At Woodberry Kitchen, a recent restaurant in Baltimore from my old friends Spike and Amy Gjerde. The restaurant is beautiful and the food is magnificent. I know a lot of people in the restaurant business and I have to say that Spike is the least cynical and jaded guy I know. He brings so much passion and excitement to what he does that it’s inspiring. If you are ever in Baltimore check it out. Hell, go to Baltimore just to check it out.
I was in Baltimore for my high school reunion, having dinner with a couple of old friends that I had not seen in many years. I had a blast.
1996 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis 1er Cru La Forest
This seemed to be a little bit over the hill to me. It wasn’t totally shot, but there were some oxidized type notes that took away from the remaining fruit. What I’m trying to figure out is whether this is pre-mox, heat damage (would have had to happen before it got to me), or simple bottle variation (the wine is 13 years old). Anyway, approach with caution.
1989 Domenico Clerico Barolo Bussia
So when I first had this wine on release, it was the first Barolo that really knocked my socks off and started me pursuing modernists and traditionalists in equal measure. As a young wine, this had the most pure driving fruit I had ever tasted. It was so incredibly pure that it redefined the taste of cherry and the aroma of rose petal for me. The previous bottle had been in a strange state, but it has been 6 or 7 years since then, so I was hoping that at 20 years this was ready to go. The wine still seemed to have some fruit, but with the tannin mostly under wraps. There was not much in the way of complexity, but there was a lot of depth to the fruit and enough structure to work well with the food. Not really what I was hoping for, although a lot of what was there when it was young is still here now. I remain unconvinced by these modernist wines and don’t really know how to recommend drinking them. Will they be great in 30 years? Ever? Do I need to have a different context for what I expect out of aged Barolo? Maybe that is the answer. The wines will hold their fruit longer but may fail to develop the kind of complexity that Barolo lovers crave.
1992 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain
This is a wine that I had for the first time with Spike and I have been drinking through my bottles over the years, so it is only fitting that I drink my last bottle at his restaurant. What a great bottle of wine this turned out to be. It has never really drunk poorly through its life and now it is in a perfect state of maturity for me. Shows that lovely mineral touch on the back end that I really loved about these wines through the mid-90s. The fruit had mellowed and the tannins had rounded out but the wine still retained a sense of freshness. The alcohol is listed at 12.5% and this wine has always seemed to have an excellent balance between tannin and acid. I hope I am conveying how good this was. My buddies both said it was one of the best, if not the best, wines they had ever had. In the end, isn’t that the whole point? If you have this, do yourself a favor and drink one now although it should continue to do well for several more years.