2001 Arcadian Gary's Vineyard pinot noir, California
My 3rd Arcadian, and for the kind of pleasure that comes from a wine so ready to be drunk that it practically jumps out of the glass to meet you, the best so far. This in spite of the fact that I'm not usually a Gary's vineyard fan. Red berry fruit, celery seed, earth and a little mocha on the nose; cherry fruit, earth and a little cinnamon on the palate. The aromatics are so strong that the wine didn't seem at all reticent at first, but it actually did open up and fill out as we sipped. The celery part made it a perfect match for an atypical pairing--rigatoni tossed in a complex sauce whose principal ingredients were fresh garden tomatoes, chicken sausage and fennel stalks. A wine that, while it lasted (and the better the wine, the longer it lasts for we become stingy sippers) dominated the conversation. So in the way that we casually rate wines while we're drinking them, this got our highest score: a double WOW.
And so did, the next night:
1999 Swan Mouvedre, Sonoma, California
Chosen to accompany a simple dinner of grilled lamb chops, this wine had been closed for quite awhile--I'm glad I took the of opening one last night. I believe it was winemaker Mat Garretson who, talking about mouvedre's future in California, said this wine's beauty practically made him cry. I understand that--the first sip nearly took my breath away. It's a beautiful wine, a feminized version of a wine that's usually so much more manly. Medium-bodied but intensely flavored, made from vines planted in 1910 that I believe have since been ripped out, this wine had the tasted of black cherries, rare prime rib, sea spray and tellicherry pepper, and it had a very interesting umami-saltiness to the long finish that seemed to make all the flavors echo rather than fade. I wanted to take the glass into my arms and waltz it around the room. A truly exceptional wine experience, and one of my Wines of the Year.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov