With Marcus coming over for an impromptu tasting I quickly scrambled for a theme. In such situations I usually focus on the wines, but tonight it was decided that the food should be front and center. Thus, our four intrepid tasters sought to evaluate which of tonight's wines (Bordeaux, Barbaresco, Toro - all served blind) worked best with grilled terriyaki lamb steaks.
There was no consensus as to the best pairing, but the wine that generated the most commentary and discussion was the 2000 Marchesi di Gresy Martinenga (Barbaresco). Light cherry red in the glass, with a wonderful nose of Jaguar leather, rose petals, rubber, black cherries, liquorice, truffles, damp cedar, and a hint of vanilla. Exquisite on the palate - silky green tannins, ample acidity, crisp fruit, terrific length - polished, with everything in harmony. This beauty was enjoyed here previously...
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Price: C$65 (SAQ)
Our Bordeaux was a "second wine" from a "lesser" vintage, but it was a worthy competitor to our Italian gem and an equally good pairing for tonight's meal. The 2001 Carruades de Lafite (Pauillac) impressed with a complex nose of leather, violet and blackberries, some white pepper, green pepper, and dark tea as well. Crisp dark fruit on the palate framed by strong acidity and well-integrated oak, very poised. I had a bottle of this when it was younger, and I am stunned at how much this wine has improved - this was terrific Bordeaux, purchased at an incredible futures price...
cork. 12.5% alcohol
Price: C$49 (LCBO futures)
Our poor Spanish entrant was nobody's favourite, on its own or as a pairing with the meal. The 2001 Quinta Quietud (Toro) was dark purple in the glass, with gobs of spicy new oak on the nose, dark berry fruit, tobacco and cloves, meaty with a late greenness. Thick, dry tannins with good fruit, a great wine but it came off a touch flabby and unpolished in the presence of its distinguished peers. Enjoyed earlier this year...
cork. 14.5% alcohol
Price: C$30.75 (SAQ)
A couple of notes: (1) Both the Barbaresco and the Bordeaux were in contention for the best pairing tonight, with all tasters back and forth regarding their preferred wine for tonight's meal - trust me, both work. (2) While the Carruades de Lafite sported a modest price, I see prices on the internet FOUR TIMES higher than what I paid - that was one incredible futures buy, I only wish I dove deeper into that 2001 release.
But there is more - Marcus, ever the glutton for punishment, invited my entire family to his house for a Portuguese wine tasting...stay tuned.