What a wonderful evening I had last night!Â My family and some friends celebrated my graduation from college (how weird is that: I’m a graduate!) as well as my mother’s birthday under the beautiful setting California sun.Â While the occasion would have been special regardless of the menu for the evening, I feel compelled to share our libations with you because they have permanently implanted themselves in my mind.
We began our evening by opening a bottle of champagne almost as old as my sister: a 1992 Dom Perignon OEnotheque, after requisite chilling time in the ice bucket (slightly colder than the fridge, slightly warmer than the freezer).Â As best as I could tell from my research, OEnotheque champagne is a particular type of bottle that is aged longer at the vineyard before being bottled and sold.Â Meaning, a standard 1992 vintage Dom Perignon might have been released in 2000, the OEnotheque 1992 would not have been released until 2004, for example (I don’t know the exact dates, these are just illustrative).
Regardless of the dates, the champagne was excellent.Â It had no sharp finish that might have otherwise left the tongue dry and recoiling in an attempt to reach additional saliva backup.Â Instead, its fruity overtones were balanced by a powerful acidic finish that was clean on the tongue and light in the mouth.Â To be honest, though, I’m not sure I could honestly say that I tasted a difference between this 16-year-old bottle and a non-vintage Dom Perignon (or Veuve Cliquot for that matter) from 2006.Â Maybe my palate just isn’t refined enough to taste the differences…who knows.
Our next indulgence was by far the star of the night: a bottle of 2001 Opus One.Â The Opus One vineyard is the result of an inter-continental and groundbreaking collaboration between Baron Rothschild of Bordeaux fame and Robert Mondavi of the ubiquitous Mondavi vineyards and brands throughout Napa Valley.Â I’m happy to report that their product is stunning.Â After an hour or so of letting the wine breath in a decanter, we dove into its flavors and scents with the accompanying steaks, potatoes, and veggies.
At first, the taste was powerfully of summer berries, then transitioning on the tongue to deeper tones reminiscent of chocolate and coffee.Â The velvety mixture completes its wondrous excursion by leaving a long, pleasant finish on the throat that manages to both warm and cool simultaneously.Â There were no bitter tannins, no sharp acidity, only a perfect balance of complex flavors, scents, and mouthfeel.Â In short, a remarkable wine, one which I’m proud to call the best I’ve ever had.
To cap off the night, we went a bit wild with a 2000 bottle of Dolce, a dessert wine from Napa Valley.Â What I’ve heard is that Dolce can hold its own against the best of France’s Sauternes region, including the famed Chateau d’Yquem.Â This was my first dessert wine, so I unfortunately can’t provide any comparisons, but I can say that it was quite delightful, though perhaps a bit strong.Â At over 14% alcohol, each sip packs a wallop, but one is also greeted by a pleasant and refined sweetness, allowing strong tastes of honey and vanilla through, along with what I basically describe as the tastes of spring. Dolce provided an excellent end to an outstanding evening.
If you’d like to see more photos from the BBQ, then check out my photo gallery here.