Vito's Cafe

Another gorgeous meal at this BYO casual café in Cockeysville, Maryland, the prosciutto pizza was as good as it always is, which is super, but the special of the day was the Maryland striped bass (called “rockfish” locally) in a very rich tomato-based broth piled high with different shellfish. I thought it was sensational, with the fresh fennel permeating the favors and giving a real Mediterranean taste to the stock and the broth. With this we had an absolutely spectacular 1989 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Brand. I found a few bottles squirreled away in a deep, dark corner of my cellar, and at 21 years old, this is still a vibrant, incredibly concentrated, dry Riesling bursting with honeyed citrus fruits. It has a light gold color, medium to full-bodied flavors, fabulous acids, and a long, long finish. This is Riesling at its highest level of quality in a very classic style from Alsace. We then moved to one of the early estate Chardonnays from Marcassin, the 1998. Initially somewhat muted and dormant aromatically, the wine exploded the more aeration it got, developing notes of honeysuckle, nectarine, crushed rock, white currants, and quince. This is a beauty, and at age 12, still going strong.

The two reds were both fabulous. I don’t remember the 1999 Screaming Eagle showing as great as this, but the wine had classic, pure crème de cassis fruit, a dense purple color to the rim, a hint of charcoal and camphor, and a full-bodied, velvety textured mouthfeel. There is not a hard edge to be found in this wine, which should continue to drink well for another 15-20 years. A real baby, still in its infancy but potentially perfect, is the 2001 Schafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. A bigger, richer, fuller wine than the Screaming Eagle, with more body, power, and depth, but also extremely young (it almost tasted like a barrel sample more than a wine that is already nine years of age), this is a spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon, but I won’t touch another bottle for at least 3-4 years.

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