02 July 2007

Early 4th of July Celebration (Continued)

I'm back to finish the story, and restore my good name after the White Zin post.

On the second night of the R family gathering, they took care of all the cooking. I had to be in Murfreesboro that afternoon for my own family get-together, which was a lot of fun. Plenty of pulled pork BBQ and great picnic fare. That evening it was back to the R family estate where we had barbecued salmon and grilled lamb, braised beets and homemade macaroni & cheese, a caprese salad, and some other things that I'm forgetting. Great food and great wines, but first...

One of the big highlights of the weekend was getting to meet--and take some portraits of--the newest addition to the R family. We're all looking forward to raising a glass with him in a couple of decades. Which means that I'll be 50 when he's of legal age. Whoa.

Mike fixed a round of Washington Apple cocktails. A Washington Apple is made up of Crown Royal, Apple Pucker, and cranberry juice, shaken and served over ice. To be fair, this is not the kind of thing I would have ordered in a bar. But I was amongst friends and it was available, so why not give it a try? The end result was oddly delicious: no one flavor stands out amongst the others; they all marry together to taste something like a candy apple but not as sweet.

On to the wines! I started off with the 2003 Georges Dubœuf Juliénas, and thus got to knock off another Cru Beaujolais from the list. Only three left to try. It was light and pleasant with cherry jam aromas and flavor. Good fruit structure, not too heavy or watery, elegant balance.

At some point I opened the Chateau Aux Arcs Zinfandel I'd brought along. Several people found it a pleasant surprise, and it improved well with several hours of breathing. I'm not saying every Arkansas wine is going to be a masterpiece, but that particular winery has some amazing potential.

Next up was the 1999 Jamison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Couldn't find any online information here, but it was peppery and spicy with firm tannins that have held up for quite a while.

Time for another Bulgarian: the 2003 Uniqato Melnik, a full red version of the Melnik grape. And for some reason I can't get past that name: Melnik. It reminds me of Yiddish slurs like nudnik and schmendrik, or perhaps some MAD parody of wine. Anyway, the bottle produced medium tannins and an overall tone of black cherry, along with an earthy quality that made it a perfect match for the grilled lamb. At some point I'm going to have to go to Sofia and sample Bulgarian wines alongside the native cuisine.

MVP for the evening in my opinion: the 2001 Ridge Three Valleys. A Sonoma wine comprised of 50% Zinfandel, 15% Petite Sirah, 15% Carignane, 11% Maturo (Mourvedre), and 9% Grenache. Let's skip the elegant Bauhaus label design using the Optima typeface that has stood the test of time and move on to the flavor: blueberry with perfectly mellow tannins and hints of tartness. A real joy throughout the evening: my last sip was around midnight, after a cigar. One of the ladies present was kind enough to pour a quarter glass just so I could taste it one last time. If any wine has made me want to build a house with a dedicated wine cellar, this was it.

My notes stop there, and as near as I can recall no more wines were opened. Definitely the bottles of Port and Scotch were revisited on the second night of festivities. (Tom, I owe you a bottle of The Balvenie--that was some amazing whisky.)

I once again want to thank the R family for their gracious hospitality during that weekend. They ply me with good wine and food and conversation all weekend, and all I have to do is cook a meal. I look forward to next year. Dave might dig a pit and we'll roast a whole pig.

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