Chateau Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape 2004: I splurged on Valentine's Day with the wife and ordered this beauty. I'm embarrassed to say that it was way out of my budget but I figured "once a year" and the restaurant didn't have the well priced 2003 Roger Sabon CdP any more . . . Tightly wound, pencil shavings and plums on the nose, cherries and earth mid-palate, medium bodied, ethereal, roses and earth, well structured. Lovely but too young to drink now and needs more bottle time. I have a few bottles of this somewhere and will dig one out to drink and review in about a year. Rating: Excellent, tasty.
Badia a Coltibuono, Chianti Classico Riserva 2001: There were 10 of us at Il Poggio, a fantastic Italian place in Snowmass Village, five adults and five kids. The well priced wine list has a number of fine Italian selection under $100 a bottle and some of the big guns from Tuscany as well. Though I greatly enjoy Sangiovese I don't drink Chianti too often b/c the quality varies so greatly and there is so much Chianti plonk out there. Plus the whole "classico" and "riserva" thing seems silly to me. I picked the Badia randomly from the wine list though I asked the owner/wine guy about it after he brought the bottle out but before he opened it and he said it was his favorite traditional Chianti on the list. It was $57 a bottle which is slightly more than a 2x markup to what's out there (I bought the last 6 bottles at WineEx for $24 each). The wine is 90% Sangiovese and 10% canaiolo (??), is certified organic and has 13.5% alcohol . . . Beautifully rich, black cherry red in the glass and opens with that distinct, dusty Tuscan soil, blackberry and stone on the mid-palate, lots of earth here, structured and balanced with a velvet hammer finish. Good with richer pasta and hearty, grilled seafood like lobster. The wife enjoyed it, thus my post trip purchase. Rating: Very good, quaffable.
Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 1998: This was our second wine at Il Poggio and it was $92 a bottle, again a bit more than 2x of current market. I originally ordered the 2001 Altesino but the owner/wine guy said he had one bottle left of the '98 and that it was drinking well; I suspected that the 2001 was a bit young too, even though the '01 was a superior year. So I took the plunge and accepted the '98, which turned out to be a favorite of one of my table mates (no not the 5 year old!). After the Badia, the Altesino seemed huge and robust to me, amazing given that the wines come from the same grape. The '98 is dark garnet in the glass and opens with a mellow nose of fruit and flowers. Black plums and mint mid-palate, refined and integrated tannins but with a bold, satisfying finish of dark fruit. Drinking beautifully now and I can't imagine any improvement over time. Rating: Very good, quaffable.
Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands 2005: This was the third wine I ordered from a list at Village Steakhouse, another wonderful restaurant in Snowmass. The other two were MIA; who knew? With just six of us, and only 3 drinkers, it was our only bottle of the night and did itself justice. I paid $52 for the bottle, which is listed on the Morgan website at $30 and can be found elsewhere in the mid-$20s. A good value for quaffing though it's a notch below the better pinots coming out of SLH and elsewhere in CA, esp. in 2005. My friend John swooned over the "veritable fruit explosion with each mouthful. It engorged the senses with ecstasy and enlightenment [his words]," most of which I missed, probably b/c I'm fed up with all efforts to enlighten from both sides of the aisle. Plus I drink a lot more than he does, I have never found wine to be erogenous and pinot is, well you know . . . Garnet in the glass, quite clear given it's unfined and unfiltered. Nose of cherries with a hint of sage, juicy mid-palate with a mouthful of red fruit. Well made and balanced, given the quantity out there, with thousands of cases made. Modest but pleasant finish. It went well with my ostrich, which was an odd dish for me but worth trying once. Rating: Very good, quaffable.