Sunday, March 4, 2007

a happy birthday indeed

On Friday night, Sara and I attended her esteemed uncle's birthday party. One of the things I love about her family is their high appreciation of fine wine and unending generosity in sharing it. We were, as always, in a hurry to get there in time for dinner (getting anywhere after work on a weekday in Seattle is a battle) and I utterly failed to pick a bottle from the wine cellar to bring to dinner (we brought a bottle of the Gaja as a present). It didn't matter--anything I was likely to have picked would have gone unopened in my desire to try the other wines that were present. We did have to drive home, after all.

When Raphael and I were roommates, we would frequently have guests over and go through a flight of bottles that had big names, but this night will stand out in my memory for a long time. Sure, there are some big names in the following list. Some may say they are overrated. I won't argue the point. What I will say is that drinking all of them was a pleasure. I hope I remember everything accurately.

We started with the 2003 Stag's Leap Petit Syrah. Stag's Leap has made an appearance here before, so you know how I feel about the winery. I've never had the Petit Syrah before this. I've often seen it, as I'm sure many have, at the wine shop, but it always made me a little nervous. Just something about the lone varietal stamped on the label that seemed a bit foreboding. All my fears were unfounded. It was a nice, dark, wine that was very smooth. It wasn't a gigantic wine which is what I expected. It had a few interesting layers and was very drinkable on its own, as we had it before dinner without accompaniment. For those keeping track, it is actually a blend of mainly Petit Syrah with Viognier, Carignan, Mourvedre, and Grenache. Like I said before, these wine makers know what they're doing.

Sara's aunt cooked dinner. It was (this is the theme for the night) another thing I had never had. Sara told me on the way over that it was going to be Cabbage rolls. Thoughts of bad Thai restaurants popped into my head, but she assuaged my fears. They turned out to be amazing. It was meat and other goodness wrapped in cabbage and cooked in a red sauce. I ate too many of them. I focused so much on eating them that I hadn't finished my glass of the Petit Syrah when I noticed the next wine had appeared in the decanter.

The second wine of the evening was the 1997 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. If you're wondering why that name sounds familiar, it's because Quilceda Creek is the only Washington winery to ever produce a wine that got 100pts from Robert Parker two years in a row (2002 and 2003). The 1997 was the first time I've ever had the pleasure of tasting anything from Quilceda, and I must admit it lives up to the reputation. This is perhaps the earliest anyone would want to drink the '97; according to the winery they should bottle age well into 2020. The bottle we had was young, but it was far from infanticide. It was a very well put together wine, blending 89% cab, 9% merlot and 2% cab franc. What I tasted most was the mineral taste that seems to be characteristic of these Washington wines. There were hints of fruit as well, but I had a hard time placing them. It reminded me most of snozzberry.

In case that wasn't enough, we went back to California to finish off the night with a bottle of the 1997 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon which comes from Napa. Unfortunately, I utterly failed to find out which of their cab's it was. It was oddly similar to the Quilceda, but more supple and less mineral. It was really great to drink after the Quilceda, because it really contrasted the two regions. A truly luscious wine. I will add it to my list of wines I'd love to drink daily but just can't afford.

Quite a night!

1 comment:

michael ringwood said...

A fine birthday celebration for sure. Its not everyday that one gets to taste such excellent wine.Lucky you.
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