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Sammarco..... Romanee St. Vivant..... Hermitage 'La Chapelle'.....


Wintery Friday night dinner by the fireside at our friends Oded & Nitza Lerer. Eli & Gilly were also there, so the six of us had a very pleasant evening where delicious food, extraordinary wines and the convivial atmosphere kept us all in a cosy relaxed mood.
Nitza, whose unique country-style cooking never fails to stimulate and delight the palate, presented and endless array of dishes and side dishes. All extremely tasty and full of flavors. A real feast.

Fresh tomato and herbs soup
1990 Sammarco, Castello dei Rampola
Eggplant salad, avocado salad, roasted peppers, toasted piquant liver-paste
1989 Romanee St. Vivant, DRC
Two types of suckling lamb stews with wild rice
1989 Hermitage 'La Chapelle', Jaboulet
Caramelized fruits and cream

Sammarco 1990 Castello dei Rampola

1/2002. Brought by Eli.
Some 15 months ago I had a bottle of this 'Super Tuscan' wine and was overwhelmed by its elegance and harmony.
COLOR: Pretty dark red with hardly any thinning towards the rim..
NOSE: Stylish, expressive - if somewhat subdued - nose of black fruit, tobacco and raw meat. Wood tones are a bit too dominant. Notably less forward than the bottle I had before.
TASTE: Very elegant, with youthful vigor and plenty of winyness. A bit cool and somewhat reserved but with excellent grip and focus. Here again, less open than my previous bottle.
LENGTH: Medium-long aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-full bodied wine with good fruit, plenty of winyness and fine structure. Wood is a bit too obvious at present. Eli bought this bottle recently from the winery while the one I had in November 2000 I bought from a restaurant in Tuscany. This may explain the marked difference in the development between the two. The present bottle needs a few more years to completely come around.
OVERALL: Very Fine. Less appealing though than the more mature example I had before.
MARK: 18/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

Romanee St. Vivant 1989 DRC

1/2002. Bought at auction by Oded five years ago for $135 (current market price about $450).
I have had my own two bottles of this rare gem. Both were wonderful but not nearly as wonderful as this one...
COLOR: Medium unimpressive ruby red. Noticeable clearing around the rim. Plenty of sediment.
NOSE: Only those that ever experienced a truly great mature (B) will understand the simultaneous "Wow!" that was heard around the table when each of us took the first sniff of this wine. It is really hard to describe - even for an experienced true believer like me - the sensational sensual experience, the total transformation sniffing this nectar brings about. You can describe other wines by trying to dissect and analyze their bouquet and aromas. But this deep and broad mixture of prime red fruit and the most exquisite (B) nose imaginable is such a total experience that any attempt to describe or measure it by 'standard' jargon will be puny and never even begin to do justice to complexity, the harmony and the primeval sensation it brings to one's nose.
TASTE: Simply otherworldly. Mouthfilling but in a light and ethery way. Pure fruit, winyness, good acidity and very soft tannins all combine to deliver sensual pleasure beyond description. The tiniest sip explodes in the mouth to perform a tap dance with every taste bud. Yes, I know, I have really lost control of the adjectives here. But this was a wine we will all remember for the rest of our life!
LENGTH: Fantastic aftertaste of infinite length.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied as far as sheer power is concerned. But deep, broad, multi-dimensional, multi-layered, multi-flavored and multi-everything-else. Very focused with wonderful grip. The perfect balance and harmony make this the epitome of (B), which for me is the epitome of wine.
OVERALL: Divine!!! Usually "only" the fourth-best of the DRC [Domaine de la Romanee Conti] wines. But this 1989 RSV, at this precise moment in time, was better than the '89 La Tache and Richebourg I have had some years ago, and was better than any other RSV I have tasted, including the 1985 and the 1990.
MARK: 20/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

Hermitage 'La Chapelle' 1989 P. Jaboulet

1/2002. Bought at auction Aug-97 for $85 (current market price about $250).
For me at least 1989 is the best vintage of the 80s for La Chapelle. I have been tasting it since 1997 and it never failed to provide the greatest of pleasures.
COLOR: As dark as they come from Hermitage. Hardly any clearing around the rim and plenty of sediment.
NOSE: Completely different from the Romanee St. Vivant above. Deep, profound syrah nose of semi-ripe black fruit, pepper, chocolate and mint. Wood notes like vanilla and licorice are there but not overpowering. Excellent!
TASTE: If the Sammarco was a "cool" wine, the RSV the most sensual wine - then this La Chapelle is a "warm", concentrated and expressive wine. Superbly tasty with depth of flavors that would put to shame most other wines. Complex yet "easy" to enjoy. Still youthful with plenty of vigor, but have opened up considerably since I last tasted it some two years ago.
LENGTH: Very long aftertaste that is full of delicious flavors.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied viscous wine with massive concentration of fruit and winyness. Not a fruit-bomb as it delivers much more than just fruit. Tannins are still noticeable, but they are now round and soft. Excellent backbone, good acidity and perfect balance. Extremely enjoyable already but is sure to reach even higher spheres in years to come.
OVERALL: Outstanding! Would easily be the star of any wine evening that does not offer the '89 DRC Romanee St. Vivant before it... :)
MARK: 19/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.