Preparando per il Grande Viaggio

Saying goodbye, if only for a little while (in this case 3 months), is every bit as important a part of preparing for a trip as making a packing list. In my case (as with others, I’m sure) it means spending time with friends and family each weekend before I actually depart. It also means a lot of great wine (and food!), and this weekend was no exception.

It’s my experience that wine lovers are generous by nature. They get that wine is meant to be shared, a social glue, if you will, that holds us together and bonds us in fraternity. And true to form, my friends (at dinner parties or organized, themed tastings) have opened some very memorable bottles, made even more memorable by the company in which they were shared. This isn’t meant to be a (bragging) “list of labels”, but rather an accounting on my part of the moments that lead up to my departure, and the very good-natured generosity of all involved.

Beginning with most recent first:

1997 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon Byron’s bottle, tasted single-blind. This  pop-n-pour started out as tell-tale Californian (i.e. Napa) in style, but, to its credit and to the amazement of several at the table, it moved firmly and decisively into the Medoc with only 10 minutes in the glass. In pristine condition, this bottle showed none of the heat/(over) ripeness of the vintage, preferring instead to offer up brilliant structure and class.

1996 Château Lafon-Rochet Patrick’s bottle, tasted single-blind and double-decanted several hours prior to tasting. A fully mature claret that offers up an attractive, savory nose, and a medium-bodied build with very fine, lingering tannins. Depending on what one prefers, this wine’s best days are already behind it, or it’s already in the thick of it tertiary plateau.

1995 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Steve’s bottle, tasted single-blind, this was double-decanted for 2 hours; minimal sediment. Served a bit too cold at first, this one came out of nowhere as it warmed, the nose building like a fireworks display becoming more and more grand with each passing 15 minutes in the glass. Where this really shined, for me, was at the 4-hour (open) mark; noble, poised, and classy, this has a solid future. A lovely claret.

1992 Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon this was my contribution to the tasting, double-decanted for one hour, served single-blind 5 hours later. This must have really been a bruiser on release, because the color shows little age whatsoever; the build/structure is the same, this is going to be a very long-lived, deeply expressive wine. I was not able to guess this as my wine, I was somewhere between Graves and St. Julien. Many fine years left.

2001 Yarra Yering Dry Red N°2 another bottle from my cellar, and a mistake on my part as I thought I grabbed the Dry Red N°1, a Bordeaux blend, but instead grabbed the Rhone blend (i.e.N°2). Oops. Yes, it stuck out like a (VERY!) sore thumb at our blind tasting of Cab Sauv-based wines, but was in pristine condition and went marvelously with the lamb loin dish. Double decanted for 4 hours prior, this has another 8-10 years of solid drinking yet ahead.

2010 Marc Hébrart Champagne Spécial Club 1er Cru my first time with this producer, but I really hope it’s not my last. Full of class and exquisite balance, this young wine shows excellent prospects for further cellaring, though it rewards now with deftly chiseled cuts of chalk, stone, orchard fruit and the a delicate blanket of brioche-like toast. Lovely, long.

2001 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese Patrick’s bottle, served double-blind; pop-n-pour. Absolutely lovely, full of orange rinds, crisp orchard fruits and red apples all splayed on a bed of fine minerals and earth. Gorgeous texture,  with such a fine interplay of acids and sweet, golden fruits. I guessed Mosel, 2002 (this wasn’t quite as nervy as I would have expected from an ’01), Spatlese. Riesling, I love you!

In addition to the above, the weekend’s festivities included bottles of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from Valle Reale, Paolo Bea’s 2007 Sagrantino di Montefalco Pagliaro, Friulian white, Falanghina from Feudi di San Gregorio, 2001 Barolo Riserva (forgot to catch the name), 2007 Monfalletto Barolo from Cordero, 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape from Tardieu-Laurent, , rosé  bubbles from Delamotte, and many, many more.

Now, back to planning. On today’s agenda is figuring out my visits/appt times in Trapani, Marsala and Vittoria. Tomorrow I’ll work on pinning down my visits on Etna, and reach out to fellow New Yorkers that are wintering in Sicily this year – maybe we can meet for a glass, or two!

My rental car (out of Trapani) is with EuropCar and is very reasonable at ~ $225 for 10 days (probably the same cost as the tolls!!)

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