Monday, October 24, 2011

Worth the Wait

Last week, the family and I attended a dinner party with some very good friends that we hadn't seen in more than two years. It was a fabulous get-together that reminded us all that two years is way too long to let slip before seeing each other.

The friends that we visited are all wine aficionados, most of them having either worked in the wine business, taught wine-appreciation classes, worked in the restaurant industry, or have made wine themselves. Suffice to say, they know wine.

So it was no surprise to have an abundance of fine wines at the dinner party. And it was a perfect opportunity for us to share a bottle of wine that we've been wanting to open for some time.

For those of you who have been following me for a while, you learned in January that I was hanging on to a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino that I bought in Montalcino in 2004. Lori and I were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to Tuscany, and I wanted to pick up something special. And thanks to Lori's flirting with the wine merchant ("what's your favourite wine?") and my ability to read a wine chart ("do you have that wine in a '97?"), we walked away with a really nice bottle. We packed it carefully, brought it home, and kept it in our cellar, waiting for the perfect moment to open it.

That moment was last week at our friends' dinner party.

It was a 1997 Col D'Orcia. The wine had a burnt-red colour: not brown; not ruby. It was a dark, brick red. The nose had a rich, earthy aroma. And the flavour in the mouth was clearly tannin-driven, though there was still a hint of cherries and a pepper finish. It was at its peak: another year, and any fruit would have been lost. It was the perfect time to share it.

There were other great wines of the evening, and I thought I'd brag tell you about them. The following is a mini review, told by someone who hasn't appreciated such good wines in a long time, so don't laugh at me if I use simple words to describe them. I like using words like "yummy" at wine tastings. I'm not a pretentious wine drinker. I just know what I like. So here goes:

Sumptuary Zinfandel 2007: one of my friends at this event—Andy—introduced me to California Zins many years ago, and I am eternally grateful. Before, I always associated Zinfandel as a blush wine, a type that I really don't like. Andy introduced me to red Zinfandels, the way I think they're intended.

I find them quite complex, so full of flavour. This Zinfandel was rich in fruit with a chocolate finish. It could have aged longer, but right now I think that it's drinking beautifully. It's just the way I like a Zin: sumptuous.

Wayne Gretzky Estate Series 2007 Pinot Noir: this was a big Pinot. I had my doubts when I saw The Great One's name affiliated with a winery and didn't think that the wine would be great. And while it was very good, I think calling it "great" would be a bit of a stretch. But I did enjoy it. Again, there were a lot of tannins driving this wine, so perhaps a couple more years would add finesse.

I suppose I shouldn't have been that surprised by the quality of the wine. Lots of exceptional Pinot Noirs come from the Niagara Peninsula, so why not Gretzky's?

Two Hands 2008 Sophie's Garden Padthaway Shiraz: I love, love, LOVE Australian Shiraz. If you ever want to give me a gift, remember that I love Aussie Shiraz. This wine was my favourite of the evening. Deep red, bordering on purple. Rich, jammy fruit on the nose, with hints of mint or even mild eucalyptus. Solid, ripe fruit on the palate and a slightly hot finish. I could have consumed this wine all night. I found it went particularly well with our pork tenderloin main course—especially with a little goat cheese on top. I can feel it in my mouth even now, remembering the experience. Hands down (two hands, down), my favourite of the bunch.

Another wine that we had but for which I didn't shoot the label was our friend's wine. Andy makes the most amazing wines, and he offered a 13-year-old Pinot Noir from his collection. Normally, I don't think of Pinots as a wine that can age, but Andy's hit it bang-on. There were still definite notes of cherries, and the pepper finish was wonderful. So good.

There's nothing better than an evening of good wines with great friends. After more than two years, it was a gathering that was long overdue. But waiting until this time to open these wines was well worth the wait.


  1. Yay! That sounds like the perfect way to have that bottle :). willy and I have stopped waiting for special occasions to have those special bottles that we have cellared. Too many were consumed past prime while we waited. Now we make special occasions by having the wines!

  2. Nice wine reviews! I had to laugh when I saw the Wayne Gretzky wine, but, heck, it's a 2007 red wine and in my experience, ANYTHING red from that year has been good.