February 13th. Wine Dinner
      Savona Restaurant


While we primarily drink Australian red wines, we occasionally have an opportunity to revisit Bordeaux. Such was the case last Tuesday evening when Tammy and I met with our close friends Al and Sandi for dinner at "SAVONA" located in Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania.

Three of us decided to order the same dish on the menu while Sandi opted to go with the Dover Sole. Our dinner consisted of filet mignon accompanied by purred potato and a sting bean medley. I should add that the preparation, presentation and service afforded to us by the staff at Savona was truly outstanding! We started with delicious white Burgundy and then moved to the next course of wines featuring the two vintages of Pape Clement. We concluded the evening with a newly released Australian merlot. It was indeed a memorable evening of excess as well as a rare treat to dine with our friends. While I didn't take any written notes, the following notes are from memory.

1986 Pape Clement- Low neck fill. The color was a dark ruby leading to a classic Graves bouquet. A lovely but restrained nose of minerals, cured tobacco and dark fruit fragrances were just great. Add to that a earthy, wet leathery component. The palate impression mirrored the nose with exceptional rich, ripe, sweet fruit, cedar and a roasted/smoky texture that was very sexy! The tannins were moderate to soft and the wine showed an elegant silky texture and lush mouth feel. Drinking great now and should hold at least another five years or longer. My fourth tasting note, score it 90/91.

1990 Pape Clement- This is another wonderful example of how well some of the '90 Bordeaux are drinking today. First of all, the '90 Pape possess all the qualities of the outstanding '86 Pape Clement plus a few more. Very high neck fill and showing a medium fullish color, slightly darker than the '86 was. Out of the gate, the '90 Pape Clement was singing with fragrances of minerals, earth, tobacco, smoke and cigar-box like aromatics. Much more intense aromatically than the '86 was. In the mouth, the '90 Pape was also much more fruit driven than the '86 was. Medium fullish texture and showing a stunning presence on the palate. Huge fruit, tobacco and a good dose of non-obtrusive tannins for the long haul. Drinking great today and should hold effortlessly for another ten years or more. My sixth tasting note, score it 93/94. Great juice!

'97 James Irvine "Grand Merlot"- Let me first say that this newly released wine overpowered the two Bordeaux's. Stylistically, they are very different and it was a bit unfair to taste them together. However, it has been increasingly difficult for me to keep my hands off of the "Grand Merlot". As a side note, we offered this wine to our French born Sommelier to taste. Upon tasting it, his first reaction was to ask us, "where can I get the "Grand Merlot?" That said, I continue to be blown away by the '97 James Irvine "Grand Merlot". Once again, it offers the extraction and intensity of "Petrus" at about one fifth the price! From the get-go, the bouquet was singing with fragrances of deep black currants and ripe Blackberry scented fruit with just a hint of anise. The bouquet is so stunning, that I would purchase the wine on nose alone. In the mouth, the wine is enormous but at the same time elegant and impeccably balanced. This is no doubt due in large part to the nuances imparted by the thirty-month French oak treatment. The wine also comes across as extremely rich and pure and finishes with a stunning fifty-second residual sensation. Can be consumed today with a great deal of satisfaction or over the next twenty years. My third tasting note, score it "98"! Totally awesome juice!