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’99 Orion, ’07 Beaucastel and More

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The occasion was a dinner date with our good friends Anne Keller and Brian Klumpp, here at Gang Central. The menu consisted of grilled lamb chops, fingerling potatoes and broccolini. Entertainment was provided by yours truly, in the form of three new original songs that will receive greater exposure in the near future. Champagne is always a good vehicle with which to begin such festivities, and indeed, that’s where we started.

Champagne Barnaut Brut Rosé Authentique Grand Cru NV, 12.5% alc.: Raspberry pink color; the initial fine, active bead and ample mousse peters out some in the glass. The pungent, yeasty nose leads into bone dry raspberry, strawberry and mineral flavors. Medium-full-to-full bodied, with good acids and length. While it’s a good Champagne, we all felt it’s a little tired and probably a bit past its prime. Find this wine

Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports LLC, Washington, DC

From there, we moved on to three pedigreed reds.

1998 Ceretto Bricco Asili Barbaresco, 13.5% alc.: Clean, dark color, showing just a hint of rust; the sleek, leathery black fruit shows an element of what Kim describes as resembling “plastic,” which, to me seems to be the result of an oak component that has yet to fully integrate. Full bodied and structured for several more years in the cellar; interesting, and even nice, in a way, but in an intermediate stage and in need of further aging. Find this wine

Imported by Clicquot, Inc., New York, NY

1999 Sean Thackrey Napa Orion California Native Red Wine Old Vines Rossi Ranch, 14.8% alc.: This is coming along nicely since we last tried it in ’07; deep, dark garnet in color, showing no rust as of yet. Exudes a lovely perfume, and offers flavors and aromas of sweet oak, blackberry and plum that gain earthy undertones with air. Ripe, but not excessively so, and Anne is reminded of “fresh tomato pulp, not really stewed.” Sleek and refined; full bodied and very well structured for many years of further development, with a nice long finish. Find this wine

2007 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 14.5% alc.: Far less approachable than the 2005 version was a few years ago at roughly the same stage of development, this deep, dark garnet is stingy on the nose, only hinting at the dense, earthy black plum, berry and mineral character on the palate; Anne mentions “a salinity” that she likes. Very primary at this stage (surprise!); full bodied and structured for decades of development. All about promise right now, but with all the goods to deliver great drinking at around 2020 or so. Find this wine

Imported by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham, AL

We finished a delightful evening off with bowls of Graeter’s Vanilla Ice Cream, drizzled with Kim’s Gang of Pour Maple Syrup Vinegar (yes, you read correctly, maple syrup vinegar!), accompanied by the B. Nektar Heart of Darkness Mead Ken Schramm Signature Series, which we last tasted a little over a year ago. The mead is every bit as good as it was then, and pairing it with the ice cream and vinegar combo is amazing! It was a perfect ending to an altogether great evening of food, wine and friendship!

Reporting from Day-twah,

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