"The gang toasting with some Barolo at Bar Henry."

Bar Henry is quickly becoming my go to place in New York City for great wine and food.  I organized a last minute wine dinner there for some of my friends in the photo business to taste young and old wines from some of my favorite wine regions:  Rioja, Barolo, and Bordeaux.  We had a really fun time, and the wines I picked all turned out to be very good, or at least very interesting, and the food and service at Bar Henry were fantastic as usual.  I had the burger, and it was one of the best I have had in NYC, and the short rib tacos that seemed out of place on the menu were actually out of this world.  Thera took care of the wine service and it was top notch, everything was decanted and presented nicely, glasses numbered so that we wouldn’t confuse wines as the night went on.  Thank you again Thera!

"The line up for the evening, Rioja, Barolo, Bordeaux."

The idea behind the dinner was to try current releases of wines from Rioja, Barolo, and Bordeaux and compare them with older vintages from the same producer.  Having the point of comparison of two similar wines separated by 15-20 years can be very interesting.  The Bodegas Las Orcas Riojas were quite different, and the Burlotto Barolos totally different, with the Chasse Spleen Bordeauxs seeming to be more similar in style to each other, though obviously at different points in their lives.  All in all it was a very interesting comparison.  Most of these wines can currently be found at a few of the wine shops in NYC that I frequently buy from.  Chambers Street Wines carries the Solar de Randez, the 1996 Burlotto and the 1989 Chasse Spleen.  The Decenio was from Astor Wines and the 2004 Burlotto and 2004 Chasse Spleen are available from PJ Wines.  Here are the wines in the order we tasted them.


1996 Bodegas Las Orcas, Solar de Randez, Reserva, Rioja

I have had this wine on a couple of other occasions and it never disappoints.  It is light to medium in body and it has a unique nose of candied berry fruit.  It has aromas of bubble gum, light smoke, mint, raisins, and on the finish the candied fruit character really lingers.  The wine is very pretty and delicious to drink and is drinking very well now.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2004 Bodegas Las Orcas, Decenio, Crianza, Rioja

This is a slightly different wine from the same producer.  It is a Crianza, meaning it receives less aging in barrel and bottle than the reserva.  It is still a bit young and I would say it needs a few more years to come together, but it is drinking well now, none the less.  There are pure flavors of cranberry, sour cherries, rhubarb, and cherry pipe tobacco on the palate.  Pepper and raisin notes are present as well.  Have had this wine a couple times also, and it always shows nicely, but still has a long life and will probably be amazing in 5-10 years.  RECOMMENDED


1996 Burlotto Barolo, Neirane

This was one of the most unique and different wines I have ever tried.  The first whiff smells of tapenade and marinated olives.  There is not a lot of bright fruit here, it is more earthy and salty, like caper berries.  A unique expression of Barolo.  RECOMMENDED

2004 Burlotto Barolo

The 2004 Burlotto is a blended of grapes from different Burlotto vineyards.  This is the more traditional style of Barolo, where grapes are blended from different parcels.  The 2004 Burlotto was very, very different from the 1996, it was all ripe berry fruit and plums on the nose and palate, and it tasted like a young Cote du Rhone.  There were also elements of spice cake, violets, anise and pepper.  I would say this wine needs a good five years for the forward fruit character to mellow and integrate, but those who like jammy fruit, go for it now.  The most jammy Barolo I have ever tasted.  RECOMMENDED


1989 Chasse Spleen Bordeaux, Moulis

The oldest wine of the night was very interesting indeed.  The nose is very earthy and slightly funky with a distinct note of revolutionary musket gunpowder.  It was medium garnet in color with a slightly olive component.  The fruit element is very well integrated and is on the earthy side now and the finish is long.  RECOMMENDED

2004 Chasse Spleen Bordeaux, Moulis

The 2004 Chasse Spleen is already drinking very well with a nose of cassis, cinnamon, smokey toasted oak, and dark, dark berry fruit.  It is deep garnet in color and is very silky and seductive.  Good now, and will probably improve over the next several years and last even longer.  Very enjoyable.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Chasse Spleen is one of my favorite Bordeaux reds as it represents excellent quality for a very reasonable price by Bordeaux standards.  The 2004, for example, can be found in $25-$30 price range.  If this same wine came from a more fabled part of Bordeaux than Moulis, it would easily be double the price.  It is considered the finest wine from the Moulis, and it is consistently good from vintage to vintage.

"The wines are decanted and presented with style. Note the cool Bar Henry wine list!"