Tag Archives: Chalone

Old School Wine Lunch

This weekend we hosted a wine lunch for a good friend visiting from Germany. The theme was loosely defined as old school California, but as luck would have it, evolved into old school wine from several regions. Five of us were in attendance with ample time to revisit the wines over the afternoon and early evening. Impressions of the wines follow, captured the day after the tasting and sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Starter Flight

2009 Wittmann Westhoven Morstein Trocken Riesling GG – Highly nuanced, yet rich tropical fruit with a dry age worthy backbone. This stunning Reisling was exceptional. Focused and a worthy addition to any cellar.

2007 Domaine Carneros Ultra Brut – A lovely dry starter wine as guests arrived. It was crip and clean. The low / no dosage sparkling wine was chalky in texture and precise. A good palate cleanser to start the lunch.

Pinot Noir Flight

1982 Chalone Pinot – Have had the pleasure of drinking this wine several times in the past, and this bottle did not disappoint. Showed far more youthful than the 90 Burgundy with good minerality and delightful blue and red fruits. Balanced and complex, preferred it strongly over the Burgundy.

1990 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Damodes – Found this wine ok, not particularly great. Was in tough company next to the Chalone. Picked up primarily wet saddle leather and stale plum qualities that did not show balanced or complex. A simple straight forward Burgundy.

 Older Wine Flight

1925 Marques de Murrieta Casilillo Ygay Logrono Reserva Especial – A surprise wine served blind by our generous guest. Caramel, some butterscotch, deep rich dark chocolate and no distracting oxidative notes. On reveal, turns out it was a Rioja! Was highly surprised how well this extremely old wine held up. It drank beautifully, a flashy wine with a lot of character.

1966 Louis Martini Mountain Cabernet – Second time tasting the 66 Martini in the past few years, found this wine as good as the first. Youthful, balanced and highly age worthy. It kept giving layer after layer of complexity the longer it sat in the glass. No rush to open, will improve with additional bottle aging.

1974 Mayacamas Cabernet – Did not spent a lot of time with the Mayacamas, it was opened the previous day so just a small sample. Given it showed so well on day two with no signs of oxidation and balanced fruit, suspect it was exceptional on day one.

1987 California Flight

1987 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – Have tasted this wine easily a dozen plus times over the years, and this was one of the best examples tasted to date! It remains a youthful, mind blowing wine. Pure fruit, highly structured, subtle menthol finish, textbook old school California Cabernet. Have long considered this one of the top California Cabernet made in the exceptional 1987 vintage.

1987 Philip Togni Cabernet – First time tasting the 1987 Togni, found it interesting. A very good wine that showed slightly on the leaner side, with a slight green streak. The wine did not show the depth of other 1987 vintage California Cabernet, went away thinking it was best to drink this particular wine sooner rather than later. Knowing the Togni style of wine, it is entirely possible the wine was simply shut down.

Finishing Wine

1958 Pontet Canet – An amazing old Bordeaux to end the evening. Not oxidized, fuller bodied than the two Cabernet, with an intoxicating mix of exotic spices, earth, game, and dark fruits. Noted light bricking, this well stored bottle was nothing short of delightful.

What was particularly notworthy about the evening was that none of the bottles were flawed! Given their age, might expect one or two off bottles. All showed at, or exceeded expectations for a well stored bottle. A delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon, good food, wine and company!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

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
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

Aged California Dinner in Santa Rosa

A group of local friends and winemakers got together at Starks Steakhouse in Santa Rosa recently to enjoy an evening of aged California wine. Have been looking forward to this dinner for some time. There is something very special about 30 to 40 year old wines that continue to evolve nicely, and in the case of this dinner, taste surprisingly youthful!

Pictured at top was a really nice 1969 Hanzell Pinot Noir. Found the Pinot Noirs as a whole showed bigger, brighter, and more youthful fruit than the more toned down style of Cabernets. Brief notes follow of all wines opened, and are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Starter – A lovely start to the evening, the Vilmart Champagne served from Magnum was exceptional. Honey, crisp, and mildly sweet tropical fruits, thought it a compelling wine that kept improving over the span of the evening. It was a young wine that will continue to improve with age.

1997 Vilmart Champagne Couer de Cuvee Magnum

White Wine Starters – Before moving onto Pinot Noir, opened a few white starter wines. The Marcassin was outstanding and youthful. Noted oyster shell, some sweetness and smoke, butterscotch, but in no way oxidized, as well as flint that reminded me of a younger white burgundy. The wine was young, and will continue to age well for some time. In contrast, the Pinot Blanc was creamy with a fat mid palate and short finish. Thought it was slightly advanced.
1997 Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay
1992 Chalone Estate Pinot Blanc
California Pinot Noir Flight 1 – The two 1969 Pinot Noirs had youthful colors and were both high quality wines. The Hanzell was more raspberry fruit, cleaner, deep and lightly candied, while the Chalone was more grassy and cherry. With some nice menthol and spice, it put on considerable weight in time. Both wines were beautiful!
1969 Hanzell Pinot Noir
1969 Chalone Pinot Noir magnum
California Pinot Noir Flight 2– The 1979 La Crema was the cleaner wine, elegant, spice, good acidity, well rounded. In contrast, the 1977 Chalone was more dark cherry and blue fruits becoming leathery in time. The 1979 Chalone was youthful, raspberry, and jammy. Sadly, one bottle of 1977 Chalone was corked and replaced with a backup bottle.

1979 La Crema Vinera Pinot Noir Ventana Vineyard
1977 Chalone Estate Young Vines Pinot Noir
1979 Chalone Estate Pinot Noir

California Pinot Noir Flight 3– The 1994 Chalone was bright cherry, cola, and surprisingly fruit forward, yet had plenty of structure. Stylistically different, the 1982 Chalone was mineral, earthy, good balance, a pleasurable wine. Thought the 1986 Chalone was more barrel sample like, young, notable acidity, though slightly out of balance. The 1984 Chalone never quite came around, very firm acidity for some time.
1994 Chalone Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
1982 Chalone Estate Pinot Noir
1986 Chalone Estate Pinot Noir
1984 Chalone Estate Pinot Noir
1980 Chalone Estate Pinot Noir Magnum

California Cabernet Flight 1 – After some amazing Pinot Noir, moved on to Cabernet. The 1973 Martini Cabernet was meaty, medium bodied, youthful and had a perfect balance, a lovely classic California Cabernet. Similarly, the 1975 Martini was intense, darker red fruit, and a long finish. The 1974 Martini was surprising light and grassy, not to expectations from a great vintage. After so many bright, youthful Pinots, the wines came across as more toned down and took some time to adjust.

1973 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon
1975 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon
1974 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection

California Cabernet Flight 2 – The 1974 Charles Krug was a beautiful wine. From the Fay Vineyard, thought it was mushroom, meaty and earthy. The 1974 Ridge Monte Bello was nice, far more vanilla. A youthful wine, it showed well in the flight. The 1984 Caymus was surprising tannic, but still enjoyable. Sadly the 1984 Ridge Monte Bello was corked.

1974 Charles Krug Vintage Selection Lot F1 Cabernet Sauvignon
1974 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon

Post California Cabernet Flight – The 1970 Joseph Swam Gamay was beautiful. Inky thick, dark black licorice, a very long finish, almost had the consistency of a fortified wine. The Joseph Swan Zinfandel was plumy and in tough company next to the Gamay.

1970 Joseph Swan Gamay
1969-1971 Joseph Swan Zinfandel Lot Z

Late Harvest Finish– As if we did not taste enough already, opened a sweet end of meal wine! Thought the late harvest Beringer was very well made, balanced, paraffin, rich, and sweet. Plenty of age left in this wine.1986 Beringer Late Harvest Special Select Johannisberg Riesling

Cheers to the age worthiness of California wines and a highly enjoyable evening!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine