Last weekend we hosted a small dinner party for 3 other couples. For dinner, we served a spice crusted duck via Avec Eric (the base recipe can be found here, although I used very large breasts and grilled them, but the idea is the same).
Protip: have your fire extinguisher handy when grilling duck on a gas grill.
Anyway, it was a bit of a celebratory weekend for us, so we decided to open a few bottles we’d been saving for just such an occasion. Here’s how they were.
First, we opened our most prized bottle, a 2002 Silver Oak Napa Cabernet . (5/5. $100 when I got it, but now unavailable from the winery.) We’ve been to Silver Oak in Napa twice, and I had tasted this wine at the winery. I bought the bottle locally a few years ago, and was a bit concerned that it hadn’t been stored well before I got it, but knowing how much we liked it and how special the wine is, we gave it a go.
We decanted it, but not for long, perhaps 15 minutes. The main point was to make sure we didn’t have any sediment issues. It was as expected – fantastic. It was an excellent match with the duck, the spiciness and richness of the dish were complimented by the big bold Cabernet. A wonderful wine and a great pairing.
After finishing that bottle, we opened a 2002 Chateau Langoa Barton (5/5, $50.) From Saint Julien and bottled at the Chateau, this is predominately a Cab, but probably a similar blend to the Silver Oak. Decanted it while we were finishing the Silver Oak, again, maybe 10-15 minutes.
This Bordeaux was also a stunner, more rounded, less bombastic than the Silver Oak. An excellent wine, velvet in the mouth, with just the right balance of fruit, acid, and tannins. A good time to drink it, in my opinion, although it certainly had the structure to keep for years. Also a great match with the duck.
Comparing the two brought about some interesting conversation. The Silver Oak was bigger and bolder, and tasted younger. The Langoa Barton was more refined, less bold and more earthy. There were clear differences in style of wines that were similar blends, and both were outstanding.
After the two big boys, I decided to open something I had just picked up at my local wine store (Chesapeake Wine). The owner of the store and I have similar palates; if he likes it, I tend to like it. He had raved about this 2010 Chateau Les Arromans (4/5, $14). While I thought it might be a bit young, I picked up a bottle just to see.
Glad I did.
It was certainly different from the first two. Not over the top, but far more fruit driven, with good structure, but the tannins weren’t in the way… this isn’t something I would hold on to for very long, but right now, it’s a fun wine. Juicy, mouth watering, and screaming to be drunk with food. Again, a pretty good match with the duck, although in a different way, picking up more on the spiciness than the richness.
All in all, a fun comparison, and a good meal with some great wine.
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