10 November 2007

Meat & Wine

We headed back to Restaurant Tierra Noble last night. It's a fairly new place in an upscale neighborhood close to the US Embassy. It's todo parrillas--everything is grilled. Loads of beef and fresh fish but also tasty treats like duck, lamb, rabbit, and wild boar. The real draw is the wine list which is extensive, well-chosen, and very affordable. It's also one of the few places that we know that features wines from other countries! Chile is very good at exporting but seems to cringe at the idea of importing anything (but that's another story we'll probably take up more in the future).

The first time at the restaurant we brought our own wine and were promptly charged US $25 for corkage. Then I looked through the wine menu. Taittenger NV Brut champagne for US $60! 1996 Cos D'Estournel for US $26! This, as I expected, turned out to be a horrible typo and a zero should have been added after the six. However, there are several other wines that, for restaurant pricing, are a steal and come with decent bottle age. I chose the 1999 Gruaud Larose from St. Julien and at $42 that's about the going rate in retail stores in the US.

The 1999 vintage in St. Julien and most of Bordeaux was difficult at best. Hot and wet were the defining characteristics. St. Julien fared better than most appellations and turned out some of the most consistent wines of the vintage. Keep in mind this was all just a vague memory at the time. I saw the name and the price and the fact that the vintage is now eight years old and I figured it was worth a shot.

And it was. The godhead spoke and when he spoke he said the wine deserved somewhere between 89 and 91 points. I don't know what that means exactly but even after close to an hour of decanting it still reeked of little but oak. The color was a beautiful ruby red and through the oak you could sense some of the cherries and leather and cassis common in the St. Julien appellation. What immediately struck me, though, is how infrequently I drink wines like this. The wine is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon
(+/- 80%), Merlot (somewhere close to 20%), and the rest Cabernet Franc. It was a Bordeaux through and through: structured, sturdy, and stout. Pretty to look at, a tad uninteresting to drink. Give this another five years or so for the oak to mellow and it may just turn into something fun.

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