Category Archives: Champagne

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

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

 

Super Second Bordeaux Dinner

This past month, got together with a few friends to enjoy a night of Super Second Bordeaux. As luck would have it, there were numerous very nice wines, including a 1950 Pichon Baron. The final wine of a series of 1950’s tasted over the past year from one of our good friends, thought it better than the 1950 Margaux and 1950 Palmer previously tasted. The group was small, and pours large. Brief observations follow, sorted in order of personal preference:

Champagne Starter

Pol Roger Pure – A no dosage Champagne, thought it was an excellent wine. Bone dry, crisp, nice acidity, need to search this out for future tastings.

White Wine Starter

2001 Margaux Pavillon Blanc – Corked! Some folks thought it was not corked, but in our opinion had that tell tale wet cardboard nose and sapped palate. Disappointing.

Super Second Bordeaux Flight

1950 Pichon Baron – Opened early in the evening, the fruit was huge on this wine. Figured this wine would be either dry or perhaps oxidized with a top shoulder fill, was completely surprised how beautiful it was, big fruit, good firm tannin and acidity. Furthermore, it continued to hold up well over the span of the evening, never declining. An excellent wine.

1983 Pichon Lalande – Cannot recall ever tasted a better Pichon Lalande than this bottle of 1983, and that includes that 1982 vintage! No green or grassy quality we so often get from the producer, the wine was clean, elegent, balanced, dark fruit, simply beautiful!

1981 La Mission Haut Brion – Another excellent Bordeaux, refined and elegant, noted eucalyptus, earth, and leather. This was a beautiful wine, layered and subtle, kept giving more the longer it sat in the glass. Highly enjoyable and worth seeking out.

1970 Montrose – A nice wine with good underlying material, jammy, red fruit, thought it showed well initially. As it sat in the glass however, it slowly declined, never showing a great deal of complexity. After some table discussion, think the wine may have experienced a little heat.

1996 Leoville Poyferre – Another dark berry wine, it was in very tough company, overshadowed by all the other wines. Had had this wine before, and it was consistent in style, game meats and earth. A little more lean and higher acidity than expected.

A highly enjoyable evening with good food, friends, and wine!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

Heitz Martha Lunch

This weekend, we hosted a group of friends for an afternoon of wine focused around a vertical of Heitz Martha. With a long history of tasting Heitz Martha, there are few vintages we have not tried. The 1974 and 1985 have been two of our favorites to date, and as luck would have it, would be our first time tasting one of the wines, a 1967 Heitz Martha. For this tasting, it was a smaller group so pour sizes were generous and allowed us the opportunity to revisit over the afternoon. A bottle was opened from every decade Heitz has made wine from Martha’s Vineyard. All wines were served pop and pour, and none of them were flawed. Brief observations of all bottles opened follow:

Champagne Starter

Jacques Selosse Initiale (disgorged Oct 2006) – Served in Riedel Chablis glasses, a smooth easy drinking Champagne. Notable roasted walnuts up front, with yeast and earthy qualities in the background. A mature, balanced, complex wine that drank more like a still white wine than a Champagne. With no signs of oxidation, thought it was absolutely gorgeous, in a sweet spot right now.

Chablis Starter

2002 Jean Marc Brocard Valmur – Fully mature, at first thought this was going to be a very good Chablis. Had a nice crisp oyster shell palate, though pretty light bodied. Did not pickup any sweetness, sometimes apparent with the producer. Revisiting the wine after about 15 minutes on, it began a relative quick decline. Did not enjoy the wine as much as others at the table.

Heitz Martha Flight

1967 Heitz Martha – An excellent, elegant, highly age worthy wine! Heitz Martha is noted for its tell tale eucalyptus nose, and this wine had it, though subtle. Amazing fruit, tannin and acid balance with a mix of herbs, spice, meat and earth. A lighter to medium bodied wine, noted no signs of oxidation. There is no rush to open this wine, several hours after first opening, the wine maintained its profile. It has a long future ahead of it. Overall, thought it was an outstanding wine and wine of the flight.

1977 Heitz Martha – A close second for wine of the flight. Enjoyed it for very different reasons. The wine had a more liquor quality to it, yet with a rustic backbone that became baked fruits in time. A big nose, more powerful fruit in contrast to the 1967, wondered if this wine could be the 1967 with another 10 years of age? Like the 1967, no signs of oxidation, and plenty of potential for continued aging. An excellent drinking wine.

1980 Heitz Martha – Some mint, tight, lean, some background spice, it picked up steam the more it sat in the glass, but never quite achieved the level of complexity or greatness like that from the 1967 and 1977. This was just an ok wine, more one dimensional, it had all the tell tale characteristics of Heitz Martha, just toned down on every front. There would be no additional benefit to continue aging this wine. Overall, just ok.

1990 Heitz Martha – Far riper than the previous three bottles tasted, thought it third best wine of the flight. It had clean, deeper red fruit, some chocolate, and more perceivable eucalyptus than the other wines opened. Maintained a consistent style through the bottle. About a glass remained, and revisited the next day. Still a very big style of Heitz Martha, showed better on day two. The wine will benefit significantly with additional cellar aging.

2005 Heitz Martha – A far different style than any of the wines tasted, more blue fruits than red, big, sweet, almost barrel sample like. Made in a more modern California Cabernet style. Overall, thought it was disappointing from a vintage we have tasted so many nice wines. Perhaps with additional cellar aging, it will come around. A wine worth revisiting in the future.

Bordeaux Finisher

1985 Cos d’ Estournel – Wine the day, thought this was an exceptional wine. Had everything that makes for a great Bordeaux, tremendous balance and complexity! Thought it was a darker fruit based wine than the Heitz, also noted some coffee, dark chocolate, and exotic grainy spice. Another outstanding 1985 Bordeaux!

Last year tasted a vertical of Louis Martini Cabernet (50’s through 80’s), this year Heitz Martha Cabernet (60’s through 00’s), what should we do next year?

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

Wine and Spirits Top 100 Tasting

This past week, we attended the eighth annual Wine and Spirits Top 100 Tasting at City View at Metreon in San Francisco. It is the first time we have attended this particular tasting. The location was excellent for a wine event. Champagne, Sparkling Wines and whites were served on the outside patio, red wines on the inside. The tasting had the feel of a fun cocktail party with nice small bites from local restaurants circulating the room. It was a delightful, well executed event that was a lot of fun to attend.

No tasting notes were taken during the event, only some brief obversations. Wines are sorted in order of personal preference by group. If a wine is not listed, we either did not taste it, or did not find it particularing appealing to our personal palate.

Champagnes / Sparking Wines – The Bollinger Rose was arguably the best wine of the tasting, absolutely beautiful, well balanced and complex, it outshined all other wines tasted within this group. Notable, but not listed were the NV wines, in particular the Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee and Louis Roederer Brut Premier, both enjoyable. Find that the NV Louis Roederer Champagnes often show better than Cristal, which it did in this case. The 2002 Dom Perignon showed very young, would cellar for years before opening.

2002 Bollinger La Grande Annee Rose
2002 Dom Perignon
1997 Iron Horse Green Valley Blanc de Blancs Joy
1998 Gramona Brut Cellar Batile
2006 Gramona Brut Imperial Gran Reserva
2004 Louis Roederer Cristal

White Wines -The Domaine Leflaive was easily our favorite white wine, lovely reductive flinty quality consistent with the wine, and producer! New to Philippe Colin, was highly impressed with both their wines, plenty of mineral, earth, and citrus. They were delicate wines with subtle qualities that were just delightful. Several other producers were new to us, will track over the next few years to see how consistent they are over time.

2008 Domaine Leflaive Pucelles
2009 Philippe Colin Chevalier Montrachet
2008 Tardieu-Laurent CdP Blanc
2009 Robert Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Auslese
2009 Guigal Condrieu La Doriane
2008 Tardieu-Laurent Saint Peray
2004 La Castellada Collio Sauvignon
2006 La Castellada Ribolla Gialla
2009 Bouchard Meursault Genevrieres
2009 Jadot Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes
2009 Bouchard Chevalier Montrachet La Cabotte
2009 Philippe Colin Chassagne Montrachet Les Chaumes
2008 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett
2009 C. von Schubert Grunhauser Trocken

Red Wines – Our top wine of this group was easily the Jadot Chapelle Chambertin. The opposite of a fruit bomb, it was restrained, elegant, yet quite approachable given its youth. Stylistically different, also enjoyed the Bond Pluribus. Typically lean toward the Vecina in the Bond lineup, in this case, found the Pluribus superior. It was a big wine, but in no way one dimensional. 2007 Napa Cabernets continue to show very well.

2006 Jadot Chapelle Chambertin
2007 Bond Pluribus
2007 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace
2007 Bond Vecina
2007 Diamond Creek Volcanic
2009 Ant Hill Farms Campbell Ranch Pinot
2008 Cristom Sommers Reserve Pinot
2009 Bergstrom Dundee Hills Bergstrom Pinot
2008 WillaKenzie Estate Yamhill Carlton Pierre Leon Pinot
2008 Cristom Mt Jefferson Pinot
2006 Ceretto Barbaresco Bricco Asili
2005 Ceretto Barolo Brunate
2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards South Block Pinot

Were the wines tasted the Top 100 in the world? Of course not! Were there plenty of very good drinking wines? Absolutely! Cheers to a very good tasting put on by Wine & Spirits!

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

San Francisco Trade Tasting

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

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

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

White Wines

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

French Wine Night at Pera

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

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

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

Chablis Starter

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

Dom Perignon Flight

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

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

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

1990 Dom Perignon – A flawed bottle.

Rose Flight

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

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

Coche Dury Flight

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

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

Burgundy Flight 1

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

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

Burgundy Flight 2

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

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

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

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

Bordeaux Flight

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

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

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

1983 Chateau Palmer – A flawed bottle.

Sweet Finish

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

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

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

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

Ladd Cellars Dinner

Santa Rosa Fine Wine tastes a significant amount of high end wine every year. It influences to a large degree what we buy and recommend to our customers. Sometimes, we will taste wines from smaller producers for similar reasons, to keep a pulse on local wines to potentially offer and recommend to our customers.

This past week, we attended a wine dinner at Fringale Restaurant in SF with Eric Lundblad of Ladd Cellars. We have been looking forward to this dinner for some time having had the wines before at various tastings. With this producer, you get low production wines that are high quality at very reasonable prices. Brief tasting notes follow of all wines opened, sorted in order of personal preference by flight:

Flight 1 – With Hors D’Oeuvres: Foie Gras, Seared Ahi and Pate on Brioche, the two wines were brought by guests to enjoy before the Ladd Cellar wines. The Champagne was a crisp, yeasty young drinking wine that was quite enjoyable. In contrast, the German Riesling was more honey and caramel with a light waxy sweetness. Both were a great start to the evening!

1976 Michael Weber Niersteiner Gutes Domtal Spatlese
1988 Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage Champagne

Flight 2- With Roquefort & spinach ravioli, toasted pine nuts, basil & cream sauce, tasted two different Russian River Pinot Noir from Ladd Cellars. The 2005 was deep, with raspberry, black cherry, and aged butterscotch notes, a lovely wine. The 2008 was cool and clean, ripe and well balanced, it had a nice bright cherry palate.

2005 Ladd Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
2008 Ladd Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Flight 3- With Poached black cod, potato puree, piperade, artichokes, capers, olive tapenade, found both Moore Ranch wines to have more in common with each other than the two Russian River wines. Both were laser precise, with blue and black fruits, tighter and restrained. Given more time in the glass, would expect the wines to fill out considerably. Both were elegant and refined in style, an interesting contrast to the fuller bodied Russian River Valley wines.

2007 Ladd Cellars Moore Ranch Pinot Noir
2006 Ladd Cellars Moore Ranch Pinot Noir

Flight 4- With Braised veal short ribs, orzo, brussel sprouts, baby carrots, morel mushroom sauce, a red Burgundy side by side tasting with a Ladd Cellars Pinot Noir. Both wines were enjoyable, no question, but for different reasons. The Abigail was bigger, tannic, powerful and expressive, while the Anne Marie was more forest floor, green, and oaky in a more restrained style.

2007 Ladd Cellars Cuvee Abigail Pinot Noir
2006 Domaine Anne Marie Gille Vosne Romanee

Flight 5- After a wonderful meal and several really good wines, enjoyed a final after dinner wine from our gracious host, a bottle of 2007 Ladd Cellars Sonoma Coast! Far lighter and more toned down than earlier wines, it had riper strawberry fruit and minty, very easy to drink.

2007 Ladd Cellars Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

The Pinot Noirs of Ladd Cellars are well made, and definitely recommend them to our customers. We particularly enjoyed the 2007 vintage wines, which we have had the pleasure of tasting on three separate occasions with positive results.

Cheers to our good friends at Ladd Cellars for a highly enjoyable evening of good food, friends and wine!

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