Category Archives: Burgundy

California Syrah

We recently got together with wine drinking friends in Sonoma to enjoy an evening of California Syrah. Our reference point for exceptional California Syrah has always been the wines of Sine Qua Non. Over the last few years however, we have become increasing interested in those coming out of the Las Madres Vineyard in Carneros. Vie, Eric Kent, Myriad and Apsara have year after year made fantastic wines that are not only enjoyable, but highly affordable. The night was a treat for us as we got a chance to try several wines never tasted before.

Given the number of wines, and the pace tasted, observations are a quick snapshot impression. In this type of tasting, generally gives us a sense of whether it is a producer we should keep an eye on to establish a track record for future purchases. Brief observations follow. All wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

White Wine of the Night – 2008 Domaine William Fevre Preuses
Red Wine of the Night – 2011 Apsara Las Madres Syrah

Starter Wines – Of the two white wines, the Preuses was the standout. Some initial funk on the nose that blew off quickly, a crisp, balanced, and youthful good drinking Chablis. Nothing out of place, drank very well. The Wayfarer Chardonnay was a completely different taste profile, youthful and floral, a good everyday drinking Chardonnay. The Wayfarer Pinot was ripe, creamy and one dimensional, not a very good showing.

2008 Domaine William Fevre Preuses
2012 Wayfarer Chardonnay
2012 Wayfarer Pinot Noir

Syrah Flight 1 – The 2011 Apsara was spectacular, easily our wine of the night. Tasted at the beginning and end of the evening, was the most balanced, complex and interesting wine. Showed consistent to previous tastings, clean blue and black fruits, oily texture, and fantastic structure. A wine that should age and improve for a considerable length of time. A close second of the evening was the Eric Kent Las Madres Syrah. It held true to the cold climate, Las Madres profile. A perfectly balanced and nuanced wine. Sadly, the Lois Rae was badly corked.

2011 Apsara Las Madres Syrah
2011 Eric Kent Las Madres Syrah
2011 Lois Rae Las Madres Syrah

Syrah Flight 2 – Our first time tasting Sonklin Cellars wines, It was fun to compare three vintages in a row. 2010 was our favorite. Round, balanced and approachable. Found it a nice easy drinking Syrah. Styllistically different, enjoyed the 2011 next with its very expressive nose. Finally, the 2009. It was tight at first and appeared to be lean and disjointed. After tasting later in the evening, think it was simply shutdown and needed a good bit of air to open up.

2010 Sonkin Cellars Persona
2011 Sonkin Cellars Persona
2009 Sonkin Cellars Persona

Syrah Flight 3 – A more challenging flight, found the wines “interesting”. The Kale was ok, earthy and medium bodied. The Alban, barrel sample like and showed potential up front, shortly thereafter, heat took center stage. Did not spend as much time with the Campesino as we would have liked given food served. The wine maker is very likeable, a wine we need to revisit over a long evening to fully and fairly evaluate.

2011 Kale Syrah
2006 Alban Pandora
2011 Campesino Syrah

Syrah Flight 4 – Another challenging flight, probably my least favorite of the evening. The Kale and Rhys came across overripe with plum/prune qualities we did not find particularly appealing. In contrast to the Kale and Rhys, the Thirty Seven was brighter, but nothing of note captured our attention. With a personal bais toward the cooler climate Syrahs, was not gravitating toward the later wines / flights as I had hoped.

2010 Kale Syrah
2007 Thirty Seven Syrah
2008 Rhys Syrah

Syrah Flight 5 – Both wines showed somewhat similar to the previous flight from a taste profile standpoint. The Peidrasassi was the more dense of the two wines. This and the previous two flights suffered a bit due to food at the table, and to a certain extent, personal stylistic preference. Have never found value in wines that lean in a plum, prune, and raisin direction.

2011 Herman Story Syrah
2007 Peidrasassi Mr Smith Syrah

Syrah Flight 6 – The Favia left an immediate positive impression. Bright clean blue fruits, was a nice very well made wine. In time, picked up a sweetness that was a touch off putting but did not perceive it as much, the longer it sat in the glass. Would be a good producer to revisit. Have had some excellent Favia in the past. In contrast to it, the Copain was dusty and lean. Did not particularly enjoy this wine.

2007 Favia Syrah
2006 Copain Syrah

A fun evening sampling a lot of wines we do not regularly drink, but perhaps should!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

Burgundy Lunch

At the end of the year, we like to get together with close friends in San Francisco to share high end Burgundy! We often treat this meal as an opportunity to big deep into our cellars and share special bottles. As a relatively small group, pours were generous offering the opportunity to revisit frequently during the afternoon. Did not take detailed notes at the time, but some observations follow. Wines are sorted in order of vintage and none were decanted.

Champagne Flight

1989 Krug Collection – Mature, ripe fruit with toasted butterscotch. As the wine sat in the glass, the butterscotch component got more pronounced. Typically, would associate butterscotch with an overly oxidized wine, but it worked for this wine. Could not help but think it would have made a perfect end of meal wine!

1990 Krug – Very youthful, crisp, well balanced, a gorgeous drinking wine that remained relatively consistent from start to finish. Thought the wine showed very well, better than the last time tasted. Fresh, some citrus, this bottle suggested no rush to open. Only after hours in the glass did it begin to show its age.

White Burg Flight

1998 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues Batard Montrachet – Sadly, a corked bottle. At first, seemed like it was tight and shutdown, corkiness on the nose, but not the palate, but quickly got worse. Fruit was sapped, cardboard nose, and hint of sulfur remained.

2000 Domaine d’ Auvenay Auxey-Duresses – One of the best white burgundies we have tasted in years! Had it been served blind, would have guessed a Coche Dury. Flinty nose, rich yeasty, highly complex palate, and a lengthy citrus finish. It kept giving back more and more the longer it sat in the glass. The wine was youthful, highly balanced, good level of acidity, and will continue to improve with additional cellaring. Days after the tasting, still thinking about the wine it was that good!

2004 Bouchard Montrachet – A more open round Montrachet, thought it pretty, floral and feminine. Acid lurked in the background but fruit was forward. Had this wine young. Back then, it was completely shut down, nearly impossible to access. A lovely wine. No rush to open, but suggest it will not improve considerably with additional cellar aging.

Wine Intermission

1969 Louis Latour Santenay – A little blind surprise intermission wine before transitioning to the red flight. The Latour was toned down, with plenty of earth and mineral. No signs of oxidation. Have tasted very few Santenay, the last being an exceptional 1983 Pierre Bouree Santenay Les Gravieres. The Latour showed very well.

Red Burg Flight

1985 Vogue Musigny – Similar to the Latour, tight and compact dark fruits, good firm acidity in balance with the fruit. Loved the wine, styllistically very different than the two Leroy. A lightbulb went off tasting this wine how really good mature Musigny tastes. Delicate, clean and more beautiful the longer it sat in the glass.

1990 Domaine Leroy Boudot – A good, rich, full bodied wine with copious amounts of blue and black fruit. Found the wine to be mature, structure buried under the fruit. Kept expecting it to give more in the way of complexity, remained consistent from start to finish. No rush to open, will age gracefully for years.

2001 Domaine Leroy Fremieres – Found the wine strikingly similar to the Boudot, rich blue and black fruit, however far more acidity and tannic structure. The better of the two Leroy, this wine will benefit with additional cellar aging. Thought it showed very well, a delightful wine.

Sauternes

1990 d’Yquem – Was not particularly blown away by the 90 d’Yquem. The wine has not come together, not a seamless wine like the 95. Perhaps it is too young and unresolved, did not find the wine particularly appealing on this or other ocassions.

1995 d’Yquem – Enjoyed the 95 d’Yquem a great deal this time, and when other bottles were tasted. Since the 88, one of the best modern vintages of d’Yquem.

Cheers to a spectacular afternoon and fine wine, food and world class company!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Old School Wine Lunch

This weekend we hosted a wine lunch for a good friend visiting from Germany. The theme was loosely defined as old school California, but as luck would have it, evolved into old school wine from several regions. Five of us were in attendance with ample time to revisit the wines over the afternoon and early evening. Impressions of the wines follow, captured the day after the tasting and sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Starter Flight

2009 Wittmann Westhoven Morstein Trocken Riesling GG – Highly nuanced, yet rich tropical fruit with a dry age worthy backbone. This stunning Reisling was exceptional. Focused and a worthy addition to any cellar.

2007 Domaine Carneros Ultra Brut – A lovely dry starter wine as guests arrived. It was crip and clean. The low / no dosage sparkling wine was chalky in texture and precise. A good palate cleanser to start the lunch.

Pinot Noir Flight

1982 Chalone Pinot – Have had the pleasure of drinking this wine several times in the past, and this bottle did not disappoint. Showed far more youthful than the 90 Burgundy with good minerality and delightful blue and red fruits. Balanced and complex, preferred it strongly over the Burgundy.

1990 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Damodes – Found this wine ok, not particularly great. Was in tough company next to the Chalone. Picked up primarily wet saddle leather and stale plum qualities that did not show balanced or complex. A simple straight forward Burgundy.

 Older Wine Flight

1925 Marques de Murrieta Casilillo Ygay Logrono Reserva Especial – A surprise wine served blind by our generous guest. Caramel, some butterscotch, deep rich dark chocolate and no distracting oxidative notes. On reveal, turns out it was a Rioja! Was highly surprised how well this extremely old wine held up. It drank beautifully, a flashy wine with a lot of character.

1966 Louis Martini Mountain Cabernet – Second time tasting the 66 Martini in the past few years, found this wine as good as the first. Youthful, balanced and highly age worthy. It kept giving layer after layer of complexity the longer it sat in the glass. No rush to open, will improve with additional bottle aging.

1974 Mayacamas Cabernet – Did not spent a lot of time with the Mayacamas, it was opened the previous day so just a small sample. Given it showed so well on day two with no signs of oxidation and balanced fruit, suspect it was exceptional on day one.

1987 California Flight

1987 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – Have tasted this wine easily a dozen plus times over the years, and this was one of the best examples tasted to date! It remains a youthful, mind blowing wine. Pure fruit, highly structured, subtle menthol finish, textbook old school California Cabernet. Have long considered this one of the top California Cabernet made in the exceptional 1987 vintage.

1987 Philip Togni Cabernet – First time tasting the 1987 Togni, found it interesting. A very good wine that showed slightly on the leaner side, with a slight green streak. The wine did not show the depth of other 1987 vintage California Cabernet, went away thinking it was best to drink this particular wine sooner rather than later. Knowing the Togni style of wine, it is entirely possible the wine was simply shut down.

Finishing Wine

1958 Pontet Canet – An amazing old Bordeaux to end the evening. Not oxidized, fuller bodied than the two Cabernet, with an intoxicating mix of exotic spices, earth, game, and dark fruits. Noted light bricking, this well stored bottle was nothing short of delightful.

What was particularly notworthy about the evening was that none of the bottles were flawed! Given their age, might expect one or two off bottles. All showed at, or exceeded expectations for a well stored bottle. A delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon, good food, wine and company!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Apsara Cellars

We recently got together with Robin Akhurst of Apsara Cellars. Apsara is a relatively new producer that makes very limited quantities of quality California Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. We met Robin at a Las Madres Vineyard Lunch a few years back and have kept in touch since. He was generous to share with us several current release wines. No question, they are very well made, and might add, very reasonably priced!

2012 Apsara Sauvignon Blanc – Light green tint to the color with a green apple nose and palate. It is crisp and clean, a textbook California Sauvignon Blanc, crafted with a hint of sulfur on the nose we found appealing. One of the better Sauvignon Blanc we have tasted in some time.

2010 Apsara Las Madres Syrah – Initially, the wine showed very tight and wasn’t revealing much. As it sat in the glass however, began to pickup a pleasant floral nose and cranberry red fruit palate. Revisiting the wine hours later, an interesting transformation took place and started to note blue fruits. A few additional hours after that, it took on an oily black olive quality. Rarely do we hold a wine over until the next day, but did so in this case, and it still drank very well. Plenty of structure remained, fruit still in a great place, think the wine could hold its own open a few more days! Overall, cannot say enough positive things about this wine. Incredible value, excellent balance, good complexity and notable age worthiness.

2011 Apsara Las Madres Syrah – At first, thought it a strong contrast to the 2010, showed more ripe fruit initially, and lower acidity. With some time in the glass, it showed more structure. Hours later, noted similar blue fruits as the 2010, and again, hours after that, the black olive component became more predominate. The fruit was dark and round, not as dense as the 2010 but still well integrated. On day two, structure still existed, the fruit softened, yet remained approachable. 2011 was a pretty challenging year for growers and winemakers, this is clearly one of those producers that overcame the odds and put out a great drinking wine.

Apsara’s case production is very limited. The current release Sauvignon Blanc is 85 cases, and Syrah, 65 cases. Both cool climate Syrahs are well made, balanced, complex and age worthy. Really great drinking wines consistent if not superior to other Syrah tasted from the Las Madres Vineyard. Highly recommended and worth getting on their mailing list.

Apsara Website – www.apsaracellars.com

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

Wine Check In

Santa Rosa Fine Wine often attends smaller trade related tastings where we sample wine prior to purchase. It gives us a good sense of provenance and storage of private collections prior to potential purchase. In this particular tasting, we tried everything early in the evening, and toward the end, revisited the ones that made the strongest impression. Detailed notes are not taken, just a quick check in of wines that caught our attention. Top wine of the tasting was easily the 1993 Jadot Estournelles St Jacques. A stunning, if not perfect wine! Highly noteworthy was the 1987 Diamond Creek Volcanic. Have tasted lessor examples of this wine, this particular bottle was very well stored!

Exceptional wines:

1975 Heitz Martha
1987 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill
1987 Chateau Montelena Cabernet
1993 Jadot Estournelles St Jacques
2003 Abreu Thorevilos
2007 Brocard Les Clos

Very good wines:

1978 Leoville Las Cases
1987 Heitz Martha
1988 Leroy Pommard Les Vignots
1993 AF Gros Le Grand Maupertuis Clos Vougeot
1997 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet
2000 Dujac Morey St Denis
2001 Morey Puligny Montrachet Pucelles
2004 Quilceda Creek Cabernet
2006 Sine Qua Non Raven Grenache
2007 Sine Qua Non Labels Syrah
2007 Sine Qua Non Body and Soul

Some ok wines included 1981 Dunn Howell and 2009 Littorai Savoy Pinot and disappointments in 1978 Ducru Beaucaillou, 2003 Chapoutier Ermitage Les Greffieux, 2005 Janasse CdP Vieilles Vignes, and 1990 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti. Numerous California Pinot showed ripe and not particularly complex, more every day drinkers not listed.

For more detailed notes of wines we sample, generally over the span of hours, visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/santarosafinewine.

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

 

Premiere Napa Valley 2013

Premiere Napa Valley is a trade only wine auction scheduled in February each year. Local producers pour special auction lots of their unique blends and best barrels. It is a great opportunity to taste an early preview of the upcoming Napa Valley vintage. In this case, 2011. Several of the events we attended follow.

For Santa Rosa Fine Wine, the tastings are invaluable and give us a very strong sense what we will purchase in the coming years and advise to our customers. As with other tastings of this nature, pours are small and we are tasting a lot of wine, identifying top wines should be put into the proper context. That said, all wines listed below are the top 5 tasted at each event. They left the strongest positive impression, listed best to very good. We tasted a lot of great wine not listed!

First Taste of Yountville – Held at the Historic Barrel Room in Yountville, and put on by the Yountville Appellation Association, it was the first event we attended. One of the appellations we regularly track, top wines are listed. A special note should be made concerning Casa Piena. It is the third year we tasted their wine, and considered them outstanding! This is a producer we regard and give high praise for properly hitting an excellent balance of fruit, structure, complexity and age worthiness.

2009 Casa Piena Cabernet
2008 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet
2010 Dominus
2009 Charles Krug X Clone
2009 Gemstone Estate Cabernet

St Helena Appellation Tasting – Hosted at Charles Krug Winery, another tasting we attend nearly every year. It was a pleasure to run into Ted Edwards of Freemark Abbey, a long time wine maker we respect for consistency and quality at all levels. His talents are evident in one of their newer labels, Josephine!

2009 Freemark Abbey Josephine
2009 Revana Cabernet
2010 Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet
2009 Vineyard 29
2009 Trinchero Central Park West Cabernet

Open that Bottle Night – Hosted by Cliff Lede Winery, it is a BYOB Party where the generous host sets a high bar! This year, they opened Magnums of First Growth Bordeaux. The night is centered around attendees bringing a nice bottle from their cellar to share with others. The event is catered by Rosso in Santa Rosa, outstanding Pizza! Our palate is decidedly French, so not a surprise to see an all French Top 5.

1993 Rousseau Chambertin
1991 Ponsot Latricieres Chambertin
1988 Chateau Latour
2001 Chateau Latour
2001 Chateau Mouton

Rudd Center Retrospective Tasting – First time attending this event, it was a multi-vintage tasting of the same wine from 2008, 2009 and 2010 blind in Cabernet and 2009, 2010 and 2011 in Chardonnay. We rated all the wines and at the end, were given a key to analyse. In terms of Cabernet, our palate overall leaned toward enjoying 2009 best, followed by 2010 and 2008. In terms of Chardonnay, it went 2009, 2010 and 2011. Chardonnays were poured on the cold side, a little more challenging to evaluate.

Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay
Pine Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay
Stanton Vineyard Cabernet
Titus Family Estate Reserve Cabernet
Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay

Atelier Melka Portfolio Tasting – The second year for us attending this tasting, was impressed with the overall high quality of wine. Similar to the Casa Piena, think the wines by Kristine Ashe Vineyards (Entre Nous) were outstanding, significant standout wines. It is a producer relatively new to us, but strongly think they are worth keeping an eye on based on the last two years, highly recommended!

2010 Entre Nous Cabernet
2009 Cliff Lede Poetry
2009 Metisse Jumping Goat Cabernet
2009 Brand Cabernet
2010 Gandona Estate Cabernet

House of Cab Stags Leap District – The final event of the pre auction tastings, Pine Ridge Vineyards hosts a fun event. In a lounge type environment, you enjoyed good food, wine, music and conversation! It was a pleasure to meet with winery principles including the delightful winemaker of Clos du Val, Kristy Melton. A relatively new talent to the Clos du Val team, look forward to her future releases!

2010 Silverado Cellars SOLO Cabernet
2009 Cliff Lede Poetry
2005 Chimney Rock Cabernet
2001 Stags Leap Winery Cabernet
1993 Clos du Val Cabernet

We went away from the event still of the view, the more structured 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet was showing better than the more fruit forward 2008. Furthermore, that 2010 in general showed better than 2011. And for a few new friends, 1997 better than 1998!

Congratulations to the organizers of PNV 2013, a fantastic well put together event!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Champagne and Burgundy Wine Dinner

This past week, a small group of us got together for a wine dinner at Caffe Macaroni in San Francisco. Cannot say enough positively things about the quality of the food at Marcaroni, rich and well executed, a restaurant worth seeking out. We requested the chef basically serve a broad selection from their menu at his discretion, and he did a perfect job. The wine theme was Champagne, Burgundy and Rhone. With five of us in attendance, pour sizes were perfect allowed us to revisit the wines throughout the evening. Continue to strongly prefer wine dinners in the 6 person range for this reason.  All wines are sorted in order of personal preferene by flight.

Champagne Flight

1996 Billecart Salmon Nicolas Francois Billecart Brut – Crisp, high acidity, a highly age worthy Champagne. As it opened up through the evening, kept getting better and better, intense notes of fresh baked bread. While at first it was shutdown, in the end showed far superior to the delightful Bollinger RD.

1996 Bollinger RD – Have tasted this wine numerous times, and this was the best showing of the wine to date. Dusty, yeasty, fruit cake and baked bread. Showed its qualities upfront. It was beautiful for a little over an hour before tapering off and loosing some of the qualities that initially made it an exceptional wine. A really nice drinking wine overall, thought the Billecart the better of the two.

Corton Flight 

1990 Bertrand Ambroise Corton Rognet – Barnyard and dirty initally, cleaner with big blue and black fruits later. When the wine hit full stride, it was beautiful, but did not taste like a Corton, or anything remotely Burgundy. It did however go extremely well with the food, and showed very well overall.

1990 Marius Delarche Corton Renardes – A classic drinking Burgundy that actually tasted like a Corton. Raspberry, cranberry, leather, showed some initial plum ripeness that was not altogether appealing. As it sat in the glass, got leaner. Thought it was a good drinking wine, not great.

 Jadot Chambertin Flight

1993 Jadot Chapelle Chambertin – Initally very tight and closed down, got extremely interesting and elegant the more it sat in the glass. Game meats, clean pure fruit, and great structure in a highly balanced and complex wine. An awesome wine worth searching out. No rush to open, will age gracefully and improve for years.

1990 Jadot Mazis Chambertin – Another outstanding wine, very clean blue fruits, showed power, balance and complexity immediately, and for several hours. Another outstanding wine worth searching out. Together, thought the two Jadot combined to make for the flight of the night.

Rhone Flight

1998 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape – Clean dark broading fruits, exceptional balance, this wine kept giving back layer after layer of complexity and kept evolving over time. One of the best CdP we have tasted in a long time. The wine was nothing short of exceptional, and kept showing different nuances through the evening.

1994 Guigal La Mouline – When we think of Rhone, the benchmark wine producer that always comes to mind are those from Guigal. Some of our best drinking experiences have been from this producer. The 1994 was more candied red cherry fruits and smooth with notes of vanilla. A lovely well made wine, no question, thought the Vieux Telegraphe the superior wine in this flight.

Cheers to a delightful evening with a good group of local friends!

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

Southern Marin Wine Dinner

Recently we got together with good friends in Marin for an end of year wine dinner. As always, the food and company were enjoyable, combined with an interesting mix of wine. With the exception of the Italian Flight, all wines were served double blind. This tasting was particularly challanging in that, with nine of us in attendance, pour sizes were very small not allowing to revisit the wine over time. All wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Starter

1996 Dom Perignon – Remember drinking this wine numerous times when young, and it was very apparent it would be long lived. The wine showed far more mature now, and in a good place. Noted honey, almond, and orange citrus fruit. An elegant and subtle wine.

Chardonnay Flight

2005 Pernot Bienvenues Batard Montrachet – Mature, almost lightly oxidized, some citrus deeply buried in the wine. Correctly guessed it as a Burgundy, but thought it had more age on it than a 2005. An ok wine, not sure it is going to hold up well in time.

2006 Rhys Alpine Chardonnay – Bright, young, almost Aubert like fruit, on the sweet side and a little one dimensional. Thought it might be a 2006 to 2008 Rochioli Chardonnay. Generally like Rhys Chardonnay, thought this one just ok.

Pinot Flight

1996 Arnoux Echezeaux – Light body, elegent red and black cherry fruits, good minerality, and plenty of structure to easily carry the wine into future. Thought the wine representative of Echezeaux in style, and a delightful wine to drink. No rush to open, will continue to age well.

2005 Rochioli West Block Pinot – Big ripe wine, was easy to guess as California. Bright strawberry and cranberry notes, thought it might be from the Russian River. Thought the wine was not particularly complex, more one dimensional, and was surprised on reveal is was a single vineyard designate Rochioli.

Non Blind Italian Flight

1997 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vigneto Gallina – Both of the Italian wines showed qualities we find incredibly off putting. The Barbaresco had a ripe plum prune quality we have never found appealing, in addition to an astringent almost paint thinner nose. A highly disappointing wine.

1997 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo – Similarly disappointing and also showing a quality we find distracting and unpleasant, a high degree of bandaid brett. It was so distracting to make the wine undrinkable. Others at the table were not as sensative to brett, and found the wine enjoyable, though recognized it might not be fully to expectations.

Cabernet Flight

1996 Leoville Las Cases – Easily wine of the night, thought this was a beautiful and highly elegant drinking wine. Dry dusty dark fruits, game meats, menthol, it showed everything we enjoy in an exceptional Bordeaux. 1986 has long been our favorite Leoville Las Case, wonder if the 1996 will hit that same level in another 10 years!

1996 Peter Michael Les Pavot – Another wine we have tasting many times. The interesting thing about the 1996 Les Pavot is how different the fruit intensity has been from bottle to bottle. Most of the time, the fruit is very big and powerful. This bottle showed more shut down this time. A good drinking wine, though not entirely to expectations.

Finisher

1990 Zind Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris – Predominately tangerine, and pretty much to expectations. Full bodied, notable sweetness, it is a well made wine and a good way to end the meal. For us, it is a wine to drink in very small amounts.

Interesting to note, in each flight, the French wine was preferred over the California wine by the majority of us in attendance. Cheers to France!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafine.com

 

Small Wine Tasting

It might be said that numerous blog posts are written for an audience of one, the writer! In the case of this post, it is true, a record of wines we tasted for future reference. We recently attended a small sampling of wine in San Francisco. It was a tasting where nice wine was poured, however pour sizes were very small. In this type of tasting, you get a quick sense of the cellar provenance before purchase, and a snapshot view of the wine quality itself. In this particular instance, tasted each wine when first opened, and revisited the majority later in the evening. For Santa Rosa Fine Wine, it is invaluable to taste samples from a private cellar prior to purchase.

Excellent Drinking wines:

1959 Doudet Naudin Volnay
1970 Chateau Pichon Lalande
1978 Mongeard Mugneret Echezeaux
1978 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet
1982 Clos Rene
1984 Dominus
1986 Cos d’Estournel
1995 Harlan Estate
2000 Dalla Valle Maya
2005 Chateau Certan de May

Very Good Drinking Wines:

1975 Leoville Las Cases
1983 Ducru
1989 Hospices de Nuits Les Fleurieres
1993 Calera Jensen
1995 Lynch Bages
1997 Pio Cesare Barolo
2006 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay

Beyond these, some wines showed just ok: 1978 Jaffelin Chambolle Musigny, 1978 Lynch Bages, 1980 Heitz Martha and 1999 Gemstone Red. Sadly, some bottles did not show well: 1971 Jadot Gevrey Chambertin, 1976 Jordan Cabernet, 1983 Pierre Bouree Corton, 1991 Moraga Bel Air Cabernet, 1995 Chateau Gloria, 1997 Galante Blackjack Pasture Cabernet, 2002 Jones Family Cabernet, 2005 Chateau La Gomerie and 2007 Hartwell Reserve Cabernet. The not so great wines showed various degrees of oxidization, drying out, past maturity, or simply out of balance.

As a general rule, we value balance, age worthiness, structure, and complexity. We do not value, brett (bandaid on any level, barnyard when excessive), obvious flaws (corked, VA, ethyl acetate, etc.), one dimenional wines, as well as those that are past maturity, oxidized, or overly ripe with a plum, prune, raisin quality. Very small samples pose an evaluation challenge, but in the context of writing for yourself, it is certainly helpful!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Castagna Wine Dinner

We recently got together with local friends for an informal wine dinner at Castagna in San Francisco. Have been to the restaurant a few times now, and everything served to date has been fantastic, highly recommended French cuisine! For this dinner, four of us got together on relatively short notice. Continue to find these smaller wine dinners are so much more enjoyable than larger ones. You really get to evaluate a wine over time and enjoy a single table conversation.

After a few back and forth e-mails, we decided on a simple theme, Chardonnay, Pinot, Cabernet and Rhone. As sometimes happens, the Cabernet never made it to the table. The 1974 Louis Martini Mountain Cabernet and 1974 BV Georges de Latour will have to wait for another occasion. Brief observations of the wines opened follow:

Chardonnay

2004 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne – An awesome Corton Charlemagne, the wine has not changed significantly from other times tasted over the past few years. Sulfur, flinty, lemon citrus, mineral, floral, and still very firm acidity. Could easily continue to age this gorgeous wine for many more years!

2006 Marcassin Three Sisters Chardonnay – Have had this wine several times recently and this was the best showing. Distinctly California Chardonnay in style, medium bodied, round, nice acidity early on, becoming more creamy in time. Noted pear and vanilla. Even though it was the best showing of the wine for us, overall just an ok experience.

Pinot

2001 Hospices de Beaune Mazis Chambertin Henri Boillot Cuvee Madeleine Collignon – A nice drinking wine, in perhaps five to ten plus years! It was very young, tightly wound, plenty of dark fruits, and very tannic. Everything was in place, but just highly reduced. Suggest letting the wine age considerably longer before opening.

2006 Rhys Alpine Pinot Noir – A disappointing wine. The more Rhys we taste, the more disappointed we have become in their Pinot Noir. Barrel sample like with plum, raisin, some blue fruits, but overall disjointed and simple. Like the Marcassin, distinctly Californian in style. Revisited a few times during the evening, and found nothing particularly appealing.

Rhone

1990 Les Cailloux (Lucien et Andre Brunel) CdP Cuvee Centenaire – Have never tasted a better Southern Rhone than this wine! A seductive coffee, red raspberry nose led into a dense palate of layered rich licorice, chocolate and earthy black fruits. Excellent balance, nuanced, it kept improving over the span of the bottle. Unlike many Southern Rhones tasted, no over ripe raisin and prune notes. This wine showed extemely well, and suspect it will continue to show well for a decade plus!

1983 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage la Chapelle – In very tough company next to the Andre Brunel, far leaner and grassy. Slight oily like consistency, some oak, and earth, do not think the wine will improve with continued cellar aging. Fully mature right now with no signs of oxidation, should plan to drink over the next few years. An ok experience.

A very fun evening, especially one with an eye opening Southern Rhone!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine WIne
www.santarosafinewine.com