The Saturday gathering, having special motives for celebrating, was better than usual, and my ratings slightly more demanding, I see.
TERRA DO GARGALO Blanco 2000, with chévre.
This is a white wine from the so-far dark appellation of Monterrey in the interior of Galicia (unlike Rias Baixas, which is closer to the sea and has more rain), actually touching the Portugal frontier. The aromatics resemble those of a good Albariño, though I believe theres none in this white, made with Treixadura, Godello and Dona Blanca. The Godello connection is evident with the whites of Valdeorras, and theres an overall impression of Galicia, with great fruit ripeness from an area with more sun hours. The spectrum is mostly orchard fruit and perceptible acidity. It is a deliberately delayed release at its peak, and the arrival of the 2001 must be imminent.
LA ISLETA Moscatel 2001 (Tenerife: Tacoronte-Acentejo), with foie.
This is a local sweet Muscat thats been recently awarded a prize in Spain, and a friend who works for the C.R D.O. brought it. Elegantly subdued sweet nose of petals and tell-tale Muscat aromas of bone and tropical fruit, it made a nice appetizer on its own, and aptly matched the foie, though it had none of the decadent richness of its better European peers.
The dry reds were accompanied by a choice of hard cheeses, where the show was clearly stolen by aged cheddar and Roncal, a sheep milk cheese from Navarra and the Basque country. Black olives were available throughout the evening (21:00-3:00, thanks to the sherry).
Somontano Bodegas Pirineos Tinto MARBORÉ 1999
The latest release and flagship of Bodegas Pirineos. Recently rated arather mean 84 by WS, I liked it immediately upon uncorking. I mean I liked it from the aromas in neck of the bottle, which is unusual. Its a red blend of tempranillo with Cabernet, Merlot, and a minimum intervention of two local varieties of the Somontano region called Moristel and Parraleta. 13,5% alcohol. Pretty open nose of red berry and well-integrated oak, and a distant element of turf/licorice. As it was decanted for 45 the nose developed beautifully with some complexity. Not a blockbuster, but nothings missing. At $15 its a steal over here, I rated it 89-90, though it has received here a preliminary rating of 94 from the Spanish press. Will retry after the summer.
Priorato Carignan Vinyes Vignes FRA FULCÓ 1998
Candidate for wine of the evening, Olivares permitting, this was a great find last year and Ive kept it for about 15 months (including the masochistic summer refrigeration program). RP has given other vintages consistent ratings in the low 90s and to me this was no exception (91+). The jammy, concentrated nose gives away gloriously perfumed aromas of black fruits and vanilla, with distant but perceptible minerals and a pleasant earthy rusticity. Really full-bodied, this was evidently a food wine, and everybody was stunned by it as well as by the promising crescendo.
Marqués de Griñón DOMINIO DE VALDEPUSA PETIT VERDOT 1998
I had tried the 1996 and loved it. In 1999 the 1996 was fairly polished and very open. Not that I could make anything distinctive about the variety like recognize it blind, but it was a greatly enjoyable wine. This 1998 was a full-bodied red resembling a Bordeaux blend in the same vaguely varietal terms of the 1996, but there was something less than frank in the nose (cooked, dampness?). After more time in the glass (I used a new-bought Spiegelau imitation of the Riedel Extreme Cabernet glass) I would say the suspicion disappeared, but also my helping
Id give it a rating of 88 with a minor reservation about its supermarket origin.
Rosemount SHOW RESERVE McLaren Vale Shiraz 1997
The darling of the more impressionable, this textbook shiraz and its McLaren chocolatiness appealed to all, and we even cheated some of the compulsive smokers (who left the room every now and then), pouring for them the rests of the previous wine instead of this. The fact that nobody objected suggests we did right. Id have appreciated a trifle more concentration for its $27 price (I carried this all the way from Germany a year ago), but it fulfilled its mission, which was of course to appear somewhere later than the Priorat and inspire comparison. 88.
LEDA VIÑAS VIEJAS 1999
Meant to be the Queen of the nigh, even in spite of the unfair schedule and context of meaty, approachable reds. I have already praised the many virtues of this wine in the Spanish Event thread, but a glassful of it begs for a double somersault. We probably wasted much of it by positioning it as the seventh wine, fifth red, in a night of empty spittoon, but suffice to say I dont repent having paid $43 for it
and shared it. My weakness for the Mediterranean varieties/slate soil leads me to rate the Priorat higher, but do I recognize a beauty when I see one
For the sweet/fortified stuff I returned to the white wine glass (shaped as Riedel 416/15):
Jumilla Monastrell Dulce Tinto OLIVARES 1998
WOW, period. I had not tried this late-harvest sweet red for two years, but I loved it then and loved it on Saturday even more. For this I offered the option of Stilton &/or Valrhona Guanaja 70% dark chocolate. Needless to say I tried both in that order, and the combination was masterful: black- & raspberries and black olives in a sweet earthy mouthful of velvety wine. Absolutely hedonistic, not ashamed to admit I opened a 75 cl. bottle and only brought a 50 cl. bottle to the tasting, so that the folks at home could have a try (which they enjoyed immensely). From monastrell vines over 100 years old. 92 (RP91, I think).
Williams & Humbert DOS CORTADOS Oloroso Sherry
With the same food pairing but a 70% Lindt chocolate. A bit too old and aggressive in the mouth, but the hypnotic nose had me holding the glass for the last two hours of the evening. I opened a tin of smoked tuna fillets and it went absurdly well with the slight pungency of the oloroso. See the 1964 Fondillón thread for a more approachable alternative. 87.
[ 07-02-2002, 03:42 AM: Message edited by: Gastronauta ]