Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dinner of the Riojas - in the glass

2011 Clos Les Montys Vieilles Vignes | AC Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie

I asked my friend to bring over a Muscadet ... he's my Muscadet-whisperer. He says it was just the only bottle left on the shelf, but he's being modest. The man knows what he's doing, clearly. Fresh, vibrant, and mineral - a perfect complement to the albacore tuna and sea urchin.
2000 Bodegas Lan Gran Reserva | DOCa Rioja

We began our night of Rioja with a pair from Bodegas Lan. These wines are special to me. Lan was the first wine I really started buying multiple vintages of, to put away. These were also the first bottles I had in the cellar with a bit of age on them - in fact, Rioja in general was my first experience with mature wine. I have great affection for these two bottles in particular because I've had them since I was in 2nd year university. All the wines were poured without decanting, with a slight chill. And starting with the 2000, still finely structured, with that lovely earthiness and subtle rusticity. 
1999 Bodegas Lan Reserva | DOCa Rioja

Going back in time to 1999, and this bottle was immediately more approachable. Rioja has a wonderful purity in fruit profile found in few other wines, that sort of linear, transparent texture on the palate. Very fine indeed, open, with floral, mineral elements. In a word, delicious. Almost emotional, like saying goodbye to an old friend - my last bottle.
1981 Montecillo Gran Reserva Selección Especial | DOCa Rioja Alta

And then the main event, a wine older than everyone around the table save my parents. Montecillo only produces a Selección Especial cuvée in the best vintages. Lithe, with dried dates and berries, minerals on the nose, but the magic with these old wines is how they change in the glass. About 15 minutes later, it begins - a building crescendo, with the fruit stiffening up, getting harder-edged, structured. A complex, nuanced wine that teaches about patience, tradition, and authenticity. A wine of great nobility and breed.

The wines were a dream come true. Each showing its own character, its own personality. Undeniable proof that young wines may be good and delicious and all that ... but true excitement in wine comes from age and maturity. Photos courtesy of P.Szeto.


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