Tag Archives: Raveneau

Fine Wine Dinner at Cafe Castagna

This week, got together with a few friends at Cafe Castagna in SF to open up some wine with the goal of pulling something rare or exceptional from our respective cellars. What was particularly interesting about this dinner was that we opened quite possibly the best California wine I have ever tasted, a 1974 Joseph Phelps Insignia. I have had this bottle in my cellar for a few years now waiting for a special occasion to open, and this was the night.Four of us attended the dinner allowing for very generous pours, and the opportunity to fully explore how the wine developed in the glass over time. All wines were served pop and pour. Wine tasting notes follow from this highly memorable dinner, sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Grand Cru Chablis

2001 Raveneau Valmur – An awesome wine, immediately showed very tight and youthful. Acidity was prevalent, however well in check with the fruit. Some notable lemon citrus and subtle oyster shell, found the wine deep and complex. Over time, it very slowly opened up, and revisited the wine frequently over the approximately 4 to 5 hours tasted. One of the most reduced Raveneau I have tasted, could easily continue to age this wine for a significant period of time.

2001 Raveneau Blanchot – Floral, pretty, feminine nose, yet restrained on the palate initially. Had a highly interesting nutty quality to the wine, but not from oxidiation. After a little time in the glass, thought it mature, but hours into the tasting, kept giving up more power and complexity. When the wine hit its peak, noted a pleasant saline quality and custard like mouthfeel. Overall, the Blanchot was rounder, and perhaps flashier, but appreciated more the restrained power of the Valmur.

Rare California Cabernet

1974 Phelps Insignia – The best California Cabernet we have ever tasted! The color was deep, dark and youthful without any signs of bricking. On the nose and palate, a Bordeaux like quality of intense, silky, big dark fruits, mint and lightly floral. Clean and layered on the palate, had power without being overdone, and a stagging finish that was both seductive and structured. From first pour, through the end of the bottle, maintained a consistent style, yet gave layer after layer of complexity. A youthful wine that could be easily aged for decades. Wine of the night, and the most memorable California Cabernet experience I have ever had. A stellar absolutely perfect wine!

1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic – Similar to the Insignia, a very rare wine. Also like the Insignia, showed very Bordeaux like, though dryer and slightly more mature in contrast. It was served a touch warm which took away from the wine, but could still appreciate the underlying material. Also a dark fruit wine, more tart, and showed some bandaid brett, which was distracting to me, not as pronounced to others. Balance, structure and overall density of the wine was excellent. A very good wine!

Bordeaux from the 80’s

1986 Rausan Segla – Another gorgeous wine, showed far more gamey, barnyard and full bodied, with red raspberry fruit and a tomato paste like texture, without being vegital. Distinctly Bordeaux, had a consistent style throughout the bottle. No rush to open this wine, however if done, shows well immediately on opening. Enjoyed this wine slightly more than the Diamond Creek, but not as much as the Insignia.

1982 Lynch Bages – Expected a great deal more from the Lynch Bages. Relatively light bodied, with dry saddle leather, mineral, earth, and very firm acidity. The acidity seem to outweight the fruit, and did not come together in the time we drank through the bottle. The wine may have suffered being next to the Rausan Segla, as it was the most toned down wine of the evening. Based on this tasting, suspect the wine should not be opened for many more years to give it time to come together.

Mystery French Red

1986 Gruaud Larose – Served blind, clear it was a great Bordeaux. The Gruaud Larose had more in common styllistically with the Rausan Segla than the Lynch Bages. After the 1974 Insignia, the second most enjoyable bottle of the night. It was stunning, pencil lead, clean, yet big bold fruit, and forest floor, the wine was balanced, had plenty of depth and the complexity was exceptional. This was a youthful wine that opened up slowly in the glass, could easily age or enjoy in the near term.

This was both a fun and memorable wine dinner. Had everything we enjoy, a small group allowing ample pours, special wines you don’t drink or see everyday, excellent food, and of course, great company!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
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/

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/

French Wine Night at Pera

Recently we joined friends in SF for a French Wine Dinner at Pera. The dinner included a lineup of awesome wines, including two exceptional bottles of Coche Dury pictured at left. The flight of the night, found the contrast in the two wines striking. One was delicate and feminine, the other powerful and masculine!

What made the tasting more challenging than usual was the relatively small pours. Given the larger group size, it did not allow the best opportunity to revisit the wine later in the evening. Continue to suggest that 6 to 8 person tastings offer the best opportunity to fully evaluate a 750ml bottle of wine. Evaluating wine aside, the true spirit of the evening was to share special bottles of wine among friends, and that is exactly what we did!

The following are very brief observations of all wines opened sorted in order of personal preference by flight.

Chablis Starter

2001 Raveneau Butteaux – Oyster shell, sweet citrus, moist white cake, nice acidity and balance. A well structured, very good drinking wine.

Dom Perignon Flight

1978 Dom Perignon – Clean, peach, bright orange, nutty, white chocolate, a compelling full bodied Champagne that showed best among the flight.

1976 Dom Perignon– Not too far off stylistically from the 1978, walnut, hardwood, hazelnut, and spice. Some oxidation, but not significant.

1998 Dom Perignon -Honey, tart, lemon, firm acidity, was way too young to be opened. Should cellar this wine for years before opening.

1990 Dom Perignon – A flawed bottle.

Rose Flight

1996 Dom Perignon Rose– Bright, light cherry, powder, restrained, elegant and clean. An excellent Rose, and close top pick as wine of the flight.

N.V. Krug Champagne Brut Rose – More powerful than the Dom Perignon, yeasty, rose pedal, young, and a long finish. Very close second wine of the flight.

Coche Dury Flight

2001 Coche Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrieres– Floral, oily, creme brulee, flinty, a lovely soft, but well balanced elegant wine that is ready to drink now.

2001 Coche Dury Meursault – Toasty, petrol, powerful wine, coarse texture, intense citrus, mineral, a young drinking wine that should be aged longer.

Burgundy Flight 1

1990 Frederic Esmonin Griottes Chambertin– Clean blue fruits, mineral, rough texture, but highly age worthy. Did not have a strong preference of the 90 over the 93.

1993 Frederic Esmonin Griottes Chambertin – Sweet, game meats, ripe, perfectly mature, open knit, shut down a bit as it sat in the glass.

Burgundy Flight 2

1996 Domaine Dujac Charmes Chambertin– Blue fruits, exotic and tropical, stemy, a strong showing as wine of the flight.

1996 Louis Jadot Chambertin – Big ripe powerful full bodied Jadot, showed very well next to the Dujac and Bertagna.

1996 Domaine Bertagna Chambertin – Medium bodied, spice, firm acidity, but mellowed out in time. Good balance, nice age worthy wine.

1996 Frederic Esmonin Clos Vougeot – Light bodied, high acidity, lacked character, thought this was a disappointing wine in tough company.

Bordeaux Flight

1983 Chateau Margaux– Mineral, earthy, floral, perfect balance and integration. A young wine that has plenty of life.

1962 Chateau Canon – Saddle leather, nice tannin, no signs of oxidation, an excellent old Bordeaux that showed well.

1986 Chateau Margaux – Not too far off in style from the 83 Margaux, however slightly more menthol and less balanced.

1983 Chateau Palmer – A flawed bottle.

Sweet Finish

1944 Massandra Muscat Rose– Absolutely gorgeous, caramel, thick, rich, butterscotch, a lovely end of meal wine, one of the best wines of the evening.

1955 Domaines et Terroirs du Sud Rivesaltes Millesime – Lean, tight, did not find this wine appealing. In very tough company next to the Massandra.

Cheers to wonderful wines, good friends, and a highly enjoyable evening!

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

Palo Alto Burgundy Dinner

Recently, we attended a mid week Burgundy Dinner with friends in Palo Alto. We don’t often get to the southbay, but enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with friends we have not seen in some time and share some very nice wine.

While we rarely do blind tastings in our northbay tasting groups, our southbay friends lean toward this format. All wines, except the Sojourn Pinot Noir and Cabernet were pop and pour, served blind, and sorted in order of personal preference by flight. Brief observations follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2004 Domaine William Fevre Les Clos

Red Wine of the Night:
1998 Domaine Leroy Savigny Les Beaune Les Narbantons

Sojourn Flight

Before moving on to the White and Red Burgundy, Craig Haserot of Sojourn generously poured the current 2009 offering from his winery. All bottles were newly opened just prior to dinner, and served non blind.

2009 Sojourn Cellars Rodger’s Creek Pinot Noir – Hardwood spices, forest floor, firm structure and earthy. Very close call which showed better on this occasion, the Rogers Creek vs Gap’s Crown.

2009 Sojourn Cellars Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir – Clean blue fruits, deep, rich, riper palate and an exceptionally long finish. A friendly and approachable wine that could have easily been the top Sojourn Pinot this evening.

2009 Sojourn Cellars Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir – Initially thought it showed tighter on the palate, picked up steam in time. More blackberry leaning than the others, a complete wine that should age beautifully.

2009 Sojourn Cellars Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – Dusty, bright, creamy, cherry fruit, an easy drinking well made wine. Had a distinct character of its own relative to the other Sojourn Pinot Noirs.

Chablis Flight

Opened the night with three Grand Cru and one Premier Cru Chablis. Unfortunately a bottle of 2002 Vincent Dauvissat Les Preuses was corked and immediately pulled from the flight.

2004 Domaine William Fevre Les Clos – Crisp firm acidity, lime, ocean air, steely, tight, very slowly put on a little more weight over time. Thought the wine showed better than the last bottle tasted a year ago.

2005 Vincent Dauvissat Les Preuses – Full bodied, more intense yeast, salty, mineral, stone, the wine had perfect balance. Should age beautifully and continue to improve in the coming years.

2005 Vincent Dauvissat Les Clos – Similar to the Les Preuses, a much more fully bodied wine than the Fevre. Good acidity, oyster shell, citrus, no question a young wine, but strikingly approachable.

2001 Domaine François Raveneau Butteaux – A medium bodied wine, was more creamy, bread, and more lemon citrus based than the others. The color was advanced, deeper straw colored and fully mature.

Wine Intermission

While the Red Burgundy flight was being organized, a blind wine intermission was opened and shared with the group. In some tastings, it basically becomes a guessing game, what year? what region? etc.? The group quickly called it out correctly as a Rhone.

1997 Tardieu Laurent Hermitage – Animal, game, smoke, menthol and a little brett, the nose on this wine was foxy and interesting, highly expressive. It was a cleaner style Rhone, with good balance. A very nice wine!

Red Burgundy Flight

Similar to the Chablis flight, unfortunately an off bottle of 2000 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Clos du Chateau Des Ducs was poured. The wine was funky and chemical, clearly something wrong with the bottle, and quickly pulled from the table.

1998 Domaine Leroy Savigny Les Beaune Les Narbantons – Easily the red wine of the night, showed rich blueberry fruit and mint in a silky, clean and pure wine. Grand Cru quality in a Premier Cru. Simply outstanding!

2002 Frederic Magnien Savigny Les Beaune – Ripe raspberry fruit, full bodied, extracted, nice balance. Showed very well, but a distant second place after the Leroy Les Narbantons.

1989 Louis Jadot Corton – Initially clean, light, and not very inspiring, improved considerably in time becoming more earthy, mineral, underbrush, and tree bark.

1990 Maison Leroy Chassagne Montrachet Rouge – High acidity and funky, did not find the wine appealing. Did not spend a lot of time with the wine.

As we worked toward the end of the evening, tried a few additional wines: 2002 Copain Dennison Pinot Noir, 2002 Faiveley Les Saint Georges Cuvee de Sires de Vergy, 2008 Sojourn Home Ranch Cabernet and 2008 Sojourn Beckstoffer Georges III Cabernet. Like the final Leroy tasted unfortunately, there was not enough time to spend with the wine to give a fair impression!

Cheers to our southbay friends!

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

All French Wine Dinner

This past weekend, got together with local friends in Sonoma to enjoy an all French wine dinner! In the case of this dinner, it was nice to revisit quite a few wines previously tasted to see how they are progressing. As is often the case with French wines, they are progressing slowly!

Wine flights were two bottles each. Find this to be an effective format, if for one reason alone, to hold over a flight into the next and only have 4 glasses on the table. Often times, we do flights of 3 wines, and 6 glasses can be challenging to keep straight!

All wines were served pop and pour, with the exception of the 2000 Bordeaux which were given about an hour decant. As with other tastings, sorted the wine in order of personal preference per flight. Brief observations of all wines opened follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2004 Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon

Red Wine of the Night:
1996 Ducru Beaucaillou

Champagne Starter

2002 Cristal – Nutty, crisp, easy drinking with lemon and orange citrus. Somewhat light in body and certainly light in color, was rather disappointed in the wine. Enjoyed other Cristal Champagnes in the past so had high expectations that were not met in this wine.

Chablis

2002 Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre – Oyster shell and floral with firm acidity and excellent minerality. The wine was full bodied and simply beautiful with a clean almost cool clean ocean breeze nose. A highly complex excellent drinking wine.

2001 Raveneau Butteaux – An interesting contrast to the 2002, was more lemon, pineapple, and nutty in style. Lighter bodied, it had a loamy texture and notable yeast. The acidity on this wine was well buried, and carried the wine well into the evening.

White Burgundy

2004 Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon – Another great Domaine Leflaive. Petrol, sulfur, motor oil on the nose, became sweeter, almost cotton candy like on the palate. An absolutely gorgeous drinking wine that kept improving over the span of the evening.

2007 Coche Dury Meursault – The most “un-Coche” like Coche Meursault I have tasted, perhaps due to its youth. Restrained, very light sulfur, mineral, combined with lemon and caramel. Was far cleaner and laser precise in style than other years tasted. An excellent wine.

A Wine Intermission

1987 Chateau Montelena– Served blind, was grassy at first, had nice tannin, asian spice, anise, bell pepper, dusty stewed raspberry fruits and a deep dark ruby color that convinced almost everyone it was a mid to late 90’s wine. Having had the wine 6 or 7 times now, it was the most mature example tasted to date. No rush to open, has many more years to age and improve.

1998 Mongeard Mugneret Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes – Served for our friends who are not big fans of white wine, was intially light, but put on weight. Noted some light grass, blue fruits with a hint of cola. A clean wine, had nice acidity and a citrus finish. Really enjoyed this wine, but in tough company next to the 1987 Montelena.

1980’s Bordeaux

1989 Pichon Baron – Bacon, fatty, meaty, and raspberry fruits, the wine showed very tight at first, and put on considerable weight in time. A dense wine for sure, with a sweet caramel finish. Showed very well and drank young.

1986 Montrose – A notably aged wine, showed more forest floor, baked red and black fruits, and an appealing barnyard component. The wine was somewhat foxy in a good way, and showed a little rougher than other examples tasted of this wine.

1990’s Bordeaux

1996 Ducru Beaucaillou – The red wine of the night, it was simply outstanding with ripe red raspberry liquor fruit, with a dense full bodied mouthfeel and a long sweet finish. While it was both elegant and refined, was surprisingly ready to drink now. Overall, a wow wine!

1996 Lynch Bages – Far more structured and youthful drinking than the Ducru, was far more shutdown at this stage and more grassy with darker fruits, cigar, earth and an appealing minerality. Had a lovely mint note on the finish. A very good wine that needs additional cellar aging.

2000’s Bordeaux

2000 Pichon Baron – One of the most nuanced wines of the night, noted menthol and mint, chalk and leather, coffee and black berries, all over the place, but in a good way. Decanted the wine for about an hour, and proved to be very youthful. An excellent wine to continue aging.

2000 Calon Segur – Impossibly closed and shutdown, was unapproachable even after an hour plus decant, and additional time in the glass. Noted rhubarb and scorched earth in a wine that is just not ready to go. Cellar for many more years before opening.

Sauternes

1986 Rieussec – Waxy, orange rind, sweet honey, and butterscotch in an easy drinking end of meal wine. Would be an excellent wine to revisit in a few decades!

Cheers to an awesome evening!
Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/