In December of last year I received a call from Jacques. He was going to be in Tampa over the Christmas holidays and wanted to get together with me to share some red Burgundy that he was particularly proud of. After some back and forth we settled on brunch at Prato, a Winter-Park-based restaurant which features "hand crafted Italian cuisine."
Sunday broke bright and sunny and I made my way to Prato accompanied by my wife and a friend who was visiting from NY. When I arrived Jacques was already there and had settled in comfortably with the other brunch attendees.
Jacques is meticulous about ensuring that his wines are decanted for an appropriate period prior to drinking and, to that end, he had arrived in town the day before and deposited his bottle at the restaurant along with specific instructions as to when the bottle should be opened and decanted. The wine in question was a 2005 Nicolas Potel Nuits St.-Georges aux Chaignots and the restaurant was instructed to decant it 2 hours prior to our 1:00 pm start time. When I arrived the decanted wine sat in the middle of the table patiently waiting to deliver Jacques from the self-imposed purgatory in which he had been existing since the dual TCA attack.
As I settled into my seat, Jacques announced that his wine was not yet ready. It would require some additional caressing by the oxygen blanketing its surface. I was prepared for this. Remember I had seen this guy in action before so I had brought along a few "backup" bottles and I threw them into the breach.
The first wine I opened was the Tenuta Villa Crespia Franciacorta NumeroZero NV. This zero dosage sparkling wine has become one of my go-to Franciacortas combining as it does richness and elegance with citrus, melon, and almond notes. It should be noted that all of the wines were tasted in conjunction with food which we ordered from the menu and shared as small plates.
The second wine tasted was the 2004 Hospice de Beaune Meursault-Genevieres. I have had this wine on a number of occasions and it is normally rich and palate-pleasing. Not so this bottle. The wine was a thin, pale shadow of those prior bottles. I chalked it up to bottle variation because this bottle had been stored for a similar period and under similar conditions as were the more enjoyable bottles.
At this time I gave Jacques the option of either pouring his wine or for us to shift to the trio of Italian wines which I had brought. His eyes lit up. We would wait on the Burgundy.
Of the Italian reds, two were Barolos (The 2002 Monfortino and the 1997 Corino) and the third was a 1983 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. These wines were all excellent. The Barolos were of different pedigree with the Monfortino, held by many to be the finest Barolo label on the planet and this particular vintage, initially a controversial bottling, now held to be a legend. The Corino provided riper black fruit, anise, and tar. The Emidio Pepe was characterized by earthiness and dried cherries.
Jacques was in heaven. He had come bearing French gifts and was being rocked back on his heels by a range of Italian wines. Well his time had come. All eyes were now on him.
According to the Wine Advocate, the Nicolas Potel Nuits St.-Georges aux Chaignots "... offers alluring aromas of strawberry and red cherry, comes onto the palate smooth and polished with abundant ripe fresh fruit and subtle raw meatiness, and finishes with satisfying length." When we poured Jacques bottle, these were not the aromas and flavors that greeted us. The aromas were muted and washed out and the flavor was pale strawberry. The satisfying length mentioned in the tasting note had turned tail and ran, along with the attack and all of the other elements of the wine. The wine had been left to the vagaries of the elements for too long and had faded out. Jacques' bottle had turned on him again.
He looked at me sheepishly, cursed the gods, and poured another glass of the wines on offer. I wonder what he will be bringing next year.
©Wine -- Mise en abyme