Sunday, February 15, 2009

Almost Heaven

Sometimes I pull a bottle out of a rack in the cellar and think, "Too good for tonight. Save it." I put the wine back and move on. Other times I pull out the bottle and think, "Why not."

Yesterday was definitely a "why not" night. All the original plans for the evening were canceled so we were just winging it when I pulled out this bottle of 1996 Louis Jadot Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Les Petits Monts. I purchased the wine about four years ago as the last bottle in a mixed case of less expensive, every day wines. I needed twelve for a 10% discount and this was wine #12.

Les Petits-Monts lies just uphill and adjoining the Grand Cru vineyards of Les Richebourgs and La Romanee, two sections of the holy ground for Burgundy lovers.

I opted to roast a free range chicken with just a little salt, pepper, lemon juice and thyme. A side dish of fresh steamed asparagus mixed with walnut and Gorgonzola ravioli and finished with olive oil and cheese served as the side dish.

When the chicken came out of the oven and was resting, and while the ravioli and asparagus were cooking I pulled the cork on the wine. When the wine hit the glass there was a bouquet dominated by clean, rich and freshly turned earth. It smelled like spring planting in the garden. The color was medium dark and as the wine swirled some of the earth went away and was joined by rich, red cherries. There was a full and rich mouth feel to the wine with cherries and raspberries playing with each other. There was good acidity and soft, integrated tannins to coat the tongue. The finish was concentrated and long and almost succulent. I was duly impressed and delighted.

With the food and over the course of the evening the wine improved in the glass. There was good acidity to cut through the chicken and refresh the mouth and the depth of the fruit just kept increasing. It took four hours to drink the bottle and the last glass was the best. This was a rare treat of a wine that was fully mature but showing no signs of fading. The standard is now set for the 2009 wine of the year, and that standard is very, very high.

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