Tag Archives: Marcassin

Castagna Wine Dinner

We recently got together with local friends for an informal wine dinner at Castagna in San Francisco. Have been to the restaurant a few times now, and everything served to date has been fantastic, highly recommended French cuisine! For this dinner, four of us got together on relatively short notice. Continue to find these smaller wine dinners are so much more enjoyable than larger ones. You really get to evaluate a wine over time and enjoy a single table conversation.

After a few back and forth e-mails, we decided on a simple theme, Chardonnay, Pinot, Cabernet and Rhone. As sometimes happens, the Cabernet never made it to the table. The 1974 Louis Martini Mountain Cabernet and 1974 BV Georges de Latour will have to wait for another occasion. Brief observations of the wines opened follow:

Chardonnay

2004 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne – An awesome Corton Charlemagne, the wine has not changed significantly from other times tasted over the past few years. Sulfur, flinty, lemon citrus, mineral, floral, and still very firm acidity. Could easily continue to age this gorgeous wine for many more years!

2006 Marcassin Three Sisters Chardonnay – Have had this wine several times recently and this was the best showing. Distinctly California Chardonnay in style, medium bodied, round, nice acidity early on, becoming more creamy in time. Noted pear and vanilla. Even though it was the best showing of the wine for us, overall just an ok experience.

Pinot

2001 Hospices de Beaune Mazis Chambertin Henri Boillot Cuvee Madeleine Collignon – A nice drinking wine, in perhaps five to ten plus years! It was very young, tightly wound, plenty of dark fruits, and very tannic. Everything was in place, but just highly reduced. Suggest letting the wine age considerably longer before opening.

2006 Rhys Alpine Pinot Noir – A disappointing wine. The more Rhys we taste, the more disappointed we have become in their Pinot Noir. Barrel sample like with plum, raisin, some blue fruits, but overall disjointed and simple. Like the Marcassin, distinctly Californian in style. Revisited a few times during the evening, and found nothing particularly appealing.

Rhone

1990 Les Cailloux (Lucien et Andre Brunel) CdP Cuvee Centenaire – Have never tasted a better Southern Rhone than this wine! A seductive coffee, red raspberry nose led into a dense palate of layered rich licorice, chocolate and earthy black fruits. Excellent balance, nuanced, it kept improving over the span of the bottle. Unlike many Southern Rhones tasted, no over ripe raisin and prune notes. This wine showed extemely well, and suspect it will continue to show well for a decade plus!

1983 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage la Chapelle – In very tough company next to the Andre Brunel, far leaner and grassy. Slight oily like consistency, some oak, and earth, do not think the wine will improve with continued cellar aging. Fully mature right now with no signs of oxidation, should plan to drink over the next few years. An ok experience.

A very fun evening, especially one with an eye opening Southern Rhone!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine WIne
www.santarosafinewine.com

Buckeye Roadhouse Wine Dinner

This past week, we attended a dinner with a very saavy group of wine drinkers at Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley. The theme was flights of Chardonny, Pinot, Rhone, Cabernet and Dessert Wines all served double blind. Despite the very good planning to make it a challenge to identify specific wines, the group proved effective at accurately guessing nearly every region on all flights, and in a few cases, guessed the producer or vintage. It was a fun dinner and the vast majority of wines enjoyable. Brief observations follow. All wines were served pop and pour with a fresh glass provided after each flight. Wines are sorted in order of personal preference pre reveal.

Flight 1 – Chardonnay

2005 Henri Boillot Clos de la Mouchere – Wine of the flight and white wine of the night, the Boillot was easily identified as White Burgundy. Firm acidity, lemon/lime, some subtle oyster shell, perfect balance, a very well made and youthful wine.

2009 Rochioli Rachel’s Vineyard Chardonnay – Distinctly California Chardonnay, thought it had a young Peter Michael profile with clean candied fruit and some residual sugar apparent. Was surprised it was a Rochioli Rachels, which in our opinion is one of the best Chardonnay made in California. On reflection, think the wine was opened too young, and expect it to show significantly better in 3 to 5 plus years.

2006 Marcassin Three Sisters Chardonnay – Initally guessed the wine as anything but California Chardonnay or White Burgundy. Thought it had a toned down, if not muted style. As it sat in the glass, was somewhat dirty and funky, not a clean stony mineral quality I tend to get with Marcassin Chardonnay. The wine did not show well.

Flight 2 – Pinot Noir

2002 Chevillon Nuits St. Georges Saint Georges – Quickly identifed as Burgundy by all. It was earthy, mineral, gritty, with notable barnyard and animal notes. In time, more rugged and rustic. A very well made wine and standout among the three Pinot Noirs.

2004 Rhys Family Farms Pinot – With stemy blue fruits, initially thought it was a Burgundy, but after a little time in the glass, the wine lacked complexity, showing more simple dried cherry plum notes. Correctly guessed the wine as a Rhys! The wine had good weight, but overall was not a great showing.

2005 Marcassin Blue Slide Pinot – Ripe, raspberry, plums, prunes, sweet palate, dense but unresolved and spritzy, thought it might be a young Aubert Pinot. On reveal, was surprised it was a Marcassin Blue Slide. This wine needs to be aged for many more years before enjoying. The wine also did not show well.

Flight 3 – Rhone

2008 Sine Qua Non The Line Grenache – The red wine of the flight, and night, thought this was an outstanding wine. Nothing out of place, big red clean candied fruit, correctly guessed it as a Sine Qua Non Grenache! A touch lighter on its feet than the Atlantis Grenache, a great drinking wine! Would expect it to age gracefully for years.

2004 Greenock Creek Alices – Guessed this wine as a California Syrah, compact dark fruits, it showed very well, but quite different than the Grenache. Normally not a big fan of Austrailian Shiraz, but this wine was very enjoyable. Did not spend as much time with this wine over time as others who thought it less impressive.

2007 Usseglio Mon Aieul – Correct guested the wine as French, thought it was just ok. Not a lot going on in the wine. The group as a whole did not particularly find the wine appealing. It may have suffered being in a flight with two other big powerful wines!

Flight 4 – Cabernet

1998 Pavie Macquin – The wine of the flight, enjoyed the Pavie a great deal, it was easily identified as Bordeaux. Started out green and tannic, very similar to what I get with the 1998 Pavie, in time, this wine lost some of the greeness and became more red and black exotic fruits. Thought it was a gorgeous wine, more so than the overall group!

2001 Araujo Eisele Cabernet – Initially did not like this wine, had a good bit of vanilla which I generally dislike in California Cabernet, and a simple style. However, this was an example of a wine that improved considerably with time in the glass, full bodied, and held up well to the meat course.

2003 Noon Reserve Cabernet – A very ripe wine, minty, thought this might be either from California or Australia. It was a pretty good wine, but not particularly a standout. Was really enjoying the Pavie in this flight, and spend less time on the other wines as we approached the end of the evening.

Flight 5 – Dessert

1990 Raymond Lafon – The only wine I correctly guessed the exact vintage, the color immediately lent itself as a 15 to 25 year old bottle, and oddly reminded me of a 1990 Sauternes in my cellar. This was an excellent age worthy dessert wine.

1986 Climens – The Climens did not show as age worthy as the Raymond Lafon. A nice wine, but overshadowed by its peer. Neither of these wines came across as California. A nice wine to end the evening.

The Mill Valley tasting group is made up of some of the most delightly folks we have had the pleasure to drink with over the past few years. Sophisticated palates, no question, a friendly group where you always go away learning something new. A great time where we highly enjoyed the food, wine, and conversation!

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

Lupa Pinot Noir Dinner

Recently got together with friends to enjoy Pinot Noir at Lupa in San Francisco. It was a very informal get together. While most of our palates lean toward Burgundy, looked forward to visiting some California Pinot Noir. The star of the night was Calera, where the top two wines of the evening came from this exceptional producer. What made this dinner stand out more than others unfortunately was the unusually high number of flawed bottles!

All wines were served pop and pour, no decanting. Brief notes follow and are sorted by flight in order of personal preference.

White Flight – While the wine theme was basically Pinot Noir, it is rare for us not to start with a few white wines. The 2007 Sheldon was a pleasant, easy drinking Chardonnay. It leaned more toward a candied, sweet, butter style Chardonnay, not crisp and can easily be enjoyed young. Sadly, the 2006 Marcassin Three Sisters Chardonnay was badly corked.

2007 Sheldon Chardonnay
2006 Marcassin Three Sisters Chardonnay

Aged Pinot Noir Starter – The 1987 Calera Pinot was easily my wine of the night. A perfectly aged, perfectly balanced wine. Nuanced raspberry and underbrush, it showed surprisingly youthful. Have had numerous Calera Jensen over the years, and the style is highly consistent. Had this been served blind, would never have guessed 1987!

1987 Calera Jensen Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir Flight 1 -Prior to the dinner, had a little fun with this flight. Noticed a Robert Parker note on two of them, that the 2000 Peter Michael Moulin Rouge “. . . reveals a La Tache-like perfume of . . . ” and the 2000 Kistler Vineyard Pinot “. . . is a Comte de Vogue Musigny-like effort . . . ” At the tasting, they were no where near a La Tache or Vogue Musigny! The Peter Michael had a high alcohol, ethyl acetate nose, clipped finish, nothing really thrilling going on and the Kistler, our second corked wine! To make matters worse, the Swan was disjointed, with notable VA. That left the clear top wine of the flight, a 2000 Calera Reed. Stemy, blue fruits, and wonderful balance, thought it the second best wine of the night.

2000 Calera Reed Pinot Noir
2000 Swan Trenton Pinot Noir
2000 Peter Michael Moulin Rouge Pinot Noir
2000 Kistler Vineyard Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir Flight 2 – Both the Williams Seylem Westside and Rochioli showed well in this flight, the William Seylem, more chewy and sweet, the Rochioli brighter cherry with very good balance. Each was enjoyable and aging well, no rush to open. Sadly, the Williams Seylem Allen was another flawed wine, ethyl acetate.

2003 Williams Seylem Westside Pinot Noir
2002 Rochioli West Block Pinot Noir
2003 Williams Seylem Allen Pinot Noir

Have never attended a dinner, where near the end of the evening, 50% of the wines opened were flawed for one reason or another! Fortunate for us, our good friend Eric Lundblad of Ladd Cellars joined us with two delightful Pinots to the end the evening, a 2008 Ladd Cellars Abigail Pinot Noir and 2008 Ladd Cellars Russian River Pinot Noir. Hopefully the track record of flawed wines this night, does not repeat itself in the future!

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

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/