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/

California Dreamin

Recently, we got together with friends in Mill Valley to enjoy some exceptional California wine! With eight of us in attendance, had a perfect sized group to enjoy three flights of three wines of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet.

We ate at a very good restaurant called Dish. The space was casual and welcoming, food was very good, and service was impeccable. As with previous tastings, wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight. The only exception was the Cabernet flight, where all wines were so enjoyable for different reasons, call it a three way tie! Brief notes follow concerning all wines opened:

Chardonnay Flight

2006 Marcassin Estate Chardonnay – Floral, sweet, soft orange rind, stoney, mineral, creme brulee, subtle vanilla, all components perfectly in check. The wine was well structured and should age gracefully for years.

2006 Marcassin Three Sisters Chardonnay – More full bodied than the estate, lemon grass, oily, creamy, wheat, oats, cotton candy and oyster shell. Became leaner as it sat in the glass, but remained a highly enjoyable wine.

2008 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay – A little astringent on the nose, closed, tart, slightly smokey with an oily texture, had some mid-palate fruit, but came across far hotter than the two Marcassin. A wine to revisit, hopefully will resolve more with age.

Pinot Noir Flight

2003 Marcassin Estate Pinot Noir – Black cherry, spice, oak, forest floor, fruits brighter initially, becoming more restained, balanced and elegant in time. A gorgeous Pinot Noir, evolving nicely when compared to how it tasted near release.

2003 Rochioli West Block Pinot Noir – Pine needles, cranberry, rhubarb, rustic, saucy, mushroom and leather. A lot going on in this compelling Rochioli Pinot. Big fan of the both the producer and the vintage for California Pinot Noir.

2004 Littorai Once Acre Pinot Noir – Initially green, stemy, became more raspberry and fruitcake in time. Youthful, with very nice balance, a compelling and interesting wine. A very good wine, next to two excellent wines.

Cabernet Flight

1997 Dalla Valle Cabernet – Initially tight, with spicey oak, and menthol. In time, dark chocolate and dark fruits became more predominate as the wine sat in the glass. Classic California Cabernet, this was an absolutely beautiful wine.

1997 Montelena Cabernet – Another gorgeous wine, grassy, baked black cherry fruit, restrained, and hard. Had a slight brett funkiness, but it worked in this wine. The wine was compelling and highly interesting. A must revisit wine.

1997 Philip Togni Cabernet – A powerful wine, bell pepper, dirty, red stewed fruits becoming brighter in time, had near perfect balance and plenty of longevity. Like the Dalla Valle and Montelena, a highly enjoyable wine.

Cheers to a very good time!

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

Rhone Rangers 2011 in SF

This past Sunday, we attended the 14th annual Rhone Rangers tasting in SF at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason. It is a great opportunity to try several hundred California Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and a few other Rhone varietals under one roof!

In a tasting where so many wines are poured, we are not typically looking to capture specific tasting notes, but more so, wines that showed well in the very short time span given each wine. That said, the following are wines that immediately came off as excellent, very good, and worth a revisit. If a particular wine or producer is not listed, either we did not taste the wine, or did not find it particularly note worthy.

Highly Recommended

  • 2009 Arnot-Roberts Hudson Vineyard Syrah
  • 2009 Arnot-Roberts Griffins Lair Vineyard Syrah
  • 2007 Bella Lily Hill Syrah
  • 2006 Cabot Kimberly’s Syrah
  • 2006 Cabot Aria’s Syrah
  • 2007 Cabot Klamath Cuvee Red Blend
  • 2008 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah
  • 2008 Jemrose Gloria’s Gem Blend
  • 2009 Pax Mahle Orra Blend
  • 2008 Pax Mahle Rana Blend
  • 2009 Pride Mountain Viognier
  • 2008 Pride Mountain Syrah
  • 2009 Ridge Buchignani Carignon
  • 2006 Ridge Lytton Syrah
  • 2007 Stolpman Angeli
  • 2009 Stolpman Originals Syrah
  • 2008 Stolpman High Density Syrah
  • 2008 Truchard Carneros Syrah

Recommended

  • 2007 Anglim Mourvedre Hastings Ranch Vineyard
  • 2009 Arnot-Roberts Alder Springs Syrah
  • 2006 Arrowood Red Blend Cote de Lune Rouge
  • 2006 Arrowood Syrah
  • 2008 Bella Lily Hill Grenache
  • 2008 Bella Big River Petite Sirah
  • 2007 Cabot Humbold County Syrah
  • 2009 Jemrose Viognier Egret Pond
  • 2008 Jemrose Foggy Knoll Grenache
  • 2007 Lagier Meredith Mount Veeder Syrah
  • 2008 Lagier Meredith Mount Veeder Syrah
  • 2009 Landmark Espirit du Rhone Grenache
  • 2007 Martinelli Lolita Syrah
  • 2007 Montemaggiore Reserve
  • 2006 Montemaggiore Paolo’s Syrah
  • 2009 Outpost Howell Mountain Grenache
  • 2008 Pax Mahle Sonoma Coast Syrah
  • 2009 Pax Mahle Griffins Lair Syrah
  • 2006 Ridge Syrah/Grenache Blend
  • 2005 Ridge Lytton Grenache
  • 2008 Stage Left The ExPat Red Blend
  • 2008 Stolpman Originals Syrah
  • 2008 Stolpman Roussanne
  • 2008 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel
  • 2009 Truchard Carneros Roussanne

Revisit

  • 2009 Arnot-Roberts North Coast Syrah
  • 2008 JC Cellars Stagecoach Marsanne
  • 2007 JC Cellars Rockpile Syrah
  • 2009 Landmark Steel Plow Syrah
  • 2008 Morgan Double L Syrah
  • 2004 Outpost Petite Sirah
  • 2009 Ridge Lytton Petite Sirah
  • 2009 Stolpman Syrah
  • 2008 Tercero Camp 4 Mouvedre
  • 2007 Tercero Camp 4 Grenache

Some of our top producers: Arnot-Roberts, Cabot Vineyards, Jemrose Vineyards, Pax Mahle Wines, Pride Vineyards and Stolpman Vineyards. One of the top wines tasted among all these excellent producers and wines, a 2007 Stolpman Angeli.

The biggest take away from this tasting was a perceived movement in style towards more age worthy, structured, and restrained wines. Expected to taste quite a few full bodied, candied, high alcohol fruit bombs, but was pleasantly surprised. Generally find cleaner, elegant, balanced wines more appealing, those that will slowly develop and improve over time, and that is what we got for the most part at this tasting!

Cheers to a great event and a quick snapshot of some quality California Producers!

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

San Diego Blind California Dinner

During our recent visit to San Diego, enjoyed attending a California Wine Dinner at Quarter Kitchen. The restaurant was excellent and a great venue for a wine dinner. On this occassion, it was decided to taste all wines blind. The group tasted three flights of four wines, and ranked each wine per flight. It was a larger than normal group, so pours were relatively small not allowing an opportunity to revisit in time and see how they develop.

As often happens at wine dinners, a wine shows up that is not to theme, in this case a few Bordeaux. As luck would have it, a 2000 Cheval Blanc was brought, and turned out to be the wine of the night by a long shot! All wines opened are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Opener

2004 Taittinger Champagne – Honey, medium bodied, crisp, nice acid balance, touch of creaminess, an easy drinking start to the evening.

Chardonnay Flight

2006 Kongsgaard Judge Chardonnay – Initially very simple, no nose, in time more lemon and lime citrus, a tight young wine that leaned to the white burgundy end of the wine spectrum.

2008 Aubert Hyde and Sons Chardonnay – A close second place, far sweeter, cotton candy, balanced and oily. More creamy and balanced than the Kongsgaard, enjoyable young.

2008 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay – Similar to the Hyde and Sons, sweeter, but with a little more spice. Some unexpected funk on the finish that never quite went away.

2004 Kistler Vine Hill Chardonnay – Deeper yellow color, full bodied, yeast, hazel nut and mildly floral. Did not find this wine particularly appealing.

Cabernet Flight

2002 Kuleto Reserve Cabernet- Dark berry, minty, spice, soy and chocolate, a very nice drinking wine that had Bordeaux leanings, a restrained and elegant wine.

2006 Ghost Horse Shadow – Tannic, black licorice, bitter coffee, an interesting wine that was quite enjoyable, and not far separated from either the Kuleto or Shafer Hillside Select.

2003 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet – Rich, good tannin and menthol. A very nice drinking wine that was close, but not quite to the level of the Ghost Horse or Kuleto.

2008 12C Georges III Cabernet – Very ripe style of wine, vanilla, full bodied, bright red fruit, a solid representation of the Georges III vineyard. Should improve considerably with age.

Syrah Flight

2006 Myriad Las Madres Syrah – A lovely cold climate Syrah. Clean, pure, stemy, awesome floral aromatics, think Myriad consistently over performs on their Las Madres Syrah.

2005 Grand Reve Reserve Syrah – Far more flashy than the 2006 Myriad, more powerful, exotic, sweet, pure and muscular. Like the Myriad, a gorgeous wine, but for very different reasons.

2008 Myriad 100% Whole Cluster Las Madres Syrah – Similar to the 2006 Myriad, stemy, blue fruits, a little bigger style and more course. A solid showing.

2006 Samsara Alder Springs Syrah – Disjointed, simple, lacking character, one of the few wines I struggled to think of something nice to say.

Bordeaux Finish

2000 Cheval Blanc – Wine of the night by a long shot! Expected it to be way too young, but with a quick decant, and a little time in the glass, improved considerably. The definition of a perfect Bordeaux, perfectly balanced, highly complex, chewy, mineral, leather, meat, exotic. A wow wine!

2000 Pape Clement – Did not particularly enjoy the Pape Clement, just an ok wine. Some animal and game, which is typically a nice thing, but not well put together in this wine. Overshadowed and dominated by the Cheval Blanc.

Cheers to a wonderful tasting with a generous group of friends in San Diego!

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

San Diego Sine Qua Non Dinner

This past weekend, visited wine drinking friends in San Diego. During our trip, we were fortunate to attend two special dinners. The first was focused around the wines of Sine Qua Non, and the second, a blind California Dinner.

At the time of both dinners, minimum wine tasting notes were taken, however as is so often the case, recollect a few impressions of the wines opened. The following is a summary of the first dinner. All wines were served pop and pour, and sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Opener- This was a lovely wine. Having had a 1996 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses, one of the top Champagnes we have tasted, was surprised and excited to see this on the table. It was young, no question, but lovely pear, crisp, and nutty style. Really good structure that will allow this wine to age gracefully for years!

1999 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut

Pre Dinner Rose – This was only one of two Sine Qua Non wines tasted to date that was completely disappointing. Have liked other Sine Qua Non Rose in the past, so would not say it was stylistic, but the wine was spritzy, and lacking any sort of character. If I recall correctly, in the bottom two of everyones list.

2007 Sine Qua Non Strips and Stars Rose

White Wine Flight – Preferred the Hoo Doo Man over The Boot. A young wine, the Hoo Doo Man showed tropical fruits and a nice acidity level. The wine should age well and improve over the next several years. In contrast, The Boot was mature, some butterscotch, hazelnut, and buttery texture. Expected it to be past maturity, but actually showed fully mature.

2006 Sine Qua Non Hoo Doo Man
2000 Sine Qua Non The Boot

Pinot Noir Intermission – A very nice intermission after tasting a few interesting white wines. Thought the A Capella Pinot was the 3rd best wine of the evening behind the 17th Nail and Into the Dark. First time having had this wine, was pleasantly surprised. Recall a gritty, earthy, mineral based wine, with a forest floor nose. A really good drinking Pinot.

2000 Sine Qua Non A Capella Pinot Noir

Grenache Flight – The Into the Dark was a beautiful wine, second favorite of the night. Candied boysenberry fruit, beautifully textured, full bodied, one of the top Sine Qua Non Grenache tasted to date. The Raven was consistant to previous bottles tasted. It was similar to the Atlantis, though far more toned down fruit. A good wine.

2004 Sine Qua Non Into the Dark Grenache
2006 Sine Qua Non Raven Grenache

Syrah Flight – The 17th Nail in the Cranium was the wine of the night. A huge concentrated, and quite approachable Syrah. A pleasant mix of blue and black fruits, had a super long finish, and excellent balance. The Raven Syrah was tight and lacked depth next to the 17th Nail. A good drinking wine, no question, but not in the same league.

2005 Sine Qua Non 17th Nail in the Cranium
2006 Sine Qua Non Raven Syrah

Sweet Finish – My least favorite wine of the evening, the Mr K Strawman was a one dimensional thick sweet wine. Probably not fair to open the wine at such a young age, did not show much in the way of complexity and character.

2006 Sine Qua Non Mr K Strawman

Cheers to our San Diego friends and a very fun dinner filled with lots of laughs, great wine, and wonderful food!

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

Les Suchots Dinner

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

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

Pre Dinner White Wine:

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

Pre-2000 Les Suchots Flight:

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

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

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

Post-2000 Les Suchots Flight:

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

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

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

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

Post Dinner Dessert Wine:

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

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

Cheers to a very enjoyable dinner!

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

Sunday Rhone and Bordeaux

This past Sunday, got together with friends in Napa Valley to enjoy a few special bottles of wine. The theme was great Rhone and Bordeaux. What was particularly interesting about this dinner however was an excellent California wine opened at the end of the evening, a 1969 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon!

At 40+ years old, 12.5% ABV, this wine was simply outstanding! The reference to Medoc and St. Emilion on the pictured back wine label was priceless! In the case of this dinner, did not take notes at the time, but brief observations follow. All the wines were so enjoyable, no attempt is made to identify a wine of the night.

1982 Pichon Lalande – The first time having had this wine, immediately found it a delightful, delicate and elegant wine. Tasted strawberry and sweet raspberry fruit, dry wheat, and some fresh cut grass on the palate. Took a few hours on a pop and pour for the wine to open up and show its full potential. This was an exceptional Pichon Lalande that will continue to age and improve for years.

1982 Ducru Beaucaillou – Another excellent wine, the Ducru was an interesting contrast to the Pichon Lalande. More rustic and old school Bordeaux, the palate was strikingly upfront with stewed baked red fruits and an appealing almost tomato sauce like palate. Immediately reminded of a young 1993 Philip Togni Cabernet. Like the Pichon Lalande, the Ducru will age gracefully for many more years. A beautiful wine!

1989 Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage – The two Bordeaux were both excellent, but stylistically different. Such was the case with both Rhones. The Jaboulet was gorgeous, exotic dark fruits, plum, barnyard, asian spice and game meat, had so many dimensions to the wine, it hit the palate in different ways with every taste. An excellent Rhone that is drinking very well now, but could easily continue to age.

1994 Chave Hermitage – Almost polar opposite to the Jaboulet in style, the Chave was pure and clean, with lush bright red fruit, yet restrained and subdued with a rich menthol finish. Aromatically, the wine had an appealing tropical citrus nose that was highly enjoyable. The youngest wine in the group with notable tannin, could easily age this wine for a significant amount of time, and it will continue to improve.

1969 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon – The final wine of the evening, this was a gorgeous old school California Cabernet! Almost a hypothetical blend of a good year BV Georges de Latour, with mushroom, spice and earthiness, with the structure, depth, and darker clean fruits of a well aged Chateau Montelena. The wine showed no signs of oxidation, yet was fully mature and highly enjoyable. Cannot say enough positive things about the quality of this wine!

Cheers to a small but highly enjoyable evening with good food, friends and wine!

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

Thursday Burgundy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to some very nice wines!

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

Palo Alto Burgundy Dinner

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

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

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

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

Sojourn Flight

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

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

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

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

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

Chablis Flight

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

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

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

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

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

Wine Intermission

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

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

Red Burgundy Flight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to our southbay friends!

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