Following the runaway success of the Dressnerless "Bon Voyage Dressners" offline, it was decided amongst the highest echelons of the New York geek community that a followup was in order. Happily, the arrival in town of visiting internet wine board personality Farid ("Alzero") Nabavi provided the ideal opportunity for just such a rollicking sequel.
Gathered at the Upper West Side's historic La Rocchetta restaurant on a beautiful summer's eve were one or two of New York's geekiest, ably assisted by Christian the Newbie, who was somewhat confused by the ironic theme, continually asking "Where is everybody? Where's the guy we're welcoming to town?" Fortunately, we have brought enough wine to float a supertanker, and these pointed questions soon become acceptably slurred and incoherent background noise.
We choose a café table outside in order to enjoy the lovely weather and begin with a Lorentz Riesling Alsace Altenberg de Bergheim 1983, which is showing more lively than last month's specimen, not quite as faded and wan. It's still a bit hollow in the middle, but the kerosene doesn't dominate the nose entirely--there's some lemony yellow apple fruit in there as well. It's a middleweight, somewhat diffuse wine without much sinew or depth, but it's got some decently developed character and the mouthfeel is smooth and velvety, a pleasant enough starter. We toast our absent guest and everyone else that we can think of who isn't here, and settle in for some serious bottle calisthenics.
A large, bleary-eyed English bulldog snuffles by on the sidewalk next to us. Kane tries to pet it and almost loses a digit or two. We urge him to keep his limbs to himself and I wax nostalgic about my favorite bulldog/mystery story, Kin Platt's Sinbad and Me. After I've done waxing we open a Muller-Catoir Scheurebe Haardter Mandelring Kabinett 1996, a happy noseful of tropical hints, lilikoi and slightly overripe mango-turpentine, with a rainwatery mineral streak underneath. The taste follows the smells, lightly sweet but brightly crisp, a lush wine with a deceptively strong spine of puckery acidity and a deep core of tropical fruit. A good, good wine, easy to sip and compelling at the same time. Three and a half chrome Prongs nestled in a 'get well soon' fruit basket and delivered to your hospital bed, where it sits and warms your heart because you know that people care enough to send the very best.
The main courses begin to arrive and the red red kroovy begins to flow, first a Tinto Pesquera Ribera del Duero 1995: Plumskin and shoe polish are the first nosalities that I encounter, quickly followed by warm grilled cherry fruit with a charcoalish edge. Tastes warm and fleshy, good meatiness to the texture, but soon dissolves into astringency and wood tannins. Seems promising at first, veers into disjointedness. Six tiny, chopped-up Prongs fashioned from discarded bits of wire and old tires and placed on a burnished cherry wood base, with the potential for another small, rubbery half-Prong rubbed with aquarium filter charcoal if the wine can disintegrate further in the near future.
Here's a Belle Pente Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 1999, and it has a spicy, clovey-cola-cherry nose, tastes hard and tight, coiled red fruit over a stony undercurrent. The red cherry fruit has a steroided, slightly candied quality that glosses over any potential character. Plenty of drying tannins on the finish. The wine is nicely balanced and technically correct but also rather generic, at least at this point. It does seem to have the spine to age a bit, so perhaps it just needs time.
We've got a few more reds sitting on the table, but at this point we decide not to bother and just sit listlessly as the 'Welcome to the Big Apple, Farid!' mousse cake comes around. Lisa excuses herself in order to apologize to the chef for the undercount, and we continue on in a perfunctory fashion with a Domaine de Montgilet Coteaux de L'Aubance 1997. "Quince!" I shriek, just to make sure everyone's awake. It's a lightly honeyed wine with hints of chalk, medium sweet and ripe. It's also rather flat and two-dimensional and gets weird in the glass with air time, coming up with an odd matchsticky note that slowly resolves into a distracting flintiness. Simple, sweet, decent but a bit weird. Four and a half medium sized poured-plaster Prongs wrapped in paper towels, placed on small formica bases and put under a heat lamp for an hour, then left in the window to cool.
Suddenly and without warning a giantess strolls past our table, towering over other pedestrians. It's not easy to make jaded New Yorkers turn their heads, but a very attractive woman who stands seven feet tall can still do it all up and down Columbus Avenue. Kane turns back to the table and says wonderingly "She needs a spear and a shield..." and we open a Kurt Darting Huxelrebe Forster Schnepfenflug Beerenauslese 1996: It's a medium gold-amber color, more tropicality here, guava and mango intermingled with a brown caramel streak. Desserty-sweet, it's a deep, rich mouthful, a viscous wine with bright acidity, simply Huxelriffic.
When Lisa returns from chatting up the chef we tell her about the giantess, but she doesn't believe us and accuses us of living in a world of exclusionary inside jokes. We protest feebly, but we haven't got a leg to stand on and we all know it. We sit and watch more women go by, but they are of disappointingly normal stature. Lisa watches Kane ogle someone a little too obviously and growls "Why don't you just chase her down the street and nip at her ankles?"
Christian the Newbie chimes in, "Don't take pictures, though, that'd be weird."
There is more conversation, but all pretty much in this same vein.
A Warre's Porto 1983 was not in evidence, but it's a honey of a wine nonetheless, with a beguilingly dark cassis-berry nose, brick-dusty and streaked with cocoa and red clay (Play-Doh) hints. A medium weight wine with a robustly red-earthy thrust of fruit up front and a smooth dark follow-through, finishing with more cocoa and red clay. Lightly developed, with a slight feathering at the edges, it's a young and vital wine with a deep red cassis heart. Very tasty indeed.
A familiar bleary-eyed English bulldog ambles by, and Kane makes a rare trenchant observation: "You know you've been in one place too long when the dogs that you saw being walked earlier are getting a second walk now..."
On that note, we mercifully adjourn.