Tag Archives: Beaulieu Vineyards

2013 BV Annual Older Vintage Tasting

Recently we attended Beaulieu Vineyards Older Vintage Tasting. As someone who has sampled nearly every vintage of Georges de Latour since the mid-1960s, it is always a treat to revisit several older wines from this iconic producer to see how they are holding up over time.

For this tasting, pour sizes were limited, no notes were taken during the actual tasting. Having had the wines so many times, was a relatively straight forward assessment given previous data points. Brief impressions follow the day after the tasting:

1973 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – The best showing of the 1973 we have tasted to date. Some bricking, carmel, butterscotch and light bodied fruit well in balance. The finish is mature and subtle, a good showing for the wine.

1975 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – The same taste profile as the 1973 however a little more density to the fruit. Fully mature, it has held together beautifully and drinking well now. Do not expect it to improve with cellar age, enjoyable now and many years forward.

1981 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – The most mature drinking of all the wines tasted, and from a challenging vintage, the wine showed more oxidative qualities than the 1973 and 1975. Rounder in style, it should be opened in the near future.

1986 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – A fun wine, have always loved the 1986. This bottle did not disappoint. I kept the sample in my glass a little longer than other samples. Had some funkiness up front that blew off quickly and turned into a beautiful well balanced wine. This wine will continue to age gracefully for years.

1990 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – My favorate Georges de Latour of the tasting, found this one textbook 1990 California Cabernet. Bigger fruit, more leather and game, perfect balance, a wine that will keep giving back new dimensions the longer you drink it over time.

2006 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – 2006 and 2008 have been two of our least favorite vintages of the last few decades, BV however is one of those rare exceptions to the rule. A fantastic wine, delicate, restrained and consisent. Think the wine will turn into something special with additional cellar aging.

Along with the Georges de Latour, tasted several of the Clone wines we do not have a long of track record of tasting, but certainly found them noteworthy.

1997 Beaulieu Vineyards Clone 4 Reserve Cabernet – An excellent vintage, 1997 is always challenging to access because most of the top California wines are just starting to come around now. This wine was no different, tight and restrained. A good wine to revisit in a few years and see how it is coming around.

1999 Beaulieu Vineyards Clone 6 Reserve Cabernet – Round fruit, easy drinking, a pleasant wine. No signs of oxidation, but mature and ready to drink.

2004 Beaulieu Vineyards Clone 4 Reserve Cabernet – Next to the 1990 Georges de Latour, the top wine of the tasting. Impeccable balance, subtle nuanced characteristics, excellent medium bodied fruit, would love to sit down over a long evening.

When we reflect back on all the BV wines tasted over the years, cannot help but consider them one of the original California Cults, in the likes of Heitz Martha, Montelena, Caymus and a few other long time producers.

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine



Commonwealth Dinner

A local wine tasting group we are part of recently got together in San Francisco for dinner at Commonweath restaurant. The food was spectacular, and included Black River Ossetra Caviar, Salmon Tartare, Corn Custard Lobster, Veel Cheeks and a few enjoyable desserts. A highly recommended restaurant in the Bay Area!

Wine for the dinner was focused on Burgundy varietals from the United States and France. While nearly all wines were enjoyable, the standout was a bottle of 1945 Beaulieu Vineyards Beaumont Pinot Noir. It was remarkable how youthful the wine looked and tasted. The label said Pinot Noir, but suspect the wine included Gamay, Petite Sirah, or other varietals. Suspicion aside as to the exact varietal makeup, it was an outstanding wine. Brief observations follow of all wine opened.

Champagne Starter – The Krug was extremely young, firm acidity with hardwood, orange citrus fruits and a pleasant yeasty component. Could continue to age this gorgeous wine for a significant period of time. In contrast, the Bollinger RD was far more mature and a little funky. Tending to prefer Champagne on the younger side, did not show as well for my particular palate.

1990 Bollinger RD
1996 Krug

Flight 1 – The Leflaive was fully mature and resolved, in a sweet spot right now. Was interesting to taste next to the Williams Seylem, the color of which was significantly browning, yet showed surprisingly well, sweet, floral and butterscotch on the palate. The Bouchard was very young and tight, could easily continue to age this excellent wine for years. As a whole, loved the flight. At this point, a Ceritas Chardonnay was opened. Had it been served blind, would have guessed a Chablis! Plenty of Oyster shell, steely, and firm acidity, an age worthy wine.

1998 Domaine Leflaive Pucelles
1998 Williams Seylem Hirsch Chardonnay
2002 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne
2009 Ceritas Ritchie Chardonnay

Flight 2 – The wine of the night, was absolutely surprised by the 45 BV Beaumont Pinot. Expected this to be a wildcard wine, probably dry leather, light mineral, and light fruit or perhaps just oxidized and long past maturity, it tasted youthful, structured, full bodied and highly complex, with earth, minerals and an abundance of well integrated dark fruits. The 67 Burgundy was more strawberry, stemy, soy, a cool, clean enjoyable wine. Sadly, the 79 was completely oxidized and undrinkable.

1945 Beaulieu Vineyards Beaumont Pinot Noir
1967 Beaulieu Vineyards Burgundy
1979 Beaulieu Vineyards Burgundy

Flight 3 – All three wines in this flight were excellent. The Bonnes Mares showed blue fruits in contrast to the raspberry fruits in the Cazetiers, and in contrast to both, the Clos Vougeot was leathery and dry. Given the age on the Clos Vougeot, it was a vibrant wine that maintained some subtle sweet ripe fruit.

1964 Jadot Clos Vougeot
1985 Bouree Gevery Cazetiers
1999 Jadot Bonnes Mares

Flight 4 – The Chalone was the youngest tasting wine in this flight, huge tart jammy raspberry fruit, showed superior to a previous time having had the wine. The 99 Calera had the best balance of the group with subtle all spice and steminess. Sadly, thought the 97 Calera was a little disjointed and astringent, it never quite came together. A mystery wine, the 05 Yarra Yering was guessed early on as Australian, big ripe fruit wine from a solid producer.

1980 Chalone Pinot Noir
1997 Calera Mills Pinot Noir
1999 Calera Jensen Pinot Noir
2005 Yarra Yering Pinot Noir

Collectively, the wines for this dinner were very impressive and paired with equally impressive food. Along with delightful company, it was a highly enjoyable wine dinner!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine

Beaulieu Vineyards 110th Anniversary

This weekend, attended a special event at Beaulieu Vineyards to celebrate their 110th year anniversary! As part of the celebration, took part in a Georges de Latour Retrospective and Reserve Room Tasting, as well as an evening 4 course dinner featuring several additional years of Georges de Latour Reserve Cabernet.

Having tasted a significant fraction of Georges de Latour wines over the past 40 years, looked forward to the opportunity to revisit several of the wines and see how they were holding up with age. What better way appreciate the ageworthiness than to taste excellent provenance wines directly from the cellars of Beaulieu Vineyards! As in previous years, the Anniversary celebration marked the release of the current vintage of Georges de Latour, and in this case, the much anticipated 2007! Brief observations follow of several wines tasted:

Georges de Latour Retrospective Tasting

1970 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Dry tea leaves, smoke, tar, cigar ash, wheat, sugar and caramel, a compelling wine that is clearly aged, but still enjoyable.

1980 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Brown sugar, raspberry, currant, dry leaves, celery and tobacco. More dense and concentrated than the 1970 with a bigger finish.

1986 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Blackberry, cranberry, wheat, and vanilla. Was tight and elegant, one of the most closed examples of the 1986 I have tasted to date.

1992 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Bright red fruits, tannic, and tea leaves. A nice wine that will show better with cellar aging. Did not show as well as other vintages.

2002 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Currant, vanilla, concentrated, extracted, low acidity, dry tannin and far sweeter than older vintages. Opened up quickly in the glass.

2007 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Ripe, sweet, bright cherry and strawberry. Soft tannin with huge soaring candied fruit. A wine that could easily be enjoyed young.

2009 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour Barrel Sample – Blue fruits and Cabernet Franc like in quality, was rough, course, and primary, too early to predict the future.

Anniversary Dinner at Rutherford House

1987 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Dark fruits, minerals, dry leaves and spice. Had a lot in common with the 1986, more closed. The wine will age gracefully for many years.

1997 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Black fruits, considerably shutdown, not as expressive or nuanaced as other years. A wine to revisit in 5 to 10 years.

2007 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour – Same observations from the retrospective tasting, the wine was a wonderful end of meal wine to drink into the evening.

A Special Dinner Wine

1968 Beaulieu Vineyards Beaumont Pinot Noir – Brought a bottle to share with our table at dinner. Youthful in color, the wine was absolutely amazing. Like so many excellent aged Grand Cru Burgundy, the wine showed earthiness, mineral, game meats, dry spice and a rich texture, combined with no signs of oxidation. Opened at the beginning of dinner, this awesome wine remained consistent over the span of the evening!

In the past 40 years, Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour wines have decidedly evolved. When I reflect back on tasting the wines of the 1960’s through 2000’s, see a movement from a French driven approach, wines that benefit from extended cellar aging, to those of today, as seen in the 2007 that are uniquely Californian, ripe, concentrated, monolithic and able to fully enjoy young. Having tasted the 2007 several times this weekend, it will no doubt compete with other modern high quality, high end California Cabernet producers!

Cheers to our friends at Beaulieu Vineyards for hosting a very special evening, and congratulations on 110 years of successful winemaking!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine