Last night was definitely one of the more markedly wine geek evenings I have spent in a while. I'll go over what was in the glass; keep in mind that, for any of you who haven't done this before, these are not full glasses of each of these that are being downed. Far from it. A 1 oz taste of one thing, maybe another 1 oz if it's good (or more if it's killer), and move on to the next wine, an so on. Hanging out with the geek crowd can be alternately educational, entertaining and wearisome; perhaps most importantly for me, it almost always is a great way to taste a lot of wine that I otherwise might not have had the opportunity to taste.
The evening started in the Berkeley Hills, in an artist's beautiful home. Ariel is a gracious host, as well as an incredibly talented, very sharp and young at heart 80 year old widow. Her deceased husband was one of the nation's foremost William Butler Yeats scholars, as well as a friend of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, et al. Our discussion was lively and animated, running the gamut from the New York Times op-ed, to FDR's oratory, to the peculiar place that is California (more specifically the bay area)and its correspondingly peculiar mindset. I will forego the details and cut to the chase with the wines.
1998 Stefano Antonucci Verdicchio de Casteli Jesi
Definitely one to drink now, but not at all over the hill. Green fruit flavors, melon rind, and a bit of a lingering light, toasty aftertaste. This is still reasonably lively and tasty verdicchio. Fun.
2004 Puffeney Poulsard Arbois
Bright, nervy poulsard, with tiny berry fruit. Edgier than Tissot's, but slightly less interesting than the '02 Overnoy/Houillon Poulsard I enjoyed last year.
1999 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva
This wine has yet to disappoint. Red fruited, spicy and Chambolle-like, in a plusher, softer, garnacha influenced Rioja sort of way. Superbueno; the wine also complemented our braised cornish game hens beautifully.
2002 Francois Chidaine Montlouis 'Clos Habert'
A decidely drier version of this wine than to which I am accustomed. Beautiful chenin that to my taste is already showing some good development, complexity and integration of yellow stone fruits, mineral and pronounced, though mellowing, acidity. Gorgeous wine that should have many interesting years and stages ahead of it. This and the rectangular version of crotin de chavignol after dinner was awesome - the pairing of the night.
Now we change scenes and head to Terroir, where both the geek wines, and wine geek star power (co-workers Jeff Viera and Chiara Shannon, SFJoe, the famed wine forum and blog poster, and of course Guillhaume, Dagan and Luc) shifted into high gear:
2005 Domaine de Bellevieres Pineau d'Aunis
This is much more interesting and balanced than when I last tasted it 6 or so months ago. Smells like fresh rain on stones, with earthy berry fruits and less of a resiny quality than last time I tasted. Really good (Hey Bklynguy - give it another try some time).
1989 Jasmin Cote Rotie
Like the roasted slope of this wine's name sake, this stuff tasted...roasted. Very ripe, savory, hickory smoked cherry fruit that seemed to be on its way to drying out. Not enough acidity for my taste either. I'll admit to lack of experience with Cote Rotie young and old, but so far no luck with these wines.
1992 Jasmin Cote Rotie
This was not as evolved or smokey as the above, but it also lacked some mid-palate depth and just wasn't doing it.
2002 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso
Very woodsy, wild blackberry and other mixed berry fruits. This Umbrian blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Sagrantino is powerful and full flavored, though not lacking in purity or nuance either. A bit earthy, with a hint of cocoa powder on the finish. Very good.
2001 Riserva La Gatta Valtellina Superiore
This was solid nebbiolo. As Dagan, said nebbiolo for burgundy fans. I can't remember more specifics, other than the fact that the wine was balanced, persistent and tasty. Not a stunner, just very respectable.
SF Joe's 1980 Vouvray
I didn't catch the producer or the obscure circumstances of this wine's history. Maybe someone who was there could remind me (or someone not there familiar with Vouvray could posit a guess)? All I remember is that the acidity could really fuck up a fragile stomach. Razor sharp, blindingly bright, white light/white heat white wine.