Tag Archives: Aubert

Macaroni California Wine Lunch

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

Chardonnay Flight

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.

Pinot Intermission

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!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Small Wine Tasting

It might be said that numerous blog posts are written for an audience of one, the writer! In the case of this post, it is true, a record of wines we tasted for future reference. We recently attended a small sampling of wine in San Francisco. It was a tasting where nice wine was poured, however pour sizes were very small. In this type of tasting, you get a quick sense of the cellar provenance before purchase, and a snapshot view of the wine quality itself. In this particular instance, tasted each wine when first opened, and revisited the majority later in the evening. For Santa Rosa Fine Wine, it is invaluable to taste samples from a private cellar prior to purchase.

Excellent Drinking wines:

1959 Doudet Naudin Volnay
1970 Chateau Pichon Lalande
1978 Mongeard Mugneret Echezeaux
1978 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet
1982 Clos Rene
1984 Dominus
1986 Cos d’Estournel
1995 Harlan Estate
2000 Dalla Valle Maya
2005 Chateau Certan de May

Very Good Drinking Wines:

1975 Leoville Las Cases
1983 Ducru
1989 Hospices de Nuits Les Fleurieres
1993 Calera Jensen
1995 Lynch Bages
1997 Pio Cesare Barolo
2006 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay

Beyond these, some wines showed just ok: 1978 Jaffelin Chambolle Musigny, 1978 Lynch Bages, 1980 Heitz Martha and 1999 Gemstone Red. Sadly, some bottles did not show well: 1971 Jadot Gevrey Chambertin, 1976 Jordan Cabernet, 1983 Pierre Bouree Corton, 1991 Moraga Bel Air Cabernet, 1995 Chateau Gloria, 1997 Galante Blackjack Pasture Cabernet, 2002 Jones Family Cabernet, 2005 Chateau La Gomerie and 2007 Hartwell Reserve Cabernet. The not so great wines showed various degrees of oxidization, drying out, past maturity, or simply out of balance.

As a general rule, we value balance, age worthiness, structure, and complexity. We do not value, brett (bandaid on any level, barnyard when excessive), obvious flaws (corked, VA, ethyl acetate, etc.), one dimenional wines, as well as those that are past maturity, oxidized, or overly ripe with a plum, prune, raisin quality. Very small samples pose an evaluation challenge, but in the context of writing for yourself, it is certainly helpful!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
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/

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/

Jemrose and Agharta Wine Dinner

This past Friday, had dinner with a few local friends at Estate Restaurant in Sonoma. Estate’s executive chef, Chris Jones did an exceptional job creating a special six course meal to pair with our wines. Estate is located just off the Sonoma Square and is a highly recommended restaurant in the Northern California Wine Country.

For this dinner, we were joined by two special guests. First was Jim and Glora Mack of Jemrose. Have had the pleasure of tasting their lineup the last few years, and always impressed with the high quality of their wines. Second was Dan and Gloria Schaefer of Audelssa / Agharta. This was the first opportunity I have had to taste their wines, and after the dinner, was equally impressed with their wine.

In terms of the wine, the last one listed in each flight was served blind. It was a more informal dinner, so detailed notes were not taken at the time, however some brief observations follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay

Red Wine of the Night:
1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle

Starter Wine – The first wine of the evening was a wonderful 2007 Viognier from Jemrose Wines. One of the best Viogniers I have tasted in California, it was medium bodied, floral, and creamy with good acidity and exceptional balance.

2007 Jemrose Egret Pond Viognier

Chardonnay – An awesome flight, each Chardonnay was quite distinct from the others. The white wine of the flight, and night was an awesome 2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay. Had more balance, complexity and nuanced components than the other wines. One of the few wines revisited, it remained consistent over the span of the evening. In contrast, the 2003 Aubert Quarry was more creme brulee, paraffin in style, with very firm acidity. Suggest aging this wine a few years before opening. The 2004 Walter Hansel had a petrol, flinty nose, and could have easily been mistaken for a White Burgundy, a very interesting wine.

2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay
2003 Aubert Quarry Chardonnay
2004 Walter Hansel Chardonnay

Aged Cabernet – The 1981 Joseph Phelps Insignia and 1986 Groth Reserve were surprisingly similar. Both lean and light, menthol and a green, but appealing nonetheless with a little spice and earthiness. In contrast, the 1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour, was a big full bodied ripe Cabernet. Youthful in appearance, noted stewed raspberry fruit in a gorgeous drinking leathery and smoky wine. Considered the 1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour the wine of the flight.

1981 Joseph Phelps Insignia
1986 Groth Reserve
1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour

Cabernet/Blends – The 2006 Agharta Exhibit B was an amazing wine of the flight! A full bodied wine, that was highly complex and balanced. Noted dark fruits, chocolate, coffee and cigar. The 2006 Audelssa Reserve Cabernet was a nice drinking wine, clean and pure, but in difficult company next to the Exhibit B. In contrast, the 2005 Chateau d’Angludet Margaux was impossibly shut down. Initially the lightest wine in the group, slowly put on weight over time. While at first, the french wine was the least favorite wine in the flight, after some air, thought it second best.

2006 Audelssa Reserve Cabernet
2006 Agharta Exhibit B
2005 Chateau d’Angludet Margaux

Syrah/Grenache – The 1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle was wine of the flight. It was more nuanced and subtle than the powerful 2004 Agharta Syrah and 2006 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah. The 1989 Hermitage showed more minerality and earthiness, while the 2004 Agharta and 2006 Jemrose had huge, ripe, soaring fruit! All three wines showed very well, no question, the only difference being stylistic preference.

2004 Agharta Syrah
2006 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah
1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle

Dessert Wine – Similar to the Syrah and Cabernet flight, there was a distinct difference between the California and French wines. The Jemrose was a gorgeous wine, huge peach and citrus fruits, likewise, pure and clean. In contrast, the Doisy Vedrines was more mineral, subtle fruit, good acidity and balance that will carry the wine for many more years of aging. While enjoying both wines for very different reasons, slightly preferred the 2001 Chateau Doisy Vedrines Sauternes.

2008 Jemrose Egret Pond Late Harvest Viognier
2001 Chateau Doisy Vedrines Sauternes

Websites:

Jemrose – http://www.jemrosewines.com/
Audelssa – http://www.audelssa.com/
Agharta – http://www.aghartawines.com/
Estate – http://www.estate-sonoma.com/

Cheers to our good friends at Jemrose, Audelssa, and Agharta! Cannot say enough good things about the quality of their wine, and highly recommend them to our customers!

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