It has been a stupendous, spectacular, ridiculous two weeks of imbibing here, starting with a party in which my way better half and I celebrated (A) our birthdays, and (B) the fact that we have phenomenal friends, who shared, among other treasures, these:
I possess far too few fingers and toes to count the highlights from that night. But getting to have one of the world’s foremost sauvignon blancs from the Dagueneau family, top-notch Champagne and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a magnum of gorgeous Viader cabernet proved especially memorable.
And two of the offerings were perfection incarnate. While enjoying the 2007 Shafer “Hillside Select,” I gushed that it was impossible to believe California cabernet could be any better. (Hey, it’s my party, and I can gush if I want to.) I’ve had a ’94 Harlan but not Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family or other “cult” cabs. I don’t need to. As sublime as the Harlan was, this is easily its equal.
Same goes for the Kaesler “Old Bastard”; I have never been able to determine if this shiraz (certainly appropriate for this occasion) or Penfolds Grange is the greatest expression of Australian wine. I hope to get many more chances to explore that quandary.
There have been several other ensuing gatherings where wines provided delight and/or discovery; I already have written about one of them. But only one contained a true “a-ha” experience, which actually could be called a “La-La” experience. Or, perhaps more appropriately, a “holy shit” experience.
We had the great-good fortune of being invited to dinner at the home of our favorite chef, Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma. The meal was simple, fresh and fantastic, with a grilled peach/heirloom cherry tomato appetizer and a mixed grill with sundry chimichurri sauces proving particularly indelible. Throughout we drank mostly rosés, Dragon and Tempier and others.
It was a 1998 E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne, one of three superlative Guigal bottlings (with La Turque and La Mouline) that have earned the moniker “La-Las” ““ and many hundreds of bottles per bottle, if you can find them.
There is no way to describe this wine’s countless qualities adequately. But there are plenty of ways to talk about how it made us feel. Every third of a second, a different flavor or texture or jolt of something struck, the varying facets attacking, receding and sometimes re-emerging. The wine made me shake and tingle.
There was conversation around the table, but it seemed to be in another room. I’m not big on the “better than sex” tag to describe food, but this was every bit as good as sex. If I were a faith-based person, this would have been a religious experience; regardless, the wine grabbed a-hold of my soul and shook it to the core. I was kind of in a daze, but with clarity, a state of mind and body that I hope to attain again someday.
Although it’s OK if I don’t.