Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Best Kind of Friends

It's nice to have good friends who share some good bottles of wine. That happened Saturday night when we drove down to some friends for a dinner of Beef Barolo, beef roast braised in Barolo wine.

There was a very poor, generic French sparkling wine to start, and it was quickly removed. We then opened the two Barolos, a Battisolo 2001 and a Luciano Sandrone LaVigne 1998. No question which was the better wine so the Batsiolo went into the braise. It was tight, tannic and a little pruney. The Sandrone had plums with red and dark fruit and showed much more promise. It was a little tannic, so it was pooured into a decanter.

Next up was a glass of the Koonowla Clare Valley Riesling 2006. Bright and limey with great acidity and a long finish. Highly drinkable.

Since we had three hours before the beef was finished we moved on to a 1994 Geyser Peak cabernet sauvignon from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. Big forward fruity wine with some definite cassis and a little vegetable up front. The tannins had mellowed and the acid was still there. It was in its prime and was definitely a nice match for some mushroom empanadas.

Finally the beef was ready, and after de-fatting the broth and reducing it to a sauce consistency it was time to try the Sandrone again.

To be honest - when the end of the year comes and it's time to choose the best wine consumed in 2008 this wine may very well be the top dog. The nose was now all about strawberries and red and black cherries. There was just a hint of plums and a little bit of refined leather. Just a sniff and the aroma lingered with you for a minute or two. It was a medium color in the glass, not as dark as I expected. One sip told the story. The tannins had receded to be in perfect balance with the fruit and the acid. The wine was just outright silky and a total pleasure to drink. The finish was long and smooth and left you wanting another sip. A wonderful wine.

The evening ended with my contribution to the meal, a half bottle of 1994 Smith Woodhouse vintage Port. Heavy body with nice sweetness and staying power. A perfect ending to a great meal.

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