Category Archives: German

1989 Bordeaux Lunch

As many local San Francisco area wine drinkers are well aware, we are fortunate to have a world class butcher in close proximity. Flannery Beef arguably sells some of the best steak in the country. And to add to this well deserved distinction, some of the best Burgers too! For a tasting of 1989 Bordeaux we hosted, that is exactly what was served, world class hamburgers. The owner of Flannery Beef, Bryan is always helpful in coming up with the perfect blend, in this case 25% Prime Filet Tail, 25% Wagyu Short Ribs, 25% Prime Hanger Steak, and 25% Dry Aged Ends. It lent a near perfect compliment to the wines of the afternoon.

Ten of us were in attendance and all bottles pop and pour. Did not take notes at the time, but have some fond recollections the following day. Wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight. Brief Tasting observations follow:

White Starter Wines – The Roulot was top wine of a flight where all were quite enjoyable but stylistically different. Found it balanced, round, easy drinking and slightly fuller bodied than the others. In contrast, the Bouchard was tight, mineral, saline, and youthful. It will continue to age well. The crowd favorite was the Boillot, also young and very nice drinking. Finally, the Latour Corton Charlemagne, more toned down, little more yeasty and lighter bodied.

2004 Roulot Meix Chavaux
2008 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne
2005 Henri Boillot Clos de la Mouchere
2004 Latour Corton Charlemagne

House Wine – Opened from an imperial, a glass was dedicated to the wine and essentially bottomless as we got the opportunity to taste through the entire lunch. A gorgeous Mouton, showed textbook earth, dark fruit up front, red on the finish with the most delightful menthol quality intermixed in a seamless great drinking wine. Has all the great attributes of an exceptional wine, truly exceptional balance and complexity. It opened up quickly, and maintained a consistent style through the end of the bottle. A close tie with the Latour as wine of the afternoon.

1989 Mouton Rothschild

Starter Red – A great start before moving onto flights. Might add, it was a surprise. Was not expecting much prior to opening, but turned out to be big, lots of high end fruit, and showed on the youthful side. That said, would not hesitate to open a bottle and enjoy in the near term. A wine you want to open and enjoy over a long evening. The most full bodied of all wines opened.

1989 Leoville Barton

Flight 1 – 1989 Lynch Bages has always been a personal favorite wine of ours having tasted it many times over the years. Consider the 89, 90, and 00 Lynch Bages their best efforts in the past few decades. This bottle was particularly youthful and showed layer after layer of complexity. Subtle leather, tobacco and dark fruits. The Cos d’Estournel was lovely, but overshadowed by the Lynch Bages. More restrained, underbrush and closed. Suspect with more time in the glass, would put on weight.

1989 Lynch Bages
1989 Cos d’Estournel

Flight 2 – My least favorite flight of the afternoon, both did not show very complex. The mid palate was there, but did not have a standout nose or memorable finish. The wines probably suffered to some degree based on the quality of the previous wines. A fun curiosity none the less from two producers we have never tasted before. Both were open knit and could be opened and enjoyed in the near term.

1989 Chateau La Rose-Pourette
1989 Chateau de Fieusal

Flight 3 – Always excited to see a Chateau Latour on the table, this wine did not disappoint. The Latour and Mouton were our two favorite wines of the evening, Lynch Bages and Leoville Las Cases close seconds. The Latour was youthful and clearly needs more cellar age. Found it superior to the 1990 Latour tasted on other occasions. Perfect balance, complexity and structure, zero signs of decline. Another stunning wine, the Leoville Las Cases showed true to the producer style. Medium bodied, gritty, earth and nuanced. While you should continue to cellar age the Latour, the Leoville Las Cases was more approachable.

1989 Latour
1989 Leoville Las Cases

Finish Wines – The TBA was gorgeous, perfectly resolved, could not have asked for a better end of meal wine. Round, full bodied, honey, and a delightful freshness that made it appear far younger than 1971. Prior to the TBA, tasted a equally gorgeous Wittmann Riesling. The depth and complexity of this wine was outstanding. Sadly, Wittmann has limited availability in the US, and the country is missing one of the truly great producers of German Riesling.

1971 Ungsteiner Honigsackel Trockenbeerenauslese,
2009 Wittmann Morstein Riesling GG

Bordeaux from 1989 are in a good place generally speaking. Classically styled, was impressed with the wines overall. And cheers to no flawed bottles!

Nick Wittmann
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
https://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

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/

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/

1990, 1995 and 1996 Bordeaux Dinner

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

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

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

California Starter

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

1990 Bordeaux

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

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

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

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

1995 Bordeaux

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

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

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

1996 Bordeaux

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

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

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

Sweet Finish

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

Cheers to a very enjoyable evening!

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