Category Archives: Burgundy

Commonwealth Dinner

A local wine tasting group we are part of recently got together in San Francisco for dinner at Commonweath restaurant. The food was spectacular, and included Black River Ossetra Caviar, Salmon Tartare, Corn Custard Lobster, Veel Cheeks and a few enjoyable desserts. A highly recommended restaurant in the Bay Area!

Wine for the dinner was focused on Burgundy varietals from the United States and France. While nearly all wines were enjoyable, the standout was a bottle of 1945 Beaulieu Vineyards Beaumont Pinot Noir. It was remarkable how youthful the wine looked and tasted. The label said Pinot Noir, but suspect the wine included Gamay, Petite Sirah, or other varietals. Suspicion aside as to the exact varietal makeup, it was an outstanding wine. Brief observations follow of all wine opened.

Champagne Starter – The Krug was extremely young, firm acidity with hardwood, orange citrus fruits and a pleasant yeasty component. Could continue to age this gorgeous wine for a significant period of time. In contrast, the Bollinger RD was far more mature and a little funky. Tending to prefer Champagne on the younger side, did not show as well for my particular palate.

1990 Bollinger RD
1996 Krug

Flight 1 – The Leflaive was fully mature and resolved, in a sweet spot right now. Was interesting to taste next to the Williams Seylem, the color of which was significantly browning, yet showed surprisingly well, sweet, floral and butterscotch on the palate. The Bouchard was very young and tight, could easily continue to age this excellent wine for years. As a whole, loved the flight. At this point, a Ceritas Chardonnay was opened. Had it been served blind, would have guessed a Chablis! Plenty of Oyster shell, steely, and firm acidity, an age worthy wine.

1998 Domaine Leflaive Pucelles
1998 Williams Seylem Hirsch Chardonnay
2002 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne
2009 Ceritas Ritchie Chardonnay

Flight 2 – The wine of the night, was absolutely surprised by the 45 BV Beaumont Pinot. Expected this to be a wildcard wine, probably dry leather, light mineral, and light fruit or perhaps just oxidized and long past maturity, it tasted youthful, structured, full bodied and highly complex, with earth, minerals and an abundance of well integrated dark fruits. The 67 Burgundy was more strawberry, stemy, soy, a cool, clean enjoyable wine. Sadly, the 79 was completely oxidized and undrinkable.

1945 Beaulieu Vineyards Beaumont Pinot Noir
1967 Beaulieu Vineyards Burgundy
1979 Beaulieu Vineyards Burgundy

Flight 3 – All three wines in this flight were excellent. The Bonnes Mares showed blue fruits in contrast to the raspberry fruits in the Cazetiers, and in contrast to both, the Clos Vougeot was leathery and dry. Given the age on the Clos Vougeot, it was a vibrant wine that maintained some subtle sweet ripe fruit.

1964 Jadot Clos Vougeot
1985 Bouree Gevery Cazetiers
1999 Jadot Bonnes Mares

Flight 4 – The Chalone was the youngest tasting wine in this flight, huge tart jammy raspberry fruit, showed superior to a previous time having had the wine. The 99 Calera had the best balance of the group with subtle all spice and steminess. Sadly, thought the 97 Calera was a little disjointed and astringent, it never quite came together. A mystery wine, the 05 Yarra Yering was guessed early on as Australian, big ripe fruit wine from a solid producer.

1980 Chalone Pinot Noir
1997 Calera Mills Pinot Noir
1999 Calera Jensen Pinot Noir
2005 Yarra Yering Pinot Noir

Collectively, the wines for this dinner were very impressive and paired with equally impressive food. Along with delightful company, it was a highly enjoyable wine dinner!

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

Burgundy in the City

Got together with a small group of friends from the San Francisco Bay area recently to enjoy some Burgundy. Among a very enjoyable group of wines, thought the 1990 Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes showed best overall. It had all the qualities of an exceptional wine, balance, complexity, good structure, and a seductive style that kept making you want to go back for more!

Another highly noteworthy and enjoyable wine, the 2004 Domaine Chevalier Corton Charlemagne. It showed extremely well and similar to the red, had all the hallmarks of an exceptional wine in terms of balance, complexity as well as subtle nuances that made it both interesting and thrilling to revisit over a few hours. Tasting 2004 and 2005 White Burgundies regularly, continue to prefer 2004 for drinking in the near term.

As with previous blog entries, brief observations of all wines opened follow, sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Starter

1996 Bollinger RD – Yeasty, nice acidity, lemon rind, dough, meyer lemon, a young Champagne that kept improving over the span of the evening. A very exceptional wine.

White Burgundy Flight 1

2004 Fevre Les Clos- Very shutdown, firm acidty, mineral. No where near ready to enjoy, needs years to resolve. Took hours for it to even begin to show its potential.

2000 Fevre Valmur – Right out of the gate, highly enjoyable. Clean, pure, good balance, also mineral. In about an hour, started to decline and became less interesting.

2002 Ried Klaus Jamek – Dry, yet well rounded, paraffin and creamy in texture. Little experience with Austrian wines, but this showed very well.

White Burgundy Flight 2

2004 Domaine Chevalier Corton Charlemagne – Well structured, big wine, excellent power and balance, slightly flinty and highly age worthy. A gorgeous wine.

2005 H. Boillot Corton Charlemagne – More floral than the earthy Chevalier, sweet, big, though young and unresolved. Great long term potential after years of cellar aging.

1986 P. Dubreuil-Fontaine Corton Charlemagne – Wax, honey, oxidized, drinkable, but past maturity. Opened more as a curiosity than anything, did not show very well.

1988 Pierre Bitouzet Corton Charlemagne – Oxidized and undrinkable.

Mystery Wine

2000 Williams Seylem Allen Vineyard Chardonnay – A blind ringer, correctly guessed as aged Chardonnay. Fully mature, creme brulee, nice minerality and balance, a good drinking wine that indicated 16% ABV, but did not show heat.

Red Burgundy Flight 1

1990 Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes – Gamey, red and blue fruits, menthol, an absolutely gorgeous nuanced and near perfect drinking wine. The wine of the night!

1995 Lafon Volnay Santenots du Milieu – Black pepper, rich big fruit, took a long time for the wine to open up, when it did, excellent balance, showed very well.

1990 Lafon Volnay Santenots du Milieu – Wet saddle leather, sappy, full mouthfeel and firm tannin, a nice wine that should improve with additional cellaring.

1995 Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes – High acidity, like the 1995 Lafon, took a long time for the wine to open up. In this case, it never quite came around. Continue to cellar for years.

Red Burgundy Flight 2

1980 Roty Charmes Chambertin – Chewy texture, earth, mineral, leather, with a touch of appealing green. Mature and very enjoyable, showed better than expectations.

2001 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny – Firm acidity, simply in style, not a lot to the wine that made it particularly appealing.

Sweet Ending

1990 Huet Vouvray Moelleux – Sadly, did not take notes on this wine. Vaguely recall a very pleasant end of evening wine. One of those instances of, a small group and lots of wine!

Cheers to a highly enjoyable evening that will hopefully repeat itself again!

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

Volnay and Pommard Burgundy Dinner

Last week we got together with friends at Firefly restaurant in San Francisco to enjoy a Burgundy Dinner focused on wines from Volnay, Pommard and Chablis.

With the exception of two corked bottles, the overall wine quality was high. As sometimes happens in local wine dinners, a special wine is brought you don’t typically see. In this case, a still red wine from Champagne! While common in California where Sparkling Producers routinely sell Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, it is uncommon in Champagne. Thanks to a generous guest, the first time we have tasted this wine!

All wines opened, along with brief observations follow. Normally all wines are popped and poured, this time however, the red wines were double decanted. All wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

White WOTN: 2001 Dauvissat Les Clos
Red WOTN: 1985 Joseph Voillot Volnay Champans

Chablis Flight 1

2002 Brocard Valmur – The wine of the flight, was creamy, lemon cake, and medium bodied with a fat mid palate. With a light spice on the palate, had nearly perfect balance!

2002 Fevre Valmur – Dusty, lemon and orange citrus, as well as exotic tropical fruits. Initially thought it was going to be wine of the flight, but in time, thought it the Brocard.

2000 Raveneau Valmur – Corked!

Chablis Flight 2

2001 Dauvissat Les Clos – A powerful, very big Chablis, focused, firm acidity, nice citrus fruits, kept getting better over the span of the evening. Would continue to cellar.

1996 Brocard Les Clos – Similar to the Brocard Valmur, creamy, however sweeter, holding up very well and nicely balanced, but should drink within the next year or two, fully mature.

1990 Dauvissat Les Preuses – The wine is on the downward slope of maturity, somewhat sherried, oxidized, waxy, not disappointing, but not thrilling either. Just an ok wine.

Intermission Wine

2002 Bollinger cote aux Enfant – Special and quite rare, we were treated to a still red wine from Champagne! The Bollinger was dry and backward in style initially, and remained so for a few hours, tannic, black tar and burnt rubber, it was highly reductive in style. After a few hours, some bright cherry fruit started to emerge, ultimately evolving into a wine that was more thick, rich red fruit liquor in quality three plus hours later. Somewhat one dimensional in style as it opened up, would not consider it a great wine, but would definitely consider it a unique wine!

Burgundy Flight 1

1990 Comte Armand Pommard Clos de Epeneaux – A huge wine, young dark fruits, fat, dense, cola and cherry, a beautiful well integrated wine. One of the top wines of the night!

1988 Comte Armand Pommard Clos de Epeneaux – Far more exotic, game meats, yet also well balanced, a very close second wine of the flight, but for very different reasons.

1996 Comte Armand Pommard Clos de Epeneaux – Not a good showing for this wine, bretty, freshly opened plastic bandaid, never really improved over time. Disappointing.

Burgundy Flight 2

1985 Joseph Voillot Volnay Champans – A stunning, exceptional wine! Leather, exotic well integrated blue and red fruits, subtle texture, ready to enjoy now, but plenty of structure to allow additional aging, a near perfect wine worth seeking out!

1999 d’Angerville Volnay Champans – Very young drinking, barrel sample like, cassis, spice, cinnamon, forest floor and firm acidity. The wine should be aged considerably longer before opening.

1999 Potel Volnay Taillepieds – Dark fruits, green, somewhat similar style to the 1999 d’Angerville Volnay Champans, however less resolved. Continue to age for years.

Burgundy Flight 3

1999 d’Angerville Volnay Clos des Ducs – A beautiful, big, age worthy wine with nice spice, earth and chocolate notes. Plenty of life ahead of the wine, second best of the evening.

1995 d’Angerville Volnay Clos de Ducs – Corked!

Cheers to a highly enjoyable evening!

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

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/

Les Suchots Dinner

Every once in a while, we attend a more focused wine dinner, for example, one by a single producer, or a particular vintage, or perhaps a particularly region where the goal is to compare and contrast the wines. In the case of a tasting last week, we had an interesting Burgundy Dinner centered around Les Suchots.

Fortunate for the group, we had numerous Domaine Arnoux on the table, arguably, one of the better producers of Les Suchots. And as good as they were in the flight pictured, once again, an excellent Louis Jadot showed best! All wines were served pop and pour as well as double blind, except each individual knowing what they brought. The wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight and were ranked prior to reveal.

Pre Dinner White Wine:

2008 Henri Darnat Meursault 1er Cru Clos Richemont Monopole – A little disjointed, high acidity, some funk on the finish and a lemon citrus palate. Did not find the wine particularly exciting, just ok, served more as a curiosity than anything.

Pre-2000 Les Suchots Flight:

1985 Domaine Robert Arnoux Les Suchots – Rustic, cherry, definitely aged, light body, more toned down style, but excellent overall balance. Mineral, earth, and very good structure. Really enjoyed the wine, considered it best in the flight, an example of elegance showing better than power.

1996 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Sonoma County – Rose petal, barrel sample like, tart red fruits and plum. After tasting the first and last wine in the flight, it was clear this wine was not Les Suchots. Pre reveal, the group guessed the ringer correctly as first, from California, and second, as Williams Selyem!

1988 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Les Suchots – Wet saddle leather, some sherry, stale fruit, a little funky, and tart. Despite it being from an excellent Burgundy vintage, did not think this bottle showed particularly well.

Post-2000 Les Suchots Flight:

2000 Louis Jadot Les Suchots -As one guest accurately put it, “the wine of the flight by a long shot!” Agree, initially young, spicy and balanced, put on weight and got fatter in time, nuanced rich red fruits, game, earth and mint, an excellent complete wine.

2000 Domaine Robert Arnoux Les Suchots – An exotic , rich, powerful wine that was meaty and had plenty of pleasant raspberry fruit on the palate. Acidity was pretty firm in this wine, and remained consistent after revisiting it several times through the evening.

2001 Domaine Robert Arnoux Les Suchots – Gamey, funky and barnyard in a good way, more raspberry fruit. Went back and forth as to which I preferred better, the 2000 vs 2001, in the end, thought the 2000 held up slightly better as it sat in the glass. The overall group thought this wine was superior to the 2000 Arnoux.

1998 Domaine Robert Arnoux Les Suchots – Green and grassy, lean and a little funky, the wine got better in time, but never quite hit its stride. Was pretty surprised on reveal to see a 1998 Arnoux, would have expected a far better showing.

Post Dinner Dessert Wine:

2006 Baton Charles Heintz Vineyard Late Harvest Chardonnay – Pleasant, sweet and honey, not a lot of complexity at this young age, but a nice end of meal wine.

It was educational to sample so many Les Suchots in one dinner. In the case of all the Les Suchots, particularly the post 2000 wines, could taste enough commonality to know they were Les Suchots, yet enough contrast to make the tasting interesting.

Cheers to a very enjoyable dinner!

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

Thursday Burgundy

This past week, had an informal Burgundy tasting in Sonoma with a few local friends. It was a Thursday night, very casual and short notice, basically, grab a few wines from the cellar, and off to the races!

On this occasion, we were pleasantly surprised by our generous host with two Joseph Roty Red Burgundies, a Charmes Chambertin and Mazis Chambertin, both from the 2000 vintage. The two wines were excellent, no question. Over the past couple of years drinking Burgundy, continue to be very impressed with this vintage. Among the better Burgundy producers, not sure there is a better combination of quality and value, in a vintage that is just entering to fully mature. Brief observations of all wines opened follow:

2005 Ramonet Chassagne Montrachet Les Caillerets – Initially yeasty on the nose, blew off quickly and became a gorgeous lemon and lime, floral wine. Nice creme brulee creamy sweetness in a medium bodied, wonderfully complex wine. Awesome!

2000 Joseph Roty Charmes Chambertin – Started out with a light cranberry nose, fresh cut grass and slightly barnyard. As it sat in the glass, put on weight, and improved considerably into an elegant wine with brighter black cherry fruit and a distinct earthiness.

2000 Joseph Roty Mazis Chambertin – An interesting contrast to the Charmes Chambertin, was cleaner, menthol and game meat, had a terrific balance of tannin and fruit that carried the wine for some time. As it sat in the glass, became more leathery and leaner in time.

1996 Jadot Corton Greves – Extremely tight and closed down, in a dumb phase right now and not hinting at any potential. Had hard baked fruit, heavily toasted oak, and very strong acidity. Would easily not touch this wine for another ten plus years. Tasted the following day, and it was much improved, but still incredibly young.

2003 Domaine A. F. Gros Clos De La Fontaine Monopole – Wet saddle leather, wheat, tropical fruit, and well integrated oak in this sometimes clean, sometimes dirty wine. Noted a barnyard funkiness that hinted at brett, but was very minor and not altogether unappealing.

2007 Saintsbury Stanly Ranch Pinot Noir – A curiosity wine served blind near the end of the evening, it had an underbrush nose, pleasant but light palate, good minerality and tannic. Was a good wine with a lot of potentially. Prefer this style of California Pinot over ripe, high alcohol efforts that have become all to common. Should age gracefully for years.

Cheers to some very nice wines!

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

Palo Alto Burgundy Dinner

Recently, we attended a mid week Burgundy Dinner with friends in Palo Alto. We don’t often get to the southbay, but enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with friends we have not seen in some time and share some very nice wine.

While we rarely do blind tastings in our northbay tasting groups, our southbay friends lean toward this format. All wines, except the Sojourn Pinot Noir and Cabernet were pop and pour, served blind, and sorted in order of personal preference by flight. Brief observations follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2004 Domaine William Fevre Les Clos

Red Wine of the Night:
1998 Domaine Leroy Savigny Les Beaune Les Narbantons

Sojourn Flight

Before moving on to the White and Red Burgundy, Craig Haserot of Sojourn generously poured the current 2009 offering from his winery. All bottles were newly opened just prior to dinner, and served non blind.

2009 Sojourn Cellars Rodger’s Creek Pinot Noir – Hardwood spices, forest floor, firm structure and earthy. Very close call which showed better on this occasion, the Rogers Creek vs Gap’s Crown.

2009 Sojourn Cellars Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir – Clean blue fruits, deep, rich, riper palate and an exceptionally long finish. A friendly and approachable wine that could have easily been the top Sojourn Pinot this evening.

2009 Sojourn Cellars Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir – Initially thought it showed tighter on the palate, picked up steam in time. More blackberry leaning than the others, a complete wine that should age beautifully.

2009 Sojourn Cellars Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – Dusty, bright, creamy, cherry fruit, an easy drinking well made wine. Had a distinct character of its own relative to the other Sojourn Pinot Noirs.

Chablis Flight

Opened the night with three Grand Cru and one Premier Cru Chablis. Unfortunately a bottle of 2002 Vincent Dauvissat Les Preuses was corked and immediately pulled from the flight.

2004 Domaine William Fevre Les Clos – Crisp firm acidity, lime, ocean air, steely, tight, very slowly put on a little more weight over time. Thought the wine showed better than the last bottle tasted a year ago.

2005 Vincent Dauvissat Les Preuses – Full bodied, more intense yeast, salty, mineral, stone, the wine had perfect balance. Should age beautifully and continue to improve in the coming years.

2005 Vincent Dauvissat Les Clos – Similar to the Les Preuses, a much more fully bodied wine than the Fevre. Good acidity, oyster shell, citrus, no question a young wine, but strikingly approachable.

2001 Domaine François Raveneau Butteaux – A medium bodied wine, was more creamy, bread, and more lemon citrus based than the others. The color was advanced, deeper straw colored and fully mature.

Wine Intermission

While the Red Burgundy flight was being organized, a blind wine intermission was opened and shared with the group. In some tastings, it basically becomes a guessing game, what year? what region? etc.? The group quickly called it out correctly as a Rhone.

1997 Tardieu Laurent Hermitage – Animal, game, smoke, menthol and a little brett, the nose on this wine was foxy and interesting, highly expressive. It was a cleaner style Rhone, with good balance. A very nice wine!

Red Burgundy Flight

Similar to the Chablis flight, unfortunately an off bottle of 2000 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Clos du Chateau Des Ducs was poured. The wine was funky and chemical, clearly something wrong with the bottle, and quickly pulled from the table.

1998 Domaine Leroy Savigny Les Beaune Les Narbantons – Easily the red wine of the night, showed rich blueberry fruit and mint in a silky, clean and pure wine. Grand Cru quality in a Premier Cru. Simply outstanding!

2002 Frederic Magnien Savigny Les Beaune – Ripe raspberry fruit, full bodied, extracted, nice balance. Showed very well, but a distant second place after the Leroy Les Narbantons.

1989 Louis Jadot Corton – Initially clean, light, and not very inspiring, improved considerably in time becoming more earthy, mineral, underbrush, and tree bark.

1990 Maison Leroy Chassagne Montrachet Rouge – High acidity and funky, did not find the wine appealing. Did not spend a lot of time with the wine.

As we worked toward the end of the evening, tried a few additional wines: 2002 Copain Dennison Pinot Noir, 2002 Faiveley Les Saint Georges Cuvee de Sires de Vergy, 2008 Sojourn Home Ranch Cabernet and 2008 Sojourn Beckstoffer Georges III Cabernet. Like the final Leroy tasted unfortunately, there was not enough time to spend with the wine to give a fair impression!

Cheers to our southbay friends!

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

Burgundy Kickoff

A smaller than normal group of us got together in Sonoma this weekend for a Burgundy tasting to kickoff the new year. As always, the group was very generous and brought some excellent drinking wines to the tasting!

Cannot think of a better way to expose an individual to fine wine than to be part of a wine tasting group of like minded individuals. You certainly enjoy good wine across a broad range of producers, but also enjoyable and knowledgeable company! As luck would have it, our Burgundy group will often “go deep” where basically, we dig a little “deeper” than normal into our respective cellars and pull special bottles! Such was the case this evening.

Brief observations follow of all wines opened and are listed per flight in order of personal preference:

White Wine of the Night:
1998 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet

Red Wine of the Night:
2000 Domaine Des Chezeaux Chambertin

White Burgundy Flight

1998 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet – Initially the wine was light bodied, elegant and flinty, yet showed considerable balance and no signs of oxidation. It slowly put on weight over time, becoming far more powerful. The white wine of the night, a gorgeous Leflaive!

2005 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Batard Montrachet Hospices de Beaune – An excellent drinking young wine, showed sweeter fruit, distinct petrol, and firm acidity. Should age very well! Thought it was a very close second to the Domaine Leflaive, but for very different reasons.

1997 Remoissenet Montrachet – Advanced deep golden color, was initially orange peel, honey, and beeswax. Got funky and oxidized shortly after opening. A disappointing wine overall. Have had less than great experiences with this producer in the past. Quickly coming to the view Remoissenet does a far better job with its red over white wines.

Red Burgundy Flight 1

2000 Domaine des Chezeaux Chambertin – The red wine of the night, thought this was a rich, clean, very pure drinking wine with black cherry fruit, cola, and well integrated spice on the finish. An awesome wine!

2001 Drouhin Chambertin – Another very nice wine, had an almost cotton candy nose with raspberry fruit on the palate. Kept going back to this compelling wine, found it nuanced and easy drinking. A solid well made wine.

2000 Domaine des Chezeaux Griottes Chambertin – Initially showed some plum and prune, as well as spice and black cherry, the wine improved considerably in time. While not as strong a showing as the Chezeaux Chambertin, a nice wine nonetheless.

2002 Pierre Gelin Chambertin Clos de Beze – The wine never quite came around through the evening. It was grainy, baked, and funky, thought it may have been an off bottle. Did not think the wine showed well.

Red Burgundy Flight 2

1997 Francois Lamarche Les Malconsorts – A very nice drinking wine, more rhubarb than anything, had firm acidity and a nice medium bodied palate. Based on previous 1997 wines opened, generally do not have high expectations, but this one showed well for the vintage.

1993 Domaine Bertagna Chambolle Musigny – A light bodied wine and grassy, did not find the wine very appealing. Opposite to 1997, generally have a higher than normal expectation from 1993 vintage Burgundy wines, found this one disappointing.

2004 Rochioli West Block Pinot – A curiosity wine opened while we let the second wine flight open up did not show well. Overall, a simple, light and grassy Pinot. Clearly it was in tough company next to the Burgundy. The wine had been opened for some time prior to the tasting, so certainly a good wine to revisit from this solid producer.

Cheers to a good Burgundy start in 2011!

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/

Medieval Burgundy Dinner

For the second year in a row, a group of us got together at Estate Restaurant in Sonoma for our annual “Medieval Burgundy Dinner”. It is part birthday celebration, part Sonoma Burg Team grand finale, and all around amazing time where we pull cellar gems to share among good food and friends!

Two examples of some amazing wines opened are pictured, a 1957 Remoissenet Richebourg and 1969 Leroy Echezeaux. Both were surprisingly youthful and drinking extremely well. Among the group, 16 wines were opened and enjoyed over the span of a long evening. Brief observations of all wine opened follow. Within each flight, wines are sorted in order of personal preference.

Coche Dury Flight

2004 Coche Mersault Genevrieres – The wine of the flight, was the most pure and clean of the white wines. Distinct Coche in style, noted cedar, flowers, pine nuts, with a thicker more textured mouthfeel than the other wines. Acidity was well buried but present.

2004 Coche Mersault – Big nose of sulfur and matchstick, lemon, almost loamy texture, the wine was very powerful. No question a young wine, would age this one for some time before opening. Not minding White Burgs on the younger side, found it highly enjoyable.

2002 Coche Mersault les Rougeots – Less sulfur and more resolved than the other two Coche, a gorgeous drinking wine with firm acidity, toasty oak and a pleasant yeasty component. Had far more in common with the 04 Mersault than the 04 Genevrieres.

White Burgundy Flight

1996 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet – A blind village white wine turned out to easily be the wine of the flight! Accurately guessed it as Domaine Leflaive, pre 2000 prior to its reveal. Noted petrol and crisp citrus in an elegant drinking wine. Showed extremely well!

2002 Remoissenet Montrachet Thenard – Very strong orange peel with a deep yellow color suggesting a much older wine. A huge wine at first with high acid, went through some odd changes over the span of a few hours, got astringent, than balanced out, then caramel, ultimately becoming funky. Overall, thought it off and uninspired.

1999 Leroy Les PucellesPremoxed! What was particularly sad about this bottle, opened the same wine less than a month ago and it was gorgeous, absolutely everything you want in a well aged White Burgundy. Very disappointing and again pointing out that White Burgundy can be quite a minefield.

Aged Burgundy Flight

1969 Leroy Echezeaux – Very youthful looking in color, initially showed brighter blue fruits than expected and notes of forest floor and spice in a highly nuanced and complex wine. With some air, some of the exotic aged rustic components came out in a very appealing way. Was an awesome wine, and strong contender for wine of the night.

1957 Remoissenet Richebourg – Like the Echezeaux, youthful in appearance and taste. Noted primary fruits, cranberry, spice, mint, and grass with firm acidity and structure. It was also an excellent wine that tasted significantly younger than a 1957. Only on the finish, an hour after being open, did you notice some slight aged characteristics.

1999 Dujac Chambolle Musigny – A wine served blind, was stemmy, with bright fruits, and some mint, immediately guessed it as a Dujac. On reveal, we were surprised to see a bottle of 1996 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux! Turns out it was a little joke funneling a Dujac into a Jayer bottle that seemingly lead to the quote of the night, “It’s the person, not the bottle that matters.”

Leroy Flight

2001 Leroy Clos Vougeot – Initially thought the 89 Leroy Chambertin was the better wine, but with time, came around to think the Clos Vougeot best. A flashy, big, bright ripe blue and black fruit wine that was both spicy and powerful. Became more nuanced in time and had an exceptionally long finish.

1989 Leroy Chambertin – A gorgeous wine, though more toned down in style than the Clos Vougeot. Showed more mineral, earthy, dryer fruits, the wine was more consistent from the point of opening through finish. Plenty of youthfulness and structure that would allow for extended aging.

Miscellaneous Flight

1991 Leroy Corton Renardes – A highly concentrated, dense, and gorgeous wine. Found it had more in common with the 01 Clos Vougeot than the 89 Chambertin, brighter blue fruits, minus the spice, it was an equally powerful wine. Very young, would cellar for many years before opening again.

1988 A. F. Gros Richbourg – Lighter in style than the 91 Corton Renardes, what it lacks in power, it makes up in balance and complexity. More earth and mineral with a hint of blue fruits, showed extremely well and viewed by others as the wine of the night. No question, an excellent wine.

DRC Flight

1991 DRC Richebourg – A gorgeous highly complex wine that was more earthy and had darker fruits than the 88 Richebourg, combined with some asian spice. Found it balanced and elegant with exotic secondary fruits. A wow wine that will age considerably longer, however could easily be enjoyed now.

1989 DRC Romanee St Vivant – Wet grass and some spice, baked fruits, a nice, but not a profound wine. Had a similar experience recently where we tasted a 91 and 93 DRC RSV, had high expectations, but ended up thinking other RSV producers would have shown much better.

Massandra Finish

1937 Massandra MadeiraPredominately coffee, bitter dark chocolate, sweet butterscotch and caramel. An awesome end of meal wine.

Several of our high end wine dinners are held at an excellent and highly recommended restaurant in Sonoma called Estate. Chef Chris Jones and John Toulze prepared a special menu for us that was simply outstanding. As always, service was excellent, and the food well prepared. The specific menu was game focused, and included some wonderful items: Beausoleil Oyster Gratin, Mediterranean Rouget, Burgundian Escargot, Autumn Game Terrine, and Roasted Bison Strip Loin.

Cheers to another wonderful evening among good food, friends and wine!

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