How is it that you can open hundreds of bottles of wine over a few months and not find a single candidate for Wine of the Year.... and then one night, with a juicy, braised leg of lamb, you open several reds – and they are ALL candidates for Wine of the Year!?
In early January, Carol made an aromatic, braised leg of lamb, which we served to visiting Toronto restaurateurs and to local winemaker friends.
For the occasion, I served the impeccable 2001 Antinori Guado al Tasso Bolgheri, which, opened 14 years after harvest, exhibited a harmonious balance of fruit, acid, length, polish, finesse -- and did I say, enjoyment?
Wow. A gawjus beverage filled with coffee notes, herbal underbrush, thyme, blackcurrant and myrtle. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc, in proportions that must have been blended by an archangel, which would explain the sacramental notes and trumpet-y sounds, which the wine inspired.
Also served with the lamb: the 2004 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve which was no less impressive. Also a 97-point wine.
It would be hard to make a Sangiovese-based wine richer, or more perfectly mature.
An elegant, refined, memorable hunk o’ flavors: rich, ripe red fruit, exotic Middle Eastern spices, and a long, lovely, red-inspired , wine-y finish.
Then when our guests clamored for more, I descended to the cellar to pull a rabbit out of the hat – I grabbed a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the 2004 Vieux Telegraphe.
This was a sumptuous mouthfill of wine, with oodles of life, gobs of ripe fruit, a hint of leather, a touch of tar. Sorry, Italianos, this jumped the shark: a 98-point wine experience if ever there were one.
One of my best wines of the year had only been released into the marketplace a week before I tasted it at the winery in Piemonte where it is produced.
Giacomo Conterno produces 5,000 cases of liquid gold, but the top label is Monfortino Riserva, an exquisite Barolo, a blend of angel secretions, and sunlight.
I tasted dozens of Barolos during my visit to Piemonte this past fall, but nothing was in the league of Giacomo Conterno’s Barolos, which were in Barolo country as DRC is to everything else in Burgundy.
The 2008 Monfortino Riserva Barolo was the single best wine I tasted in Italy.
I said it before and reiterate here: If you could have as a gift, a Tesla or a few cases of this 2008 Barolo… you’d be faced with a really hard choice to make.
This is an extremely complex, extremely nuanced, extremely memorable wine. You can’t stuff more Nebbiolo into a Barolo, and you can’t make a wine more addictive. 100 points.
This is the second consecutive year in which the 2004 vintage of this Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine has merited a Best Wine of the Year award.
Last year, a 2004 bottle of Roger Sabon’s Secret des Sabon Chateauneuf-du-Pape was also one of my Top Wines.
The bottle this year was opened on a chilly December evening just a week ago, served with Thanksgiving leftovers. The bottle provided one of the year’s best, most profound, most pleasurable wine experiences.
There’s not a single element missing in this beverage, from the first sip through to the swallow... and it shines harmoniously at all the moments between the attack and finish; there is fruit, harmony, joy, elation, and unctuous pleasure in this wine.
If permitted, I would rate this wine 102 points. But as it stands, given the limitations of the American scoring system, Alain Benquet, the consulting winemaker, will just have to settle for 100 points. Good job, Alain!
May all readers enjoy a hearty holiday ahead with their families; may you enjoy some great wines these next few weeks and well into 2016.
Good cheer and good health to all!