Sunday, January 25, 2009

Burns Night - Almost Perfect

It was a great meal and there were three very, very good wines.

Unquestionably the wine of the evening was the 1993 La Jota Howell Mountain, 12th Anniversary Release. When the cork came out and the first glass was poured the room was filled with the unmistakable scent of violets. There was dark cherries, and cassis in the nose along with an earthy scent of herbs and earth. This was a full colored wine with a full body and great flavor. The cherries and cassis were there, along with blueberries, a hint of tobacco and other herbs and a very slight chocolate undertone. There were tannins from the mid-palate on and great acidity on the finish. This is what a mature Napa Cabernet should be. This wasn't a fruit bomb by any sense of the word. It was restrained at the beginning and evolved in the glass over a couple of hours into something wonderful. This was as good as any California cabernet I've had in several years. It was paired with a pan roasted tenderloin of beef finished with a bourbon, pecan and cream sauce. It was an outstanding pairing - a rare treat.

The evening opened with another outstanding wine. This was a 2005 Spreitzer Oestricher Lenchen Kabinett. This was a veritable fruit salad of a wine. There were green apples, peaches, pineapple, kiwi and other fruits in both the nose and the taste. The wine was very sweet for a kabinett and was closer to a spatlese to me, but there was this remarkable, crisp acidity that kept all the sweetness in perfect balance. It finished with acid and an earthy minerality that just made one want to have another glass. Thankfully there are two more bottles of this in the cellar.

This wine was paired with Asian style salmon cakes. There was salmon, red onion, cilantro, red and green peppers, soy sauce, a pinch of brown sugar, red pepper flakes and a healthy dose of Sambal Oelek, a spicy Thai style fresh red chili paste. They were coated in panko crumbs and quickly sauteed and topped with a ginger and lime aioli. The Riesling was outstanding with the salmon as the sweetness in the wine and the heat of the cakes were dancing together like Fred and Ginger.

The last wine of the evening was a 1997 Chateau Climens, a Barsac. Deep golden in color the wine just reeked of ripe peaches, nectarines and honey. There is also a unique earthiness to me in a good botrytised wine and this one had that funky aroma/taste in spades. There was still enough acid to balance the wine and there was a long, lingering finish. The slab of young Roquefort only added to the the experience.

All in all it has been a long, long time since a three wine meal has included better wines than these three. Taken as a group they were outstanding, and taken by themselves they were the same.

So here's to Robert Burns on his 250th birthday. Of course one can't celebrate Robert and not have a Scot's whisky, so the evening concluded with a 'wee dram' of Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1991.

Tomorrow we diet - but tonight we dined.

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