April 13, 2006

Magnum Madness 2006

I’m late again with the report from last month’s annual magnum bottle bash at the Manning's. This year saw another incredible line up, with a few high points missed by yours truly. However, I did manage to taste some marvelous wines in between seeing lots of familiar and friendly new faces. Even a few readers of this, ahem, vanity site.

The whites were nice as always, but none stood out immensly. One exception was the 1989 Zind Humbrecht Hengst Gewurztraminer VT, which smelled sweeter than it tasted.Delicious.

The lighter reds table had the usual array of new and old Oregon Pinor noir, among a broad mix of things. Memorable were the primary but solid 2002 Thomas Pinot Noir Willamette Valley and a more than alive 1995 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Freedom Hill, with a touch of dill but otherwise nice mature aromas and flavors. In the mix was a terrific 2003 Charles Joguet Chinon Varennes du Grand Clos, positively delicious and ageworthy Cabernet franc. But stealing the aromatic show was a 1981 Mt. Eden Pinot Noir from California's Santa Cruz Mountains. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver on the palate as it apparently had when first opened.

By the time I made it downstairs, a few of the bigger red wines were already being finished. I missed the 1989 Vieux Telegraph Chateauneuf du Pape (which was apparently excellent) and the 1995 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chappelle. Still, I loved the 2003 Ridge Geyserville, the classic old vine blend that smelled earthy rather than woody, like Geyservilles of old. The 2001 Produttori du Barbaresco normale that I brought – decanted for a few hours before arriving – was frankly better than I expected. There were many others to enjoy as well.

And I haven’t even gotten to the dessert wines. Among other things were the 1989 Baumard Coteaux du Layon Paon, 1969 Baumard CdL Clos St. Catherine, 2002 Inniskillen Vidal Ice Wine, and 1975 Taylor’s Porto.

The Paon was nice, still youthful and classically sweet. The 1969 Clos St. Catherine I’d had once before, and it was stunning then. Tonight, not nearly as nice, but still a good wine. It just lacks the intensity and depth it showed previously. Hard to quibble with birthyear wine though. Thanks to the generous stranger who brought both of these.

The Inniskillin Vidal from Canada's Niagara Peninsula was courtesy of Roy Hersh, the man behind For the Love Of Port, down from Seattle for the weekend. What a beautiful wine, fat and sweet but crystaline. My first taste of Vidal last year suggested it would make nice dessert wine. Indeed.

And finally the 1975 Taylor’s, which wasn’t a top wine but clearly top shelf quality here, aging nicely if lacking in depth what it has in relative freshness. A nice drink, and a fine way to close the evening.

And once more, to the bus.

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