Read slowly. These wines deserve a lot of praises, as do the friends who joined and shared their wines with me and with each other: Ran, Rani (the other birthday boy), Uri, Amir, David and Meir Ido.
Nicolas Feuillatte, Palme d'Or, Brut, 1998
Very complex on both nose and palate, with flavors that literally explode on the palate, and never at the cost of elegance. One of the best Champagnes I've ever tasted.
Dauvissat, Chablis Premier Cru, La Foret, 2002
A complete Chablis nose: chalk, lime, apples, fossils, rainwater. A completely integrated palate, whose complexity carries on all the way to the aftertaste. While reserved compared to the Champagne, this honey reinforces my opinion that a good Chablis is a much safer bet than any other white Bourgogne.
La Rioja Alta, Rioja Gran Reserva, Cuvee Centenario, 1973
There's an ethereal nose here,but let me discourse first on the finish, whose gentle touch belies its length and kick. Back to the nose now, where the Tempranillo footprint is very much in evidence here: red fruit, mushrooms, tea, earth. Sweet, mature fruit on the palate. The only drawback is that I've tasted a twenty year old 890 with as much grace that was coupled with greater power, so I'm not sure this wine really needed close to forty years of cellaring. But at least it didn't take up my fridge space for so many years.
Chateau Palmer, Margaux 3me Cru, 1995
A Rorschach test for Bordeaux, with its cedary/minerally bouquet and tannic elegance. Vibrant on both nose and palate. Despite the complexity and charm of the nose, the palate is still relatively one-dimensional. But the finish is very persistent and savory. Drink now for the power, or wait a few years for the palate to open up some more.
Chateau Mouton, Pauillac 1er Cru, 1989
The nose is a step up, very complex and deep; subtly earthy with a hint of meat. The palate also has great depth and length and is deviously tasty. Man, I just love the gentle sweetness of fruit that great Bordeaux develop with age. Elegance, balance and subtlety are the keywords here, so it doesn't need to go for the Palmer's ambulance punch.
Giacomo Conterno, Barolo, Cascina Francia, 1998
The nose attacks with red cherries, then spices, cured meat and touch of earthiness lend great complexity. The palate, also, is very elegant, clean, long and powerful, without any undue excess or the grainy rust I usually find in Barolos. Double terrific.
Kracher, Weinlaubenhof Burgenland, Welschriesling Trockenbeerenauslese, 8, 2001
My first Kracher is a very suitable epilogue to the best birthday lineup I've had yet. This is liquid cake and molten apricots and brown sugar. Despite the obvious acidity, it actually tastes sweeter than the desserts that accompanied it, without being cloying in any way.