Category Archives: Burgundy

Impromptu Burgundy Tasting

Last week, attended an impromptu tasting of Burgundy in Sonoma. Most of the time the local tasting group gets together, we spend a good 3 or 4 hours with a group of wines, revisiting frequently through the evening. In doing so, you get a very strong sense of a wines age worthiness, not to mention, the overall quality.

In this instance however, it was a more abbreviated tasting over a shorter period of time, and in turn, more challenging than usual to evaluate the wines. This night, thought the 97 Jadot Bonnes Mares was wine of the night, more for what it will be in the future than what it is right now. Had the opposite view been taken, what was enjoyable right now, a legitimate argument could be made the 1976 Pierre Gelin Fixin Les Hervelets was the leading wine! Brief impressions of all wines opened follow:

White Wine of the Night:
1992 Bernard Morey Les Caillerets

Red Wine of the Night:
1997 Jadot Bonnes Mares

White Burgundy Flight

1992 Bernard Morey Les Caillerets – Yeasty with tropical fruits, this gorgeous full bodied wine was deep straw colored with exceptional balance and a very long finish. The white wine of the night, was ready to drink immediately with no signs of oxidation.

2002 Jadot Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres – Floral, grapefruit, a medium bodied wine had little to no finish. The acidity was firm, and given more time, sure it would have shown better. Second best white wine of the flight.

2005 Fevre Bougros Chablis – Lemon and minerals, young, tight, and firm acidity. Did not open up in the span of an hour. Was out of place among the other two wines, but would show very well next to other Chablis and a lot of patience.

Red Burgundy Flight:

1976 Pierre Gelin Fixin Les Hervelets – Heavily toasted oak on the nose, dusty, animal, and rhubarb, the wine was initially closed, and balanced out in a little over an hour. The wine had a lot of structure, and suspect it would have continued to get better in time.

1995 Jean Marc Pavelot Savigny Les Beaune Narbantons – Mushroom, cola, clean, and light, pleasant enough drinking wine, was not a standout, just an ok drinking wine.

1997 Jadot Bonnes Mares – Subdued cherry and menthol, very tannic and young. The wine was decanted, but it did not budge over the short span of time tasted. Restrained, but still powerful, thought it was the best wine of night, slightly ahead of the 1976 Pierre Gelin.

1999 Alex Gambal Les Malconsorts – Blue fruits, ripe, pepper and spice, it was a youthful tasting wine. The funky, dirty nose, gave no hint of the clean palate. A very interesting wine.

1999 Dujac Chambolle Musigny – Blue fruits, cigar smoke, an easy drinking pleasant wine, but was not as nuanced or complex as other wines. Thought it slightly oxidized.

2003 Geantet Pansiot Charmes Chambertin – Tire rubber, powder texture, dry and tannic, this was a pleasant but highly backward wine. Given it was opened a few hours before our tasting and how closed it was, should be aged considerably longer.

Bonus Wine

2003 du Caillou Les Quartz CdP – Not a fan of this wine, one taste, noted a predominate prune and plum based wine, similar to other 2003 CdP wines opened in the past. It is purely stylistic, do not find this type of wine interesting or appealing.

Cheers to another excellent time with our local Burgundy friends!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

Eclectic Burgundy Tasting

This past Friday, got together with the Sonoma Burg Team for an eclectic tasting of some interesting wines. Over the past year, the tasting group has been very fortunate to have opened relatively few off bottles. As luck would have it, there were a record number of flawed wines this night!

Two white wines were premoxed, one red wine was corked, and another red wine was off from some undetermined cause. One additional wine showed some Brett, which if significant, would be considered a flaw, however in this case, it was relatively minor, and only an issue if sensitive. Brief observations of all wines opened follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2004 Domaine Leflaive Les Folatieres

Red Wine of the Night:
1996 Armand Rousseau Clos St Jacques

Starter Wine

2004 Dumol Chloe Chardonnay – A little pre Burgundy Chardonnay, the Dumol was a nice and distinctly California wine. Sweet, leesy, ripe, orange peel, a very pleasant drinking wine from a solid Chardonnay producer.

White Burgundy Flight

2000 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne – Premoxed! The wine was immediately identified as flawed by the group. Disappointing and far more oxidized than another premoxed bottle tasted this summer, a 2000 Bouchard Chevalier Montrachet La Cabotte.

2004 Domaine Leflaive Les Folatieres – Another awesome Leflaive, white wine of the flight and night. Heavily toasted oak and scorched earth with a very long finish. In time, became more nutty, yet retained considerably power and intensity.

2007 Jean Noel Gagnard Les Caillerets – Tight, lemon, oily, restrained but with definite potential. Put on weight and became more floral in time. Noted a slight wet cardboard characteristic later in the evening, but not altogether unappealing.

Burgundy Flight 1

1981 Philipe Leclerc Gevrey Chambertin Combe Aux Moines – Rich, big, and spicy, had a sappy almost liquor like quality to the wine. With firm acidity and exceptional balance, this was unexpectedly the wine of the flight.

1990 Albert Morot Beaune Teurons – A light and lean wine, was dry and noted some faint leather. Over time, noted brett, which was not over powering, but certainly existed. Did not find this wine particularly enjoyable.

1993 Remoissenet Mazis Chambertin – An excellent wine, thought it a close second to the 1981. Cola nose, clean blue fruits, and celery. Initially liked the nose better than the palate, but in time, became a beautifully balanced and elegant wine.

1993 Laboure-Roi Lavaux St. Jacques – A funky unusual wine initially, very quickly picked up predominately baked fruits and sherry. Color had some light browning, appearing far older than a 1993. Went downhill quickly, an off wine on both the nose and palate.

Burgundy Flight 2

1996 Armand Rousseau Clos St Jacques – An awesome wine of the flight and night! Was smoky, funky in a good way, and exotic with red fruits, meat, earth, minerals and game. Perfectly balanced, this was a great wine in a nice sweet spot.

1998 Robert Arnoux Clos De Vougeot – Another excellent wine in the flight, noted clean and pure raspberry and cherry fruits. In time, became a little grassy, but subtle. A very nice drinking wine, and second best of the flight.

1999 Louis Remy Clos de La Roche – Corked! The third of four off bottles! Attempted to decant thinking maybe it was not corked, perhaps something odd that might blow off, but turned out the initial identified flaw was indeed correct.

2002 Comte Armande Auxey Duresses – Bright strawberry initially with a light body, the wine became more muted and green in time. In tough company next to the Rousseau and Arnoux, it did not show as well.

Burgundy Flight 3

2000 Esmonin Charmes Chambertin – Primarily blue and black fruits, had a barrel sample like quality to the wine. Decanted, it showed good overall structure, but remained youthful tasting after revisiting a few times through the evening.

2000 Nicolas Potel Vosne Romanee Les Gaudichots – Initially the second wine of the flight, thought it best in time. Barnyard, asian spice, tea and cola, became far more expressive with patience. As a female guest aptly put it concerning the wine, “Treat it like a woman.”

2001 Robert Chevillon Les St Georges – Initially impressive and wine of the flight, noted aged leather, iron, sweet earthiness, and game meats, it was very interesting. Opposite to the Nicolas Potel however, the wine declined over time, not as structured or ageworthy.

Some of us went to dinner afterward, and several more wines were opened, two of note. First was a premoxed 1996 Ramonet Les Ruchottes, the forth flawed bottle of the night, and completely undrinkable. Second, and a much better experience was a 1998 Meo Camuzet Hospices de Beaune Corton. While not flawed, it was impossibly shutdown and unapproachable, even after an hour plus decant and plenty of swirling in the glass. Suggest not opening this wine for another 10 years. When it does finally come around, should be a very nice drinking Burgundy!

Cheers to less flawed wine in the future!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

Small Burgundy Tasting

This past Friday, attended a small Burgundy Tasting in Sonoma. It does not happen often, but the White Burgundy out shined the red! The 2007 Blain Gagnard Batard Montrachets were both outstanding, and hopefully representative of what should prove to be an excellent vintage for White Burgundy.

As with other local Burgundy tastings in Sonoma, it is basically no format, bring what you would like to share, open and enjoy. Wines are rarely if ever decanted, and slowly enjoyed over a long evening. Sometimes curiosity wines are thrown into the mix. On this occasion, they were interesting, but none particularly inspiring. As with previous tastings, wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

White Wine of the Night:
2007 Blain Gagnard Batard Montrachet

Red Wine of the Night:
2001 Denis Mugneret Clos de Vougeot

White Flight

2007 Blain Gagnard Batard Montrachet – Initially, noted acidity and hard to discern fruit in a very young wine. In time, the nose became more floral and yeasty and the body, creme brulee and full bodied with awesome balance and length. A precise wine that should show extremely well with a few years of bottle aging.

2007 Blain Gagnard Croits Batard Montrachet – The bottle was pulled from the refrigerator of our always generous host, after being opened two days. Showed more citrus, asian spice, and firm acidity in a well balanced, excellent drinking wine than the other Batard Montrachet.

2004 M. Chapoutier Chante Alouette – The Chapoutier started out showing promise with sweet, honey, lemon oil notes. Overall was a fat wine with a predominate butterscotch component and smooth texture. Over time, thought it quickly lost what originally made it interesting. Did not care for this wine.

Red Flight

2001 Denis Mugneret Clos de Vougeot – The best wine of the flight, thought the Clos Vougeot was interesting, blue fruits and game meats, in time, picked up a touch of forest floor and spice. It was a clean and pure drinking wine, very enjoyable. Held a glass over to the next day, and it showed even better!

1999 Lucien le Moine Clos St Denis – Interesting nose that was reminiscent of Brandy and fresh cut grass. The wine was rich, balanced and enjoyable. Thought it was just slightly under the 2001 Denis Mugneret Clos de Vougeot as wine of the fight. Went back and forth between this wine and the Clos Vougeot as to personal preference.

1995 Georges Lignier Clos St Denis – Light, lean, some mineral and spice though thought the acidity was a little disjointed in relation to the rest of the wine. Had moments of being brighter and younger than the other wines, but out of balance overall. Not a great showing for the wine.

Curiosity Wines

1995 Beaucastel – Initially a light wine, noted wheat, and became more chewy and stewed rhubarb, barnyard, and other exotic components in time. Not sure anyone was particularly thrilled with the wine, an end of evening curiosity.

1963 Beaulieu Vineyard Beaumont Pinot Noir – A blind mystery wine, the group guessed it as 70’s / 80’s California, and one Burgundy. The wine was very light, and bricking in color. Initially mushroom, smokey, meaty, dry carmel, sherry and nice acidity. It very rapidly declined. Of note was one of the shortest corks I have seen in awhile, about an inch at best. A curiosity more than anything.

2001 Pride Cabernet – Normally, a big fan of Pride, this wine was one of the least favoriate showings I have had from the producer. Had boat loads of Vanilla that reminded me of a Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet. Not an exciting wine at all, and like the other two wines, opened at the end of the evening more as a curiosity.

Cheers to another interesting, however small tasting!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

Clos Vougeot Wine Dinner

A few weeks ago, attended an outstanding dinner at Lupa Restaurant in San Francisco. As always, Lupa did a superb job providing quality food and excellent service. The wine theme of the night was Clos Vougeot Burgundy served blind.

Under most circumstances, prefer non blind tastings, especially when pours are relatively small offering a limited opportunity to revisit. Generally speaking, find more value in knowing what you are tasting in order to more fairly evaluate and handle the wine given the year, producer and type of wine. That said, in the case of this dinner, knowing all the wines were Clos Vougeot, flighted in relatively close vintage ranges, and being an informal as opposed to a formal tasting, blind tasting worked.

Brief observations follow concerning wine opened. Within each flight, wines are sorted in the order of personal preference.

White Wine of the Night:
2006 Louis Jadot Meursault Les Genevrières

Red Wine of the Night:
1997 Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot

Flight 1

2006 Louis Jadot Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevri̬res Рmineral, floral, citrus, ripe, good structure and acidity in a pleasant drinking wine.

2002 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet – slightly oxidized, flat, sherry, not appealing, one of a string of not so great 2002.

Flight 2

2002 Jacques Prieur Clos Vougeot – scorched earth, high acidity, in time more well rounded and enjoyable. A nice wine that took time to come around.

2000 Domaine Anne Gros Clos Vougeot Le Grand Maupertui – cooler wine, tight, lean and grassy, not very complex, an ok wine.

2001 Domaine Robert Arnoux Clos Vougeot – funky, lean, little harsh, laser fine, not sure if this wine was ever going to come around.

Flight 3

1997 Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot – dark berry, good acidity, brown sugar, a very well put together wine. Another high quality Jadot.

1990 Leymarie Clos Vougeot – most barrel sample like of the wines, light, after some time, improved considerably. Possibly the best of the flight.

1996 Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot – baked raspberry, funky, foxy, stewed fruits, normally qualities that are not good but worked in this wine.

1990 Jacques Prieur Clos Vougeot – green, barnyard, grassy, yet light on the palate, was not a very thrilling wine, just ok.

Flight 4

2000 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain – orange peel, honey, rich, sweet, nice end of meal wine.

1970 Warre Port Vintage – purely a stylistic thing, did not enjoy the wine. No flaw noted in the wine, just do not enjoy Port.

Cheers to a nice evening of Clos Vougeot!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

>Piperade Burgundy Dinner

>A group of fellow high end wine drinkers and I got together for dinner this past week at a restaurant called Piperade in San Francisco. The wine theme of the night was Burgundy, with a California ringer thrown in for good measure!

All wines were opened double blind. We only had prior knowledge of a Meursault, Chambolle, and Echezeaux Flight. Under most circumstances, do not like blind tastings, strongly prefer to know what I am drinking, and as I taste, generally like to draw parallels to other years of the wine I have tried. In general, the more knowledge going into the tasting, the better to fully appreciate and evaluate.

Overall, it turned out to be a very nice selection of wines, with an excellent California ringer and starter Chablis. Brief notes follow. All wines are sorted in each flight by best to least favorite.

White Wine of the Night: 2002 Brocard Valmur Chablis
Red Wine of the Night: 2000 Georges Roumier Bonnes Mares

Starter Wine:

2002 Brocard Valmur Chablis – A loamy, lemon, lime almost floral wine to start, evolved into a more creamy, sweet wine with a hint of peppermint.

Flight 1:

2001 Henry Boilliot Meursault Les Charmes – Firm acidity, steely, an elegant wine that was good, but not necessarily great.

2002 Bouchard Meursault Perrieres – Mature, oily, nutmeg, old stale bread and astringent. Perhaps a flawed bottle.

Flight 2:

2000 Georges Roumier Bonnes Mares – Black cherry, thick, full bodied, burnt oak, gamey and foxy. A gorgeous wine of the flight and wine of the night.

1999 J.F. Mugnier Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses – Medium bodied, cool and clean, grassy and lean, it was an easy drinking wine.

2001 Comte Georges de Vogue Chambolle Musigny 1er – Very slow to come around, grassy, musty, reduced, big improvement later in the evening.

Flight 3:

1999 D. Mugneret Echezeaux – The groups wine of the flight, heavily reduced, plenty of initial herbaciousness that subsided in time and toasty dark fruits.

1997 L. Jadot Grands Echezeaux – A big gamey powerful Grands Echezeaux, was my personal wine of the flight. Huge, young, and gorgeous.

1985 Mongeard Mugneret Grands Echezeaux – A lean, light, clean and pure drinking wine, nothing out of place in this mature Burgundy.

1990 Calera Jenson Pinot Noir – Almost barrel sample like, black cherry, soda, and fresh cut grass, thought the wine showed very well as it opened up.

Enjoyable Ending:

1999 Rene Engel Echezeaux – Big blue and black fruits in a gamey, riper wine. Excellent balance and complexity, the second best wine of the evening.

Cheers to a very enjoyable evening with wonderful company and excellent wines!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

>One Market Burgundy Dinner

> Got together with wine drinking friends recently to enjoy dinner and some fine wine at One Market Restaurant in San Francisco! It was our first time at this restaurant and thought the food and service were outstanding.

Wines for the night were pretty high end, with a few very unique Champagnes. Having never had a Salon before, was looking forward to trying the wine. Also, looked forward to the Bouchards, had a feeling neither wine would disappoint. Did not take notes during the dinner, but the following are some brief recollections.

Champagne Flight:

1988 Salon – The Salon was medium gold in color with a yeasty nose that hinted at a well aged wine. On the palate and nose, picked up some initial oxidation, but not altogether unappealing. As the wine opened up, and put in a more bowl style glass, showed more roasted nut and creamy citrus fruit characteristics. The acidity is still pretty firm in this wine, and have we had more wine, expect it would have continued to improve over the evening. A very enjoyable and thought provoking wine.

1996 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses – Thinking it would be hard to top the 1988 Salon, sure enough, it happened with the Clos des Goisses. This wine was simply outstanding. Definitely in the top 10 Champagnes I have ever tasted, it was perfectly balanced and richly flavored. Light straw colored, the wine was crisp with plenty of mineral, citrus, and apples. Was refreshing to drink and reminiscent of other excellent 1996 Champagnes. This wine should age extremely well for a considerable amount of time!

White Burgundy Flight:

2000 Bouchard Chevalier Montrachet La Cabotte – Having had so many excellent experiences with Bouchard whites, was looking forward to tasting this wine. Initially showed a light body, but good balance and complexity. Had a feeling it would put on weight and improve. In a relatively short period of time, started to fade, and only went downhill. Oxidative notes became more prevalent in time. Unfortunately, not a great showing.

2001 Bouchard Chevalier Montrachet – A gorgeous Bouchard, it showed considerable balance and complexity with boat loads of citrus, pear, floral characteristics and minerals. This young wine had plenty of acidity, which was well in balance with the wines other components. Overall, an elegant, classic beauty that will age gracefully for many years.

Red Burgundy Flight:

1995 Bouchard Corton – The Corton was a little disappointing. Ok, a lot disappointing. Not a lot going on in this wine. Was lean, earthy, dry and not likely to ever get any better.

2007 Lucien Le Moine Clos de Vougeot – A young, but surprising ripe wine that was approachable now. Primarily red and black fruit driven, a very enjoyable wine.

Rhone and Sweet Ending Flight:

2001 Guigal La Turque – A huge meaty, earthy, dark berry, thick and rich wine. This is a wine to age considerably longer, and it will improve a great deal over time.

1989 Rieussec – A good, but not great end of meal wine. Perhaps a little too young or a little too sweet, did not really have the complexity or uniqueness I had hoped.

Cheers to a very enjoyable evening!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

>White Burgundy Dinner in Corta Madera

>This past week, got together with an informal group of local wine drinking friends at Brick & Bottle! Brick & Bottle is a relatively new restaurant in Corte Madera serving excellent food. Combined with the impeccable service we received, a highly recommended restaurant!

The theme for the evening was White Burgundy. As White Burgundy wine drinkers are painfully aware, purchasing and selecting wines can be a minefield. Premature Oxidation has been a serious problem for the region, making research an absolute necessity! Fortunate for the internet, it is relatively straight forward.

For this dinner, three flights of three wines each where opened. All wines were served slightly below cellar temperature, and none were decanted. Brief tasting notes follow sorted in the order of personal preference by flight:

Wine of the Night: 2002 Raveneau Valmur

Grand Cru Chablis Flight:

2002 Raveneau Valmur – The wine of the flight and wine of the night, started out tight and yeasty with a lean mid palate and finish. In time became more balanced, elegant and creamy. A gorgeous young drinking and nuanced wine!

2002 Long Depaquit Les Clos – The youngest drinking wine of the flight, immediately picked up an appealing, but subtle flint on the nose. On the palate, noted firm acidity and tart green apple. A young gorgeous wine!

1994 Raveneau Valmur – A very interesting wine, moved all over the place over the span of the evening. Mature, some tart lemon, lots of honey and almost an aged sauternes like quality. Became more oxidized in time. An ok, but curious wine.

Premier Cru / Village Flight:

2002 Sauzet Puligny Montrachet Champ Canet – The youngest drinking wine of the flight, noted some sulfur on the nose and had a barrel sample like quality to the taste. In time, became more full bodied, citrus, firm acidity. Changed considerably over the span of the evening.

2002 Comtes Lafon Meursault – Started out light bodied and elegant, noted tree bark, forest floor, floral qualities, and some sweetness. Initially thought it would be wine of the flight, but it faded over time, and lacked a distinct nose. A nice drinking wine.

2002 Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Virandot – Like the Sauzet, noted sulfur on the nose, lemon/lime, and orange peel in a light bodied wine. This flight was the most difficult to rank, and as a whole, was a better flight than the others.

Corton Charlemage Flight:

2004 Jadot Corton Charlemagne – A sweet, floral, almost delicate feminine quality to this wine. It was highly enjoyable and surprisingly ready to go immediately on opening. Held to its style over time. Considered it the second overall best wine of the evening.

2006 Girardin Corton Charlemagne – Some sulfur on the nose, yeasty bread, sweet, ripe apple, a good, but not great Corton Charlemagne.

2004 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne – High acidity, funky, raisin, perhaps slight signs of premox, never came around over the span of the evening.

Sweet Finish:

2008 Oro Puro – Liquid honey, thick, sweet, butterscotch and concentrated with a lack of acidity. A pleasant and enjoyable end of evening wine.

Having tasted quite a few White Burgundy, have learned the lesson over and over to be patient with these wines. Sometimes you get a big smell of sulfur, sometimes, a terrible funkiness, but over and over again, after an hour or so sitting in the glass, these qualities vanish and you have a perfectly enjoyable wine. An exception to this evening, the Bonneau never quite came around!

Cheers to another great evening of wine, food and friends!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

>Bryan’s Fine Foods, Burgers, and Wine

> This past weekend, got together with several friends and a few local winemakers to try the July Burger Sampler Pack from Bryan’s! If not familiar with Bryan’s Fine Foods, they arguably sell some of the best steak in the country! And after this weekend, arguably some of the best burger meat and fish!

With plenty of good food and company, we opened a broad range of interesting wines. We were fortunate to have two local wine making friends join us, Eric Lundblad of Ladd Cellars and Armando Ceja of Ceja Vineyards. Both shared some special wines with us! Unfortunately, did not take notes at the time, but some very brief recollections follow.

Starter Wines – The Mumm was a nice easy drinking wine that tasted surprisingly fresh given it was a 10 year old California Sparkling wine! A little nutty, very crisp and overall enjoyable. The Ty Caton Riesling was equally pleasant, a nice dry light wine, with a creamy citrus texture.

2000 Mumm DVX
2009 Ty Caton Central Coast Riesling

Flight 1 – Chablis – What is a SQN doing in a Chablis flight? After we tasted the 2001 Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre, we immediately inserted the wine because they surprisingly had something in common. The SQN was essentially the 2001 Raveneau on steroids. Both showed very well. The 2002 Fevre Les Clos was also gorgeous, though lighter bodied than the Raveneau. Each wine showed exceptionally well, but for very different reasons. Think most of us preferred the minerality and earthy style of the Chablis over the powerful Sine Qua Non. Unfortunately, the 2000 Raveneau Butteaux was completely DOA, oxidized and undrinkable.

2002 William Fevre Les Clos
2000 Raveneau Butteaux
2001 Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
2005 Sine Qua Non Petition

Flight 2 – Copeland Creek – At Pinot Days in San Francisco, met Don Baumhefner who poured his Copeland Creek Pinot Noir. Thought the wine was excellent, so picked up a few of his bottles to share with our guests. Both wines were outstanding. The Chardonnay was lush, ripe, sweet, and full bodied. The Pinot Noir was medium bodied and also ripe, with excellent balance and complexity. This is a solid producer and the group consensus was very favorable toward the wines. Definitely recommend them!

2004 Copeland Creek Chardonnay
2005 Copeland Creek Pinot Noir

Flight 3 – Older Wines – The 1986 Mt Saint Helena Vineyards Cabernet Franc Private Reserve was exceptional! Armando Ceja made this from Lake Country fruit. It was full bodied, perfectly balanced and a strong contender for red wine of the night. By contrast, a 1980 Beaulieu Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir, opened more as a curiosity than anything, was DOA, also completely past its prime.

1980 Beaulieu Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir
1986 Mt Saint Helena Vineyards Cabernet Franc Private Reserve

Flight 4 – Ladd Cellars – Some of my personal favorite wines of the night were from Ladd Cellars. This was the first time I have had a chance to seriously taste their wines. Each was quite different from the other, ranging from bright red and blue fruits, enjoyable immediately on opening to tigher more nuanced structured wines that need to age a year or two before opening. Cannot say enough positive things about the quality of these wines and highly recommend the Sonoma Coast and Russian River for immediate consumption, the Moore Ranch and Cuvee Abigail for further aging or after a long decant.

2007 Ladd Cellars Sonoma Coast Pinot
2007 Ladd Cellars Russian River Pinot
2007 Ladd Cellars Moore Ranch Pinot
2007 Ladd Cellars Cuvee Abigail Pinot

Flight 5 – Cabernet – Two very nice Cabernets were enjoyed. First was the 1998 Columbia Winery Otis Vineyard. Recall it being well aged with ripe raspberry fruits and a pleasant mouthfeel. In contrast, the 1997 Freemark Abby was more lean and tannic. In the span of an hour, had not opened up a great deal. Suspect with additional age or a long decant, the wine would have showed its true potential.

1998 Columbia Winery Otis Vineyard Cabernet
1997 Freemark Abbey Bosche Cabernet

Flight 6 – Maggie Harrison – Maggie Harrison, previously with Sine Qua Non, has two of her own labels, Antica Terra and Lillian. At first blush, it should probably surprise anyone to see a flight with a Pinot Noir and Syrah side by side, but it actually worked in this case! The Anitca Terra was a huge full bodied, full throttled Pinot that was surprising ripe and fresh. The same could be said of the 2006 Lillian, good to go out of the bottle. The wine making style came across as strikingly similar with the exception being the grape. Overall, two very nice wines!

2008 Antica Terra Pinot Noir
2006 Lillian Syrah

Flight 7 – A German American Finish – Finally, after some wonderful food and wine, opened a 1976 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese to end the wine flights. Immediately from bottle, it showed parafin wax, butter, and lemon/lime oil. 1976 was an excellent year for German Riesling, however found this wine interesting, but not particularly great. A guest generously brought a Germain-Robin Alambic XO Brandy, which turned out to be a highly pleasant, spicy end of meal finish!

1976 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese
Germain-Robin Alambic XO Brandy

The July Burger Sampler Pack specifics follow. In addition to the Burgers, we put on fresh Swordfish, Salmon, and Sea Bass from Bryan’s which were among the freshest tasting fish I have had in some time. All the burgers had a great deal of flavor, but preferred the lower fat content burgers best. They were more flavorful and less greasy than the higher fat content burgers. All beef was freshly ground, got a short sear on the grill with salt and pepper seasoning.

Blend #1 (Washington): 25% Wagyu Chuck, 25% Prime Skirt Steak, 25% Choice Filet Tail, 25% Dry Aged Steak Ends (Total Fat Content 9%)

Blend #2 (Jefferson): 25% Choice Tri Tip, 25% Prime Chuck, 25% Choice Short Ribs, 25% Prime Brisket (Total Fat Content 13%)

Blend #3 (Franklin): 25% Prime Chuck, 25% Prime Hanger Steak, 25% Prime Brisket, 25% Prime Beef Rib Cap Fat Blend (Total Fat Content 21%)

Blend #4 (Mason): 25% Choice Short Ribs, 25% Wagyu Chuck, 25% Wagyu Short Ribs, 25% Beef Suet Blend (Total Fat Content 27%)

Bryan’s Fine Foods
Ladd Cellars
Ceja Vineyards

A final word, special thanks to the always generous Bryan Flannery would gave us some 40 day dry aged private reserve steak scraps for our pups! Among 3 dogs, they went fast!

Cheers to a very enjoyable afternoon with good friends in Carneros!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

>Burgundy Wines in Sonoma

>This past Friday, tasted a broad selection of great drinking Burgundy in downtown Sonoma. Surrounded by world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma, find it interesting to drink Burgundy and internally compare and contrast the age worthiness, distinct style, and wine making approach differences that separate the two regions.

While no attempt is made to define the relative merits of each region, find both produce a broad range of exceptional wine that satisfy in their own unique way, and as is so often the case, it boils down to stylistic preference and the wine that best fits the occasion. On this occasion, many fine Burgundy wines were opened by folks passionate about Burgundy. Brief tasting notes follow.

White WOTN:
1999 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenue Batard Montrachet

1998 Robert Arnoux Romanee St Vivant

White Burgundy

1992 Remoissenet Montrachet – Initially showed some bacterial funk on the nose that blew off in about a half hour. Deep yellow in color, the wine had an interesting mix of caramel, dry wheat and straw in a gorgeous full bodied wine. Noted a touch of sweetness and subtle acidity. This was an excellent wine that drank consistent over the span of two hours. The majority considered it the white wine of the night.

1996 Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon – A late maturity, medium bodied wine that showed vanilla and sherry notes more than anything else. Did not pickup any of the classic diesel we have come to expect with Domaine Leflaive. Overall, did not think the wine showed very well, partly because it was in tough company, but more so, just outside its optimum drinking window.

1999 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenue Batard Montrachet – My white wine of the night, immediately on opening, got a huge nose of diesel in a very young drinking wine. It was highly elegant and nuanced with a clean, pure and crisp palate of citrus and tropical fruits. After about 2 hours revisiting the wine, the diesel subsided and the wine balanced out. This wine will age considerably longer and was simply awesome!

2004 Domaine Leflaive Folatieres – Similar to the Domaine Leflaive BBM, had a strong appealing diesel on the nose, with lemon on the palate and firm acidity. In the span of about two hours revisiting the wine frequently, it opened up only slightly. Overall, an excellent young great drinking wine that should be aged considerably longer.

2005 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne – Surprisingly ready to go immediately on opening, the wine was creamy and sweet, with green apple and citrus notes. It had a lighter mid palate than expected, but become more well rounded in time. Bouchard does such an excellent job with its white wines, and this one was no exception, complex and highly enjoyable.

Red Burgundy

1990 Michel Lafarge Volnay – A young wine that immediately showed predominately blue fruits. In time, it became more leathery and meaty with asian spice and darker black fruits. A very strong showing by an excellent drinking wine. Best of the three 1990 wines opened.

1990 Prince Florent de Merode Corton – Showed game, tart raspberry fruit and white pepper in a clean smooth easy drinking wine. Thought it not as enjoyable as the Lafarge Volnay and better than the Jadot. A good drinking wine.

1990 Jadot Gevrey Chambertin Clos St. Jacques – Not a great showing for the Jadot. Enjoyed this wine on a prior occasion, this time, showed more barrel sample like qualities with some cola and barnyard notes, also, some harsh acidity.

1972 Jaboulet Vercherre Musigny – Some exotic spices initially, dry tea leaves and oregano, the wine was enjoyable and leathery at first, in a short period of time, lost some of its character and became just an ok wine. Not a very good showing overall.

1993 Laurent Savigny Les Beaune – A lot of oak, cedar, pepper and spice was present in the Laurent. Acid was firm, but the oak ultimately over powered the wine. Did not show well next to the 93 Corton or 98 Leclerc.

1993 Prince Florent de Merode Corton – Initially a sappy wine with a compelling molasses component. Changed for the better in time becoming slightly sweeter with a cake like mouthfeel. A good drinking wine.

1998 Rene Leclerc Griotte Chambertin – Young, bright black cherry fruit in a clean, easy drinking wine. A good drinking wine. So many 1998’s tasted recently are in a real sweet spot.

1979 Pierre Damoy Clos de Beze – A lighter bodied wine, was spicy and clean. Not highly complex, but very enjoyable. Had a similar style to the 89 Remoissonet Clos de Beze, just far more restrained.

1989 Remoissonet Clos de Beze – A dark berry, minty wine that was powerful and perfectly balanced. An amazing wine! Shared a similar spice component to the Damoy and considered it a close second for red wine of the night.

1998 Robert Arnoux Romanee St Vivant – My red wine of the night, an elegant, great drinking wine that was ripe with clean blue fruits. Acidity was low, and had a long pure finish. In perfect balance, the wine was a pleasure to drink! Another excellent 1998.

2002 Hudelot Noellat Clos de Vougeot – Relatively light bodied wine with notable cherry fruit. Overall, not very distinct and just an ok wine overall.

2003 Vincent Girardin Chambertin – Tasted later in the evening, recollect a light wine with pretty high acidity. Did not stand out similar to the Hudelot Clos de Vougeot.

2007 Cuvee de Mon Aieul Chateauneuf du Pape – Tasted later in the evening, do not recall a great deal about the wine as well other than it was very young, and did not care for the wine.

Mystery Wines

As is sometimes the case, a few “mystery wines” are opened. The first mystery wine, a 1993 Calera Central Coast Reserve Pinot was opened blind, and did not stay in anyones glass for long. The second mystery wine, a 1995 Dujac Les Beaux Monts showed very grassy and simple. Did not revisit the wine later in the evening to see how it developed, which could have made all the difference, Dujac is certainly a world class producer.

While the two mystery wines did not show very well, over the span of about a year drinking with the Sonoma Burg Team, it is remarkable how few corked bottles of wine we have opened. Some have not tasted that great for various reasons, but relatively few examples of corked wine!

Cheers to another great evening of Burgundy!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

>Memorial Weekend Burgundy

>Three weeks in a row for the Sonoma Burg Team, and a very strong showing of wine this past Friday! The wine of the night was easily an amazing 1961 Domaine Henry Lamarche la Grande Rue. Older wines can sometimes be a wild card due to so many factors, one of the most significant being, how they were stored over the decades. Fortunate for us, this wine showed extremely well!

The white wine lineup was a slightly different story, a very strong wine selection however, with three serious contenders for wine of the night: 2004 Bouchard Montrachet, 1990 Domaine Leflaive Combettes, and 2002 Coche Dury Meursault Les Rougeots. Not separated by a large margin, thought the Coche Dury showed best. Impressions of all wine opened follow:

White WOTN: 2002 Coche Dury Meursault Les Rougeots
Red WOTN: 1961 Domaine Henry Lamarche la Grande Rue

Krug NV – Nutty, crisp, full mouthfeel, a little lemon, slightly better than the 70’s/80’s NV Krug tasted last week, but overall, not a big fan of the non vintage Krug wines. Just an ok wine.

White Burgundy

1990 Domaine Leflaive Combettes – Deep yellow in color, it showed some hazelnut, smoke, straw, buttery characteristics in a clean, thick, full bodied wine. Thought the wine was excellent, one of the 3 best whites of the evening. It was fully mature and should be opened sooner rather than later.

2002 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne – Immediately on the nose, picked up an unpleasant sherry note and some funk. In time, the funk blew off and the wine improved, but never seemed to fully let go of the underlying sherry component. Thought it had early signs of premox or perhaps a corked wine. Not a good showing by an otherwise great white producer.

2002 Coche Dury Meursault Les Rougeots – Characteristic Coche Dury diesel, matchstick and sulfur on the nose, the palate was smooth drinking with creamy lemon cake notes. With air, the wine balanced out and was simply a pleasure to drink. The Coche was the white WOTN.

2004 Bouchard Montrachet – Initially closed with firm acidity, the wine opened up throughout the evening at a glacial place. Only near the end of the evening did it even begin to show a refined style of wine that was nicely balanced with floral, citrus, custard and spice notes. The wine should be aged considerably longer before opening.

2007 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne – Like the Montrachet, the wine was opened a little before its time. It was lean, with firm acidity, and a distinct mineral component. Despite being decanted, it was just too closed down to fully appreciate. Given Bouchard’s excellent track with Corton Charlemagne, may turn out to be a great wine, just too young to enjoy right now.

Red Burgundy

1961 Domaine Henry Lamarche la Grande Rue – The red WOTN, it was initially tannic with an absence of any signs of oxidation, lighter in style, the cloudy wine quickly put on weight becoming more leathery, spicy and carmel. The wine was consistent over time, complex and gorgeous! Without a doubt, a wow experience!

1978 Grivot Vosne Romanee Les Suchots – The wine initially showed game, earth and stewed ripe fruits in a full bodied wine. The more it sat around in the glass, the better it got and overall considered it an excellent wine!

1988 Dujac Charmes Chambertin – Laser tight, notable acidity, stemy and cola, it was an enjoyable wine that showed very well. In the flight it was opened, thought it was slightly better than the 2000 Roty Charmes Chambertin, but not as good as the 2000 Hudelot Noellat Richebourg.

1990 Jadot Gevrey Chambertin Clos St. Jacques – A very nice drinking Jadot that showed baked raspberry fruits, brown sugar, and a full mouthfeel, it was a smooth easy drinking wine. Have had a great run of high quality Jadot over the last few months.

1994 Domaine Leroy Vosne Romanee Les Beaux Monts – A little cloudy in appearance, it was an excellent drinking wine in what many consider an off year. A dark fruit focused wine, it was quite cool and clean with menthol and underlying sweetness. Drank young, but an awesome wine that will age gracefully for many years!

2000 Roty Charmes Chambertin – Some asian spice, cherry, cola, easy drinking, enjoyed the wine considerably. No notable acidity, it was mature drinking and showed well against the 1988 Dujac Charmes Chambertin and 2000 Hudelot Noellat Richebourg.

2000 Hudelot Noellat Richebourg – Exotic game meats, cinnamon and nutmeg, some grass and baked fruits with everything in balance and highly complex. Thought this was a mature wow wine, and second best red of the evening.

2001 Nicolas Potel Clos de la Roche – Initially a little funky and gamey in a good way, overall, it was lean and did not develop well over time. Stayed lean and overall thought the wine was not very exciting.

2002 LignierMichelot Clos de la Roche – Cleaner than the Nicolas Potel Clos de la Roche, had a similar gamey profile, but with brighter red cherry fruits and overall, a more powerful wine. A good, but not great experience.

1997 Arlaud Gevrey Chambertin Les Combottes and 1997 Joseph Drouhin Griotte Chambertin – Both poured near the end of the evening, did not take notes on either wine. Recall both a little on the lighter side consistent with so many wines tasted from the 1997 vintage, but pure and clean. While drinking ok, they were not as memorable as other wines opened.

Other Wines

Mystery Wine – Initially light cherry, a little simple, guessed it immediately as a California Pinot! One of our members, “El Hefe” guessed it as a 1986 Dujac! After some discussion, it was unveiled to be a 1996 William Selyem Sonoma Coast Pinot! A little older than expected, an “interesting” wine.

2004 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee – Opened near the end of the evening, did not take notes, but found it infinitely more enjoyable than the 2003 Reservee or Cuvee Capo, and for one big reason, a lack of plum and prune notes. A very good drinking wine!

Overall, this was a very enjoyable group of wines. In discussing the wines, we frequently came back to the 1961 Domaine Henry Lamarche la Grande Rue. In the substance of discussion, it was remarked how nice and fortunate it was to buy an excellent condition older wine that is drinking so well right now, in which the quote of the night was quickly made in relation to the current approach toward wine purchases, “Buy a lot, and lay it down”!

Cheers to buying a lot, and laying it down!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine