Being part of a good wine tasting group is one of the great pleasures of being a wine connoisseur. You share good wine, food, company and conversation with like minded folks regularly over a long afternoon or evening. As someone in the wine business, there is the additional benefit of developing wine data points over time. Sometimes these data points show a trend having revisited in the past, at other times, a first experience. In this particular case, it was a lot of first experiences. The theme was all California, a somewhat uncommon theme given this group, many of which frequent the Sonoma and Napa Valley but have decidely European palates. As with other tasting notes, wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight. None of the wines were decanted, and none showed any flaws. Given a smaller group, there was plenty of opportunity to revisit wines over the span of the afternoon
2004 Walter Hanzel Cahill Lane Chardonnay – Not your typically California Chardonnay, have become increasingly more interested in Walter Hanzel wines the more we taste. Reminiscent of a Domaine Lefliave, noted a highly appealing flinty nose, rich but not over the top fruit, and a subtle citrus finish. Will benefit with additional age, but could easily be enjoyed now.
2009 Aubert Lauren Chardonnay – A wine that could not be more different than the Hanzel, big forward fruit, exotic tropical fruits, yeasty, but also one dimentional. Start of the bottle to end, maintained a consistent taste profile that was good and decidedly Californian. Think the Aubert suffered a bit next to the exceptional Hanzel, nonetheless, a well made easy drinking Chardonnay.
2001 Rochioli West Block Pinot – At first, thought the wine was lean and charmless. With time in the glass, far more interesting and expressive. Think it was just shutdown and needed more time to come around. Tight and compact, would definitely benefit with more cellar aging. It was challenging to access after the Aubert.
California Cab Flight 1
1984 Stags Leap SLV Cabernet – The wine of the afternoon, the Stags Leap was nothing short of stunning. Perfectly mature with no signs of decline, full bodied without being a fruit bomb, structure that lightly presents itself in the background adding character without distracting. A refined, balanced and complex wine made in an old school Calfiornia style. Astute customers reading this blog might realize we have ten bottles left in stock, and from the same case as this bottle sampled.
1985 Joseph Phelps Eisele Cabernet – Another outstanding Cabernet, the Joseph Phelps showed far more youthful than the Stags Leap. This wine easily took an hour plus to even begin to show the slight beginning of its full character. Dark fruit, menthol, and highly balanced. It is a shame that Joseph Phelps let this vineyard get away, they did an exceptional job with Eisele. If opened in the near term, best to enjoy over a long evening as it will likely change considerably over time.
California Cab Flight 2
1996 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – A clean, textbook mid 90’s California Cabernet. There was nothing out of place with this wine. Have sampled quite a few 96 California Cabernet, and this was typical of the vintage, has been ready to drink for years and will remain so for many years to come. Very enjoyable.
NV Stags Leap Golden Rectangle – First time having tasted this wine, big fruit made in a modern California style, however, lacking the heat that sadly has become all to common. The wine did show a good bit of oak, a little more than I would typically appreciate, there was ample tannin to carry this wine on for many years. An age worthy wine that would benefit with additional cellaring.
A fun afternoon focused around the enjoyable wines of California!
Santa Rosa Fine Wine