Category Archives: Bordeaux

Buckeye Roadhouse Wine Dinner

This past week, we attended a dinner with a very saavy group of wine drinkers at Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley. The theme was flights of Chardonny, Pinot, Rhone, Cabernet and Dessert Wines all served double blind. Despite the very good planning to make it a challenge to identify specific wines, the group proved effective at accurately guessing nearly every region on all flights, and in a few cases, guessed the producer or vintage. It was a fun dinner and the vast majority of wines enjoyable. Brief observations follow. All wines were served pop and pour with a fresh glass provided after each flight. Wines are sorted in order of personal preference pre reveal.

Flight 1 – Chardonnay

2005 Henri Boillot Clos de la Mouchere – Wine of the flight and white wine of the night, the Boillot was easily identified as White Burgundy. Firm acidity, lemon/lime, some subtle oyster shell, perfect balance, a very well made and youthful wine.

2009 Rochioli Rachel’s Vineyard Chardonnay – Distinctly California Chardonnay, thought it had a young Peter Michael profile with clean candied fruit and some residual sugar apparent. Was surprised it was a Rochioli Rachels, which in our opinion is one of the best Chardonnay made in California. On reflection, think the wine was opened too young, and expect it to show significantly better in 3 to 5 plus years.

2006 Marcassin Three Sisters Chardonnay – Initally guessed the wine as anything but California Chardonnay or White Burgundy. Thought it had a toned down, if not muted style. As it sat in the glass, was somewhat dirty and funky, not a clean stony mineral quality I tend to get with Marcassin Chardonnay. The wine did not show well.

Flight 2 – Pinot Noir

2002 Chevillon Nuits St. Georges Saint Georges – Quickly identifed as Burgundy by all. It was earthy, mineral, gritty, with notable barnyard and animal notes. In time, more rugged and rustic. A very well made wine and standout among the three Pinot Noirs.

2004 Rhys Family Farms Pinot – With stemy blue fruits, initially thought it was a Burgundy, but after a little time in the glass, the wine lacked complexity, showing more simple dried cherry plum notes. Correctly guessed the wine as a Rhys! The wine had good weight, but overall was not a great showing.

2005 Marcassin Blue Slide Pinot – Ripe, raspberry, plums, prunes, sweet palate, dense but unresolved and spritzy, thought it might be a young Aubert Pinot. On reveal, was surprised it was a Marcassin Blue Slide. This wine needs to be aged for many more years before enjoying. The wine also did not show well.

Flight 3 – Rhone

2008 Sine Qua Non The Line Grenache – The red wine of the flight, and night, thought this was an outstanding wine. Nothing out of place, big red clean candied fruit, correctly guessed it as a Sine Qua Non Grenache! A touch lighter on its feet than the Atlantis Grenache, a great drinking wine! Would expect it to age gracefully for years.

2004 Greenock Creek Alices – Guessed this wine as a California Syrah, compact dark fruits, it showed very well, but quite different than the Grenache. Normally not a big fan of Austrailian Shiraz, but this wine was very enjoyable. Did not spend as much time with this wine over time as others who thought it less impressive.

2007 Usseglio Mon Aieul – Correct guested the wine as French, thought it was just ok. Not a lot going on in the wine. The group as a whole did not particularly find the wine appealing. It may have suffered being in a flight with two other big powerful wines!

Flight 4 – Cabernet

1998 Pavie Macquin – The wine of the flight, enjoyed the Pavie a great deal, it was easily identified as Bordeaux. Started out green and tannic, very similar to what I get with the 1998 Pavie, in time, this wine lost some of the greeness and became more red and black exotic fruits. Thought it was a gorgeous wine, more so than the overall group!

2001 Araujo Eisele Cabernet – Initially did not like this wine, had a good bit of vanilla which I generally dislike in California Cabernet, and a simple style. However, this was an example of a wine that improved considerably with time in the glass, full bodied, and held up well to the meat course.

2003 Noon Reserve Cabernet – A very ripe wine, minty, thought this might be either from California or Australia. It was a pretty good wine, but not particularly a standout. Was really enjoying the Pavie in this flight, and spend less time on the other wines as we approached the end of the evening.

Flight 5 – Dessert

1990 Raymond Lafon – The only wine I correctly guessed the exact vintage, the color immediately lent itself as a 15 to 25 year old bottle, and oddly reminded me of a 1990 Sauternes in my cellar. This was an excellent age worthy dessert wine.

1986 Climens – The Climens did not show as age worthy as the Raymond Lafon. A nice wine, but overshadowed by its peer. Neither of these wines came across as California. A nice wine to end the evening.

The Mill Valley tasting group is made up of some of the most delightly folks we have had the pleasure to drink with over the past few years. Sophisticated palates, no question, a friendly group where you always go away learning something new. A great time where we highly enjoyed the food, wine, and conversation!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

Double Blind Bungalow 44 Wine Dinner

This past week, got together with friends at Bungalow 44 in Mill Valley for a Double Blind Wine Dinner. With the exception of the organizer, we knew it would be California and French wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Typically not a fan of blind or double blind dinners, this one turned out to be very well organized, interesting and educational. The discussion was fun, guessing the specific wines, years, and regions. In the course of the tasting, found it fascinating how different we each perceived the quality of one wine other another.

Brief notes follow of all wines opened. Within each flight, wines are sorted in order of personal preference, prior to reveal.

Flight 1 – Chardonnay

2005 Rochioli Rachael’s Vineyard – A lovely flinty, sulfur nose that immediately suggested it was a Burgundy A fat, full bodied, creamy sweet palate pointed to California. In the end, guessed it as a Burgundy. Rarely encounter this fantastic flinty nose on a California wine, and guessed our organizer might try to challenge us with a White Burg with California qualities. Thought it was a highly complex gorgeous wine.

2005 Remi Jobard Meursault Genevrieres – Leaner in style, lemon citrus, youthful and tart, a nice firm wine with a touch of cardboard and astringency, but improved considerably with time in the glass. It came across like a 2009 Ceritas Ritchie Chardonnay, a California producer wine made in a Burgundian style. Guessing from this point forward became far easier, went with original instincts!

Flight 2 – Pinot Noir

2003 Kistler Cuvee Catherine – Initially, it was very primary and youthful, it quickly came together. Dry raspberry fruit, in time becoming lightly candied, it kept putting on weight over time. The mouthfeel was full and coating, without being excessive. Overall, it was a highly age worthy and highly complex, the top wine of the flight.

1996 Maillard Corton Renards – At first, thought it was a rather simple wine with light blue fruits and not a lot else going on, with time in the glass however, made a complete turn around. Subtle sweet cake like and barnyard notes, intertwined with blue and black fruits made this highly interesting.

1997 Joseph Swan Trenton Estate Pentagon Reserve – Picked up more cherry fruit in this wine, more concentrated and ripe than the Corton Renards, also, more notable funk. This was a very interesting wine, and enjoyed it a great deal.

2003 Vincent Girardin Charmes Chambertin – Initially liked this wine, twigs and barnyard, easy drinking. In time, became funky, bretty, and vanilla, it seems to have lost the initial qualities that made it interesting. Do not think this one will age particularly well, my least favorite wine of the tasting.

Flight 3 – Cabernet Sauvignon

2000 Lynch Bages – Dusty, Pichon Lalande like, highly age worthy and complex. This was my top wine of the flight and tasting, a complete Bordeaux that had everything in place. Have had this wine at least 5 or 6 times now, and find it highly consistent.

1989 Montrose – Gamey, foxy, earthy, young, sweaty, animal and exotic. Similar to the Lynch Bages, had this wine numerous times, and this specific example showed more youthful than previous times tasted. A fantastic wine, the second best wine of the tasting.

2001 Bond Melbury – Cherry liquor, bright, thick and full bodied, initially thought it was a Shafer Hillside, but then it took on some vanilla qualities, which I never associated with the Hillside Select. Definitely a wine to drink with a big steak, it was huge!

1992 Ridge Monte Bello – Chalky, aged, mineral, sweet, a little simple at first, nuanced and complex later. Really enjoyed this wine, and was more inclined to think it was a younger French wine over an older California. This flight as a whole showed better than the previous two.

Bonus Wines

1991 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet – A wonderful end of meal wine, black fruits, compact, complex, and balanced, had everything that reminded me why I love 1991 California Cabernet.

2009 Oro Puro Vineyards Late Harvest – Thought this was the best Oro Puro I have ever tasted. Bright peach, clean, full bodied, mouth coating, with wonderful balance. Think this will turn out to be one of their most age worthy wines!

Overall, this was a fantastic dinner, and like all good dinners, it ended in planning the next one, tentatively scheduled to be Rhone! Cheers to a great evening!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

San Francisco Trade Tasting

Attended a trade tasting in San Francisco recently where several nice wines were poured. Having tasted many of them in the past, was a good opportunity to revisit how the wines were aging. In a few cases, was surprised by a high quality wine we have never had before. In particular, referring to an awesome 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico and 1989 Penfolds Grange!

Pours at this particular tasting were relatively small, and only revisited a few of the wines later in the tasting. As a result, no attempt is made at detailed notes, nor ranking the wines in order of personal preference. Nearly all wines showed well, with special mention to the 1995 Krug, 1990 Latour, 1989 Penfolds Grange, and 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico! Brief observations follow.
Champagne

1995 Krug– Crisp, nutty, butterscotch and hazelnut, this was a gorgeous complex and youthful Krug that should be exceptional with a decade or more age.

White Wines

1991 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree – Some diesel notes, a flat mouthfeel, and relatively fat on the palate. A fully mature good drinking wine.
2002 Leroy Meursault – Light bodied, some pleasant sweetness, little bit of flint, thought the wine was just ok, expected a little more from this solid producer.
2004 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay – Silky, intense citrus, moving toward a more creamy texture in time. A powerful and well put together Chardonnay.
Red Wines
1990 Chateau Latour – Initially orange rind, sweet, well rounded fruits, revisited later, and shutdown, showed far more tannin. A wine that will continue to improve with age.
1996 Chateau Margaux – More open knit and approachable than the Latour, black cherry fruit, floral, put on weight later in the tasting.
2005 Clos de Papes Chateauneuf de Pape – A very nice wine, big concentrated raspberry fruit, was drinking very well. Far more enjoyable than the Pagau.
2003 Pegau Chateauneuf de Pape Reserve – Have had this wine at least three or four times, have never found it enjoyable. Ripe concentrated plum and prune.
1997 Lisini Brunello di Montelcino Ugolaia – A disappointing wine, grassy, not a lot going on. Did not leave a positive impression.
1989 Vega Sicilia Unico – A young perfectly balanced wine, did not revisit later but suspect it could have easily rivaled any other wine in the tasting in time.
1990 Dominus – Soft, resolved, slightly green, but focused with pleasant mineral and dark fruits. A highly enjoyable well made wine.
1990 Opus One – Have had this wine 5 or 6 times, and this was one of the best showings, thick, ripe, cherry and raspberry fruits, showed far more open than on previous ocassions.
1998 Shafer Hillside Select – Huge wine, mint, black cherry, excellent balance, nice structure and continuing to age beautifully.
2000 Joseph Phelps Insignia – Big wine, similar to the Shafer Hillside, though not as complex. A nice wine with a strong mid palate presence.
1989 Penfolds Grange – Interesting transition on this wine, initially grassy, wheat, cherry and mint, not a thrilling wine, in time, big blue fruits and became exceptional.
2004 Sine Qua Non Covert Fingers – Candied bright red fruits, concentrated, thick full bodied Pinot, showed better on this occasion than other times tasted.
Sauternes
1990 Chateau d’Yquem – Peach, orange, and honey, this sweet, but nuanced wine showed very well, better than the 1986 in the same tasting, but not quite up to the 1988.
1986 Chateau d’Yquem – Orange rind, concentrated and age worthy, the 1986 tasted far younger than the 1990. Continue to age this wine.
Cheers to a very nice wine lineup!
Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

French Wine Night at Pera

Recently we joined friends in SF for a French Wine Dinner at Pera. The dinner included a lineup of awesome wines, including two exceptional bottles of Coche Dury pictured at left. The flight of the night, found the contrast in the two wines striking. One was delicate and feminine, the other powerful and masculine!

What made the tasting more challenging than usual was the relatively small pours. Given the larger group size, it did not allow the best opportunity to revisit the wine later in the evening. Continue to suggest that 6 to 8 person tastings offer the best opportunity to fully evaluate a 750ml bottle of wine. Evaluating wine aside, the true spirit of the evening was to share special bottles of wine among friends, and that is exactly what we did!

The following are very brief observations of all wines opened sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Chablis Starter

2001 Raveneau Butteaux – Oyster shell, sweet citrus, moist white cake, nice acidity and balance. A well structured, very good drinking wine.

Dom Perignon Flight

1978 Dom Perignon – Clean, peach, bright orange, nutty, white chocolate, a compelling full bodied Champagne that showed best among the flight.

1976 Dom Perignon– Not too far off stylistically from the 1978, walnut, hardwood, hazelnut, and spice. Some oxidation, but not significant.

1998 Dom Perignon -Honey, tart, lemon, firm acidity, was way too young to be opened. Should cellar this wine for years before opening.

1990 Dom Perignon – A flawed bottle.

Rose Flight

1996 Dom Perignon Rose– Bright, light cherry, powder, restrained, elegant and clean. An excellent Rose, and close top pick as wine of the flight.

N.V. Krug Champagne Brut Rose – More powerful than the Dom Perignon, yeasty, rose pedal, young, and a long finish. Very close second wine of the flight.

Coche Dury Flight

2001 Coche Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrieres– Floral, oily, creme brulee, flinty, a lovely soft, but well balanced elegant wine that is ready to drink now.

2001 Coche Dury Meursault – Toasty, petrol, powerful wine, coarse texture, intense citrus, mineral, a young drinking wine that should be aged longer.

Burgundy Flight 1

1990 Frederic Esmonin Griottes Chambertin– Clean blue fruits, mineral, rough texture, but highly age worthy. Did not have a strong preference of the 90 over the 93.

1993 Frederic Esmonin Griottes Chambertin – Sweet, game meats, ripe, perfectly mature, open knit, shut down a bit as it sat in the glass.

Burgundy Flight 2

1996 Domaine Dujac Charmes Chambertin– Blue fruits, exotic and tropical, stemy, a strong showing as wine of the flight.

1996 Louis Jadot Chambertin – Big ripe powerful full bodied Jadot, showed very well next to the Dujac and Bertagna.

1996 Domaine Bertagna Chambertin – Medium bodied, spice, firm acidity, but mellowed out in time. Good balance, nice age worthy wine.

1996 Frederic Esmonin Clos Vougeot – Light bodied, high acidity, lacked character, thought this was a disappointing wine in tough company.

Bordeaux Flight

1983 Chateau Margaux– Mineral, earthy, floral, perfect balance and integration. A young wine that has plenty of life.

1962 Chateau Canon – Saddle leather, nice tannin, no signs of oxidation, an excellent old Bordeaux that showed well.

1986 Chateau Margaux – Not too far off in style from the 83 Margaux, however slightly more menthol and less balanced.

1983 Chateau Palmer – A flawed bottle.

Sweet Finish

1944 Massandra Muscat Rose– Absolutely gorgeous, caramel, thick, rich, butterscotch, a lovely end of meal wine, one of the best wines of the evening.

1955 Domaines et Terroirs du Sud Rivesaltes Millesime – Lean, tight, did not find this wine appealing. In very tough company next to the Massandra.

Cheers to wonderful wines, good friends, and a highly enjoyable evening!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

San Diego Blind California Dinner

During our recent visit to San Diego, enjoyed attending a California Wine Dinner at Quarter Kitchen. The restaurant was excellent and a great venue for a wine dinner. On this occassion, it was decided to taste all wines blind. The group tasted three flights of four wines, and ranked each wine per flight. It was a larger than normal group, so pours were relatively small not allowing an opportunity to revisit in time and see how they develop.

As often happens at wine dinners, a wine shows up that is not to theme, in this case a few Bordeaux. As luck would have it, a 2000 Cheval Blanc was brought, and turned out to be the wine of the night by a long shot! All wines opened are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Opener

2004 Taittinger Champagne – Honey, medium bodied, crisp, nice acid balance, touch of creaminess, an easy drinking start to the evening.

Chardonnay Flight

2006 Kongsgaard Judge Chardonnay – Initially very simple, no nose, in time more lemon and lime citrus, a tight young wine that leaned to the white burgundy end of the wine spectrum.

2008 Aubert Hyde and Sons Chardonnay – A close second place, far sweeter, cotton candy, balanced and oily. More creamy and balanced than the Kongsgaard, enjoyable young.

2008 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay – Similar to the Hyde and Sons, sweeter, but with a little more spice. Some unexpected funk on the finish that never quite went away.

2004 Kistler Vine Hill Chardonnay – Deeper yellow color, full bodied, yeast, hazel nut and mildly floral. Did not find this wine particularly appealing.

Cabernet Flight

2002 Kuleto Reserve Cabernet- Dark berry, minty, spice, soy and chocolate, a very nice drinking wine that had Bordeaux leanings, a restrained and elegant wine.

2006 Ghost Horse Shadow – Tannic, black licorice, bitter coffee, an interesting wine that was quite enjoyable, and not far separated from either the Kuleto or Shafer Hillside Select.

2003 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet – Rich, good tannin and menthol. A very nice drinking wine that was close, but not quite to the level of the Ghost Horse or Kuleto.

2008 12C Georges III Cabernet – Very ripe style of wine, vanilla, full bodied, bright red fruit, a solid representation of the Georges III vineyard. Should improve considerably with age.

Syrah Flight

2006 Myriad Las Madres Syrah – A lovely cold climate Syrah. Clean, pure, stemy, awesome floral aromatics, think Myriad consistently over performs on their Las Madres Syrah.

2005 Grand Reve Reserve Syrah – Far more flashy than the 2006 Myriad, more powerful, exotic, sweet, pure and muscular. Like the Myriad, a gorgeous wine, but for very different reasons.

2008 Myriad 100% Whole Cluster Las Madres Syrah – Similar to the 2006 Myriad, stemy, blue fruits, a little bigger style and more course. A solid showing.

2006 Samsara Alder Springs Syrah – Disjointed, simple, lacking character, one of the few wines I struggled to think of something nice to say.

Bordeaux Finish

2000 Cheval Blanc – Wine of the night by a long shot! Expected it to be way too young, but with a quick decant, and a little time in the glass, improved considerably. The definition of a perfect Bordeaux, perfectly balanced, highly complex, chewy, mineral, leather, meat, exotic. A wow wine!

2000 Pape Clement – Did not particularly enjoy the Pape Clement, just an ok wine. Some animal and game, which is typically a nice thing, but not well put together in this wine. Overshadowed and dominated by the Cheval Blanc.

Cheers to a wonderful tasting with a generous group of friends in San Diego!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

Sunday Rhone and Bordeaux

This past Sunday, got together with friends in Napa Valley to enjoy a few special bottles of wine. The theme was great Rhone and Bordeaux. What was particularly interesting about this dinner however was an excellent California wine opened at the end of the evening, a 1969 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon!

At 40+ years old, 12.5% ABV, this wine was simply outstanding! The reference to Medoc and St. Emilion on the pictured back wine label was priceless! In the case of this dinner, did not take notes at the time, but brief observations follow. All the wines were so enjoyable, no attempt is made to identify a wine of the night.

1982 Pichon Lalande – The first time having had this wine, immediately found it a delightful, delicate and elegant wine. Tasted strawberry and sweet raspberry fruit, dry wheat, and some fresh cut grass on the palate. Took a few hours on a pop and pour for the wine to open up and show its full potential. This was an exceptional Pichon Lalande that will continue to age and improve for years.

1982 Ducru Beaucaillou – Another excellent wine, the Ducru was an interesting contrast to the Pichon Lalande. More rustic and old school Bordeaux, the palate was strikingly upfront with stewed baked red fruits and an appealing almost tomato sauce like palate. Immediately reminded of a young 1993 Philip Togni Cabernet. Like the Pichon Lalande, the Ducru will age gracefully for many more years. A beautiful wine!

1989 Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage – The two Bordeaux were both excellent, but stylistically different. Such was the case with both Rhones. The Jaboulet was gorgeous, exotic dark fruits, plum, barnyard, asian spice and game meat, had so many dimensions to the wine, it hit the palate in different ways with every taste. An excellent Rhone that is drinking very well now, but could easily continue to age.

1994 Chave Hermitage – Almost polar opposite to the Jaboulet in style, the Chave was pure and clean, with lush bright red fruit, yet restrained and subdued with a rich menthol finish. Aromatically, the wine had an appealing tropical citrus nose that was highly enjoyable. The youngest wine in the group with notable tannin, could easily age this wine for a significant amount of time, and it will continue to improve.

1969 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon – The final wine of the evening, this was a gorgeous old school California Cabernet! Almost a hypothetical blend of a good year BV Georges de Latour, with mushroom, spice and earthiness, with the structure, depth, and darker clean fruits of a well aged Chateau Montelena. The wine showed no signs of oxidation, yet was fully mature and highly enjoyable. Cannot say enough positive things about the quality of this wine!

Cheers to a small but highly enjoyable evening with good food, friends and wine!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

1990, 1995 and 1996 Bordeaux Dinner

Recently, a group of us got together in Marin County for an all 1990’s Bordeaux Dinner. In the case of this get together, we decided wine flights would center around three years, 1990, 1995 and 1996. It was interesting to compare and contrast the years, as well as see how each wine was progressing over time!

As a flight, thought the 1996 showed best overall. All the wines were excellent, and not separated by a large margin preferring one wine over the other. Second best flight turned out to be the 1990’s. The 1990 Cos d’Estournel aside, another group of excellent drinking wines. Finally, was the 1995 flight. The wines were all ok, but out classed by both the 1990 and 1996’s.

All wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight. The 1996 wines were decanted, all others, pop and pour. Brief observations of wines opened follow:

California Starter

2008 Ceritas Porter Bass Chardonnay – A medium bodied, lemon, oyster shell and floral wine that was oily in texture, funky on the nose, and spicy on the palate. Thought it was a just ok wine that would be interesting to revisit in the future.

1990 Bordeaux

1990 Lynch Bages – A gorgeous wine with excellent balance and complexity. Had an almost motor oil component to the wine, very dark fruits and copious amounts of cigar, mineral and earth. This was an exceptional wine that will age gracefully for many more years.

1990 Pichon Lalande – Another gorgeous wine! Had baked red fruits that became sweeter and more candied in time with an appealing mint, eucalyptus, and dry tea leaf component to the finish. Swapped back and forth on preference with the 1990 Lynch Bages. Wine Advocate gave this wine a 79? Really? The wine was exceptional.

1990 Troplong Mondot – Aged, animal, raspberry fruit, plum, and some wet cardboard. While the nose was dryer, almost cognac like, the palate did have some pleasant sweetness. Thought the wine was oddly interesting. A good wine, but overshadowed by the Lynch Bages and Pichon Lalande.

1990 Cos d’Estournel – Brett, brett, and more brett combined with some funky animal, grass, and more brett. Thought the wine was pretty much sapped of anything that made the wine interesting, and overall, was dominated by brett. Tend to be more sensative to brett than others, so did not care for this wine at all.

1995 Bordeaux

1995 Leoville las Cases – A great nose hinted at an excellent wine, but it was simply too closed at this stage in its life. Spice, plum, and cedar, had a laser fine precision in a clean wine not remotely ready to drink. Let this one age for many more years before opening.

1995 Grand Puy Lacoste – Good balance in this cool and clean wine with predominately plum and mushroom on the palate. Noted some menthol which was nice and helped the wine, but overall, could not say it was a thrilling experience. Just an ok wine.

1995 Monbousquet – Have tasted only a handful of other Monbousquet in the past, so was curious how this one would show. Unfortunately, found it flabby and sappy, more full bodied than the other two 95’s, did not find it to have a lot of character overall.

1996 Bordeaux

1996 Pichon Lalande – An elegant, perfectly balanced wine with fresh cut grass, a super long finish, and a rich liquor quality with expressive fruit. A very well made wine that showed best among three really excellent 1996’s.

1996 Leoville Poyferre – Far more meat, game, olive, and well aged fruits in this rustic, almost old school bordeaux. Flip a coin, and could pick this vs the Pichon Lalande as wine of the flight. Both were very good, but for very different reasons.

1996 Cos d’Estournel – Similar to the 1990 Cos d’Estournel, picked up brett, but it was very minor. Nice acidity, spice, and fruit balance, another very well made wine that more than held its own against the other two 1996’s.

Sweet Finish

2003 Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Spatlese – Clean and crisp with sweet lemon and very light sulfur, this was an excellent wine! Along with Massandras and Sauternes, find sweeter German Rieslings a pleasant way to end a wine dinner!

Cheers to a very enjoyable evening!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

All French Wine Dinner

This past weekend, got together with local friends in Sonoma to enjoy an all French wine dinner! In the case of this dinner, it was nice to revisit quite a few wines previously tasted to see how they are progressing. As is often the case with French wines, they are progressing slowly!

Wine flights were two bottles each. Find this to be an effective format, if for one reason alone, to hold over a flight into the next and only have 4 glasses on the table. Often times, we do flights of 3 wines, and 6 glasses can be challenging to keep straight!

All wines were served pop and pour, with the exception of the 2000 Bordeaux which were given about an hour decant. As with other tastings, sorted the wine in order of personal preference per flight. Brief observations of all wines opened follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2004 Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon

Red Wine of the Night:
1996 Ducru Beaucaillou

Champagne Starter

2002 Cristal – Nutty, crisp, easy drinking with lemon and orange citrus. Somewhat light in body and certainly light in color, was rather disappointed in the wine. Enjoyed other Cristal Champagnes in the past so had high expectations that were not met in this wine.

Chablis

2002 Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre – Oyster shell and floral with firm acidity and excellent minerality. The wine was full bodied and simply beautiful with a clean almost cool clean ocean breeze nose. A highly complex excellent drinking wine.

2001 Raveneau Butteaux – An interesting contrast to the 2002, was more lemon, pineapple, and nutty in style. Lighter bodied, it had a loamy texture and notable yeast. The acidity on this wine was well buried, and carried the wine well into the evening.

White Burgundy

2004 Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon – Another great Domaine Leflaive. Petrol, sulfur, motor oil on the nose, became sweeter, almost cotton candy like on the palate. An absolutely gorgeous drinking wine that kept improving over the span of the evening.

2007 Coche Dury Meursault – The most “un-Coche” like Coche Meursault I have tasted, perhaps due to its youth. Restrained, very light sulfur, mineral, combined with lemon and caramel. Was far cleaner and laser precise in style than other years tasted. An excellent wine.

A Wine Intermission

1987 Chateau Montelena– Served blind, was grassy at first, had nice tannin, asian spice, anise, bell pepper, dusty stewed raspberry fruits and a deep dark ruby color that convinced almost everyone it was a mid to late 90’s wine. Having had the wine 6 or 7 times now, it was the most mature example tasted to date. No rush to open, has many more years to age and improve.

1998 Mongeard Mugneret Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes – Served for our friends who are not big fans of white wine, was intially light, but put on weight. Noted some light grass, blue fruits with a hint of cola. A clean wine, had nice acidity and a citrus finish. Really enjoyed this wine, but in tough company next to the 1987 Montelena.

1980’s Bordeaux

1989 Pichon Baron – Bacon, fatty, meaty, and raspberry fruits, the wine showed very tight at first, and put on considerable weight in time. A dense wine for sure, with a sweet caramel finish. Showed very well and drank young.

1986 Montrose – A notably aged wine, showed more forest floor, baked red and black fruits, and an appealing barnyard component. The wine was somewhat foxy in a good way, and showed a little rougher than other examples tasted of this wine.

1990’s Bordeaux

1996 Ducru Beaucaillou – The red wine of the night, it was simply outstanding with ripe red raspberry liquor fruit, with a dense full bodied mouthfeel and a long sweet finish. While it was both elegant and refined, was surprisingly ready to drink now. Overall, a wow wine!

1996 Lynch Bages – Far more structured and youthful drinking than the Ducru, was far more shutdown at this stage and more grassy with darker fruits, cigar, earth and an appealing minerality. Had a lovely mint note on the finish. A very good wine that needs additional cellar aging.

2000’s Bordeaux

2000 Pichon Baron – One of the most nuanced wines of the night, noted menthol and mint, chalk and leather, coffee and black berries, all over the place, but in a good way. Decanted the wine for about an hour, and proved to be very youthful. An excellent wine to continue aging.

2000 Calon Segur – Impossibly closed and shutdown, was unapproachable even after an hour plus decant, and additional time in the glass. Noted rhubarb and scorched earth in a wine that is just not ready to go. Cellar for many more years before opening.

Sauternes

1986 Rieussec – Waxy, orange rind, sweet honey, and butterscotch in an easy drinking end of meal wine. Would be an excellent wine to revisit in a few decades!

Cheers to an awesome evening!
Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/