You can probably guess what I selected. I did, indeed, surprise her with 1978 Château Fortia.
But the biggest surprise was the wine itself!
As I decanted it, the wine's orange-brown color did not bode well. There was about an inch of sediment in the bottom of the bottle (which I expected), and when I put my nose to the carafe, there was very little aroma. At least it did not have any off odors, I thought to myself.
I set the wine aside for about an hour while dinner was being completed and then, as we sat down to eat, I poured it into our glasses. It had been transformed. As I sniffed and then sipped, the wine had morphed into an aromatic, complex and delicious elixir. Aromas of mint and leather were followed by layered flavors of cherries, caramel and white pepper. What a spectacular wine and one that, surprisingly, held up well to the fillet of beef it accompanied.
After we leisurely consumed the bottle, I went online to Robert Parker's Web site (eRobert
parker.com). This is what that esteemed critic had to say about the wine (he rated it 95 out of 100) when he last reviewed it in 2000:
"This has always been my reference point for Château Fortia (until I tasted the 1970). It remains a prodigious, full-bodied, spectacular Châteauneuf-du-Pape possessing a deep ruby/purple color with only a hint of amber at the edge. A stunning nose of blackberries, pepper, smoke, dried herbs and licorice is followed by a full-bodied wine with a seamless personality, a multilayered texture, and a fabulous wealth of fruit. While fully mature, it is capable of five to seven additional years of life."
Well, here it is eight years later and still holding, though for how much longer I cannot predict.
So, did my wife forgive me for that act of profligacy 25 years ago? She's not willing to go that far, but I may be able to get closer to redemption since I have two more bottles of the 1978 Château Fortia lying in repose in the cellar.
For more on whites and other wines, see the WineBoy blog at thegazz.com.