Our dinner group met for an exceptionally stellar evening recently, this time at one of our favourite Santa Barbara Italian restaurants, Ca Dario. The obvious wine theme was top tier Italian reds along with the usual request for champagne and white Burgundy. This was one of our most glorious evenings as 9 members of our esteemed group hugely obliged also “as usual”.
Here`s another “as usual”. We ordered numerous appetisers to share around the table prior to each one`s own entree selection. [That`s kind of an inside joke for many of us]
NV BILLECART-SALMON BRUT ROSE- this was the 2nd bottle from a recently purchased 6 pack and now I can state I`m finding a house style change in that the previous “as usual” mildly fruity and more feminine profile [for the past 15+ years] has been upgraded to a richer and more expressive version of red raspberry, strawberry and red cherry; even the body is bigger and all of this comes within a semblance of balance and a longer stay on the palate; I ordered another 6 pack when I got home.
1996 VEUVE CLIQUOT LA GRANDE DAME- immediate oxidative notes jump out of the glass; what followed was a somewhat nutty, caramel and butterscotch profile; this is at least the 4th 96` LGD we`ve had in the past year or so that has been off and all came from different sources.
2012 MALAT #1 GRUNER VELTLINER GOTTSCHELLE RESERVE KREMSTAL AUSTRIA- fantastic; it was smooth and creamy and contained wondrous spicy peach, pear, apple, lemon and a hint of caramel and honeysuckle along with a touch of minerality; this is the 2nd time I`ve had this in the last few months and it is the bomb and a great QPR at that.
This next wine was served in a brown bag and after a nose and first taste, it was readily apparent to most what this was as other vintages have been brought numerous times over the years:
2012 MARCASSIN ESTATE SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY- just been released and having arrived today from the winery, our proud procurer just had to share this controversial wine that some of our group loves and others detest; since it is made with 100% new oak and 100% heavy toast, it has on occasion been too much and out of balance IMHO; this bottle seemed to be much more integrated and approachable giving honeyed lemon, lime, pear and green apple notes with a hint of menthol coming in late; as usual, it had a viscous texture, bracing acidity and a long hang time on the palate.
2014 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY EN REMILLY ST. AUBIN 1ER CRU- here`s that “as usual” again in that this has been a consistent winner and crowd pleaser after many bottles and over many vintages; at first, a heavy hit of sulphur almost caused a whiplash, but after some time, it let up and we could get into the goodies; minerals, wet stone and flint was wrapped around green apple, pear and the more prevalent lemon zest; we`ve had better bottles so this was not “as usual”.
2007 MARCHESI di GRESY CAMP GROS MARTINENGA BARBARESCO- just to remind me of how much I like Barbaresco, this came around; lovely inviting floral and fruity notes are introduced in the nose followed by fresh spicy wild red raspberry and red cherry delivered in a medium bodied texture; it was so elegant and easy on the palate and even with a table full of remaining wines to pour, I went back for seconds and maybe a thrid.
2008 BROVIA ca mia BAROLO- this was very pleasing graciously giving nice liquorice and spicy plum and black currant notes; it was medium to full bodied, had a silky mouthfeel and a degree of finesse inside a more powerful shell; loved it.
2001 PAOLO SCAVINO CANNUBI BAROLO- from a recent purchase of many Barolos with a concern about righteous provenance, I was happy to find this was an exceptional bottle; it generously gave minty cranberry, black cherry and plum notes carried in a silky texture all the way to the back end; it was in perfect balance and soooo good now with a long life span ahead.
2001 GIUSEPPE RINALDI BRUNATE-LE-COSTE BAROLO- as announced by the one who brought it, it had obvious volatile acidity in the nose; fortunately, there was some redeeming qualities in that it had nice cinnamon, liquorice and spicy red cherry flavours.
2010 DOMENICO CLERICO PERCRISTINA BAROLO- wonderfully balanced, this was really delightful offering nice red and black raspberry fruit accented with violets, rose petals and allspice; one mentioned this had gone from being extremely tannic to nicely integrated which is exactly what I found; there`s no doubt, it has an underlying structure to hold this up for the long run.
2007 BASTIANICH CALABRONE COLLI ORIENTALI del FRIULI- another dose of VA in the nose here, followed by nice red, black and blue fruit notes with some leather and dark chocolate accents coming in by mid palate; it`s full bodied with layers of complexity and held on for a long, sustained finish.
2004 FONTODI FLACCIANCELLO della PIEVE TOSCANA- superb wine here with so much going on and unfolding with layers of new and exciting nuances from the nose through the tail; there was a bounty of spicy, liquorice laden black currant to compliment it`s incredible mouthfeel; I`m searching for the right superlatives to use; I`ll leave it that this wine merits a raving review.
2006 TENUTA dell `ORNELLAIA MASSETO TOSCANA- OMG, after the Flaccianello, comes this; it was even better than the last 06` we had of this wondrous, youthful, vibrant, powerful and finesseful beauty; this is Merlot at its best with full, rich flavours and that signature velvety texture; it actually expanded in the glass with more and more flavours ascending to the top like cream in milk; I`m thinking, I`ve been blessed to have many Masseto and maybe this one is the best yet; need I say which wine gets my vote for WOTN and we still have 4 more to go and the Flaccianello, Percristina, Scavinno, Brovia and even the Barbaresco were so unbelievably good.
2000 DAL FORNO ROMANO AMARONE della VALPOLICELLA- OK, I pinched myself to make sure this evening was not just the dream of a lifetime; I`m going WOW then WOW the entire night; this was actually an atypical Amarone as I know them to be in that it was void of the high alcohol, intense, concentrated dried raison notes in favour of really nice, mild plum, blackberry and black cherry along with some dark chocolate and a hint of black pepper; it was in perfect balance and held a steady and even course throughout; even the texture seemed atypical or should I say not “as usual” as it was more lighter weighted giving the wine more of a statement of elegance; whether typical or not, this was sooo pleasing and easy on the palate. What`s next?
2001 TOMMASO BUSSOLA TB RECIOTO dell VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO- OK, I got my raison fix here as this had sweetened and chocolate laden raison, prune and blackberry served up in a thick, syrupy texture requiring a mouthwash afterwards as well as a hot water rinse for the wine glass; it was really less intense and more pleasing and easier to sip than I expected it to be.
2004 DAL FORNO RAMOANO VIGNA O`SERE RUSSO UNO DOLEE VENETO- 375 ml; the first hit is coffee, then some super ripe cranberry and black cherry comes in followed by raisons and sweet red cherry mindful of a Smith Brothers Cough Drops from a long tie ago; it was definitely dessert in liquid form.
I remain so grateful for the generosity and fellowship of our dinner group. I already have the calendar marked for the next evening planned, “as usual”.