>Rhone Dinner at Lupa

> This past week, a group of us got together at Lupa Trattoria in San Francisco for a Rhone Tasting. Some of our best tasting experiences have been with Rhone Wines, particularly those from Guigal: La Mouline, La Landonne, and La Turque. While Guigal was not represented in this dinner, some other solid producers were, among them: Beaucastel, Chapoutier, and Chave!

The dinner was relatively informal and no wines were decanted. Given eleven folks attended, pours were relatively small, allowing a limited opportunity to revisit the wines later in the evening. The following are brief observations of the wines opened.

White WOTN: 2007 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Meal
Red WOTN: 1985 Chateau de Beaucastel

Flight 1:

2000 J.L. Chave Hermitage Blanc – A clean drinking wine, the Chave was a little astringent at first. Once it opened up, noted some honey, raisin and plum. A good wine.

2002 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee De L’Oree Blanc – Similar to the Chave, noted some raisin, but not as strong. Got better in time with an appealing orange peel note.

2004 Chapoutier Chante Alouette Blanc – Very light bodied wine, that was a little floral and had distinct sherry notes. Least favorite white wine in the flight.

2007 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Meal – An awesome ripe wine with notes of banana and citrus as well as some sweetness. This full mouthfeel wine is ready to enjoy young!

Flight 2:

1985 Chateau de Beaucastel – Clean, cool, gamey, barnyard and wheat field, dried herb notes in an awesome seductive wine. By far, the best wine of the night.

1998 Chateau de Beaucastel – Rich, thick, cool and clean with leather and concentrated dark fruits, becoming cinnamon and plumy in time. Second best wine of the night.

1989 Chateau de la Font du Loup – Light body, yet pure and clean. This was a pretty grassy wine! Not a lot of complexity and overall, just ok.

Flight 3:

1995 Pegau Laurence – An elegant wine with notes of caramel and cassis. The mouthfeel was flat. Noted some greeness as well, but worked on this particular wine.

2001 Pegau Laurence – A flawed bottle. Some discussion occurred as to whether the wine was corked or heat damaged? Wet blanket, sappy and oxidized, it was terrible!

1999 Pegau Reserve – The wine of the flight, it was dense and gamey with firm acidity and an appealing menthol component. It drank young and hot, but everything in balance.

2004 Pegau Reserve – A close second for wine of the flight, it had brighter fruit and a little more spice than the other wines, yet remained a pure clean drinking wine.

Flight 4:

1999 Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie – Blueberry fruit dominated this wine, initially light, put on considerable weight. Had a very appealing menthol component to it, the wine of the flight.

1999 Gaec Gallet Cote Rotie – Another very nice wine, it was much more foxy and gamey than the others with underlying mint. A very solid showing.

1996 Allemand Cornas Reynard – A flawed bottle, it was musty and similar to the 01 Pegau Lawerence, was sapped of nearly all qualities that make for an enjoyable wine.

2006 Allemand Cornas Reynard – Tasted more like a California Zinfandel than a Rhone. Strong notes of white pepper and spice, plum and prunes. Did not enjoy the wine.

Whenever opening Rhones, always concerned about the presence of Brett (the new bandaid variant in particular). Have noted it many times over in various Rhones tasted to date. Being sensitive to it, pick it up in very small amounts. Was very fortunate to note none in any of the wines tasted!

Cheers to a very good time!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

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