2005 Vieux Donjon, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Although Burgundy has rightfully received tremendous acclaim for the 2005 vintage, it was also a great year in the southern Rhone. Of the Châteauneufs released so far, this one is clearly the star of the vintage. Vieux Donjon is one of the most traditionally run estates there, so it’s not surprising that proprietors Lucien and Marie-Joseph Michel have resisted the current fashion for producing special high-end cuvees, instead putting all their best barrels into this wine. The wine has a saturated dark ruby color, an elegant nose of licorice and roasted meat, and is elegant and beautifully balanced. It will need 2-3 more years in the cellar, and will continue to evolve for another 15 years after that. It costs $60.00 and we do have a little bit more available.
2006 Viñedos de Ithaca, Odysseus, Pedro Ximenez
Pedro Ximenez?!? Isn’t that Sherry? Not necessarily — but first things first: Joseph Puig (pronounced “pusch”) and his daughter Silvia are doing some exciting things in the Priorat region in northeast Spain, using some unique grape varieties and vinification methods. And people are starting to take notice. We got to taste through their wines recently when Joseph was in town. (A long-time restaurateur, he makes a mean paella!) Sylvia, at only 28, is the fifth generation winemaker.
Now, as for Pedro Ximenez. Yes, this is the grape used to make sweet, fortified Sherries. But Joseph and Silvia are making the only still PX in Spain and this one bears no resemblance whatsoever to the “stickies” from the south. In fact, there is some evidence that PX is related to Riesling, and Joseph told us that some of the wines he has held onto for years have begun to take on the same petrolly characteristics of aged Rieslings. This one was fascinating — a crisp, dry white wine with fresh minerality and lovely soft floral tones. They produced only 150 cases and we grabbed all that was left in Seattle. Enjoy it now, with seafood, tapas or light Asian fare, or try hanging onto it and seeing how it ages. It was $29.75.