Tag Archives: Fevre

California Syrah

We recently got together with wine drinking friends in Sonoma to enjoy an evening of California Syrah. Our reference point for exceptional California Syrah has always been the wines of Sine Qua Non. Over the last few years however, we have become increasing interested in those coming out of the Las Madres Vineyard in Carneros. Vie, Eric Kent, Myriad and Apsara have year after year made fantastic wines that are not only enjoyable, but highly affordable. The night was a treat for us as we got a chance to try several wines never tasted before.

Given the number of wines, and the pace tasted, observations are a quick snapshot impression. In this type of tasting, generally gives us a sense of whether it is a producer we should keep an eye on to establish a track record for future purchases. Brief observations follow. All wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

White Wine of the Night – 2008 Domaine William Fevre Preuses
Red Wine of the Night – 2011 Apsara Las Madres Syrah

Starter Wines – Of the two white wines, the Preuses was the standout. Some initial funk on the nose that blew off quickly, a crisp, balanced, and youthful good drinking Chablis. Nothing out of place, drank very well. The Wayfarer Chardonnay was a completely different taste profile, youthful and floral, a good everyday drinking Chardonnay. The Wayfarer Pinot was ripe, creamy and one dimensional, not a very good showing.

2008 Domaine William Fevre Preuses
2012 Wayfarer Chardonnay
2012 Wayfarer Pinot Noir

Syrah Flight 1 – The 2011 Apsara was spectacular, easily our wine of the night. Tasted at the beginning and end of the evening, was the most balanced, complex and interesting wine. Showed consistent to previous tastings, clean blue and black fruits, oily texture, and fantastic structure. A wine that should age and improve for a considerable length of time. A close second of the evening was the Eric Kent Las Madres Syrah. It held true to the cold climate, Las Madres profile. A perfectly balanced and nuanced wine. Sadly, the Lois Rae was badly corked.

2011 Apsara Las Madres Syrah
2011 Eric Kent Las Madres Syrah
2011 Lois Rae Las Madres Syrah

Syrah Flight 2 – Our first time tasting Sonklin Cellars wines, It was fun to compare three vintages in a row. 2010 was our favorite. Round, balanced and approachable. Found it a nice easy drinking Syrah. Styllistically different, enjoyed the 2011 next with its very expressive nose. Finally, the 2009. It was tight at first and appeared to be lean and disjointed. After tasting later in the evening, think it was simply shutdown and needed a good bit of air to open up.

2010 Sonkin Cellars Persona
2011 Sonkin Cellars Persona
2009 Sonkin Cellars Persona

Syrah Flight 3 – A more challenging flight, found the wines “interesting”. The Kale was ok, earthy and medium bodied. The Alban, barrel sample like and showed potential up front, shortly thereafter, heat took center stage. Did not spend as much time with the Campesino as we would have liked given food served. The wine maker is very likeable, a wine we need to revisit over a long evening to fully and fairly evaluate.

2011 Kale Syrah
2006 Alban Pandora
2011 Campesino Syrah

Syrah Flight 4 – Another challenging flight, probably my least favorite of the evening. The Kale and Rhys came across overripe with plum/prune qualities we did not find particularly appealing. In contrast to the Kale and Rhys, the Thirty Seven was brighter, but nothing of note captured our attention. With a personal bais toward the cooler climate Syrahs, was not gravitating toward the later wines / flights as I had hoped.

2010 Kale Syrah
2007 Thirty Seven Syrah
2008 Rhys Syrah

Syrah Flight 5 – Both wines showed somewhat similar to the previous flight from a taste profile standpoint. The Peidrasassi was the more dense of the two wines. This and the previous two flights suffered a bit due to food at the table, and to a certain extent, personal stylistic preference. Have never found value in wines that lean in a plum, prune, and raisin direction.

2011 Herman Story Syrah
2007 Peidrasassi Mr Smith Syrah

Syrah Flight 6 – The Favia left an immediate positive impression. Bright clean blue fruits, was a nice very well made wine. In time, picked up a sweetness that was a touch off putting but did not perceive it as much, the longer it sat in the glass. Would be a good producer to revisit. Have had some excellent Favia in the past. In contrast to it, the Copain was dusty and lean. Did not particularly enjoy this wine.

2007 Favia Syrah
2006 Copain Syrah

A fun evening sampling a lot of wines we do not regularly drink, but perhaps should!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

 

Double Blind Burgundy Dinner

Recently, we organized a Double Blind Burgundy Dinner with California ringers at the Fifth Floor Restaurant in San Francisco. While we do not typically enjoy blind or double blind tastings, as organizer, it was fascinating to observe the table discussion and what drove folks to think a wine was Burgundy vs California, not to mention discussions around personal preference.

As a result of the dinner, a few observations. First, despite notes from professional reviewers that say a California wine is made in a Burgundian style, nearly everyone pegged all ringers as distinctly California! The most challenging ringer was the 1998 Stony Hill Chardonnay. Second, some of the wines that expected to show best did not, and those with lower expectations showed surprising well. The double blind format removed any hint of label bias. Finally, the biggest surprise, given 15 bottles of wine among 7 people, two folks started the dinner with a beer and martini!

None of the wines were decanted, and given the number of folks attending the dinner, pours were good sized to allow a full evaluation of the wine over time. Before reveal at each flight, we guessed California vs. Burgundy, and ranked the wines in order of personal preference. Wines are sorted in the order of my personal preference.

Top White Wine:
1998 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet

Top Red Wine:
1990 Jadot Bonnes Mares

Flight 1

2010 St Francis Intatto Chardonnay – Lemon, cream, round, a nice wine that should be opened young. This was a highly afforable unoaked Chardonnay that I enjoyed more than the group as a whole. Half the group thought it Burgundy, half California.

2004 Fevre Clos – Moderate browning in color and heavily oxidized. Have tasted this wine 3+ times in the past year or so, and nothing remotely similar to this bottle. Expected tight acidity, this bottle was completely flawed. Very surprised how poorly it showed.

Flight 2

1998 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet – Easily the top wine of the flight for everyone. Young in color and style, highly reduced, flinty, tar, this was a gorgeous wine that did not move from opening through the next three hours. More masculine than the 1998 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet previously tasted. Nearly everyone guessed it blind as Leflaive.

1998 Stony Hill Chardonnay – Light browning, but surprisingly firm acidity. Chablis like in style, combined with a floral quality, thought it was very nice. Several folks thought it was oxidized. While certainly mature, thought it showed to expectations. A good mature California Chardonnay.

1998 Remoissenet Montrachet – Butterscotch, hint of acidity, tea, more browning than the Stony Hill, and more advanced. It was drinking less than expectations. Having tasted the wine three plus times, this bottle showed just ok.

Flight 3

1999 Jadot Clos St. Jacques – Game, leather, excellent balance and complexity. A beautiful wine with nothing out of place. Very good drinking wine right now, not minding a wine on the younger side, could easily age for many years.

2003 Kistler Vineyard Pinot – Bright candied red fruits, front and mid palate strength, not much on the finish. It was a good wine from a great California Pinot vintage, easily identified as California by nearly everyone.

1999 Jadot Estournelles St. Jacques – Corked. The underlying material appears to be very nice. Reminiscent of the 1999 Jadot Clos St. Jacques but more earthy and coarse.

Flight 4

1999 Rousseau Charmes Chambertin – A nice ripe wine, cherry liquor, first impression was it had no finish. Initially thought it was just an ok wine, with time in the glass, improved considerably. The vast majority thought this was the wine of the flight.

1996 Ponsot Chapelle Chambertin – Game meats, sweaty leather, nice balance. Initially thought this was the wine of the flight, but in time, came to think the Rousseau showed better. The Ponsot and Rousseau both rated in the 85 point range by Burghound, they were both appreciated more than the 93 and 92 rated wines that follow.

2000 Dugat Py Charmes Chambertin – Youthful, somewhat barrel sample like, but with a highly distracting bandaid brett. Expected this to easily be the top wine of the flight, turned out to be a disappointment. Highly anticipated tasting this wine, unfortunately it did not show well.

2006 Rhys Alpine Hillside Pinot – Quickly identified by everyone as distinctly California Pinot Noir, it was not a strong showing. Youthful and barrel sample like, clean and bright fruit, did not find anything particularly appealing about the wine, nor did the rest of the group. It did not show well.

Flight 5

1990 Jadot Bonnes Mares – Fantastic! This was a great wine! Thought it very young with rich ripe fruit, excellent structure and bold in style. If there was a Burgundy that showed more California like, this was the wine. Still a good bit of upside to further cellaring. Wine of the night!

2006 Marcassin Blue Slide Pinot – Blue fruits, barrel sample like, too young and unresolved. Difficult to tell where this wine is going in the long term, not particularly expressive or dense right now, a good wine to revisit with age.

1999 Joblot Givry 1st Cru Cellier Aux Moines – Gamey, light body, not a long going on, but all together not unpleasant either.

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Burgundy in the City

Got together with a small group of friends from the San Francisco Bay area recently to enjoy some Burgundy. Among a very enjoyable group of wines, thought the 1990 Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes showed best overall. It had all the qualities of an exceptional wine, balance, complexity, good structure, and a seductive style that kept making you want to go back for more!

Another highly noteworthy and enjoyable wine, the 2004 Domaine Chevalier Corton Charlemagne. It showed extremely well and similar to the red, had all the hallmarks of an exceptional wine in terms of balance, complexity as well as subtle nuances that made it both interesting and thrilling to revisit over a few hours. Tasting 2004 and 2005 White Burgundies regularly, continue to prefer 2004 for drinking in the near term.

As with previous blog entries, brief observations of all wines opened follow, sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Starter

1996 Bollinger RD – Yeasty, nice acidity, lemon rind, dough, meyer lemon, a young Champagne that kept improving over the span of the evening. A very exceptional wine.

White Burgundy Flight 1

2004 Fevre Les Clos- Very shutdown, firm acidty, mineral. No where near ready to enjoy, needs years to resolve. Took hours for it to even begin to show its potential.

2000 Fevre Valmur – Right out of the gate, highly enjoyable. Clean, pure, good balance, also mineral. In about an hour, started to decline and became less interesting.

2002 Ried Klaus Jamek – Dry, yet well rounded, paraffin and creamy in texture. Little experience with Austrian wines, but this showed very well.

White Burgundy Flight 2

2004 Domaine Chevalier Corton Charlemagne – Well structured, big wine, excellent power and balance, slightly flinty and highly age worthy. A gorgeous wine.

2005 H. Boillot Corton Charlemagne – More floral than the earthy Chevalier, sweet, big, though young and unresolved. Great long term potential after years of cellar aging.

1986 P. Dubreuil-Fontaine Corton Charlemagne – Wax, honey, oxidized, drinkable, but past maturity. Opened more as a curiosity than anything, did not show very well.

1988 Pierre Bitouzet Corton Charlemagne – Oxidized and undrinkable.

Mystery Wine

2000 Williams Seylem Allen Vineyard Chardonnay – A blind ringer, correctly guessed as aged Chardonnay. Fully mature, creme brulee, nice minerality and balance, a good drinking wine that indicated 16% ABV, but did not show heat.

Red Burgundy Flight 1

1990 Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes – Gamey, red and blue fruits, menthol, an absolutely gorgeous nuanced and near perfect drinking wine. The wine of the night!

1995 Lafon Volnay Santenots du Milieu – Black pepper, rich big fruit, took a long time for the wine to open up, when it did, excellent balance, showed very well.

1990 Lafon Volnay Santenots du Milieu – Wet saddle leather, sappy, full mouthfeel and firm tannin, a nice wine that should improve with additional cellaring.

1995 Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes – High acidity, like the 1995 Lafon, took a long time for the wine to open up. In this case, it never quite came around. Continue to cellar for years.

Red Burgundy Flight 2

1980 Roty Charmes Chambertin – Chewy texture, earth, mineral, leather, with a touch of appealing green. Mature and very enjoyable, showed better than expectations.

2001 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny – Firm acidity, simply in style, not a lot to the wine that made it particularly appealing.

Sweet Ending

1990 Huet Vouvray Moelleux – Sadly, did not take notes on this wine. Vaguely recall a very pleasant end of evening wine. One of those instances of, a small group and lots of wine!

Cheers to a highly enjoyable evening that will hopefully repeat itself again!

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

Volnay and Pommard Burgundy Dinner

Last week we got together with friends at Firefly restaurant in San Francisco to enjoy a Burgundy Dinner focused on wines from Volnay, Pommard and Chablis.

With the exception of two corked bottles, the overall wine quality was high. As sometimes happens in local wine dinners, a special wine is brought you don’t typically see. In this case, a still red wine from Champagne! While common in California where Sparkling Producers routinely sell Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, it is uncommon in Champagne. Thanks to a generous guest, the first time we have tasted this wine!

All wines opened, along with brief observations follow. Normally all wines are popped and poured, this time however, the red wines were double decanted. All wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

White WOTN: 2001 Dauvissat Les Clos
Red WOTN: 1985 Joseph Voillot Volnay Champans

Chablis Flight 1

2002 Brocard Valmur – The wine of the flight, was creamy, lemon cake, and medium bodied with a fat mid palate. With a light spice on the palate, had nearly perfect balance!

2002 Fevre Valmur – Dusty, lemon and orange citrus, as well as exotic tropical fruits. Initially thought it was going to be wine of the flight, but in time, thought it the Brocard.

2000 Raveneau Valmur – Corked!

Chablis Flight 2

2001 Dauvissat Les Clos – A powerful, very big Chablis, focused, firm acidity, nice citrus fruits, kept getting better over the span of the evening. Would continue to cellar.

1996 Brocard Les Clos – Similar to the Brocard Valmur, creamy, however sweeter, holding up very well and nicely balanced, but should drink within the next year or two, fully mature.

1990 Dauvissat Les Preuses – The wine is on the downward slope of maturity, somewhat sherried, oxidized, waxy, not disappointing, but not thrilling either. Just an ok wine.

Intermission Wine

2002 Bollinger cote aux Enfant – Special and quite rare, we were treated to a still red wine from Champagne! The Bollinger was dry and backward in style initially, and remained so for a few hours, tannic, black tar and burnt rubber, it was highly reductive in style. After a few hours, some bright cherry fruit started to emerge, ultimately evolving into a wine that was more thick, rich red fruit liquor in quality three plus hours later. Somewhat one dimensional in style as it opened up, would not consider it a great wine, but would definitely consider it a unique wine!

Burgundy Flight 1

1990 Comte Armand Pommard Clos de Epeneaux – A huge wine, young dark fruits, fat, dense, cola and cherry, a beautiful well integrated wine. One of the top wines of the night!

1988 Comte Armand Pommard Clos de Epeneaux – Far more exotic, game meats, yet also well balanced, a very close second wine of the flight, but for very different reasons.

1996 Comte Armand Pommard Clos de Epeneaux – Not a good showing for this wine, bretty, freshly opened plastic bandaid, never really improved over time. Disappointing.

Burgundy Flight 2

1985 Joseph Voillot Volnay Champans – A stunning, exceptional wine! Leather, exotic well integrated blue and red fruits, subtle texture, ready to enjoy now, but plenty of structure to allow additional aging, a near perfect wine worth seeking out!

1999 d’Angerville Volnay Champans – Very young drinking, barrel sample like, cassis, spice, cinnamon, forest floor and firm acidity. The wine should be aged considerably longer before opening.

1999 Potel Volnay Taillepieds – Dark fruits, green, somewhat similar style to the 1999 d’Angerville Volnay Champans, however less resolved. Continue to age for years.

Burgundy Flight 3

1999 d’Angerville Volnay Clos des Ducs – A beautiful, big, age worthy wine with nice spice, earth and chocolate notes. Plenty of life ahead of the wine, second best of the evening.

1995 d’Angerville Volnay Clos de Ducs – Corked!

Cheers to a highly enjoyable evening!

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

Impromptu Burgundy Tasting

Last week, attended an impromptu tasting of Burgundy in Sonoma. Most of the time the local tasting group gets together, we spend a good 3 or 4 hours with a group of wines, revisiting frequently through the evening. In doing so, you get a very strong sense of a wines age worthiness, not to mention, the overall quality.

In this instance however, it was a more abbreviated tasting over a shorter period of time, and in turn, more challenging than usual to evaluate the wines. This night, thought the 97 Jadot Bonnes Mares was wine of the night, more for what it will be in the future than what it is right now. Had the opposite view been taken, what was enjoyable right now, a legitimate argument could be made the 1976 Pierre Gelin Fixin Les Hervelets was the leading wine! Brief impressions of all wines opened follow:

White Wine of the Night:
1992 Bernard Morey Les Caillerets

Red Wine of the Night:
1997 Jadot Bonnes Mares

White Burgundy Flight

1992 Bernard Morey Les Caillerets – Yeasty with tropical fruits, this gorgeous full bodied wine was deep straw colored with exceptional balance and a very long finish. The white wine of the night, was ready to drink immediately with no signs of oxidation.

2002 Jadot Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres – Floral, grapefruit, a medium bodied wine had little to no finish. The acidity was firm, and given more time, sure it would have shown better. Second best white wine of the flight.

2005 Fevre Bougros Chablis – Lemon and minerals, young, tight, and firm acidity. Did not open up in the span of an hour. Was out of place among the other two wines, but would show very well next to other Chablis and a lot of patience.

Red Burgundy Flight:

1976 Pierre Gelin Fixin Les Hervelets – Heavily toasted oak on the nose, dusty, animal, and rhubarb, the wine was initially closed, and balanced out in a little over an hour. The wine had a lot of structure, and suspect it would have continued to get better in time.

1995 Jean Marc Pavelot Savigny Les Beaune Narbantons – Mushroom, cola, clean, and light, pleasant enough drinking wine, was not a standout, just an ok drinking wine.

1997 Jadot Bonnes Mares – Subdued cherry and menthol, very tannic and young. The wine was decanted, but it did not budge over the short span of time tasted. Restrained, but still powerful, thought it was the best wine of night, slightly ahead of the 1976 Pierre Gelin.

1999 Alex Gambal Les Malconsorts – Blue fruits, ripe, pepper and spice, it was a youthful tasting wine. The funky, dirty nose, gave no hint of the clean palate. A very interesting wine.

1999 Dujac Chambolle Musigny – Blue fruits, cigar smoke, an easy drinking pleasant wine, but was not as nuanced or complex as other wines. Thought it slightly oxidized.

2003 Geantet Pansiot Charmes Chambertin – Tire rubber, powder texture, dry and tannic, this was a pleasant but highly backward wine. Given it was opened a few hours before our tasting and how closed it was, should be aged considerably longer.

Bonus Wine

2003 du Caillou Les Quartz CdP – Not a fan of this wine, one taste, noted a predominate prune and plum based wine, similar to other 2003 CdP wines opened in the past. It is purely stylistic, do not find this type of wine interesting or appealing.

Cheers to another excellent time with our local Burgundy friends!

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