Chasing the Dragon: ‘What’s your favorie wine?’

Wine_Dragon“What’s your favorite wine?” always seemed to me to be a fairly immature question, akin to, “what’s your favorite color?”
But I now have an answer.
On Saturday night, Sashi and his wife Melissa held an intimate engagement party for Jessica and me. They popped 8 magnums from our most beloved producers. Needless to say, we ordered our taxi in advance.
Following magnums of Champ William Deutz, Billecart Salmon Rose, and 2006 William Fevre Chablis, it was time for 1998 Jean Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc. Old vine Roussanne blended with Marsanne, I’ve decided this wine is my benchmark for White Rhone wines. In the past, I’ve fallen for the 2000, 2004, 2005, and 2006; but the 1998, perhaps because it was aged in magnum, stole the other vintages’ thunder. For the rest of my life, I’ll be chasing the dragon of this perfectly cellared, hermitage_Dragongolden wine. Not only do I yearn to try it again, and continue to try more vintages, but we as a winery will be on a never-ending quest to achieve a profile this delicious in L’Avion.
Since hiking many of JL Chave’s vineyards last summer read more, I know those steep, south-facing hillside plots are special. Apart from trying the different vintages of Hermitage Blanc, I’ve also picked up a few bottles of the much more affordable St. Joseph Blanc. Great drinkers, but not the magic I find in the Hermitage.
Sashi_Cooking_DragonSashi paired the wine with Duck Foie Gras (not force fed) lightly seared, with grilled, yellow New Vineland Durham Wheat Bread. The richness of the liver spread over the fresh bread, just a touch charred, mirrored the wine’s texture. The fresh flavors popped even more.
I think most wine lovers have experienced similar euphoric “aha” moments of drinking a delicious wine with its perfect pairing. It’s exactly what gets us hooked!
As much as Stolpman Vineyards has evolved and matured as a winery, it’s also nice to get smacked in the face with the realization, “we ain’t done nothing yet.”
To be honest, it doesn’t happen frequently. When we taste Angeli against E. Guigal La Las, L’Avion with Ch. Beaucastel CDP Vielles Vignes Blanc, we nod our heads and appreciate these fine French wines, but also beam with pride at how well the Stolpman wines stand up to them. Even so, I fear the day JL Chave Hermitage Blanc shows up in a blind tasting with L’Avion.
hermitagefood_DragonAs our Roussanne vines continue to mature, they will give more and more concentration and nuance. We already know the wine ages, as that first 2002 release drinks gorgeously today. The best L’Avion made yet, 2011, is currently aging in bottle, slated for April 1, 2014 release. The wine floats through the palate with subtle peach fuzz texture. 2012, aging in Puncheon, is much different, probably the thickest, richest L’Avion ever made, but because of the raw power, it’s definitively Californian.
2007 Paolo di Marchi’s Sperino Lessona, 1999 Jasmin Cote Rotie, 1990 Jaboulet Croze hermitage, and 1990 Clos Du Pape Chateau neuf du Pape followed through the course of dinner. Our bottle of Cornas was slightly off, but we were having too much fun trying the others with our beef main course and then an awesome cheese plate via The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills; nobody cried for the Cornas as we would have on any other night.
Ladies_DragonFurthering the lore of the 1998 JL Chave Hermitage Blanc is the fact that it stole the spotlight from all of the noble reds.
Not only am I reinvigorated, full of love for Jessica (first) and for wine; we will also be bottling portions of 2011 Angeli, 2011 Hilltops, 2011 Originals, 2010 Sangio degli Angeli, and 2010 Estate Sangiovese in magnum next month. Quite a momentous dinner!