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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wine With Friends: Best Bottle Night in Sandwich

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

In my never-ending search for great wines to serve my guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, I read Wine Spectator and other sources of information to stay current and help guide my search and I go to a lot of wine tastings. As I have said before, it’s tough work, but someone has to do it. 

Recently, some friends suggested we have a “best bottle” tasting night. Each couple brought two wines from their cellar that they wished to share with others who also appreciate good wines. What a great idea, I am sorry I did not think of it. I do not have a lot of old wines in my cellar because when I turned sixty, I stopped buying young wines that needed to be “aged”. I figured I was old enough and did not want to wait for the wine to mature, but I do have a few special bottles that I felt could live up to the best bottle challenge.

Wines enjoyed at Best Bottle Tasting

Our host started us off with a nice Prosecco to clear our palates and put us in a sparking mood. As is the traditional order of a wine tasting, we started with whites and went to reds; within the reds we went form the lightest in style, Pinot Noir, to the heaviest, Cabernet/Bordeaux. Within each group we went from youngest to oldest. Our only white of the night was a magnum of a great 2001 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, La Dent De Chien (Cote d'Or), Jean-Pierre Cournut. This is a marvelous example of a fine French Chardonnay. A real leaning experience for me, I now want to try more French whites and compare them to California Chardonnays that I have liked over the years. A Chardonnay tasting could be in my future. We all agreed this was the best (and only) white of the night.  

Charlie & Friend with Bruce Perry
Papapietro-Perry Winery
We started to get serious as we moved to the reds. Food parings were not our main focus, so we ordered hearty pizzas from Emelia’s Pizza in Sandwich to give us nourishment for the work ahead. Our reds started with three Pinot Noirs; two from Oregon and one from Sonoma. The 2006 R. Stuart and 2006 Soter, though both Oregon and both 06, were very different. I liked the younger 2007 Papapietro Perry Pommard Clones, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir, which I contributed. No surprise there.

Our only Merlot of the evening was Blackbird Vineyards, 2007 Illustration, Propriety Red Wine, Napa Valley. I have gotten away from drinking Merlots, but this great wine makes me want to try Merlot again soon. Our Cabernet selection was broader and took us through the rest of the evening. The youngest, a Beringer Private Reserve 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, showed well, but we all agreed it could easily spend another ten years in the bottle. Next we had my 1991 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon.   The 2008 wine tasting notes from the winemaker at the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, suggested it was near it peak then, in 2008. I agree, it was OK, but maybe a few years past its’ prime. It is sad to think I bought it in 1995 and held it for 15 years and just missed it at its best by a year or two. 

As the sun set over Cape Cod Bay, we moved on to wines from the 1980’s; a French 1983 Chateau Cos d'Estournel Bordeaux and a California 1983 Rombauer Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were interesting, some of us tasters thought the Rombauer had almost moved to “port”. The highlight of the night was the oldest wines from the 1970’s, wines that were actually older than some of us tasting them. Again, going from youngest to oldest, we first tasted a 1978 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Bottled, from Healdsburg, California, and then a 1970 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux.  Both were wonderful, especially when you consider that they are almost 40-year-old wines. I have had the pleasure of tasting Jordan over the years, but I had never even seen or touched, let alone tasted a 1970 Rothschild. This bottle from our hosts, Anne and Ev, still had the original Trader’s Joe price tag of $16.50, a $400-500 bottle when Googled today.

The picture shows the wonderful wines, in the order we consumed them. We finished this most magnificent tasting with two delightful South Australian desert wines, a Mitchell 2005 Noble Semillon, Clare Valley and a 2005 Elderton Riverina Botrytis Semillon, the perfect wines to end a perfect evening of sharing great wines with good friends. I am already looking in my cellar to select my choices for our next “best bottle” night here on Cape Cod. 

 Happy wine-ing.

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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