Tag Archives: Joseph Swan

Double Blind Bungalow 44 Wine Dinner

This past week, got together with friends at Bungalow 44 in Mill Valley for a Double Blind Wine Dinner. With the exception of the organizer, we knew it would be California and French wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Typically not a fan of blind or double blind dinners, this one turned out to be very well organized, interesting and educational. The discussion was fun, guessing the specific wines, years, and regions. In the course of the tasting, found it fascinating how different we each perceived the quality of one wine other another.

Brief notes follow of all wines opened. Within each flight, wines are sorted in order of personal preference, prior to reveal.

Flight 1 – Chardonnay

2005 Rochioli Rachael’s Vineyard – A lovely flinty, sulfur nose that immediately suggested it was a Burgundy A fat, full bodied, creamy sweet palate pointed to California. In the end, guessed it as a Burgundy. Rarely encounter this fantastic flinty nose on a California wine, and guessed our organizer might try to challenge us with a White Burg with California qualities. Thought it was a highly complex gorgeous wine.

2005 Remi Jobard Meursault Genevrieres – Leaner in style, lemon citrus, youthful and tart, a nice firm wine with a touch of cardboard and astringency, but improved considerably with time in the glass. It came across like a 2009 Ceritas Ritchie Chardonnay, a California producer wine made in a Burgundian style. Guessing from this point forward became far easier, went with original instincts!

Flight 2 – Pinot Noir

2003 Kistler Cuvee Catherine – Initially, it was very primary and youthful, it quickly came together. Dry raspberry fruit, in time becoming lightly candied, it kept putting on weight over time. The mouthfeel was full and coating, without being excessive. Overall, it was a highly age worthy and highly complex, the top wine of the flight.

1996 Maillard Corton Renards – At first, thought it was a rather simple wine with light blue fruits and not a lot else going on, with time in the glass however, made a complete turn around. Subtle sweet cake like and barnyard notes, intertwined with blue and black fruits made this highly interesting.

1997 Joseph Swan Trenton Estate Pentagon Reserve – Picked up more cherry fruit in this wine, more concentrated and ripe than the Corton Renards, also, more notable funk. This was a very interesting wine, and enjoyed it a great deal.

2003 Vincent Girardin Charmes Chambertin – Initially liked this wine, twigs and barnyard, easy drinking. In time, became funky, bretty, and vanilla, it seems to have lost the initial qualities that made it interesting. Do not think this one will age particularly well, my least favorite wine of the tasting.

Flight 3 – Cabernet Sauvignon

2000 Lynch Bages – Dusty, Pichon Lalande like, highly age worthy and complex. This was my top wine of the flight and tasting, a complete Bordeaux that had everything in place. Have had this wine at least 5 or 6 times now, and find it highly consistent.

1989 Montrose – Gamey, foxy, earthy, young, sweaty, animal and exotic. Similar to the Lynch Bages, had this wine numerous times, and this specific example showed more youthful than previous times tasted. A fantastic wine, the second best wine of the tasting.

2001 Bond Melbury – Cherry liquor, bright, thick and full bodied, initially thought it was a Shafer Hillside, but then it took on some vanilla qualities, which I never associated with the Hillside Select. Definitely a wine to drink with a big steak, it was huge!

1992 Ridge Monte Bello – Chalky, aged, mineral, sweet, a little simple at first, nuanced and complex later. Really enjoyed this wine, and was more inclined to think it was a younger French wine over an older California. This flight as a whole showed better than the previous two.

Bonus Wines

1991 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet – A wonderful end of meal wine, black fruits, compact, complex, and balanced, had everything that reminded me why I love 1991 California Cabernet.

2009 Oro Puro Vineyards Late Harvest – Thought this was the best Oro Puro I have ever tasted. Bright peach, clean, full bodied, mouth coating, with wonderful balance. Think this will turn out to be one of their most age worthy wines!

Overall, this was a fantastic dinner, and like all good dinners, it ended in planning the next one, tentatively scheduled to be Rhone! Cheers to a great evening!

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

Fifth Floor Burg Dinner

Being part of a really good wine tasting group has to be one of the great joys of a fine wine collector! You enjoy numerous nice meals, share a variety of interesting wines, and enjoy the company of folks with a similar passion! We got together recently with just such a group. It initiated in Santa Rosa, and has since moved the majority of its tastings to San Francisco. The tasting group is made up of an experienced, sauvy group of well tasted individuals, thoughtful and generous with both their wine and knowledge. The group held its most recent tasting at a fantastic restaurant called the Fifth Floor at the Hotel Palomar. The meal has to rank among one of the best ones we have had this year!

As with previous times tasting with the group, we had a highly interesting selection of wines focused on Burgundy varietals. Very brief notes were taken, and wines sorted in order of personal preference by flight:

Flight 1 – Two champagnes completely new to us, thought the Selosse the superior of the two wines. Awesome balance, nutty, crisp, floral and fragrant. Tasted over the span of an hour plus, kept improving in the glass. The Collin was very nice, a lighter, smooth, easy drinking Champagne. Both proved to be an awesome start to the meal.

Jacques Selosse Initial
Ulysse Collin Extra Brut

Flight 2 – Very excited to see this flight. A previous tasting of the 2000 Dauvissat was one of the best Chablis experiences we have had in a few years, an awesome wine. Unfortunately, this particular bottle showed mature, and in time, took on an oxidative note. Sadly, it did not show well. In contrast, the Raveneau showed extremely well. Lemon and lime citrus, smoke, oak, with a saline quality that made it an outstanding wine!

2000 Raveneau Foret
2000 Dauvissat La Forest

Flight 3 – First time having had a Ponsot Monts Luisants, was impressed by the youth and flintiness of the 1988 in contrast to the young orange citrus and exotic tropical fruits of the 2006. Both wines were outstanding. The 1979 was dry, parafin, and smokey. Showing no signs of oxidation. The separation of which wine showed best in this flight was so close as to be a tossup.

1988 Ponsot Monts Luisants
2006 Ponsot Monts Luisants
1979 Union des Cooperatives Vinicoles de Bourgogne Pouilly Fuisse

Flight 4 – The Corton Charlemagne was a standout in this flight of mostly California. Steely, tight, youthful, nice minerality and a slight reductive quality. Uncharacteristic to its style, was a very nice 2007 Kongsgaard Judge. Tight, slightly sweet and well balanced, slowly put on weight as it sat in the glass. The Peter Michael was true to its style, sweet, floral, cotton candy, powerful with no signs of oxidation. Was disappointed in the Scholium Project, funky, butterscotch, beginning signs of oxidation, it did not show well.

2004 Alex Gambal Corton Charlemagne
2007 Kongsgaard Judge
2001 Peter Michael Point Rouge
2002 Scholium Project

Flight 5 – Moving on to the reds, we started with a lovely bottle of aged Richebourg, sweaty, gamey, nice balance and complexity in a mature ready to go wine. The Clos du Roi was floral and tart, and the Bressandes, raspberry, stems, animal, and slightly oxidized. Just an ok flight overall, had higher expectations.

1979 Laboure Roi Richebourg
1988 Merode Corton Clos du Roi
1982 Merode Corton Bressandes

Flight 6 – The Santenots was a beautiful wine, expresso, mint, clean dark fruits, the top wine of the flight. Interesting, the Lafarge was sweaty saddle leather and somewhat oxidized. Finally, the Clos des Ducs was young and tight. During the tasting, the acid came across as disproportionately high in this wine, to the point of it being a flaw. There was some mixed reaction concerning the acidity on this specific wine.

1988 Jacques Thevenot Machal Volnay Santenots
1998 Michel Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes
1998 d’Angerville Volnay Clos des Ducs

Flight 7 – The final flight of the evening and 17 wines later, did not take notes on the final 4 wines. Or at least, did not take legible notes! Recollect however that the aged California Pinot showed far better than the more modern Pinots. Recall a more old school style in both of the aged wines. Having had the 2002 Marcassin Estate Pinot in the past, and highly impressed with the quality, was completely surprised how poorly it showed. The provenance would have been excellent knowing the source, however it showed disjointed and highly disappointing.

1991 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir
1993 Mount Eden Pinot Noir
2002 Rochioli Pinot Noir, Little Hill
2002 Marcassin Estate Pinot Noir

Cheers to a wonderful meal at Fifth Floor with a delightful group of local wine friends!
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