Wine Of The Night - Muga, Prado Enea, 1991 (Jan. 17, 2008)

Wine tastings are not just about picking the best wine of the night, but when the Other Bald Guy hosted a small informal tasting the other night, the results were so overwhelming, it was like watching a heavyweight king being crowned in the prize ring. Though, as in a championship title bout, there were a few other fights on the undercard.

Louis Jadot, Meursault, 2002

There were enough mildew aromas upon opening to worry some ringside spectators about possible TCA but the nose simply needed a few moments to assert itself and show minerals over citrus fruits; though in the end, the nose's signature move was honey, and it played that move for the duration of its performance. But it lacked a punch in the palate, which was sweet on the attack then stingy in mid-palate, for all the ripeness of the fruit, and disspirited on the finish. Seems on its way down rather early for an excellent year like 2002. Not a contender, not a prospect, but it would be a useful wine with the proper food.

Antinori, Brunello di Montalcino, Pian delle Vigne, 1997

The nose was promising, with plenty of suave black fruit complemented by notes of tea. But, a good nose only gets half the job done, and we were again let down by the palate. Something there just didn't gel. The body was only medium-bodied, thus on the light side for a Brunello, which was at odds with the impression of ripeness and concentration it projected, and lacked the luscious, chcoclate-y elegance I remembered from the last bottle I had in the recent past. Other spectators, too, reminesced about better performances in the past. A prospect on an off night.

Chateau La Nerthe, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 1998

Well, this one reversed the pattern set by the previous wines by performing better on the palate, which, though not particularly complex, showed length and a spicy finish. The nose was mute though in time showed an interesting, pungent mint overtone. A contender winning by points but possibly on its way down.

Muga, Prado Enea, Gran Reserva, 1991

Ladies and gentleman, the winner by a knockout in the fourth round and once again champion of the world! I've had my share of Prado Enea (though never enough as I really love this bodega) and this is the freshest, youngest tasting bottle I've had so far, an amazing performance considering this is the most mature bottle I've tasted, reminding me of how Archie Moore used to trounce younger fighters when he was in his fourties. It didn't quite display, yet, the mature Rioja aromas (tobacco leaves, chocolate, leather etc), indeed it seemed like a somewhat modern version of Rioja with its purity of fruit; but that is not to say the nose wasn't already captivating and inviting. Its neatest trick was on the palate where it showed an amazingly juicy and integrated acidity. Let's face it, Rioja acidity can sometimes be a matter of taste but in this case, I doubt that any wine lover would fail to be impressed with how lively it made the fruits. Any vintage of this wine that you can find for the equivalent of its price in Spain is a bargain and a steal.

But it aint over until the fat lady in the 375 cc bottle sings.

Tzora, Gewurztraminer Or, 2006

This is Israel's second go at an artificial icewine (GHW's Heightswine was the first) and I don't really know the details of its production. A very hard wine to place, blind. It had a candied, vaguely tropical nose that didn't really recall Gewurtz but it had enough going for it regardless. Any acidity it might have had was buried deep within large slabs of sweet fruit but it somehow had a self-contained balance anyway. It could well have been improved with higher acidity and maybe just a slight seepage of Gewurztraminer typicity, yet it is very tasty right now though it's hard to tell how it might develop.

I used "but", "though", "yet" quite a lot. Guess I'm a peek-a-boo boxer.