By: Ryan Tedder
You know something I seldom here from wine enthusiasts around the city: “I wish I was drinking less aged wines. I only want to drink young wines fresh off the boat.” The quintessential “Jerk” line from Steve Martin seldom rings true-”Let’s splurge a little-let’s get something from THIS year. With an umbrella in it…” As someone that has a pure love for wine and the lifestyle that comes with, I firmly believe that fine wine must be aged-it is a moment in time; a memory of a special place, person or thing; the blood, sweat and tears of the vigneron dancing with the cards dealt by good old mother nature. The dance continues every day, but to truly see the majesty of the dance, you need to take a step back and reflect on the vintage, the producer and the story of that singular bottle of juice. You could say I’m a romantic, I think I would agree…. Today we had a great chance to reflect on three great wines spanning 3 full decades from three classic regions. All the vintages are classics and all the wine were showing great. Ah, great vino-my lust and desire;)
We started with a bottle of 1989 Michele Chiarlo Rocche di Castiglione Barolo that was drinking great! I had low expectations but wow I was wrong. This is classic aged Nebbiolo-haunting aromas of dried roses, truffle, cranberry, red currant and fig with refined, silty tannins and a long, elegant finish. This was not an expensive bottle of wine but as a time capsule of 1989 I know I liked it more than “Read My Lips” and the Gulf War. Chiarlo makes a LOT of wine now, but his feet are firmly in a traditional, high quality Baroli state of mind.
Next we had the honor of opening a bottle of 1996 Emmanuel Rouget Les Beaumonts 1er Cru Vosne Romanee. Although this vineyard shares its name with the one of the best towns in Texas, no Texans were harmed in the production of this wine nor do the grapes hail from there. Instead we have the nephew of legendary Burgundy luminary Henri Jayer crafting a wine from one of the finest Premier Crus in the whole of the Cote de Nuits in about as classic of a vintage as you will find. This is a 50 year wine. When we opened it the wine smelled like shit and filled the room with stank. The flavor was muted with primary red fruit, wet mud, mushroom, tobacco and dead animals. Oh what a difference 2 hours of air makes…This beautiful libation generated the fruit we were expecting yielding lush berries, dark cherries and raspberries, truffles, pine needles, dried earth, beets, pomegranite, roses and dried tobacco. The finish was stunning on the last sip and the special quality of this wine feels like we somewhat missed it because we drank it too soon. In 1996 I was a high school junior driving a grey firebird trying to date every cheerleader and do illegal activities. I took my first ACT and bought my first jewelry for Valentines day. I wish I had been in Burgundy helping craft this enchanted elixir.
We finished with a hot rod of a wine called 2007 Cristia Vieilles Vignes Chateauneuf-du-Pape. You would have to have charred taste buds and no sense to not realize how absolutely slurp-tacular this wine is. This 70-80 year old 100% old vine Grenache bottling was opulent, fleshy, full-bodied and well endowed in every way. Ripe to jammy blackberry, black cherry pie, Kirsch, red licorice, dried fennel, lavender, garrigue and exotic spices ooze out of the glass and the ripe, round quality of the fruit tannin just frames this tour de force of ripe fruit, jammy extract and a touch of old world savory to reel it all in. This wine is a baby with lots of life left in it. In 2007 I had just taken over as the wine guy at Stephan Pyles main restaurant. I think this wine would go great with his dry aged Ribeye with beans and fried onions. I think I ate that 3 times a week there. Cristia is a winery to find, drink and collect. Every wine they make has been great so far for 5 years now. Bravo