Thursday, January 22, 2009

Suburban’s Staff Unwinds

The holidays are busy times for wine retail, so our staff tradition is to wait until early January before collectively kicking back with some food, wine and celebration, Suburban style. This year, Lance set us up at Peter Pratt’s for the festivities. A private room awaited us, as usual, and an empty table provided us with the space for the numerous bottles we brought. As the corks flew, that table quickly became a sampling space, wherein each of us tried to taste as many of the 2-dozen wines as possible before settling on our favorites to drag with us to the dinner table. Hors d’oeuvres came, and opinions filled the room about whose contributions faired the best. It was difficult to really choose a winner, since most of the wines were “heavyweights”. But in the end, we broke it down this way:

The purists or “traditionalists” among us agreed that George W’s contribution of an organically-farmed 2001 Lirac by Domaine de la Mordoree was the king, with its high tones, striking minerality and beautiful delineation of classic Rhone flavors, while the new-world hounds preferred Jason F’s 2002 Sherwin Family Napa Cabernet, an assertive wine with an aromatic attack of blackcurrants, charcoal, pen ink, and toasty American oak, finishing with outrageous chewy tannins. Both of these made fine complements for the ensuing carnivorous feast which included sirloin steaks, pork shanks, braised duck breasts and waygu beef burgers.

Other wine highlights included Kevin’s controversial yet delightfully-mature ’86 Chateauneuf-du-Pape from a negociant none of us had heard of before, a peppery and Cornas-like ’98 Brokenwood Shiraz Graveyard Vineyard, the white pepper and eucalyptus-laden ’96 Jim Barry Shiraz Armagh, an elegant, floral and pretty 2000 single-vineyard old vines Carignane from Porter Creek of Russian River Valley, a slightly past-peak but intriguing and licorice-laced ’89 Chateau Montelena Cabernet in magnum, a buttery, textured and extremely rare ’06 Gratis Chardonnay from Sea Smoke, the wine that started it all off…..a rich and precise ’98 Champagne Egerie de Pannier, and the wine that ended it all…..the dazzling, absolutely stunning 2000 Tokaji Ezencia by Dereszla, which is a dessert wine made from free-run juice that blew our minds with its dead-ringer apricot and green tea aromatics, and never-ending finish.

Kudos to Pratt’s for the amazing meal and the vino-friendly atmosphere. And thanks to Lance for the generosity. Here’s to a prosperous 2009! -Michael Koehler-

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