A birthday wine – the ’99 Opus One

Last night’s wine was, among others, the ’99 Opus One. A gift from my good friend Nick, he insisted, “Denise, you must open this wine on your birthday”. Who am I to argue?   I was having a small dinner with a bunch of wine professionals and their partners so I thought it would be fun to do a blind tasting and see what they guessed. The verdict was half New World, half Old World. Ana thought it smelled Old World but tasted New. Penny was thinking Old World, Nigel was convinced it was Italian. Funnily enough, it was the partners of Penny and Eleanor who came up with the the main varietals and provenance, guess they must be paying attention to all that grape talk. I think it’s quite apropos that a wine made jointly by Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillippe de Rothschild should exhibit the best of both New and Old World wine. The wine was lovely, savoury on the nose, heavy minerality, graphite, lead, lots of secondary aromas. I have to admit I didn’t take notes, just busy inhaling the aromas. On the palate it was still quite fruity, loads of rich, ripe plums and black cherry, smooth, round tannins but plenty of acidity still left, the finish was nice and long, a really delicious wine. That’s all I remember. Well, what do you expect after a couple of bottles of champagne? I’m glad I remembered that much. A great wine with great friends, what better way to spend a birthday. For the record, the ’99 was a blend of : Cabernet Sauvignon 84% Merlot 7% Cabernet Franc 5% Malbec 3% Petit Verdot 1% Retailing online in The States for about US$250. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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No Burgundy Clones here – Viña Leyda P. Noir ’07

Last week we tried a new Pinot that arrived in the shop – Viña Leyda Pinot Noir, Las Brisas Vineyard, 2007. I like a good Burgundy any day but I keep an open mind to the New World, especially when it comes to Pinot Noir. I’ve had some great stuff from New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest. There is a difference, no doubt, but I think that good producers of pinot noir in the New World do their best to stamp their own identity on the  wine rather then try and make a Burgundy clone. The Leyda pinot noir is made with fruit sourced from a single vineyard, Las Brisas. Brisas means breeze in Spanish and this vineyard is situated on the southwest slope of the estate, where there is less direct sunlight and more exposure to the ocean breeze, which keeps the grapes cool and allows them to develop slowly. When I opened this one, the first thing that hit me was a rather fruity attack to my nose and I hadn’t even poured it yet! This wine had a full-on nose of red cherries, ripe strawberries and raspberries. After a minute or so, we began to detect spicy notes and hints of bramble,wild herbs and a subtle smokiness. The wine spent 8 months in used French oak barrels, which was apparent but not overbearing. On tasting it, I thought it had a juicy, mouthwatering palate of ripe red berries, cherry and bramble with a bit of smokiness. A silky, medium bodied number with a hint of minerality on the finish. Despite the fact that the alcohol level was 14%, the alcohol didn’t assault my palate or nostrils. This wine had jumping acidity and was great on it’s own but I’m not sure if it was necessarily food friendly. I had some chicken with it and it didn’t really add anything to my enjoyment of dinner. This is a very fruity wine but it’s not subtle. And that’s the difference between Old and...

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