Fun wines during the giving of thanks

Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on the gifts we have and frequently overlook.  It’s also a great time to share some fun wines with family and friends!  I was fortunate enough to have some great meals served to me and enjoyed some stellar wines.  We visited my wife’s family initially in the cold and windswept plains of northern Montana.  This year actually was pretty warm, but the windswept part was accurate!  One of the wines of the trip was pulled out on night 1; Salvioni 2005 Brunello di Montalcino.  Wow what a Brunello!  I’ve had a couple bottles of Salvioni in the past, all at restaurants and this was the first from my cellar.  His wines are hard to track down given the fact that they are awesome and there aren’t that many of them… this lived up to the billing and then some.  2005 was not considered a good year, but you wouldn’t know it by this wine.  Dark, brooding, and powerful, yet it also has classic sangiovese flavors with anise, mint, spice, cherry, leather, and mushrooms.  Great depth and great energy on the palate leave a lasting impression of a simply fabulous wine.  Night two saw a nice bubbly from Jacquesson, the cuvee 740.  While this was good, it seemed tight and austere to me and I think it needs a few years in the cellar to come around to full potential.  The 2005 Chambolle-Musigny from Confuron-Cotetidot that followed did not disappoint.  My first wine from this producer I would definitely buy more.  The nose here was certainly a bit rich and leaned more modern, but it was still clearly Chambolle with beautiful fruit, minerality, lilac, and some developing secondary savory notes.  There was a hint of oak spice, but really not noticeable other than in a favorable manner.  The palate was perfectly balanced with very good depth for a village level wine.  Really tasty.  The next day was actually turkey day and in general I try to keep the wines light and not too complicated as they often get lost in the meal.  Some highlights were the Tempier Bandol Rose 2016, Eyrie Original Vines Chardonnay 2010, and Jean Foillard Fleurie 2010.  The Fleurie was probably my favorite wine of the day.  The food was fabulous and plentiful and I left more full than I planned on…

The next day we did not go shopping (thankfully) and instead drove over to the beautiful town of Whitefish to spend the weekend with friends and fellow wine lovers.  Luckily, my friend Joe is also training for a second career as a chef so we were treated to continued excellent food!  The first night involved some delicious baked salmon. This was not just any salmon though, this was salmon that Joe had caught himself on an 8 weight fly rod tossing big streamers out in Alaska this fall!  Topped with a pesto sauce it was fabulous.  The wines that accompanied it were also stellar.  Starting off, a 2006 Schramsberg Reserve was stellar.  Lemon, orange peel, hints of strawberry, brioche, and minerality.  This is always an excellent wine.  Following that, a 2004 William Fevre IMG_1633Chablis Les Preuses was killer.  I was a little worried this might be over the hill, but it was fresh, intense, and sensational.  Ripe lemon, lime, oyster shell, iodine, green apple, sea breeze, and white floral notes lifted from the glass.  The palate showed a little bit of the age as it was a touch mellow, but there was still loads of energy and freshness with a lingering finish.  Following were two very good pinot noirs; 1990 Eyrie Vineyards Estate and 2007 Jean et Jean Louis Trapet Gevrey-Chambertin 1er La Petite Chapelle.  The Eyrie was very impressive with a classy, aged pinot nose of savory smoky meat, leather, mushroom, dried currant, and dried orange peel.  Still vibrant and with plenty of life on the palate, this is a testament to the age worthy nature of some Oregon pinots.  The Trapet Gevrey was also delicious.  From an overlooked vintage, this shows that good winemakers can make good wine regardless!  The nose is classic Gevrey with some savory and barnyard notes, crushed stone, darker fruit, and hints of spice.  The palate has good stuffing and is no where near fading.  Not as elegant as the Eyrie, but still delicious.  Finally for dessert we had a chocolate bundt cake with a whiskey caramel sauce drizzled over it.  It sounds delicious… and it was!  With this we tasted a 2008 Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1er Trie Le Mont.  This was my first experience with the Huet 1er Trie wines and it was very good.  The nose had some botrytis, ripe apricot, peach pie, honeysuckle, and just a hint of a stony mineral note.  The palate was very good, although I think maybe in a slightly awkward phase right now.  This bottle has loads of upside so don’t be in a rush to drink it!

The next evening Chez Krezowski was the true coup de gras.  Some other friends joined us for a truly sensational night of tasting older wines.  Chef Joseph whipped up a roasted leg of lamb that had marinated in a red wine and herb juice for 3 days!  Along with smashed celeriac root and roasted carrots, the food was delicious, but the wines stole the IMG_2715show!  We started with two delicious bubblies Jacques Selosse’s entry bottling, Initial and Billecart-Salmon’s 1999 Cuvee Nicolas Francois.  Both were delicious although very different in style.  The Selosse was rich, honeyed, nutty, and very vinous in the signature style of their wines.  Fabulous complexity and suave mousse led to a delicious finish.  The Billecart belied its age with its freshness and energy, a nervous and racy style this was classic Champagne that was excellent and provided a nice contrast to the Selosse.  We then moved on to a couple of whites including a 1989 Maison Mirault Vouvray and a 2011 Domaine Leroy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Morgeot.  The Leroy was very sadly the biggest disappointment of the night given the reputation of the domaine and the Morgeot vineyard… it was thin, insipid, and unpalatable.  The Maison Mirault Vouvray on the other hand was the biggest surprise IMG_2719and it was fabulous.  The color and nose seemed overall much younger with scents of wool, earth, ripe lemon, baked green apple, and a hint of honey and stone.  The palate was remarkably fresh and vibrant with delicious fruit and sensual sweet hints.   It was not labeled as such, but we all suspect this was a moelleux bottling given the freshness and sweet finish.  We then moved away from the cheese plates and into the lamb so the reds were unveiled.  The elder statesman of the night was a 1971 Barisone Barolo.  This bottling was made by Francesco Rinaldi and sold in bulk to Osvaldo Barisone who was a merchant.  This bottle was good, but seemed tired.  I had another bottle of this in earlier this year that showed better.  Next came a 1976 Clos de la Roche from Domaine Philippe Remy.  This was a bottle I picked up in Beaune and I IMG_2721had no idea what to expect.  It was overall pretty good given the age and the fact that ’76 was a pretty average vintage.  Smoky, earthy, sous bois, dried cherry and some umami notes.  The palate was holding up surprisingly well and paired nicely with the lamb.  This was followed by a 1981 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.  I don’t drink a ton of Bordeaux, but this was very enjoyable.  Lots of cedar, herbs, tobacco, bell pepper, gravel, and some dark fruits.  The palate was tasty with good fruit and  very nice balance.  We then moved to a little younger wine with Rene Rostaing’s 2004 Cote Rotie Cote Blonde.  This was a fabulous example of elegant and perfectly balanced syrah.  The nose was beautiful and IMG_2720layered with smoky meat, crushed violet, white pepper, black raspberry and black currant.  The palate delivered fully with an exceptionally balanced and almost feminine styled wine, but it was pure pleasure.

For dessert, we had a delicious homemade pumpkin pie with maple bourbon whipped cream and apple pie ice-cream.  This was decadent and delicious on its own, but just for fun we pulled one last bottle out.  Zind-Humbrecht’s 1998 Gewürztraminer Clos Windsbuhl was better than expected.  Rich and unctuous with honey, lychee, almost candied floral notes, jasmine, baked pear, rose hips, and a whiff of petrol.  The palate was layered and intense, yet had enough energy to hold the wine together nicely.  Really excellent.  What a way to celebrate!  I had to take a week away from vinous treats after this extravaganza to let myself recover!  Thanks to Joe and Katy for hosting and to Gene and Jen for contributing some stellar wines to a memorable dinner.  Can’t wait to do it again in the near future!

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