>Dinner in Carneros

>This weekend, we had dinner and wine with our good friend and neighbor, Armando Ceja. Ceja Vineyards produces a variety of enjoyable everyday drinking wines ranging from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Late Harvest dessert wines. Besides his sharing some older vintages of Ceja Pinot Noir, Armando and his charming wife Martha treating us to an amazing meal.

In addition to the Ceja’s, we were joined by the Painters! John Painter owns the Las Madres Vineyard in Carneros. I was first acquainted with this vineyard after trying a 2008 Quivet Las Madres Syrah. Thought it was a world class, well made wine. John and his charming wife are very down to earth, and generously brought several different wines made from his vineyard. It was very interesting to compare and contrast different producers wines from the same vineyard source.

White Wine of the Night: 2004 Lucien le Moine Montrachet
Red Wine of the Night: 1969 Chanson Pere & Fils Beaune

White Burgundy – After some Ceja starter wines, we immediately moved onto the white burgundies. The 2001 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne started out tight, but in time became sweeter, with lemon and butterscotch notes. It was pleasant and enjoyable, but not as rich as their 1996, 2004, 2005 and 2006 recently opened. The 2004 Lucien le Moine Montrachet was spectacular! Started out diesel, tannic, citrus, lemon, very aeromatic and ripe, with chili pepper, wedding cake notes. This super complex wine was nothing short of amazing.

2001 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne
2004 Lucien le Moine Montrachet

Ceja Pinot Noirs – After some lovely white burgundies, we moved onto older Ceja Pinots to see how they were holding up over time. The wine of the flight was the 1992. It was elegant, with raspberry, cool green menthol and excellent overall balance. Had good structure and is aging gracefully. The 1998 was fully mature with molasses, baked fruit notes. The 1999 had a similar taste profile as the 1998, but more structure and distinct acidity.

1992 Ceja Pinot Noir
1998 Ceja Pinot Noir
1999 Ceja Pinot Noir

Red Burgundy – While the 1969 Chanson was a Premier Cru red, it had the qualities of a Grand Cru. It was a leathery, mineral, earthy, nutty wine, rich and highly complex with no signs of oxidation, and wonderful overall balance. Thought this was a seductive wine, and could not put the glass down, slowly savoring it over time and discovering new components to the wine with each taste! The 2003 Bonnes Mares was a ripe fruit forward wine of cola, bright red fruits, and a syrupy full bodied mouthfeel. It can easily be opened and drunk now, or with some bottle age. In contrast, the 2006 Faiveley was unapproachable, simply way too young and closed down to fully appreciate. It is best to not open this wine for many years, and nearly impossible to evaluate fairly at this young stage in life.

1969 Chanson Pere & Fils Beaune 1er Cru
2003 Robert Groffier Bonnes Mares
2006 Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin

Cabot Syrah – At the last Family Winemakers Tasting in San Francisco, ran across this producer for the first time. Their 2006 Syrahs were among the top wines tasted at the event, so thought it would be nice to share a flight with friends, as well as a slighter older vintage for comparison. The wine of the flight was the 2004 Cabot Kimberly’s followed by the 2006 Cabot Kimberly’s one barrel. In general these wines are not California fruit bomb Syrahs, but more cold climate, aeromatic, everyday enjoyable drinking wines.

2006 Cabot Syrah Humboldt County
2006 Cabot Syrah Aria’s Vineyard Humboldt County
2006 Cabot Syrah Kimberly’s Vineyard
2006 Cabot Syrah Kimberly’s Vineyard One Barrel
2004 Cabot Syrah Kimberly’s Vineyard

Las Madres Vineyard Syrah – John was very generous to bring a variety of wines made from his vineyard in Carneros by various producers. The wine of the flight was the 2005 Vie! It had the most power, structure and depth of the wines, but surprisingly, not by a long shot. All the wines showed well, and had more in common than not. The 2006 Quivet was lovely. Having enjoyed the 2008 recently, have a sense of what it may taste like in a few years. Strongly recommend this producer. Finally, found the 2007 Myriad notable, a tannic, dark black and blue berry fruit wine, combined with black olives was compelling. The flight showcased what a great vineyard is capable of across numerous producers!

2003 Nicholson Ranch Syrah Carneros
2006 Quivet Cellars Syrah Las Madres Vineyard
2004 Nicholson Ranch Syrah Las Madres Vineyard Cosentido
2007 Myriad Syrah Las Madres Vineyard
2005 Vie Syrah Las Madres Vineyard

Late Harvest – After enjoying so much nice food, and drinking so many good wines, was a pleasure to finish the evening with a late harvest wine. The 2008 Ceja Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc is a georgous wine of grapefruits, and mandarin orange with excellent structure and not over the top sweetness. A lovely end to a great time!

2008 Ceja Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc

Cheers to our friends at Ceja and the Las Madres Vineyard!

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

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