Sunday, July 13, 2008

This Wine Is Better Than Sex (Okay, not really)

Harlan Estates/Bond-Pluribus
Most of you food bloggers have footnoted categories for your posts. Basically a way of indexing pieces you write about. This blog really started out to be more about wine and somehow the food posts took over.
I have several categories relating to wine. I have a category called: Really Good Wine. I also have one called: This Wine Is Better Than Sex. I am thinking about changing that last category to: "This wine costs more than your car payment".
Since 1999 I have been spending an inordinate amount of time studying, reading about, researching, tasting and buying fine wine
. What I love about wine (besides the alcohol) is that in a bottle you can learn about history, geography, politics, agriculture, vinticulture, oenology, botany, forestry and a whole host of interesting and esoteric facts before you even open up the bottle. This is a hobby that has almost consumed me at times.
While some people may collect wine as an investment my small cellar (50 cases) was all purchased with the intent to consume what I had bought.
What I think is special about seeing ones palate develop is that I believe you go back to the "Old School" wines as your palate gets more sophisticated. I liken this to learning to cook and I would venture to say that the majority of the cooking school in the United States are teaching "Old School" French cooking techniques. There is a reason that classic literature remains relevant in the modern age. Do people realize that Picasso was a classically trained painter and had a very strong base in realism before he began to experiment with cubist and modernist painting? The French have been making wine (and cooking ) for centuries. They have learned what works and what doesn't work through years of trial and error and they have passed that knowledge down to their children to pass to their children and so on.
While the "New World" wines have come on strong, I do believe that given time, the old world wines will prevail.
The other night I had an "Old School" Italian dinner at Cafe Mingo in Portland. There were six of us at dinner that night and we started with a simple Italian Rose wine. We then opened a 1993 Leoville Las Cases (slightly off vintage old school 2nd Growth Bordeaux). We also had a 1980 Leoville Las Cases that was starting to slowly fade (like a pretty girl who is now on the back side of 50-no longer a bombshell, but she still gets everyone's attention when she walks into the room). My buddies sister, Kerrie, brought a Harlan Estates -Bond- Pluribus (thanks Kerrie!). This wine was a gift to her and at $250/bottle (if you can get on the mailing list) the chance to taste this wine made the entire night a special event. Wines of this pedigree are meant to be shared with people that know what they are. They are great and while I am not going to tell anyone that this was a religious experience, this is about as close as wine gets to being a sexual experience (more like looking at a masterpiece painting versus actually being the artist of the painting).

1980 Leoville Las Cases-The wine was showing some brickish color and had a nose that me and my friends refer to as a "Bordeaux Stink". While brett is considered to be a flaw, I like the barnyard/leather component this wine showed. Not much fruit left and a short finish.

1993 Leoville Las Cases- Good garnet color with no sign of aging. Strong earthy, barnyard and leather nose. Good cassis fruit with balanced acidity and a long smooth tannin finish. This wine was great as a cocktail and it was better with food.
A great example of what a top notch Bordeaux Cabernet based wine can be. This was my last of three bottles that I had purchased and I am glad I was able to share it with some friends who could appreciate it.

2005 Bond Pluribus- Dark purple color, almost opaque. Big ripe fruit on the nose with a hint of vanilla and blueberry. Full-bodied, rich and thick, this was almost like a wine concentrate but with good balance between fruit, acid and tannin. This wine opens up and shows some roasted coffee and chocolate on the back palate. The finish is very long and polished.

The Bond Pluribus was/is an outstanding wine. Is it worth $250/bottle? Personally, these wines are more than a little north of my income bracket, but in the right setting these wines can be a show stopper and provide the entertainment for the night as well.

I will just say if your friends bring a bottle of this wine to dinner to share, I would advise you to not be shy about elbowing your other dinner companions out of the way so you can get a taste.-Cheers