after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

big boy showdown

with one comment

t says:  Last time, we talked about the good times and good food had at Marigold Kitchen.  But, as you might have noticed, after all that hype in the beginning of the post, we didn’t have time to discuss the wine!  Just a reminder: the setup was that a and I each brought a bottle of wine unknown by the other.  After a little discussion and thought, we decided to make it a Cabernet Sauvignon showdown … a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon showdown …

I decided to pick up a spendy bottle of Cab from the PLCB; we needed a good splurge after the holidays.  Plus, I just found out that I could return my medical books to amazon.com for way higher than anyone else would buy them from me (Score!).  I searched high and low for what I should bring (our home cellar doesn’t have many spendy options that are “ready” yet).  And then I found it.  I found a bottle that would have some special meaning as well as fall within our budget (i.e. less than the $$ I got from the books I sold).  Basically, I was almost obligated to try it.  I should note that I technically didn’t buy the wine from a state-run “store”, rather, the state-run website: finewineandgoodspirits.com.  When you search for a wine, you can click the tab that says “special order” or something like that and see what’s lying around in the state’s warehouses (which I’ve read are kept at 65 degrees … however … with how tight moneys are nowadays in the state/nation/world, I seriously doubt anyone’s checking the thermostat regularly).  So yes, it was a risk.  With a vintage bottle of wine like the one I got, the risk is that it may have been improperly stored for several years and the consumer (little ‘ol me) would never know until I pop the cork.  That said, I do my best to minimize risk.  The most common problem with these warehouse-stored bottles (if there is a problem), is dried out corks (leading to air creeping down the sides of the cork and oxidizing the wine).  Consequently, as soon as I get home, I cut the foil off the top and check the cork.  And, if there’s the slightest bit of suspicious creepage of wine up the side of the cork (or less-than-perfect ullage or a cork that protrudes out the top some), I take advantage of the awesome  PLCB  return policy (i.e. no questions asked).  As previously blogged, I have run into a cooked wine, and I imagine if I ever run into a corked or oxidized wine from the PLCB, I’ll be returning it for sure.

Sooooo … I bought the wine, prepared it (i.e. decanted it), and brought it to the restaurant, ready to go toe-to-toe with a’s selection.  The waiter brought out the wines with the appetizers (i.e. after four or so amuses).  We tasted, analyzed, pontificated, and, right before entrees came out, revealed the wines’ identities.  This was followed by more tasting, analysis, and pontification.  In short – it was a lot of fun and something we’ll definitely do again (except a more fiscally responsible next time … or g will have my head …).

Now for 1/2 of the big reveal:

t's pick: 2002 dominus estate

2002 Dominus Estate (USA, CA, Napa, ?Yountville?; $97.19 at PLCBI had seen identical bottles going for $150 in NJ so I just had to give this one a whirl when I found it for under $100 at the state store.  Furthermore, Dominus holds a special place in g’s and my hearts, as a 1999 Dominus was the wine at our rehearsal dinner (we still have the empty magnum and cork) … and 1999 was a special year because that’s when we started dating <insert obligatory “aww” here>.

By the time we had gotten around to tasting, our ’02 had been decanted three times (once into the decanter, once back into the bottle, and once into the restaurant’s decanter) and allowed to sit for a total of 2.5 hours.  Because he’s tasted far more wines than I, I’ll let our wine guy take over:

a says:  To start, thank you t for bringing out the big guns. At first, on the nose, I found this a little underwhelming and mainly dominated by funky (but not FRENCH-funky) earth. On the palate, it was lighter than I would have expected for what I knew at the time (big cab from Napa) with much less fruit. Plain and simple, this wine was dusty with lots of dirt and leather. The grip was excellent and the tannins quite smooth, however, the aftertaste ended abruptly. As this wine decanted, it evolved with the meal and became more enjoyable and less dominated by library/earthy flavors; the fruit woke-up on the nose and palate along with some nice chocolate notes. When I learned of the bottle’s origin, I was genuinely surprised… by the label outside and restraint inside. Having never had Dominus, this was not what I would have expected. This drank more like a 3rd growth than a cult napa cab. It was definitely an enjoyable bottle, especially as it opened up, but that being said, was it worth the coin? I can’t say it was. And unless we popped this guy during a dumb phase, I have a hard time believing the drinking window purported by Parker. I would say this is ready now and quite possibly on the downhill.

[on to the next wine:]

a's pick: 2004 Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Chappellet “Signature Cabernet Sauvignon” (USA, CA, Napa; $40 in NJ some time ago)  This knocked my socks off. This was a good year from Napa Valley but I didn’t expect such a round wine from a lesser known producer at this price point. At the start, beautiful color with a lively nose of dark fruit and typical green vegetal notes. On the palate, I found blueberry jam, mocha, and some nice heat. This evolved to get a little more earthy [we mentioned baby-poop at one point] on the nose and peppery in the mouth, while beautifully lingering on the tongue. The heat did turn up during the final sips which could have been caused by warmish wine or just serious aeration for the last drops. Baller. (I have another bottle that I’ll give a little more time in the cellar.)

t says:  I agree with a here.  I think my unrefined palate may have gotten the best of me, as I, too, preferred the mouthfeel and plushness of the Chappellet.  With a slightly longer finish, a little less heat, and a bit smoother tannin, I would have be scouring the net right now to find every last bottle I could.  On the other hand, what the Dominus really needed was some sex appeal.  It had some funk, it had structure, and it had silkiest tannins I’ve had in a while, but it was missing the center-stage fruit.  It was like a Britney Spears music video without Britney (n.b. the Britney circa late-90’s, not the current Britney).  Compared to the ’99 we had back in the day, this ’02 had less fruit, less acid, and smoother tannins.  Parker-points-be-damned, the ’02 needed some oomph!  Nevertheless, I now look forward to future bottles of Dominus, as Christian Moueix’s later vintages are known to be a bit showier.  Dominus vertical in 2019?  Who’s game?

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

14 February 2012 at 10:33pm

One Response

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  1. My god, I bring beer to my parents from NY state all the time since its CHEAPER and all this time I’ve been a coommn scofflaw, I guess I should be ashamed…but I’m not.PLCB can kiss my tookus.

    Kevin

    28 June 2013 at 12:47pm


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