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Clos Windsbuhl..... Alion..... Gigondas..... Brunello.....


Yesterday we celebrated (together with our friends Nitza and Eldad) Migri's & Pietro's 40th birthday (both of them!). Dorit made a delicious dinner for the six of us, which was accompanied by an array of fine, diverse and interesting wines.
As our guest left after 3 am, I allow myself to assume the evening was not a total flop... :)

Fresh seafood risotto
1995 Pinot Gris 'Clos Windsbuhl', Zind-Humbrecht
Chestnut soup
1994 Alion, Vega Sicilia
Duck in Shiraz
1995 Gigondas 'Les Hautes Garrigues', Santa Duc
Assortment of cheese
1983 Brunello di Montalcino, Biondi Santi
Chocolate mousse with whipped cream and chopped almonds

Pinot Gris 'Clos Windsbuhl 1995 Zind-Humbrecht

2/2000. Bought at auction, Nov-97 for $65.
Lately I find myself more and more tasting and enjoying Zind-Humbrecht's wines, especially his single-vineyard Grand Crus. They are so opulent and massive it is hard to resist these nectars, even though they are far away in style from the fruity-but-bone-dry Alsatian wines I truly love.
COLOR: Full blown golden yellow. The looks alone promise a concentrated viscous wine.
NOSE: Irresistibly wonderful! Full-fledged vineyard on the nose, accented white fruit elements, mineral tones and the ever-present honey nuances so much associated with Alsatian Pinot Gris.
TASTE: Even the lesser wine buffs among us did not stop praising this one. Luxuriously mouth-filling, fat and viscous. Extremely rich to the point of not being dry. This full and complete wine was an excellent accompaniment to the delicious seafood risotto.
LENGTH: The aftertaste here is long and intense as sipping the wine itself.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: A delicate blockbuster (an oxymoron?). Rich and concentrated, with a beautiful balance that makes it an ideal match for almost any kind of food [OK, OK, not to a rare beef steak... but I would enjoy it with beef in oyster sauce for example].
OVERALL: Superb! A giant wine at its absolute peak now.
MARK: 18.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

Bodega Alion 1994 Vega Sicilia

2/2000. A present from a dear and generous friend.
Another step forward on my education road to modern world-class Spanish wines. This wine from the Duero region is made by the celebrated Vega Sicilia wineries.
COLOR: Young looking red ruby color with hardly any clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Spectacular! Very "Spanish" (i.e Tempranillo) aromas mingled with black forest-fruit, sweetish plums, spices, coffee and wood. Noticeable oak but nothing to over-shadow the multi-dimensional aspects of the bouquet.
TASTE: Very impressive and extremely tasty. Stylish, expressive wine that has everything in abundance. From the sweet fruit through the core of winyness to the fantastic grip and the refreshing acidity. Vigorous and youthful, almost untamed. Fantastic!
As I never tasted it before, I thought this will be a nice serene wine to accompany the tasty but not-too-poignant chestnut soup. Boy was I wrong about both! Both were great but neither was tame...
LENGTH: Long and complex aftertaste that lingers.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied, complex and wild. Beautifully balanced though needs a few more years to totally integrate and calm down a bit.
OVERALL: Outstanding!! A really serious wine that is a pleasure to drink now but will get even better in a couple of years.
MARK: 19/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

Gigondas 'Les Hautes Garrigues' 1995 Santa Duc

2/2000. Bought in auction Oct-98 for $55.
I have had this wine about a year ago and enjoyed it tremendously. Will it follow the class act of the previous two wines we already had tonight?
COLOR: Extremely dark and opaque. Hardly any clearing towards the rim.
NOSE: Very good nose if somewhat subdued compared to the Alion. Fruity, spicy and complex. But much more withdrawn than I remember it.
TASTE: Tasty and multi-flavored, but similarly to the nose - less mouth-filling than I recall. Good fruity attack, very nice focus, a bit dried up and hollow on the mid-palate but very nice sweetish finish. Can it be that our palates where so overwhelmed by the previous wine that this fine wine almost disappointed? Or did we catch it in its hibernation phase?
LENGTH: Long and persistent aftertaste lead me this wine will come back to its own in a few years.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-full body with long 'legs' on the glass attesting to the wine's fatness. Good complexity and discernible fruit and winyness, but this is not the Hautes Garrigues I had a year ago!
OVERALL: Fine at least, but obviously not the multi-sensorial attacker we had last year. I am pretty sure this wine will open up again in the future. Glad I have two more bottles.
MARK: 17.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Maybe.

Brunello di Montalcino 1983 Biondi Santi

2/2000. Pietro brought this wine. He recently bought it in Napoli.
There aren't many more revered producers of Italian wines than Biondi Santi. Their wines are known for their longevity and I have read quite a few accounts of how still great are 19th century Brunellos.
COLOR: Orange red shades that showed beautiful and different hues when played against the light.
NOSE: Hmm... Alcohol, sherry-port-madeira tones, you know the kind... Complex nose completely devoid of fruit. Even secondary aromas were not obvious. Just an old wine... Pity.
TASTE: Velvety silky on the palate. Faultless yet not really impressive. Somewhat dried-up though very smooth. Not an objectionable flavor on the taste buds, and neither a simple wine in any respect. Yet, this is not how I perceived a 17-years Brunello from Biondi Santi.
LENGTH: Medium-long aftertaste, that was more alcoholic than anything else.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: A little feeble in body yet aristocratic in its texture and stance. Hard to speak of balance when there is little to balance the alcohol with.
OVERALL: There is no doubt in my mind that this specific bottle was kept under horrible conditions for sometime during its long life before it got to that shop in Napoli. What a shame.
MARK: 17/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? No.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.