Champions League Finals with the Dead Arm 2002 (May 22, 2010)

Even though finalists Bayern Munchen and Inter are not my idea of excitement, Champions League Finals Night is still a good excuse to open a good wine. On the other hand, no use popping one that I can use to buy my way into a tasting, so opening this New World icon from a vintage that my friends disapprove of seemed like an apt choice.

I opened my bottle four and a half hours prior to kickoff then monitored its development as I prepared roast beef for what I hoped would be at least interesting entertainment. The wine's New World character was apparent throughout, with the oak obvious, even if finely integrated into the ripe fruit. Red fruit is always an advantage and initially there is little besides red in the mix, but in time, the nose picks up blacker notes. This is an interesting case of a wine whose palate is better than its nose, the last showing eucalyptus and black pepper. Meanwhile, the palate shows a glycerin aspect that is surprisingly balanced by dusty, savory tannins. Long and fine tuned, despite a certain obviousness.

Maybe I was caught up in the festivities, but all in all, this is an appealing wine despite my bias against its style and I like how it becomes more structured and intellectual as it opens up.