Monday, November 19, 2007

2002 L'aventure Optimus

The more perspicacious readers will no doubt correlate the above title with the "My Favorite Wines" sidebar. It is true--Optimus is one of my favorites. The NYT Wine Blog, in a posting titled Greatness Within Reach, discussed Ridge's Monte Bello. I guess if you're a writer for the NY Times, $123 per bottle is "within reach." Those of us with Seattle area mortgages can't reach quite that far. However, the point is well taken.

Indeed, "greatness within reach" is really what I strive for in wine. I spent a few years trying all different sorts of things, ordering randomly from Garagiste, taking advice (good and bad) from wine shop owners, managers, peons and going to tastings. I've pretty much nailed down what I like, and I am at a point in my life when I really don't want to spend money on stuff that I don't like. I'll take recommendations from people I trust. I'll still go to tastings; I'll still accept the offered glass at a dinner party. But when I'm at my house, doing my thing, I only want to drink what I like. Life is to short to drink crap while the good stuff is sitting in the fridge.

So when Mr. Pasceri suggested we go for a "Gentlemen's Evening" (yes; he watches entirely too much television) at Morton's I pulled out my last bottle of 2002 L'aventure Optimus. The wine still has a good 10 years left in it, but it's tasting wonderful right now. It is really a beautiful thing. It's a $50 wine, but can be found as low as $40. Every vintage I've had is a different blend, with varying amounts of syrah and zin. The winemaker doesn't like to be restrained by rules about what varietals you can and can't use and how much. And this is why this wine will always be better than your average bordeaux, rhone or brunello. Coming from Paso Robles instead of Napa, I guess, helps keep the price below ridiculous.

This wine in particular has the following blend: 50% syrah, 46% cab and 4% zinfandel. Now when you name your wine "Optimus" which, as far as my amateur Latin can say, means "the biggest" you have to make a wine that lives up to that. This one certainly did. It has all the rich earthiness and velvety suppleness of a well made cab-shiraz, with the added kick of a mineral spiciness from the zin. I could taste no defects... the wine just made me really happy. And of course, we drank it with some of the best steak in town.

If you're ever at Morton's in Seattle, try to sit in Lisa's section. She is the best waitress by far. Tomorrow I'll tell you about the other bottle of wine we had.

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