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Gigondas 'Hautes Garrigues'..... Torre Muga, Rioja.....


An extraordinary Friday night dinner for six people at our home.
Dorit has done wonders with the food, and the wines (though not from my usual 'line') were exceptionally good.
A super evening of fine wine, food and company that stretched deep into the small hours of the night.

Appetizer: Baked halved Cherry tomatoes stuffed with quail-eggs yolk
Veal brains on a bed of apple slices with lemon fluff
1995 Gigondas 'Hautes Garrigues', Santa Duc
Seafood Paella
1994 Rioja Reserva, Torre Muga
Blackcurrant Pie

Every dish was a masterpiece in both taste and looks, as were the moderately priced wines that outperformed many that cost double or more. A most enjoyable evening in every respect.

Gigondas 'Hautes Garrigues' 1995 Santa Duc

4/99. Acquired at auction Oct-98 for $55 (imported for $75 net).
My first taste of this particular wine from the South Rhone appellation of Gigondas. According to the label, it is made in small quantities and only on special years.
COLOR: Extremely dark violet red, almost opaque. Very slight clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Absolutely stunning! A beautiful melange of blacks fruits, flowers and spices, with deep rich and totally captivating multi-varietal aromas. In a blind tasting I could easily be fooled to think this is a top-vintage 'Beaucastel'...
TASTE: A giant wine on the palate. Again, reminded me of a top Chateauneuf du Papes, but with a stronger grip and even a wider spectrum of flavors. Multi-layered, complex and immensely satisfying. Abundant tannins are still there though they are soft and palpable. Don't know how, but it went beautifully with the delicate brains dish.
LENGTH: Simply never ending. Although the tannins do give a slight feel of dryness at the finish, the aftertaste somehow manages to leave the palate with sweetish touch.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: A huge wine in every respect. Extremely well endowed yet so finely balanced as to hint at reserves rather than overflow. Fantastic grip and structure with plenty of finesse and round edges. Still very young on its maturity curve it is an immense pleasure to drink now but will yet improve.
OVERALL: Superb-plus! I have no doubt that in a few years, when some of the tannins will subside, this wine has the potential to become one of the greatest Rhones available.
MARK: 18.5/20.BUY MORE? Yes.

Rioja 'Reserva' 1994 Torre Muga

4/99. Acquired from TCWC Feb-99 for $39 (imported for $59 net).
Two different people recommended this wine (as well as Mr. Parker) as among the finest modern Riojas.
COLOR: Pretty deep red, though not as opaque as the Gigondas.
NOSE: If I could have erred by guessing the first wine to be a top CdP [which is after all very close to Gigondas], this Rioja wine I could easily mistake by its nose to be an excellent Bordeaux, perhaps with some Italian influence. More red fruit aromas with some dusty, cigar-box notes. Complex, relatively forward and very pleasing.
TASTE: Again, a different set of flavors. This is more fine but less masculine than the Gigondas, though equally tasty and satisfying. Excellent concentration with softer tannins and somewhat more accentuated acidity. The natural accompaniment to the paella I guess, but they really matched beautifully.
LENGTH: Moderately long and pleasing aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied wine with excellent winyness and very fine balance. Less extravagant then the Gigondas, yet rich, elegant and multi-dimensional. Very drinkable now though will hold and develop.
OVERALL: Superb! A wonderful Rioja with plenty of personality. It would be a hard task for any wine to follow the Hautes Garrigues act, but this fine Rioja did that with honor.
MARK: 18/20.BUY MORE? Yes.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.