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Hermitage 'Vin de Paille'..... Ch. Cos d'Estournel..... Romanee-St. Vivant..... Graham Vintage Port.....


A sumptuous Friday night dinner for six at our home. For our best friends: Amihai & Daphna and Oded & Nitza, Dorit really outdid herself this time! One of the best dinners I ever had (Michelin 3-stars restaurants included!).
Feeling especially generous, I opted for an impressive array of wines to see us through the delicious meal...

Goose liver with fresh figs. Hot & sweetish fig sauce
1990 Hermitage 'Vin de Paille', Chapoutier
Exotic Mushrooms Soup
1982 Chateau Cos d'Estournel
Roasted Veal in light Anchovy sauce and 'Salsa Verde'
1989 Romanee-St. Vivant, D.R.C
Cheese Plate
'Pavlova' Meringue
1966 Vintage Port, Graham

Hermitage 'Vin de Paille' 1990 Chapoutier

5/98. Bought in auction September-97 for $70 per 375 cc (Imported for $89 net).
My first taste of this rare dessert wine. According to Michel Chapoutier, the grapes from which this wine is made are left to dry on a bed of straw for more than two months in open wooden boxes. There are only 270 cases of this nectar so produced each year.
COLOR: Dark, thick, deep red-gold. Hard to believe this is made of white grapes. As my friend Amihai observed, the wine looked like a 'Blanc de Noir', on the verge of being called Rose.
NOSE: Hypnotizing! Extremely enticing and complex bouquet. Aromas of figs, apples, wet almonds and a horde of other elements, all wrapped in a thin, very tender, veil of Sherry-like nose.
TASTE: Simply divine! A mouth-filling multi-layered nectar that plays a complex step dance with every single taste bud. Sweet of course, but so full of vigor and personality that the sweetness merely serves to enrich the multitude of flavors. Together with the chili-infused fig sauce and the sauteed goose liver, created an unparalleled harmony on the palate.
LENGTH: Unbelievably long aftertaste. Powerfully reverberating in the mouth with simply no end.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied, extremely dense. Could almost be served as food. Great structure. Immense structure yet fantastic finesse. Not a bit cloying. Superbly balanced.
OVERALL: Extraordinary!! An unforgettable experience. This wine will easily last for ages.
MARK: 19/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

Ch. Cos d'Estournel 1982 St. Estephe

5/98. Acquired in auction December-95 for $100 (imported from Chicago for $110 net).
The 1982 (which I have not tasted before) is considered by many to be one of the best Cos d'Estournels ever. Well, I can only report what we tasted...
First, let me say that the bottle looked in pristine condition. The ullage was up in the neck, the cork needed some force to come out, and came out intact. The cork smelled good and the wine itself smelled even better. We opened the bottle about half an hour before we first tasted it. We kept tasting the wine for about two hours.
COLOR: Beautiful color. Dark, opaque purple-red with hardly any clearing around the rim. Very noticeable 'legs' on the glass hinted at a fat and luscious wine.
NOSE: Very deep very complex nose that became more and more delicious as time went on. A mix of both fresh and mature elements. Cigar box, leather, pencil tip - the whole 'Bordeaux Nose' portfolio. Together with sweet dark prunes, cassis, and even flowers.
TASTE: Simply put - disappointing. The looks and the nose of the wine (not to mention the wine's reputation) made us all anticipate an excellent wine at the very least. Nada. As watered down and diluted liquid as I've ever encountered. No body, no fruit and most of all - no winyness...
This of course shocked us all so we questioned ourselves and each other again and again. The verdict was unanimous. We thought perhaps we didn't give the wine enough time, so we checked it back again every ten minutes or so for about two hours. The wine did improve, but only marginally so. The wine didn't taste tainted, and the clean and beautiful nose precluded the bottle being corked.
LENGTH: There was no initial taste there, let alone an aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Beautiful texture but no body. No acidity, no fruit, just alcohol with some tannins.
OVERALL: One of the most disappointing wines I can remember. I have no reference to judge it by, so if the whole world says this is a great wine I must conclude 'bottle variation' must be blamed. Again, it looked great, it smelled great, it had a velvety texture, a healthy looking cork. It just didn't have any taste...
MARK: 15/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? No.

Romanee-St. Vivant 1989 D.R.C

5/98. Acquired in auction December-96 for $135 (imported from Chicago for $160 net).
It is not often that I get to taste a wine from the Domaine de la Romanee Conti. This Grand Cru vineyard, together with Grands Echezeaux, are my favorite Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru (yes, I know, your favorites are Romanee Conti, La Tache and Richebourg. Just give me a chance and you'll see how quick I'll convert...). The 1989 vintage is considered especially successful for D.R.C Romanee-St. Vivant
COLOR: Palish brick red, some clearing towards the rim. Not translucent at all, even a bit murky.
NOSE: Powerful and enticing complex nose. Fresh cherries, exotic spices and the most beautiful 'Bourgogne Nose' forced me (and everyone else) to dip my nose into the glass again and again. The sort of wine one would pay to smell only :)
TASTE: Now this is a wine to taste!. All that was lacking in the Cos d'Estournel was found here in abundance. Fruit, acidity, concentration, winyness. Delicate and complex with underlying firm structure. A fantastic accompaniment to the multi-flavored veal dish.
LENGTH: Long and flavorful aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied (B). Rich expensive texture, plenty of fruit, very good acidity, mouthfilling winyness, soft receding tannins. A touch lacking in harmony yet exquisitely balanced.
OVERALL: Superb-plus! Though the wine is fantastic and ready to be enjoyed, I think it may blend together even more given a few more years.
MARK: 18.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? yes.

Vintage Port 1966 Graham

5/98. Acquired in May-97 for $110 (imported from for $120 net).
I am not a Port man. Not that I don't like it, I just don't get to taste many.
We decanted the port three-four hours in advance. Now, as I write this some 24 hours later, I am enjoying very much some of what was left of it.
COLOR: Dark brooding deep purple. Noticeable clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Deep notes of raisins, chocolate mandarin skin(!) and spices. The nose (but not the taste!) has faded a little in the last 24 hours. Was quite profound yesterday. Very pleasant even now.
TASTE: Quite rich, mouthfilling with plenty of 'meat'. Again, chocolate and even orange flavors. Sweet but not terribly so. Excellent vinous qualities. Perhaps not as great as the '48 Taylor or the '63 Fonseca, but a wonderful pleasure to taste nevertheless.
LENGTH: Relatively long, uncloying aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-full body. Velvet texture, fruit, spices and winyness - all abound. Fully forward with not much in reserve. Superbly balanced. A point!
OVERALL: Superb! A first-class vintage port, utterly enjoyable now.
MARK: 18/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? yes.

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Copyright 1996-2003.
Jacob "Yak" Shaya.