A wonderful Friday night dinner at our friends Eli and Gilly, where we met a new (for us) fun-loving wine buffs - Eldad and Kira.
Gilly, the young and charming wine-chemistry doctorate, prepared a truly amazing dinner, while Eli - who's expertise, generosity and passion for Spanish wines know no bounds - dug deep into his cellar to present fabulous rare wines.
The food was outstanding, the wines were all extremely interesting and tasty, the atmosphere was relaxed and convivial - a truly memorable evening.
Gaspacho with jamon
1996 Chateauneuf du Pape (Blanc), Vieux-Telegraphe
Deep fried shrimps and herbs wrapped in filo pastry (super duper!)
1982 La Rioja Alta 'Gran Reserva' 890
Roast leg of young lamb with winter vegetables
1994 Artadi 'Grandes Anadas', Cosecheros Alvases
1994 Dalmau 'Reserva', Ygay
Assortment of cheese (including wonderful Girolle and Gruyere)
1997 Tignanello, Antinori
Hot chocolate cake with berries sauce
Pedro Ximenez 'Noe' (Muj Viejo), Gonzalez Byass
The wines were all from Eli's eclectic cellar, so I have no idea how much they cost.
|Chateauneuf du Pape (Blanc)
I would never have thought that my first wine from the famous domaine of Vieux-Telegraphe will be a white Chateauneuf du Pape, but here we are...
COLOR: Medium-deep straw-yellow.
NOSE: Nice concentrated nose. Not really explosive, but minerally rich and lightly perfumed with some nutty notes. Very pleasant.
TASTE: Similarly to the nose - more minerally than fruity flavors. Nicely structured and interesting. Somewhat closed on the palate but focused and tasty.
LENGTH: Not particularly long but very consistent from start to finish.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied wine with a solid spinal chord. Lacking somewhat in fruit though not in other interesting flavors. A bit restraint and unyielding, but my very limited experience with white CdP makes it difficult for me to judge whether this wine was too young, too old, or perhaps that is its normal style.
OVERALL: A fine wine. Perhaps not as impressive as Perrin's Beaucastel Blanc "VV", but interesting stylish and full of character.
|MARK: 17.5/20.||BUY MORE? Yes.|
|Rioja 'Gran Reserva' 890
||La Rioja Alta
This is a rare cuvee from the Rioja Alta domain that was last made in 1982... I understand it was only released by the winery a couple of years ago.
COLOR: Medium brick-red with some brownish tinge creeping in.
NOSE: An old Rioja nose. As a matter of fact, an old wine nose with that added airless dusty-room aroma that I sometimes find in Rioja wines. Complex and interesting enough, but obviously passed its peak..
TASTE: Smooth and silky on the palate with pleasant but a bit dried-out fruit. Obviously well bred but already lacking in focus and well into its convergence phase. This wine must have been really good some five years ago, a pity it was not available then...
LENGTH: Medium long and a bit dry aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied with interesting but somewhat faded flavors. Surprisingly it is quite well balanced with measured acidity and very soft tannins.
OVERALL: Very good for sure, but I must confess I find it hard to see the logic of the winery for not releasing this wine (much) earlier.
|MARK: 17/20.||BUY MORE? No.|
|Rioja - Dalmau 'Reserva'
Another very rare cuvee by an old winery that has turned its methods into modern winemaking. The 'Dalmau' is made from very old vines, consisting of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Graciano.
COLOR: Medium dark ruby red, very slight clearing towards the rim.
NOSE: Splendid combination of semi-ripe and well integrated red and black forest-fruits. Multi-dimensional nose with beautiful flowery aromas back-dropped by complimenting touch of wood tones.
TASTE: Fantastic! Fills the mouth and caresses the taste buds incessantly. Not a 'monster' wine, yet very impressive with excellent winyness, a wide spectrum of flavors and a perfect balance. A complex and thoughtful wine that is at the same time lush, slightly sweetish, opulent and extremely tasty. For me at least, this was the wine of the evening.
LENGTH: Very long and reverberating aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied wine with smooth texture and harmonious balance. The excellent fruit is balanced by other, more complex, flavors while the round tannins and the good acidity add backbone and structure to this perfetto.
OVERALL: Outstanding! A truly great wine. At its absolute peak right now though it will last.
|MARK: 19/20.||BUY MORE? Yes.|
|Rioja - Artadi 'Grandes Anadas'
Another 'cult' Rioja that is a product of modern vineyard-tending and winemaking. This one is 100% Tempranillo.
COLOR: Very similar to the Dalmau as we drank them both side-by-side. You couldn't tell them apart by their color.
NOSE: Distinct and profound nose of blackcurrents. If given blind I would have sworn this is a pure Cabernet Sauvignon. Somewhat less multi-dimensional than the Dalmau, though more powerful and more oaky nose.
TASTE: A 'big' wine on the palate. Excellent fruit, but again - more single-flavored than the Dalmau. Vigorously and untamed, at the moment it feels lacking somewhat in finesse. Perhaps it needs a few more years. Still, an excellent and individualistic wine.
LENGTH: Similar to the Dalmau, though perhaps a bit more alcoholic finish.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Fuller-bodied and 'bigger' wine than the Dalmau. Plenty of fresh black fruit, perceived alcohol is high. Strangely enough, after an hour or so in the glass, it lost its vitality and became quite ungainly.
OVERALL: Superb, but not as good as the Dalmau.
|MARK: 18.5/20.||BUY MORE? Yes.|
This must be the youngest fine red wine I ever had. Since they import it now to Israel, Eli opened a bottle so that we can all decide if it is worth acquiring. I rarely drink Italian wines yet funnily enough, just last week I had the fantastic 1988 version and enjoyed it tremendously.
COLOR: Slightly more 'reddish' red than the Riojas. Looking really young (well, it is young!).
NOSE: Surprisingly, an open and fully forward nose of a beautiful melange of berries. So attractive and enticing with its youthful fruit, it was hard to stop sniffing. And remember, this wine came to the table following a serious parade of fine wines.
TASTE: Even more surprisingly, on the palate this Tignanello was not in the least lagging behind the nose. Mouth-filling, multi-flavored and almost completely forward! Ample fruit, wonderful winyness extremely soft tannins and very good acidity. Super tasty.
LENGTH: Not particularly long but very pleasant aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied wine of beautiful proportions. A wonderful wine that I wholeheartedly recommend. I must say though that it is alarmingly approachable at this stage... Perhaps I am wrong, but somehow I find it hard to believe that a wine that is so good three years after the vintage will be able to develop and hold as the 1988 did. But a) who knows? and b) who cares?
OVERALL: Very fine. Another pearl from the Antinori stable.
|MARK: 18/20.||BUY MORE? Yes.|
|Pedro Ximenez 'Noe' (Muj Viejo)
My first taste of this 'Very Old' (25+ years) sherry from the Pedro Ximenez grapes.
COLOR: The most unusual greenish-black color. Black in the middle, with golden tinged dark green at the rim.
NOSE: Intense warm aroma of complex ripened fruits dried figs and caramel. Almost no sign of the usual yeasty oxidative smell associated with solera wines. Deep rich and intoxicating.
TASTE: As concentrated as a Tokay Aszu Essencia... A single sip is so rich and formidably structured that it almost begs to be sampled with a teaspoon. Unbelievably mouth-filling, it has that irresistible combination of fantastic grip with smooth and velvety texture. A dream of a wine to round up a dream of an evening.
LENGTH: Simply never-ending.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied and then some. Immensely concentrated, sweet but not cloying and beautifully balanced.
OVERALL: Outstanding! A truly great wine that gives a true hedonistic pleasure.
|MARK: 19/20.||BUY MORE? Yes.|
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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.