With the sumptuous food of Baltimore's top chef, Cindy Wolf, we did a blind tasting of 2000 Piedmontese wines. This is a very ripe, concentrated, somewhat atypical vintage. I suspected the wines were Barolos, but I guessed the vintage to be 1997, not 2000. The wines were extremely forward, and had not yet taken on such secondary nuances as rose petal and road tar characteristics. While they are all forward, full-bodied reds, there is plenty of structure underneath all the fruit. I suspect traditionalists may criticize this vintage as being too fruit forward, and I must admit some of the wines were showing a bit of lightness at the edge, which may be of concern. However, these are big wines, with a lot of alcohol, concentration, and power. Do they have enough density and inner extract and material to age like a classic vintage such as 1996, 1990, or 1989? I tend to doubt it, but they are impressive efforts. No one who purchased them will be upset as they are already incredibly flavorful, broad, and expansive. Is it the vintage of the century? No. But it is an outstanding vintage of atypically ripe, fruity, seductive, appealing wines.
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Petit Louis Bistro
A lookalike, authentic French bistro, Petit Louis in Baltimore's Roland Park is the creation of restauranteurs par excellence Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. You feel like you’ve walked into a bistro on the Left Bank of Paris when you enter Petit Louis. The food is classic bistro, and they do it well. All of the courses we had were flavorful, sometimes a trifle rustic, but delicious in their intensity. This was good comfort food prepared extremely well. The wines started with one of the major surprises for me over the last year, the 2006 sparking wine from Tony Soter in Oregon. I had this several times while I was out visiting Oregon, and I had always been impressed, but this is a 10-year-old sparking Rosé that is just sensational, and I’m talking world class—it’s that good. Something this good from France would cost at least two to three times as much, so kudos to Tony Soter. The 1995 Billaud-Simon Chablis Mont de Milieu was oxidized and undrinkable. The 1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos St. Urbain Rangen de Thann was sweet, and although it went well with the foie gras, it was just a little too unctuous and sweet a wine...