Evan Dawson: Leoville Las Cases 1988 Bordeaux
One of the more difficult questions for wine lovers is when to open special bottles, and with whom. Perhaps too often we stratify our collection in a way that precludes certain people in our lives from ever having a chance to be at the table when the best bottles are open. Can’t waste a drop, after all!
I think this is perfectly fine and understandable, to a point. But maybe you’re like me: You get tired of sharing stories of the great bottles you’ve opened and eventually you just want to share something beautiful with people who might care — and might not. You want to know how it might impact them.
This is not exactly the case with this bottle; in fact, we opened it with a group of people who have tremendous culinary skills and appreciation for fine wine. But it was also the kind of group that tends not to see bottles like this often. They deserve to, but for whatever reason, they rarely get in the path of a Second Growth or its ilk.
And that is what made this 24-year-old Las Cases so much fun. If you want to use the term “deserving,” the dinner group was absolutely deserving and appreciative, and it was a joy to pull out something like this. (“Deserving” is probably not the right term anyway, but as far as it goes, this dinner party was that and then some.) Did it change our lives? It did not. Was it beautiful? My goodness yes, in a way that aged Bordeaux from a good vintage can uniquely be. The next morning we woke up, the same happy people, but one more shared experience stronger, and I’m glad I didn’t save the bottle for a different day or occasion.
Todd Trzaskos: De Conciliis Donnaluna 2008 Fiano
Hot lemon rind, ocean air, and white pepper spice on the nose. Wide mouthful of melon, savory concentrated white citrus pith, and yellow delicious apple skin. Great weight, in no way light, but effortless on the palate despite great heat and humidity. Enjoyed by the river’s edge with an antipasti — salmon salad, goat cheese, salumi, roasted red peppers, olives, and crostini.Listening to classy jazz on a classic summer night, thinking of Bruno, the coast of Campania, and what he has brewing for the next vintage release.
Lenn Thompson: Rogue Ales Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale
Everything is better with bacon, right? This beer challenges that notion. Actually, I think it disproves it entirely — though it’s probably not the bacon that is to blame. Bacon is perfect, after all.
I bought this bottle a few weeks ago — the last bottle at my local beer shop, but one that certainly stood out with that pink paint job. I was excited to have a bottle after only reading about it, but many of my more beer obsessed friends had some warnings for me, much of which went something like this:
“I’ll be stunned if you like it!”
“Make sure you have a crowd!”
“You won’t want more than a half glass, so open it with friends!”
Undaunted but heeding much of the advice, I opened it with friends over the weekend… and was disappointed even beyond my already-low expectations.
Again, I won’t blame the bacon — the website says it was brewed with real applewood-smoked bacon. Instead the culprit appears to be the “Pure Maple Flavoring.” It dominates the nose — smelling very much like a maple glazed doughnut (which I guess is the point) with some smokiness in the background but no real bacon flavor.
Cloying and one note maple-y on the palate, we each took a few sips and then I looked at my guests. With only one exception — the non-beer drinker in the group — the reaction was unanimous. This beer is just not very good. And that’s being kind.
None of us took another sip, in part because we disliked it but also because we had other delicious options. I dumped the rest of the bottle later in the evening. I’m far from a beer purist. I’m into creative ingredients and techniques, but this is probably the worst beer I’ve tasted in the last 12 months.