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My wife and I will be having dinner with some people we've known for a while, but with whom we've only recently realized we share a love for wine. The (great) thing is, while I have no idea what they'll open, I know it will be something I can't get where we live. It is also quite possibly something I can't justify/afford, but I'm less concerned about this, as that's not how they role. Marinelli Jackass Hill or Blue Slide, Turley Hayne, Sine Qua Non are all possibilities.

So I'd like to bring something that is both good and interesting. Preferably something I already own, but there are some options I could pick up locally. Considering my audience, they prefer Pinot, Zinfandel, and Syrah/Shiraz and like big, young wines. As such, they also seem to prefer California and Australia. I have my last '97 Mondavi Napa Valley that I've found is drinking quite nicely right now, but it would not be the right choice for tomorrow.

So without further rambling, which of these would you guys recommend?

'05 Sea Smoke Southing
'05 Ketcham Estate
'05 Siduri Ewald Vineyard
'05 Brewer-Clifton Ashley's Vineyard
'04 Ken Wright Abbey Heights Vineyard
'03 Ken Wright Carter Vineyard
'02 Le Cadeau

'05 Novy Papera

'05 Novy Susan's Hill
'05 Mitolo G.A.M.
'05 Mitolo Reiver
'06 Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy
'06 Carnival of Love

Cabernet & Blends
'02 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages
'03 Clos Apalta
'02 Niebaum-Coppola Cask Cabernet

'02 Numanthia-Termes Numanthia

I could show up with say a Cambria Julia's and a Rosenblum Richard Sauret - and all would be fine. But, for me, I would like to bring something that adds to the night. In a year I would snag an '05 Sea Smoke/B-C and Mitolo, and run with it. But the only '05 I opened, the Ketcham, was awful young.

Another idea was to pop the Numanthia. If one likes big Zinfandel and Shiraz, Toro would seem a natural excursion into Europe. But I had planned on waiting a year or two on that, too, and I've never seen them drink Spanish, much less Toro.

Finally, while I would have to buy them, I can (inexplicably in Wausau, Wisconsin) buy the Blue Eyed Boy and Carnival of Love. Our friends like MD, but my wife and I are iffy. I've never had the first or second tier, so it would be a worthy experiment, if nothing else. I can also get the Gigglepot and Enchanted Path, but mixed feelings re: MD aside, I prefer the Shirazes.

Thanks in advance for the advice.
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PERSONALLY, I'd not hesitate to pull the '02 Numanthia. You mentioned that they like wine a 'little' on the young side. While this wine is certainly drinkable now (I love it like this) the '02 is plenty ready. I like your idea regarding having a 'European' big wine to throw some change into it. I think you'll hit the mark with this one, considering the taste of your drinkers. No guts no glory, chances are it'll be a BIG hit Wink
Right now, both the Numanthia and the Blue Eyed Blue are coming along. I'm not sure if we'll get to both. Tom (host) was rattling off the wines he was grabbing from the cellar and if we 80% of that we'll need to get a ride home. We have one cab company in town, and I have the number in my phone.

PdN: Normally this would be my first concern and, at my house, it would drive what we contribute. Tom & his wife love good food and good wine, but it doesn't always seem to be as important to pair the two for them. I did inquire as to food and its going to be appetizers (currently unspecified), pepper tuna and possibly prawns.

I almost switched to Pinot for the pepper tuna, but my wife's perception is that they prefer shiraz/syrah and zinfandel, with pinot coming in a distant third. She reminded me on an experience at an outdoor concert where our Belle Glos Clarke & Telephone (04) and their '03 Martinelli Three Sisters, didn't seem to be big enough for our friends.
Originally posted by Dom'n'Vin'sDad:
I would, as you seem to be leaning, rule out the Sea Smoke and the Brewer-Clifton - they both need time.

I agree with respect to the B-C, but I disagree on the Sea Smoke. I drank three of mine within a month of their delivery,and they were all frickin awesome.

But in looking at your list - if someone asked me to pick one bottle off of the list for "free" I'd probably go with the Clos Apalta. It is a fantastic wine that is ready to drink (assuming two hours at least in the decanter).

And the only reason I wouldn't pick the Carnival of Love is because it appears to be pretty readily available. If you must pick a shiraz, I'd lean toward the GAM.
We brought and consumed both the ‘06 Blue Eyed Boy and ‘02 Numanthia-Termes Numanthia. We also had an ‘03 Martinelli Chardonnay Woolsey Road, ‘04 John Duval Shiraz, ‘03 Craneford Merlot and an ‘03 Chateau Climens. Needless to say, we needed a cab home, which in a "metro" area of about 90,000, is an interesting experience. The cab was the owner of the company as most of the time his few cars sit unused, but after 10 pm on Saturday he can't keep up.

We started with the Martinelli, which was one of the better Chardonnay's I've had, though we admittedly usually drink fairly basic whites. Apple and a lot of oak were what came through for me. It was served at about 65 degrees, and while that does bring out more notes, I have hard time getting used to it and don't think any score I would give it would be helpful to others. It still went fairly well with prosciutto wrapped prawns and bruschetta.

We drank the rest of the table wines with hamburgers, pepper crusted pan seared tuna and assorted cheeses. The Duval was a really solid wine. It's so good from start to finish that you almost take it for granted. Doesn't have the power of other Aussie Shiraz, but I don't think it was ever meant to. "The Entity" is a much more classic style of the syrah/shiraz grape that anything I've had in a while. 92 pts.

We then opened the Blue Eyed Boy, but only tasted a small amount and let it sit after a "Mollydooker Shake." In the meantime we drank the Craneford Merlot, which I was not a fan of. It was ok, but the nose and front palate had a really odd quality that I can't quite place - almost raisin. It has a nice middle and finish though. 85 pts.

The Blue Eyed Boy was better than I expected in some ways, but somehow not as over-the-top as I was expecting. I know that's hard to believe. The shake, which Vicki (host) found perplexing, did help it open up, though I think this wine is better served with a year in the cellar, than a 20 second shake in my hand. Blueberry and coffee, though not as sweet as the Boxer. It was big, highly extracted and high in alcohol. Nonetheless, I didn't find it hot and, frankly, thought it was fairly balanced. A good wine, but I think there are better buys. I'll say 91 pts.

The Numanthia was, for me, the best of the night. Blackberries and dark cherries on the nose, continuing through and picking up currant and tobacco on the palate. It's more tannic than the nose lets on and will be better in two years. I'll give it 93 pts, but that score should be qualified by the amount of alcohol I had already consumed.

I bought two bottles, and was looking forward to this wine for a while. It really lived up to expectations and I can't wait to have the other in a couple years. Since the few places I saw this in Wisconsin sold out of the ‘02, none have brought more in, which is too bad. As an aside, when I bought these originally, it was actually sold as the Termes Toro. At the time I got cranky about the post WS mark-up, only to figure out later than this was the N-T's second wine, priced appropriately.

We finished with the Climens, which was great, but which also should have been set aside for next time. I've never had desert wine of this caliber. After 5 bottles with fairly high ABVs between 4 people, even over 5 hours or so, this wine was definitely fantastic, but I just couldn't even come up with notes or a score. It was such a fun time that I'm not going to sweat this somewhat lost on me wine any further.

Thanks for the advice people. Our friends were exited about the BEB and, I think, liked it more than I did. I would doubt my wife and I will buy more of it, but it was good and I'm glad to have had it. We'd love to have more of the Numanthia, but its difficult to find and adding shipping onto the (increased in later vintages) price makes it somewhat difficult to fit into the budget. Our hosts, who I had never seen open anything continental until the Climens, liked it a lot, which was the goal.

ETA: Board-O, in other situations and with other friends I would likely bring a Montsant or Priorat as these wines never cease to surprise people with their unique qualities. That said, I currently only have a few options in my cellar and there is literally one Montsant (Can Blau) available locally. There are a few Priorats but they are either pricey (Melis), and/or hard to research (something called Vinya del Vuit).
Last edited by montsant
Originally posted by Montsant:
(something called Vinya del Vuit).

Trust me. Go for it. La Vinya del Vuit (the wine or vineyard of 8) is excellent. It is a collaboration among 8 winemaker/vineyard owners, headed by Rene Barbier Jr. We tried the 2005 barrel sample with him last year. The label was designed by his wife. It was a bit reductive when first withdrawn from the barrel, but opened beautifully with swirling into a nose of ripe cherries and bright juicy raspberry flavors. It is made from 95% Cariñena from 95 year old vines and aged for 22 months in 80% new oak. Grab one and try it. Am I correct in assuming this is the 2005 vintage, which I believe was the first? How much is it?
Board-O - If memory serves, the Vinya del Vuit is the 2001. After reading your post, I made sure there was such a thing. Tru- In Chicago has it on their list.

In any case, they're selling it for $91. After reading your post and doing a little research, I'm intrigued. 90 bones is a lot for my wine budget to handle, but I'll have to pick up at least a bottle at some point.

KSC - It's getting better and I try to supplement when I'm in Minneapolis or Madison, Wisconsin. One store has a decent selection of Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Jumilla, etc., and the Can Blau is a step in the right direction. They have Melis, too, but see above as to budget issues.
I'm surprised on several accounts. Rene told me it was a new wine, but with the language differences, his new wine and my new wine could be 5 years off. He also lead me to believe that it was relatively inexpensive, however what the winery gets from the distributor can have little bearing on the retail price. Gerard Batllevell Simo of Celler Joan Simo told me he's gotten the same amount for his wine for the last five years, but since the ratings have come out, his wines are selling for a lot more than they did a few years ago.
Board-0: have you ever heard of a wine called Clos del Rey? It's a Cotes du Roussillon Vin de Pays d’Oc, but the owner of the wine store pointed it out as a Priorat, and I assumed he was right until I was looking it up further yesterday.

The denomination is evidently located in French Catalonia, and the notes notes seem similar to Priorat. They're selling it for $42.

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