Thursday, August 14, 2008

With Friends Like These...

I arrived in Portland, Oregon, last night and (naturally) went directly from the airport to the ever-outstanding Café Castagna, which is pretty much my surrogate home here. Actually, I did stop off on the way to pick up a bottle of 1999 Nikolaihof Steiner Hund Riesling from my small stash of wine that I keep here in the city. Over the pleasures of a real American burger—at Castagna they grind chuck themselves, plus they make the buns, and cooked almost rare (truly rare is illegal in Oregon), with Swiss and bacon, it’s my drug of choice—I spent a lovely evening with friends, consuming many quality beverages.

My friend Dave brought a 1973 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva in honor of my birthday (I was born in 1973), and this bottle was magnificently fresh and youthful, in much better shape than me, in fact. Carl opened an Avery bottling of 1961 Vosne-Romanée Malconsorts that was similarly vibrant, with taut, spicy flavors that were classically expressive of this special site. Pete found a deliciously rich and resonant bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée from an older disgorgement—as a Krugist I know I’m supposed to believe that all bottles of Grande Cuvée are the same, but I’ll just say that some bottles are samer than others. My bottle of Steiner Hund was nowhere near ready to drink, but with decanting it revealed a pungent, sappy core of depth and positively lovely sense of minerality, like drinking liquid stones.

As we had to let the good people of Castagna actually go home for the evening, we reconvened back at Pete’s house, sans Carl, for some late-night bubbles. A superb bottle of 1988 Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage, surely the most complex and harmonious bottle of this wine I’ve ever tasted, was followed by an eagerly anticipated 1964 Charles Heidsieck, which was unfortunately oxidized and uninspiring. I suppose that was our punishment for not drinking grower champagne: following these with Pierre Gimonnet’s 2000 Oenophile, all was once again right with the world, bathed in the glow of chalky, racy Côte des Blancs goodness. Having not slept for 30 hours, that was about all the abuse my body could take, and needless to say, my head is ever so slightly throbbing this morning....

4 comments:

Joe Manekin said...

For those wines, I'd deal with even the most intense and tenacious of hangovers.

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