Sunday, November 24, 2013

Large format bottles serve festive family and friends celebration dinner

Large format bottles serve festive family and friends celebration dinner

For the christening of our new grandson, namesake Richie, following the christening of our newest granddaughter, Marleigh, a few weeks ago, we hosted a celebration dinner for over twenty family and friends (plus a half dozen kids) at home after church.

To accompany Linda's homemade lasagna, we opened two large format bottles of Merlot, a magnum from the new world Napa Valley, California, and a double magnum from the old world, Bordeaux, Southern France. From the 1996 vintage, we opened a Liparita Howell Mountain Merlot in magnum, and a Chateau Pitray Côtes de Castillon Bordeaux in double magnum.

Horizontal collection of 1981 vintage large format bottles -
six liter Imperials and nine liter Salmanazar
Indeed our collection of large format bottles (see my Winesite page explaining wine bottle sizes) commemorating the birth-years of our children was the basis of our cellar being featured in the Collecting column of Wine Spectator back in June 2001.

For each of the kids birth-years we held or hold large format bottles of signature wines for their year of birth. These represent horizontal selections for their birth-year (multiple bottles from the same vintage is known as a horizontal), and vertical collections (multiple vintages of the same label) across the four kids' birth-years.

Needless to say, we haven't yet collected any birth-year bottles for the two youngsters born in 2013, but we're following the vintage and harvest reports carefully to determine what to acquire to commemorate this year. And we're just now acquiring a horizontal collection to commemorate our first grandchild, Lucy's birth-year 2010. Already two of our collection holdings have received 100 points ratings for their 2010 release, Chateau Pontet Canet, Pauillac Bordeaux, and Dominus, Napa Valley Red Wine, ageworthy collectables, indeed.

Those that know us well, know about our serving our daughter Erin's birth-year vintage large format bottles at her wedding (shown above), and the same for son Ryan at his wedding. And we're still holding large format bottles for sons Sean and Alec's birth-years.

Today's selection:

Liparita Napa Valley Howell Mountain Merlot 1996

We discovered this wine and tasted it from the barrel at the custom crush facility in Oakville with winemaker Gove Celia during our Napa Wine Experience back in 1998. From our cellar in magnum. Notes consistent with earlier tasting.

Dark color - medium-full bodied - black cherry, black berry fruits still holding for this seventeen year old - perhaps aided by larger format magnum, tones of cedar, spicy oak, subtle leather and earth - moderate smooth well integrated tannins on a lingering finish. $66 at Dean & Deluca in Napa (upon release)

RM 89 points.  

Château Pitray Côtes de Castillon Bordeaux 1996

Today the Chateau, located about thirty miles east of the town of St Emilion, is a B&B, bed and breakfast, as well as a wine estate. The property has a total about 36 hectares (65 plus acres) in vines with an average age of 29 years. The varietals of grapes consist of Merlot (75%), Cabernet and Cabernet Franc (25%). The estate produces an average of 240.000 bottles a year.

The Pitray estate has been in the same family for 600 years. As early as 1969, Louis de Pitray, began modernising the estate and established long-standing commercial relationships with the United Kingdom and the United States.  Jean de Boigne, his grandson son has been in charge of selling Pitray wines since 2003, as its quality is increasingly recognized around the world.

Medium-light bodied, dark garnet colored, slightly tart astringent black cherry gives way to tones of earth, tar and leather with hints of spicy black licorice and woody-cedar, turning to tart fruit layer lingering on a tight tannin backbone finish.

RM 86 points