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More from NYC: A 1947 Rioja

On Friday evening Isabel and I had our last NYC dinner at BLT Market. This account is one of our favorites, located in the Ritz Carlton at Central Park and one of the rising stars in the Laurent Tourondel portfolio. Earlier in the week I had met Jeremy and Jim (Sommeliers) who are both contagiously passionate about all things grape. When playing mommy as opposed to winemaker I found myself at 5th Ave and 55th each day at 5:30pm. This would be the location of the NYC Disney store and my little princess had discovered that each day at 5:30 she could meet and be photographed with the princess du jour. I can only hope an interest in wine and food will prove to be as genetically coded as her single minded obsession with all things pink and princess. It is adorable but I honestly did not expect to see the inside of Disney’s retail racket 4 times in one week! On the upside, BLT Market is mere blocks away so I negotiated with the 3 year old. She got one last princess hoo-rah and I got one last supper at a fabulous restaurant. I even managed to rope in an old friend to join me who has just returned from living in Argentina. Kenner is truly a man of travel and leisure.

So, we three sit down to dinner at this gorgeous restaurant overlooking Central Park for our last dinner. The wine book is impressive by weight alone and with an old friend to catch up with and a princess to entertain Kenner and I decided to ask Jim to surprise us with something medium to full bodied, red and from Spain or Southern France. Surprise us he did! I thought he was joking when he suggested we give a try to a 1947 Rioja. But joking he was not. He brings out a R. López de Heredia, Viña Bosconia Gran Reserva 1947! I am by no means expert with Spanish wines (although I have a good friend in a tasting group who thankfully provides some education) but without research I knew this would be a special wine. Jim decanted it and to all of our surprise there was very little sediment. The cork did not survive so we do assume it was the original. After tasting we did decide to decant back into the bottle because the wine was fresh and beautiful and did not need the additional aeration that would occur over the course of our dinner. Vina Bosconia is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacho (Grenache), Mazuelo and Graciano from the El Bosque vineyard. A Gran Reserva ages for 8-10 years in barrel before it is bottled and then another 10 years before it is released. I’m afraid I focused on the moment and not on articulating tasting notes. I can share that it was insanely fresh with high toned fruit aromas with lots of earthy, woodsy, mushroom undertones. Like silk on the palette. And most surprising was the still vibrant color. The biggest challenge was to savor it so we could watch it evolve. It did begin to fade as the evening wore on but not offensively, just a subtle farewell from a 61 year old wine. Kenner (my dining companion) is an intellectual so we discussed the turmoil following WWII going on during the 1947 harvest, the many years Franco was ruling Spain while this beautiful wine was developing, and the romance and sentimentality that attracted me to this vocation to begin with. Upon return to Berkeley I of course decided to do some sleuthing and came to appreciate Jim’s selection even more as I realized how fantastic a recommendation it was. Aside from the age of this beautiful wine I found myself getting excited to read about their philosophy and winemaking. I’ll share highlights but if you are interested…

Organic. Natural. Old wood (they cooper themselves from American Appalachian Oak). Native fermentations. Hands over machines for all phases of winemaking. An appreciation for the structure provided by a strong acid backbone. And most impressive, after 131 years the estate is still in the hands of the original family. I know the first appointment I am making on my next trip to Spain.

Here’s to 61 and still going strong!