[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Christmas Eve Dinner
Most of the year, I focus my attention on quality wines at reasonable prices, trying to hold the cost of our daily ration to roughly $10 or so, and feeling a bit piqued that this bar has risen from maybe $5 or $6 a decade ago.

But when special holidays come around, it's time for a treat, and never more so than during the Christmas season. So as we settled down for a good but simple dinner of roast chicken last night, we opened:

Chateau Gruaud Larose 1989 Saint-Julien ($39.99)
Dark garnet. Delicious cassis and cedar-"cigar box" aromas. Flavors follow the nose, ripe black fruit over a big acidic structure. Heavy tannins demonstrate the wine's immaturity, but even after eight years, there's still so much good fruit and balanced structure that it's a pleasure to drink, boding very well indeed for many years in the cellar. Importer: Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co., NYC. (Dec. 24, 1997)

And, after dinner, surrounded by wrapping paper, flickering lights on the tree and a happy holiday glow:

Cockburn's 1994 Vintage Porto ($36.99)
Very dark blackish-purple, opaque. Delicious stone fruit and dark chocolate aromas. Big and forward fruit and bitter chocolate carry over on the palate with a firm lemony "grip." Although there's a wall of tannin here, the luscious fruit floods over it and makes the wine a delight to drink now. It's hard to imagine what more delights a couple of decades in the cellar will bring. Importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons Ltd., NYC. (Dec. 24, 1997)

(This wine, by the way, was purchased recently from a small local retailer that, to its credit, was still selling its early-purchased 1994s at the original markup, rather than repricing to reflect the quick rise of the '94s into the $80 range and above.)

All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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