Dinner with Friends, Chez Studer in Lucerne, Switzerland

A wonderful home-prepared meal included some beautiful sausages that went beautifully with lentils and stunning veal shanks that were cooked perfectly and served with mashed potatoes. The wines began with the brilliant Pierre Peters 1998 Cuvée Spéciale Blanc de Blancs. That was followed by a fully mature, exotic, fragrant, medium-bodied, peach, and melon-scented and flavored 1999 Gruner Veltliner from Knoll. We then moved into four Rhône wines. Henri Bonneau's outstanding 1998 Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Marie Beurrier was delicious and ready to drink. Reports that it was somehow the same cuvée as the Réserve des Céléstins just bottled for some European clients are simply not true. This is a completely different wine than the Réserve des Céléstins. We then moved to three young, but incredibly promising offerings. The 1999 Delas Côte Rôtie La Landonne requires another 8-10 years of aging. It is black as night, with a nose of melted asphalt, violets, crème de cassis, and roasted black fruits. It's a huge, concentrated, tannic, powerful wine with 25+ years of aging potential. The same can be said for the 1999 Côte Rôtie from Ogier. This special cuvée, named after Ogier's wife, La Belle Hélène, is dense ruby/purple to the rim. It reveals plenty of pain grillé and espresso notes along with crème de cassis, raspberries, and blackberries. A beautiful wine, but very young, it possesses good underlying acidity, huge tannin, and massive extract as well as richness. Forget it for another 5-10 years. Guigal's 1998 Côte Rôtie La Mouline revealed the most complexity, as it includes a considerable amount of Viognier co-fermented with Syrah (11% of the former). It boasts a dense plum/purple color along with a gorgeous nose of violets, acacia flowers, honeysuckle, crème de cassis, raspberries, chocolate, and espresso roast, a voluptuous texture, massive concentration, and a huge finish.

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