Saturday, January 3, 2009

Back at It

Thanks to miracles of modern medicine the cold has subsided to the point that I could taste again so we ventured out to help some friends finally celebrate Christmas and the new year. They delayed their celebration because of illness and finally the entire crowd was feeling good enough to devour a couple of large standing rib roasts and drink some wine.

Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, who write the wine columns for the Wall Street Journal have a very interesting article currently up. It is a To Do list for wine in 2009. One of their suggestions is to drink a wine variety you've never had before. We solved that today with a 2007 Studert Prum Dornfelder from the Mosel in Germany. Medium purple (yes it is a red Mosel) and almost spritzy it smelled like grapes and red cherries and tasted the same. It reminded me of a light and drinkable pinot noir with no pretensions of greatness, just a good wine to drink. At only 12% alcohol one could drink a little more of this wine.

Next up was the top picture. The wine is the 1999 Bousquet des Papes, a Chateauneuf du Pape. Brick red on the edges I feared the wine was over the hill. Instead it smelled of dried fruit, herbs and clean, dry dirt. There was good acid and a fair supply of tannin. The taste was dried cherries and red fruits with a little bit of jam coming through at the end. It drank very well and over the course of the afternoon it continued to improve in the glass.

The final wine of the day was a rare treat. The wine was a 1997 Von Strasser Reserve from Diamond Mountain in Napa Valley. The wine was a blend of 40% Petit Verdot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, all from mountain vineyards in Napa. It was extremely closed in the nose and took quite some time to open up. Blackberries and other prickly fruit were in the nose along with cassis, vanilla and cinnamon. The wine was intense in its taste and the tannins were strutting their stuff. There was more grape tannin than oak tannin, and matched the structure of the wine.

I went back three times to this wine over several hours and by the last glass it was finally beginning to bloom. Unfortunately this was the only bottle in the host's cellar, and the total production was 180 cases. It's a wine that I would love to try again in five to ten years. I do have one bottle of the Von Strasser Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1997 vinatage in the cellar, but certainly not the Reserve. I'll wait a few years on the cab.

It was difficult to choose between the Von Strasser and the Bousquet des Papes, but they were certainly different wines. One was young with a long life ahead of it and the other was at it's peak or perhaps just a year or so past it.

The wine year is off to a good start.

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