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Pesquera 'Janus'..... L'Ermita..... Vega Sicilia..... Dolc de L'Obac.....


Less than a week after the fabulous Millennium Night we found ourselves again at Roshfeld's... This time for an intimate dinner for six, set around the finest wines of Spain.
If I may be considered a Burgundy nut par excellence, Eli Shoshani [whom I first met in person tonight] is certainly my counterpart where Spanish wines are concerned. His obvious love and deep knowledge are only matched by his boundless generosity and willing to share those Spanish marvels.
Thank you Eli and David and Roni and Gilli for proving such a delightful company, and double thanks to Eli for providing these rare treasures for us to enjoy.
Whatever little experience I've had with Spanish wines was pretty much limited to Rioja. We drank four fantastic wines tonight, none of which was Rioja...

Roshfeld and his crew, who were informed of the 'theme' a few days before, prepared a special delicious dinner around these wines.

Quail's egg with parmesan and eggplant puree
Crab 'capuccino'
Tio Pepe dry sherry
Ballottine of grilled tuna with mushrooms and essence of red wine
1991 Pesquera "Janus" - Gran Reserva, Alejandro Fernandez (Duero)
Foie Gras in golden apples, red wine sauce and lemon confit
1995 L'Ermita, Alvaro Palacios (Priorat)
Ribs of suckling lamb on a bed of black lentils and pomegranate
1968 Vega Sicilia "Unico"
Assortment of blue cheese
Passion-fruit sorbets, marrons, croquants, chocolate truffles, etc.
1995 Dolc de L'Obac - Late Harvest (Priorat)

Pesquera 'Janus' Gran Reserva 1991 Alejandro Fernandez

1/2000. Market Price about $140.
Made from 100% Tinto Fino (a clone of Tempranillo) in the Ribera del Duero, not far from Vega Sicilia. The "Janus" is a special cuvee made only in extraordinary vintages.
This wine was inadvertently opened [too] long in advance.
COLOR: Medium ruby color, a bit faded around the rim.
NOSE: Completely open and forward. Very elegant black fruit and some soft oak tones. For the first hour or so nose was extremely pleasant though not immense. After that it lost all that it had [remember, the bottle was opened four hours before we got to it!].
TASTE: Very very smooth and pleasant. Complex but forward and accessible flavors. Good concentration, winyness and excellent acidity. A bit soft and spineless though.
LENGTH: Medium long aftertaste that is more acidic than winey.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-light body, silky smooth texture. Good stuffing and balance but a bit of a feeble constitution.
OVERALL: Excellent. I have little doubt that this wine would have been much better with one hour of aeration instead of four...
MARK: 18/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

L'Ermita 1995 Alvaro Palacios

1/2000. Market price about $280.
I understand this wine comes [in tiny quantities] from a superb modern boutique winery in the Priorat region in Catalonia. It is a highly touted wine made of 80% Granacha, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Carinena
COLOR: Really dark and opaque color. No hint of clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Boom! A bomb just blew in my nose. My first impression was of a blockbuster clone of a Chateauneuf du Pape. A myriad of spices and sweet fruit mixed with pronounced vanilla, licorice and other wood elements. An explosive nose that leaves little doubt as to the character of this shy little fellow...
TASTE: Yet another wow! A huge wine on the palate. Tsunami waves of fruit, alcohol, great acidity, round but ever-present tannins. This monster fills the mouth in the most simple sense of the word. Like a California fruit bomb only with a much wider spectrum of flavors. Super-duper!
TEXTURE & BALANCE: A true blockbuster in every respect. From the alcohol mouth-heat to the rich winyness, to the clean fruit and the fantastic grip and structure. Great balance in a super-endowed wine. However, this wine could [and should] have been more elegant. I believe it is the very huge nature of the wine that detracts a little in this department.
OVERALL: Extraordinary!! A little less of everything would have made it a serious candidate for a perfect score.
MARK: 19.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes (though not for this price).

Vega Sicilia "Unico" 1968 Vega Sicilia

1/2000. Market price about $350.
I've only had the Vega Sicilia 1970 and 1981. The '68 is something most people can only dream about... In a recent survey for "The best wine of the millennium" three wine experts cited this to be the best wine they ever had.
COLOR: This is a 32 years old wine? You must be joking. Full deep-purple color with no hint of fading. Even after being open for four hours.
NOSE: A beautiful melange of black forest fruits and sweet dried-prunes, added bouquet of highly integrated wood tones, and a very thin blanket of something very special. This enveloping aroma reminded me of refined truffles. I could have sniffed this wine for hours on end.
TASTE: Simply amazing. The sweet and harmonious fruit fills the mouth with layer after layer of complex flavors. Youthful vigor(!), superb grip and unimaginable grace all combine to create a wonderful sensation on the palate.
LENGTH: Medium long but delightful aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-full bodied and fine textured wine. Not only this wine doesn't look or smell or taste like a 32 years old bugger. It doesn't feel so either. Its feels freshly at its prime with measured acidity and soft receding tannins to give perfect balance to the noble fruit and winyness.
OVERALL: Divine!!! A real "Unico" experience. I cannot imagine this wine getting any better than it is now. So drink yours up guys :).
MARK: 20/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes (if I could afford it).

Dolc de L'Obac "Late Harvest" 1995 Costers del Siurana

1/2000. Market price about $80 (if you can get one that is...)
A natural (non-sweetened, non-fortified] red dessert wine is a rare bird anytime. I am not even sure I ever tasted one.
Now this Dolc de L'Obac "Late Harvest", our last wine for the evening, appears to be really scarce. Less than 1000 bottles are produced annually... Can you think of a sweet rendition of a cross between north and south Rhone wine?
Mostly Granacha with about 10% each of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, this curious wine, like the Ermita, comes from the Priorat region in Catalonia.
COLOR: Full dense ruby red.
NOSE: Beautiful mix of ripe black fruit, spices and wood notes. Very rich, even luxurious. With fine spectrum of aromas, the nose hints at sweetness but is not in the least syrupy or jammy.
TASTE: Sweet, but not as sweet as sauternes. I'd say three-quarters of the way between demi-sec and a sauternes or SGN. Extremely concentrated and truly mouth-filling. Silky and smooth with plenty of winyness. Pleasant acidity and even discernible tannins. Yielding though still has something in reserve. Exquisite flavors and mouth feel. Super!
LENGTH: Very very long and persistent aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied is an understatement. I don't know its exact alcohol contents, but I guess it is above 15%. Full bodied but never hot or heavy. Excellent acidity to balance off the dense sweet fruit, the alcohol and the tannins [who ever heard of a tannic sweet wine???].
OVERALL: Outstanding! This wine is much more than a curiosity. A very special, stylish and delicious wine.
MARK: 19/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.