A long and lovely weekend’s lessons

What I learned during my imbibing adventures over the weekend:

• Marsala can be profound: At a dinner party Saturday, my friend Molly brought a Marco de Batoli Vigna la Miccia Marsala. Amidst a whole lotta oohing and aahing, table mates threw out descriptors such as “powerful,” “complex” and “brooding.” It was “not hot [showing high alcohol]” but was “sexy.” Sorry for going all Zagat on ya, but it was fascinating hearing this band of merrymakers universally rave over a type of wine that they clearly had not previously taken very seriously. This Marsala was so good that it almost would be a shame to cook with it.

Rosé can be awful: I tested a lot of pink stuff on Friday, and it was good, bad and seriously ugly. I’ve already touted one from the Rhône and enjoyed two wonderful offerings from Loire producer Pascal Jolivet (Sancerre and “Attitude”). But the “Pink Truck” was one of those wines that prompts me to tell people that I kiss a lot of frogs in this, uh, gig (sorry!), which was a surprise since earlier last week I had rather enjoyed a Green Truck Zin from the same producer. And the Forest Glen White Merlot was the kind of wine that has prompted many discussions with friends about starting a site devoted solely to warning consumers away from poorly made plonk.

Napa cabs (at least old ones) can avoid being monolithic: “Domestic wines at least 10 years old” was the theme for a score of cork dorks gathering at Pittsburgh Blue on Sunday for mediocre food and, for the most part, 1990s Napa cabs. I was very pleased with the Clos Pegase “Hommage” that I brought (the only ’98 in the bunch) and thoroughly enjoyed a ’99 Spottswoode, ’95 Chateau Montelena, ’01 Beringer Private Reserve and ’97 Hartwell. The best part for me was their wide range of styles and flavor profiles, from dusty and refined to lush but firm to hedonistic and endless. Like snowflakes and palates, no two were alike.

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