Two wines, One birthday

Diane loves to celebrate her birthday.  Over the past week she’s had countless birthday dinners, presents, cards and reasons to celebrate, but this puts her in a good mood so I relent.  We had two wines together that were new for both of us and worked for their respective meals.

18 November 2011, Aquavit, Manhattan

Diane’s birthday dinner this year was at Aquavit – a Nordic style restaurant in midtown. I recently ordered a few Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Kistler through a work friend who’s on their mailing list so we decided to try one of their single-vineyard chardonnays:

2009 Kistler Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard

To put this in perspective, Diane and I went to a white burgundy tasting this past Monday so we were drinking very subtle, acidic whites that night. This bottle was explosive compared to the French wines – big oak aroma and palate but had enough acid and fruit taste to finish with good balance. The drinking window on this wine is 2012-2017 and I’d find it interesting to see whether it gains a bit more balance after a few years in the bottle. Few notes from the producer:

  • Vineyards range from Western Sonoma to Carneros – all chardonnay vines are the same clone and made in the same fashion so all differences among the single-vineyard productions are due to terroir
  • All wines are produced using native yeasts and aged in French oak – bottled unfiltered and unfined
  • All chardonnays are barrel fermented with sur lie aging in those same barrels for 11-18 months before bottling

19 November 2011, 1117 Woodruff Ave, Hillside, NJ

For Diane’s actual birthday, we went to New Jersey and spent the day running some errands and relaxing at her home. Her father and I were more interested in eating the delicious corned-beef and cabbage he prepared in the afternoon but that night we ordered pizza and we decided to go with a lighter, fruitier red:

2008 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d'Alba

A good wine for pizza and a great wine for Thanksgiving. It was light bodied with low tannins, reasonable acidity and tons of fruit on the palate, easing into a simple but long finish. It has enough flavor and fruit to hold up against the abundance of Thanksgiving sides and turkey but doesn’t have the astringency that would leave a bitter taste after eating lighter meats.

*** 2009 Kistler Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard, $75

** 2008 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba, $25