The Hosts with The Mosts: Wine Extravaganza

Wine dinner does not adequately describe Saturday night. Yes, there was dinner. Yes, there was wine – and a lot of it. But mostly, there were good friends and a whole lot of laughs. Of course, it never hurts to have a vertical of Grange to keep things fun.

Florida Keys Guy and I arrived several hours early to help prepare for the festivities. He moved furniture while I did any kitchen chores I was asked. Make truffles? Check. Make puff pastry tarts? “OK, but you only have Phyllo,” I say to Kim. “We can make them with this, but they will be totally different”. Off the guys go to Publix to get some puff pastry. Don’t worry, I made them get the pre-made shells, to save time and not stress about a box of frozen puff pastry. The leek and cheese tarts were outstanding, as proven by the fact that I ate several.Additional appetizers included sweet and sour meatballs, a cheese plate full of stinky goodness and bruschetta.

As the evening began, and other guests arrived – we were thirteen in all – we started adding to the wine table. The general consensus was that we would wait and have the Penfold’s Grange (1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999) all together either before, or during dinner. Instead we started with an array of champagnes and other white wines. A nice glass of champagne always sets a good mood. I assume that is why Seabourn pours so much on their cruises.

As the evening continued, we moved into the reds – including a 1998 Chateau Palmer (which I loved), 2005 Karl Lawrence Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (a baby, but tasty nonetheless), 2001 Aldo Conterno Colonnello Barolo (wonderful), 2000 Lynch Bages (we brought this one – really good, but also needs much more time), a 1987 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Cab, whose cork I proceeded to break in half, and others.

Then we moved on to the Grange. Holy moley. We started with the oldest bottle first, 1995. This was clearly a mistake because it was so good that the others could only pale in comparison. Full bodied, very long finish, well balanced. This is not your syrupy Aussie Shiraz, this is the real deal. This wine could easily last another 15-20 years, and keep improving. The 1996 and 1998 were both still good, but nothing like the 1995. I thought the 1999 was a flawed bottle, but some others disagreed. It had to be flawed, or the winemaker had no taste buds in 1999.

As the evening went on, our host continued pulling bottles from his cellar – a Quilceda Creek red wine, Justin Reserve Cab, 1999 BV Georges De Latour, BV Tapestry, 1999 Leoville Barton, 1976 Caymus, and one provided by another friend: 1978 Pape Clement (blech – tasted of tobacco, and only tobacco).

Overall, the evening was great: 26 bottles of wine, although I am not sure that counts the one we had while cooking. If you don’t already have some, get yourself some internet wine geek friends. They are good peeps.

Stay tuned next week for the recap of Lorna’s 1st-Anniversary-of-her-39th-birthday, featuring a couple of 1970 wines.

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