Oenarch Dinner, Baltimore Country Club

This was a blind vertical of the famed Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Heitz Cellars. All of the wines, except for the corked bottles of 1990, 1988 and 1984, showed plenty of cedar, cassis fruit, and surprisingly, less eucalyptus/mint than they possessed when young. Even the younger vintages such as 1997 seemed less minty than one associates with this vineyard. The only disappointments were the 1977 Bella Oaks and 1991 Martha's Vineyard. It was a great showing for the 1973, 1975, and perhaps the biggest sleeper of all, the 1979, the wine that won the tasting. It came across as the most concentrated and complete. Another interesting observation was how Bordeaux-like Heitz wines seem to become with age. This also happens with other California wines, even though they retain their fruit far longer than most Bordeaux. However, most California wines do not achieve the aromatic nuances that a great Bordeaux will. That is not the case with the Martha's Vineyard. Of course, this vineyard has been replanted, and the 1997 is the first vintage from the new vines. That richly-styled wine showed stunningly well.

As for the food, the Baltimore Country Club tends to do a better job than many of the city's restaurants. The courses included seared tuna topped with foie gras (a strange combination that worked surprisingly well), a medallion of veal tenderloin with crispy fried oysters (another somewhat unusual combination that worked less well), and grilled double cut lamb chops, which were top-flight.

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