It’s not often I have the opportunity to experience a quartet of excellent wines on the same day. This past Saturday on a weekend trip to the Big Apple, that opportunity presented itself. My fellow oenophile, Gerry B. stopped by the New York Wine Exchange and picked up a bottle of the 2005 O’Shaughnessy, Howell Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon. I had brought with me from my humble collection, a 2005 Larkmead, Oakville Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon.
We popped both of these in our room at the Marriott prior to dinner. It probably wasn’t fair to the O’Shaughnessy because I know from past experience that this is a huge wine that needs to be open a couple of hours before drinking in order for its true flavors to show. Parker had scored this wine 95 points and it has a great bouquet of licorice, dark berry fruit and tobacco. It’s smooth but quite tannic and that’s where not allowing it to breathe serves as an injustice. I’d give this one a 92 and blame the score on our lack of patience.
The Larkmead showed much better and although Parker gave it a 92, I think all of us thought it deserved higher. I’d give this one a 94. It’s not quite as full-bodied as the O’Shaughnessy but it felt more balanced and the flavors were crisp and precise with undertones of rich spices and blackberries. We could probably have finished both bottles but it was time to get ready for dinner and more wine at Tribeca Grill.
Aside from the food, Tribeca Grill is a consistent winner of Wine Spectator’s Grand Award for their extensive 1800 selection wine list. I was thrilled to find the 2005 Lillian’s White Hawk Vineyard Syrah. I had always wanted to try this wine having read so many rave reviews on the various wine boards. The fact that winemaker, Maggie Harrison, was the former assistant winemaker at Sine Que Non, which I have also never experienced, added to my excitement. The first taste was magical. Very seldom to you get a wine that delivers everything you are looking for in the beverage you are so passionate about. The Lillian Syrah delivers on so many different levels. It’s dark and brooding and packs so much flavor that you grasp for the right words. If Sarah and Sparky Marquis didn’t already capture the name “Velvet Glove” for their ultra-premium Mollydooker Wine, it would be perfect for the Lillian. It’s like getting hit with a velvet glove. The wine has smoothness down to a science and drinking it with my duck breast entree was like a meal designed in heaven. I’d give this one a 98 and place it #2 on my all-time list of wines. It was, as the sommelier mentioned when pouring at our table, “like drinking Sine Qua Non for one-third the price”.
Gerry had chosen the 2005 Venge Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This was an interesting wine. Parker had scored it a 92 with these remarks in December of 2007 “exhibits a deep ruby/purple color, loads of new oak, plenty of cassis fruit, high tannins and a noticeable acidity.”
I found it to be the lightest Cabernet, in color, of any I have ever had. It almost looked light for a Pinot Noir. It has a beautiful nose and is exceptionally smooth but I found the fruit flavors subtle, not bold, and almost, not just Bordeaux like, but Burgundian. It was good, but so different that I could never pin it down and I gave it a 90. I think both wives agreed with me but Gerry loved it; even more than the Lillian Syrah. I guess that’s why they make more than one type of wine and why the true way to judge a wine is by your own palate and not by high scores or the opinion of others.
The truth is that all four of these fine wines were excellent. They each had their own story to tell and all of them added to my own personal history of wine drinking pleasure.