Tag Archives: Peter Michael

Southern Marin Wine Dinner

Recently we got together with good friends in Marin for an end of year wine dinner. As always, the food and company were enjoyable, combined with an interesting mix of wine. With the exception of the Italian Flight, all wines were served double blind. This tasting was particularly challanging in that, with nine of us in attendance, pour sizes were very small not allowing to revisit the wine over time. All wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Champagne Starter

1996 Dom Perignon – Remember drinking this wine numerous times when young, and it was very apparent it would be long lived. The wine showed far more mature now, and in a good place. Noted honey, almond, and orange citrus fruit. An elegant and subtle wine.

Chardonnay Flight

2005 Pernot Bienvenues Batard Montrachet – Mature, almost lightly oxidized, some citrus deeply buried in the wine. Correctly guessed it as a Burgundy, but thought it had more age on it than a 2005. An ok wine, not sure it is going to hold up well in time.

2006 Rhys Alpine Chardonnay – Bright, young, almost Aubert like fruit, on the sweet side and a little one dimensional. Thought it might be a 2006 to 2008 Rochioli Chardonnay. Generally like Rhys Chardonnay, thought this one just ok.

Pinot Flight

1996 Arnoux Echezeaux – Light body, elegent red and black cherry fruits, good minerality, and plenty of structure to easily carry the wine into future. Thought the wine representative of Echezeaux in style, and a delightful wine to drink. No rush to open, will continue to age well.

2005 Rochioli West Block Pinot – Big ripe wine, was easy to guess as California. Bright strawberry and cranberry notes, thought it might be from the Russian River. Thought the wine was not particularly complex, more one dimensional, and was surprised on reveal is was a single vineyard designate Rochioli.

Non Blind Italian Flight

1997 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vigneto Gallina – Both of the Italian wines showed qualities we find incredibly off putting. The Barbaresco had a ripe plum prune quality we have never found appealing, in addition to an astringent almost paint thinner nose. A highly disappointing wine.

1997 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo – Similarly disappointing and also showing a quality we find distracting and unpleasant, a high degree of bandaid brett. It was so distracting to make the wine undrinkable. Others at the table were not as sensative to brett, and found the wine enjoyable, though recognized it might not be fully to expectations.

Cabernet Flight

1996 Leoville Las Cases – Easily wine of the night, thought this was a beautiful and highly elegant drinking wine. Dry dusty dark fruits, game meats, menthol, it showed everything we enjoy in an exceptional Bordeaux. 1986 has long been our favorite Leoville Las Case, wonder if the 1996 will hit that same level in another 10 years!

1996 Peter Michael Les Pavot – Another wine we have tasting many times. The interesting thing about the 1996 Les Pavot is how different the fruit intensity has been from bottle to bottle. Most of the time, the fruit is very big and powerful. This bottle showed more shut down this time. A good drinking wine, though not entirely to expectations.


1990 Zind Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris – Predominately tangerine, and pretty much to expectations. Full bodied, notable sweetness, it is a well made wine and a good way to end the meal. For us, it is a wine to drink in very small amounts.

Interesting to note, in each flight, the French wine was preferred over the California wine by the majority of us in attendance. Cheers to France!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine


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

Louis Martini Cabernet Lunch

This past weekend, got together with friends at our place in Sonoma to enjoy steaks and fresh fish from Bryan’s Fine Foods, along with a vertical of Louis Martini Cabernet spanning the 1950’s to the 1980’s. It was a real treat to taste the progression from an excellent California Cabernet producer with a long history in the Napa Valley.

While the vast majority of wines opened were excellent condition, it should be noted that all corks pulled on the 1958 through 1978 were short and the majority, not particularly tight fitting. It is strongly advised when sourcing old Martini to purchase with as high a fill level as possible. Suggest buying minimum base neck fills, anything lower may be ok, but risk increases. Another noteworthy point when purchasing this wine, the 1969 through 1978 bottles opened all had plastic capsules. It was not possible to press down on the cork to access condition.

Brief notes follow of all wines opened. The only wine decanted was the 1966, the rest were pop and pour. Wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Starter Sparkling Wine

1998 Thomas Fogarty Late Disgorged Blanc De Blanc – Yeasty, mango, some oxidation, a medium bodied wine with a mature golden color and some funk on the finish. Found the wine more a curiosity than anything to kick off the lunch.

Starter White Wine

1995 Peter Michael Belle Cote Chardonnay – Firm acid grip on the finish with a distinct honey nose. Initially thought the wine had turned and was disjointed, but got surprising better the longer it sat in the glass.

1950’s Louis Martini Cabernet

1958 Louis Martini California Mountain Cabernet – An exceptional wine! Some bricking, a medium bodied wine with earth, mint, leather, tobacco, and forest floor, all combined with a hint of structure that carried the wine over several hours. Top wine of the tasting!

1960’s Louis Martini Cabernet

1966 Louis Martini California Mountain Cabernet – Sweeter fruit and far more youthful than the 58, restrained, yet showed some nice spice and balance, thought this was a close tie as wine of the flight, but for very different reasons. No rush to open, will continue to age well.

1968 Louis Martini California Mountain Lot No. 1 Special Selection Cabernet – An interesting white pepper Zinfandel like spice, cognac, with bigger, more rounded full bodied fruit. A complete, rustic wine that showed very well, and more mature than the 66.

1969 Louis Martini California Mountain Cabernet – Distinct raspberry fruit, good structure, earthy and subdued. The wine was excellent. Along with the 66 and 68 Special Selection, the 60’s flight as a whole showed far superior to all other flights.

1968 Louis Martini California Mountain Cabernet – Advanced and immediate signs of oxidation. Showed some promise early on and thought there might be a chance it would improve, but sadly, it quickly went downhill. Thought it was an off bottle.

1970’s Louis Martini Cabernet

1973 Louis Martini California Mountain Cabernet – A clean, nice drinking wine, stewed red fruit, fresh cut grass, notable acidity and good balance. Thought this was easily wine of the flight. Second time tasting this wine, showed consistent.

1978 Louis Martini La Loma Napa Valley Cabernet – Tight, closed and green, took a while to open up, once it did, took on a slightly richer liquor quality. If recalled correctly, this vineyard was replanted in the early to mid 1970’s.

1975 Louis Martini California Cabernet – Grassy, not a lot else going on in this wine, it improved slightly in time, but overall, just an ok effort. Expected a lot more from the 70’s flight as a whole, it was overshadowed by the 60’s.

1980’s Louis Martini Cabernet

1985 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet – The best wine of the flight, also showed the most youthful. Noted almost a barrel sample like quality, a medium body, and slight notes of mint. Thought the wine showed very well and highly enjoyable with time in the glass.

1987 Louis Martini Sonoma County Cabernet – Grassy, somewhat vegetal, green and one dimensional. Did not find the wine particularly enjoyable or appealing. Generally speaking, really enjoy 1987 California Cabernet, but this one was a disappointment.

1986 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet – More substantial fruit than the 87, but an oxidized component that was distracting and unpleasant. Another really good California Cabernet vintage, thought this was an off bottle.

Finisher Wine

1975 Freemark Abbey York Creek Petite Sirah – Deep purple in color, huge blueberry fruit. One dimension, but gorgeous one dimensional fruit that works for the wine. Served blind, could easily have misidentified it as much younger. Showed surprisingly similar to a lovely 1969 Freemark Abbey Petite Sirah tasted some time ago.

Note Taking Wine

1993 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet – After quite a few wines among eight people in attendance, we never got around to trying Louis Martini Cabernet from the 1990’s to present, so opened one the day after as a reference point. Immediately on opening, noted a pleasant sweet chocolate nose. On the palate, a wine far more extracted and jammy than anything tasting prior, big raspberry fruit dominates the wine. After about two hours, it started to finally balance out, yet remained full bodied. Overall thought it was a delightful wine, though a significant departure from all other wines tasted at this lunch.

Cheers to Louis Martini Cabernet!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine