Tag Archives: Rochioli

Macaroni California Wine Lunch

Being part of a good wine tasting group is one of the great pleasures of being a wine connoisseur. You share good wine, food, company and conversation with like minded folks regularly over a long afternoon or evening. As someone in the wine business, there is the additional benefit of developing wine data points over time. Sometimes these data points show a trend having revisited in the past, at other times, a first experience. In this particular case, it was a lot of first experiences. The theme was all California, a somewhat uncommon theme given this group, many of which frequent the Sonoma and Napa Valley but have decidely European palates. As with other tasting notes, wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight. None of the wines were decanted, and none showed any flaws. Given a smaller group, there was plenty of opportunity to revisit wines over the span of the afternoon

Chardonnay Flight

2004 Walter Hanzel Cahill Lane Chardonnay – Not your typically California Chardonnay, have become increasingly more interested in Walter Hanzel wines the more we taste. Reminiscent of a Domaine Lefliave, noted a highly appealing flinty nose, rich but not over the top fruit, and a subtle citrus finish. Will benefit with additional age, but could easily be enjoyed now.

2009 Aubert Lauren Chardonnay – A wine that could not be more different than the Hanzel, big forward fruit, exotic tropical fruits, yeasty, but also one dimentional. Start of the bottle to end, maintained a consistent taste profile that was good and decidedly Californian. Think the Aubert suffered a bit next to the exceptional Hanzel, nonetheless, a well made easy drinking Chardonnay.

Pinot Intermission

2001 Rochioli West Block Pinot – At first, thought the wine was lean and charmless. With time in the glass, far more interesting and expressive. Think it was just shutdown and needed more time to come around. Tight and compact, would definitely benefit with more cellar aging. It was challenging to access after the Aubert.

California Cab Flight 1

1984 Stags Leap SLV Cabernet – The wine of the afternoon, the Stags Leap was nothing short of stunning. Perfectly mature with no signs of decline, full bodied without being a fruit bomb, structure that lightly presents itself in the background adding character without distracting. A refined, balanced and complex wine made in an old school Calfiornia style. Astute customers reading this blog might realize we have ten bottles left in stock, and from the same case as this bottle sampled.

1985 Joseph Phelps Eisele Cabernet – Another outstanding Cabernet, the Joseph Phelps showed far more youthful than the Stags Leap. This wine easily took an hour plus to even begin to show the slight beginning of its full character. Dark fruit, menthol, and highly balanced. It is a shame that Joseph Phelps let this vineyard get away, they did an exceptional job with Eisele. If opened in the near term, best to enjoy over a long evening as it will likely change considerably over time.

California Cab Flight 2

1996 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – A clean, textbook mid 90’s California Cabernet. There was nothing out of place with this wine. Have sampled quite a few 96 California Cabernet, and this was typical of the vintage, has been ready to drink for years and will remain so for many years to come. Very enjoyable.

NV Stags Leap Golden Rectangle – First time having tasted this wine, big fruit made in a modern California style, however, lacking the heat that sadly has become all to common. The wine did show a good bit of oak, a little more than I would typically appreciate, there was ample tannin to carry this wine on for many years. An age worthy wine that would benefit with additional cellaring.

A fun afternoon focused around the enjoyable wines of California!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

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.

Finisher

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
www.santarosafine.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

 

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/

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/

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/

Burgundy Kickoff

A smaller than normal group of us got together in Sonoma this weekend for a Burgundy tasting to kickoff the new year. As always, the group was very generous and brought some excellent drinking wines to the tasting!

Cannot think of a better way to expose an individual to fine wine than to be part of a wine tasting group of like minded individuals. You certainly enjoy good wine across a broad range of producers, but also enjoyable and knowledgeable company! As luck would have it, our Burgundy group will often “go deep” where basically, we dig a little “deeper” than normal into our respective cellars and pull special bottles! Such was the case this evening.

Brief observations follow of all wines opened and are listed per flight in order of personal preference:

White Wine of the Night:
1998 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet

Red Wine of the Night:
2000 Domaine Des Chezeaux Chambertin

White Burgundy Flight

1998 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet – Initially the wine was light bodied, elegant and flinty, yet showed considerable balance and no signs of oxidation. It slowly put on weight over time, becoming far more powerful. The white wine of the night, a gorgeous Leflaive!

2005 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Batard Montrachet Hospices de Beaune – An excellent drinking young wine, showed sweeter fruit, distinct petrol, and firm acidity. Should age very well! Thought it was a very close second to the Domaine Leflaive, but for very different reasons.

1997 Remoissenet Montrachet – Advanced deep golden color, was initially orange peel, honey, and beeswax. Got funky and oxidized shortly after opening. A disappointing wine overall. Have had less than great experiences with this producer in the past. Quickly coming to the view Remoissenet does a far better job with its red over white wines.

Red Burgundy Flight 1

2000 Domaine des Chezeaux Chambertin – The red wine of the night, thought this was a rich, clean, very pure drinking wine with black cherry fruit, cola, and well integrated spice on the finish. An awesome wine!

2001 Drouhin Chambertin – Another very nice wine, had an almost cotton candy nose with raspberry fruit on the palate. Kept going back to this compelling wine, found it nuanced and easy drinking. A solid well made wine.

2000 Domaine des Chezeaux Griottes Chambertin – Initially showed some plum and prune, as well as spice and black cherry, the wine improved considerably in time. While not as strong a showing as the Chezeaux Chambertin, a nice wine nonetheless.

2002 Pierre Gelin Chambertin Clos de Beze – The wine never quite came around through the evening. It was grainy, baked, and funky, thought it may have been an off bottle. Did not think the wine showed well.

Red Burgundy Flight 2

1997 Francois Lamarche Les Malconsorts – A very nice drinking wine, more rhubarb than anything, had firm acidity and a nice medium bodied palate. Based on previous 1997 wines opened, generally do not have high expectations, but this one showed well for the vintage.

1993 Domaine Bertagna Chambolle Musigny – A light bodied wine and grassy, did not find the wine very appealing. Opposite to 1997, generally have a higher than normal expectation from 1993 vintage Burgundy wines, found this one disappointing.

2004 Rochioli West Block Pinot – A curiosity wine opened while we let the second wine flight open up did not show well. Overall, a simple, light and grassy Pinot. Clearly it was in tough company next to the Burgundy. The wine had been opened for some time prior to the tasting, so certainly a good wine to revisit from this solid producer.

Cheers to a good Burgundy start in 2011!

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

Jemrose and Agharta Wine Dinner

This past Friday, had dinner with a few local friends at Estate Restaurant in Sonoma. Estate’s executive chef, Chris Jones did an exceptional job creating a special six course meal to pair with our wines. Estate is located just off the Sonoma Square and is a highly recommended restaurant in the Northern California Wine Country.

For this dinner, we were joined by two special guests. First was Jim and Glora Mack of Jemrose. Have had the pleasure of tasting their lineup the last few years, and always impressed with the high quality of their wines. Second was Dan and Gloria Schaefer of Audelssa / Agharta. This was the first opportunity I have had to taste their wines, and after the dinner, was equally impressed with their wine.

In terms of the wine, the last one listed in each flight was served blind. It was a more informal dinner, so detailed notes were not taken at the time, however some brief observations follow:

White Wine of the Night:
2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay

Red Wine of the Night:
1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle

Starter Wine – The first wine of the evening was a wonderful 2007 Viognier from Jemrose Wines. One of the best Viogniers I have tasted in California, it was medium bodied, floral, and creamy with good acidity and exceptional balance.

2007 Jemrose Egret Pond Viognier

Chardonnay – An awesome flight, each Chardonnay was quite distinct from the others. The white wine of the flight, and night was an awesome 2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay. Had more balance, complexity and nuanced components than the other wines. One of the few wines revisited, it remained consistent over the span of the evening. In contrast, the 2003 Aubert Quarry was more creme brulee, paraffin in style, with very firm acidity. Suggest aging this wine a few years before opening. The 2004 Walter Hansel had a petrol, flinty nose, and could have easily been mistaken for a White Burgundy, a very interesting wine.

2003 Rochioli Rachael’s Chardonnay
2003 Aubert Quarry Chardonnay
2004 Walter Hansel Chardonnay

Aged Cabernet – The 1981 Joseph Phelps Insignia and 1986 Groth Reserve were surprisingly similar. Both lean and light, menthol and a green, but appealing nonetheless with a little spice and earthiness. In contrast, the 1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour, was a big full bodied ripe Cabernet. Youthful in appearance, noted stewed raspberry fruit in a gorgeous drinking leathery and smoky wine. Considered the 1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour the wine of the flight.

1981 Joseph Phelps Insignia
1986 Groth Reserve
1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour

Cabernet/Blends – The 2006 Agharta Exhibit B was an amazing wine of the flight! A full bodied wine, that was highly complex and balanced. Noted dark fruits, chocolate, coffee and cigar. The 2006 Audelssa Reserve Cabernet was a nice drinking wine, clean and pure, but in difficult company next to the Exhibit B. In contrast, the 2005 Chateau d’Angludet Margaux was impossibly shut down. Initially the lightest wine in the group, slowly put on weight over time. While at first, the french wine was the least favorite wine in the flight, after some air, thought it second best.

2006 Audelssa Reserve Cabernet
2006 Agharta Exhibit B
2005 Chateau d’Angludet Margaux

Syrah/Grenache – The 1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle was wine of the flight. It was more nuanced and subtle than the powerful 2004 Agharta Syrah and 2006 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah. The 1989 Hermitage showed more minerality and earthiness, while the 2004 Agharta and 2006 Jemrose had huge, ripe, soaring fruit! All three wines showed very well, no question, the only difference being stylistic preference.

2004 Agharta Syrah
2006 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah
1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle

Dessert Wine – Similar to the Syrah and Cabernet flight, there was a distinct difference between the California and French wines. The Jemrose was a gorgeous wine, huge peach and citrus fruits, likewise, pure and clean. In contrast, the Doisy Vedrines was more mineral, subtle fruit, good acidity and balance that will carry the wine for many more years of aging. While enjoying both wines for very different reasons, slightly preferred the 2001 Chateau Doisy Vedrines Sauternes.

2008 Jemrose Egret Pond Late Harvest Viognier
2001 Chateau Doisy Vedrines Sauternes

Websites:

Jemrose – http://www.jemrosewines.com/
Audelssa – http://www.audelssa.com/
Agharta – http://www.aghartawines.com/
Estate – http://www.estate-sonoma.com/

Cheers to our good friends at Jemrose, Audelssa, and Agharta! Cannot say enough good things about the quality of their wine, and highly recommend them to our customers!

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