This bottle of wine has been kicking around in my cellar now for over 2 years, and I'm sorry to say that I opened it last night. It was bordering on mistake territory--the bottle was great, but still somewhat tightly wound. It's funny to reflect on a bottle that you've looked at for so long, wondering what it was going to taste like, what you were going to eat it with, who you were going to drink it with, whether the damn thing would be corked, and whether or not you'll end up actually liking the wine. In regards to liking the wine, yes, I definitely liked it, but I don't know that it's a bottle of wine that I would pick up with my current palate. For starters, it was 40$--which is pretty pricey for a bottle of wine in my book. Not splurge territory, but spendy nonetheless. Second, it got scored relatively highly by Parker (92). In the past, that was something that I was unerringly curious about (not really so much now). The saving grace is that Steven Tanzer also scored it highly, although I can't say that that would sway me these days. It might serve as a deterrent.
Regarding the other questions surrounding the bottle of wine that are unanswered from above, I drank this with Sarah (not much of a surprise there), it was absolutely not corked, and we drank this with some braised short ribs that I made on Sunday from Free Range grass fed beef that I picked up at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. I also made some thyme polenta to go with it, as well as some favas that I sauteed with garlic and olive oil (By the way--fava's are a pain in the ass to make...I'd forgotten in the year since I've made them.) The short ribs were awesome--I took the recipe from the Ad Hoc cookbook (Thomas Keller), which is sort of the French Laundry made easy, and made a couple of substitutions. I forgot to get leeks at the farmer's market, so I just added some extra shallots, and I didn't bother with separating the meat from the braising liquid with a cheesecloth...it seemed like a bit of overkill for what's really something that's basically fancy pot roast. I knew this was a Thomas Keller recipe when I discarded well over a pound of vegetables from the braising liquid. To be fair, I tasted a little of everything, and they really had given all of their flavor to the liquid (which is later reduced to a silky, out of this world sauce). It still felt a little funny to discard so many vegetables--a whole onion, 5 carrots, 1/2 pound of mushrooms, and a whole bunch of shallots--but as I discovered, they didn't taste like much anyways. The short ribs were nothing short of a rousing success--they aren't hard to make, and they're impossible to mess up. On top of that, they're delicious, and an awesome red wine dish, not only for the beef aspect, but also for the entire bottle of wine that goes into the braising liquid.
This particular wine was extremely tight when first opened. Definitely a tannic nebbiolo. As the night wore on, and I let this sit in the glass, it opened up. This is on the darker side of Barbaresco (especially when viewed in the context of the 1990 Produttori Barbaresco that we had last week) with blackberries, licorice, lots of almost minty/lavender nuances, tar/earth/whatever the fuck else you want to call it, occasional strawberries, and vanilla on the nose. Once this gets in your mouth, there's a lot of sweet fruit, tannin, awesome balance, and then a terrifically long strawberry earth finish. This is a layered wine, with a lot of nuance. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Serious. I couldn't help but wonder if this wine was "Barbaresco on steroids," because of the masculine posture and all of the darker fruit influences. Not being a wine critic, and not being ridiculously wealthy and/or profligate with my spending, I haven't had the chance to taste gobs of Barbaresco from lots of different vintages. I do know that this particular wine is much darker than I normally have associated with nebbiolo in the past. How characteristic this is of Barbaresco, I'm not sure, but I definitely liked it. Too bad that there isn't any of it left for me to drink in another 5 years or so. Maybe someone will stumble across this and gift me another bottle. (Please?) A (Even though this is kind of spendy, the finish on this wine is killer and makes it worth every penny.)