Between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve we had company over for three dinners. There were several different meal plans and everything worked out well. We enjoyed dinners of filets, pastas and pork tenderloins, along with assorted appetizers and desserts. We also had wines, some of the white wines I have discussed before, because when my Bride finds a white wine that she enjoys, she makes sure that we have it available. The three reds that I will discuss were brought here by my Bride’s sister and her husband.
The first wine I will talk about is an Altesino 1997. It is a Brunello di Montalcino from the southern part of Tuscany near Siena. The term Brunello is a diminutive form of the word Bruno, which means brown, because the grape is a brown color. This grape is now known as the Sangiovese grape varietal that really excels in this region. All Brunello di Montalcino wines are made of one hundred percent Sangiovese grapes. While other sections of Tuscany are now growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, they are not allowed in this designation and they do not grow as well in this area. There was a scandal where some of the vintners were using other varietals and claiming the wine to be a Brunello. The current law requires that the wine is to be in oak barrels for a minimum of two years and then an additional four months in bottles before it can be released The Altesimo wine really showed its quality that night, even though it was made prior to this new set of laws. There was still some fruit and the tannins had mellowed and it really paired well with the Lasagna and with the Palomino Sauce that we had with the pasta. It was a bit overpowering, I thought, for the Fettuccini al Fredo, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it.
We also had a couple of 2000 vintage wines. The first was from Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley. It was a magnum of the Howell Mountain Merlot, which is one the best designations from Duckhorn. Since we had been to the winery we had tasted a couple of wines from Howell Mountain and it is wine to look for. My Brother-in-law had bought this magnum the last time he was at Duckhorn, and then a couple years ago he had a new addition put on his house from the basement up, so he had a beautiful wine cellar built. When he went to open the wine bottle he was a little concerned about the some wine on top of the cork, and he was concerned that perhaps the last couple of years may not have been the best storage for his magnums as they are on a rack standing up to showcase these bottles. There was a little “foxiness” at the first taste, but it seemed to dissipate as the wine had time to breathe. Another year or two of storage for this wine may have been detrimental to it.
The other 2000 red that we enjoyed during the holiday week was from Beaulieu Vineyards also from Napa Valley. This was a Centennial Lot Cabernet Sauvignon with the cachet of “Winemaker’s Collection.” This was quite a full wine and it would have still been excellent I would say for another five or more years. There was a lot of fruit still in the wine, it had not fully mellowed or matured, at least that was my thoughts as I was drinking it. Beaulieu Vineyards is a winery that impresses me with every bottle that I have tried.