day. Very happy that you got to taste those, although I agree that they are completely out of place in a large tasting. We drank a bottle of #9 over two consecutive days on the idyllic Oregon coast last month, and it was the stuff of legends. I can still feel it caressing my palate in some tantalizing memory of a dream.

Tracie P. said...

good selection of great sherry and grower champagnes--two things missing here in ATX. :(