Monday, December 3, 2007

Had a Ball

Saturday evening we spent a lovely evening at the annual Symphony Ball. It was a great night of music, food, wine and dancing. This is a wine blog, so let's focus on the wine. The dinner included two bottles of wine, a white and a red. The white offering was a 2005 Kathy's Cuvee Rosenblum Viognier. This wine took me by surprise. I was expecting an herbal blah one dimensional viognier from California. This has a wonderful polynesian nose and exotic flavor. Full of tropical fruits, bananas, pineapples, mingling with a strong floral essence. Complex and big, this wine is one of the most unusual I've had in a while. It was almost creamy on the tongue and had mango hints and honey. I think there were even some stone fruits in this one with subtle apricot and nectarines on the nose. Definitely one I'll be picking up. I can't believe how unique this wine is. I think it's about 15 bucks and well worth the price.

The server also plunked down a bottle of 2005 Joseph Phelps Innisfree Cabernet Sauvignon. Now I'm a big fan of Joseph Phelps. The Joseph Phelps Insignia was the Wine Spectator wine of the year for 2005 - a well-deserved accolade. The Innisfree cab is a fine wine at a pretty good price point. That being said I found this bottle to be a little disappointing. Not that it was bad, I just expected more. It had bright red fruits like cherry and raspberry along with a good tannin structure and hints of green vegetables. It was a little thin, though. I expected a bigger cab. It was also a little bit sour and the finish was not to long. In the end there was a slight bitterness that put it off a bit. Now, the bottle was just opened. Perhaps this one needed to be decanted for a few hours. I'll certainly give Innisfree another go sometime but prior vintages have been much more than this one.

I also brought a couple of bottles with me to the ball to share with my wife and friends. I've been meaning to try this Bordeaux for a while and tasting notes I've seen on it said to drink it by the end of 2009. This is a 1999 Benjamin de Beauregard from Pomerol. I would say I'm glad I opened it now because I think it was about at its prime. It has a deep ruby color with an earthy and fruity nose. You get a bit of that forest floor meets Bordeaux dirt on the nose that can be quite pleasant. The tannins were smooth and silky and the wine had a medium to full body. It resonated around in my mouth with ever changing flavors of first fruit then musty mushrooms all being carried along with a nice acid sourness that reminded me of sour cherries. This is more of a classic French style wine. It had that real quality of elegant aged fruit. Not the forward hit you in the face fresh fruit from wines made to be drunk the moment it hits the store shelves. I honestly don't remember where I picked this one up, but I've had it in the cellar for a while. I'm glad I was able to enjoy it in the company of good friends.

Last but not least is one of my favorite grapes and my wife's favorite wine. I opened up a bottle of the 2004 Rombauer Zinfandel. Rombauer is a neat little winery in Napa on top of a hill right off of Silverado Trail. They are well known for producing big bold reds of high quality. When I moved to Fargo in 1996 I brought a case of one of their best vintages, the 1994 zin. I finished off the last bottle a couple years ago. This wine is BIG! Did I say it was BIG? It's monstrous. It's almost a dessert wine, it has so much fruit. Although I don't think there's any significant residual sugar in it, it tastes sweet. It is one of those jammy jammy jammy red fruit raspberry cherry blackberry zins that fill your mouth with satin. I love the way if feels in my mouth. It can be too sweet for some foods, however. It went ok with our beef but it was even better with the tiramisu dessert! We recently had this wine at a wine and cheese pairing and it went beautifully with a blue cheese. This wine can stand up to that. The tannins in this one were soft and I suspect this will not last as long as my beloved 1994 vintage. It's pretty good drinking now.

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