Holiday Wines With Lou


Being Christmas Lou thought it would be fun to drink some nice wines of his.  I am always happy to drink any wine that he brings over so I quickly agreed.  When he suggested Aubert, Cayuse, and a Burgundy I became quite excited.  A couple years ago I attended a high-end California Chardonnay tasting and absolutely loved the wines of Aubert.  I have been itching to drink Aubert with Jenn ever since then.  My Cayuse experience was limited (still is) but there was a bottle of 2003 Cayuse, En Chamberlin sitting in my basement, which was a generous gift from Julia, so I made good on an old promise to open the bottle with Lou. The other selections for our tasting solidified rapidly.

We double-decanted all of the red wines except for the 1995 Domaine Chauvent-Chaupin which was simply popped and poured.  Due to hectic schedules the 2003 Cayuse had approximately one hour of air before the other red wines were opened.  The red wines were served blind with the Pinot Noirs in the first flight and the Syrahs in the second flight.  My notes are in the order the bottles were tasted.

This was an enjoyable evening.  The Aubert was absolutely irresistible.  The two from Cayuse were layered and complex, allowing for innumerable small sips of enjoyment.  Towards the end of the evening I found myself drinking the Chauvenet-Chopin because its lighter maturity was refreshing.

The Aubert Starter

2008 Aubert, Larry Hyde & Sons, Carneros
There was the typical, slightly cloudy color of light yellow straw.  The rich nose was muted compared to the palate.  In the mouth there was initially a little, light spritz followed by tropical white fruit, some sweetness with a rich mouth filling body.  Then it turns a little watery midpalate before a tremendous expansion marked by pleasing acidity on the middle of the tongue.  The finish showed citrus-like fruit.  There was an effortless and long-lasting aftertaste.  I was surprised to see 15.8% ABV on the label.  This was a beautiful wine that raised Jenn’s bar for Californian Chardonnay.  Jenn thought it was an older vintage due to the complexity and type of flavors.  Both she and Lou made sure not a single drop was left in the bottle.  Lorelei commented “orange.” ****(*) Now-2016+.

The Pinot Noir Flight

I would venture that we all preferred the Chauvent-Chopin for the mature aspect of its nose and palate.  While this will last for many years to come it was drinking quite well in the current state.  The Firesteed came across as primary in comparison and in need of several years of age.  Shane did tell me to cellar it for several more years but as it was the oldest Pinot Noir in my basement I just had to give it a try.

#1 – 1995 Domaine Chauvenet-Chopin, Vieilles Vignes, Nuits-Saint-George
This wine was imported by Robert Kacher Selections and purchased for $30 at MacArthurs.  There was a consistent garnet color throughout the glass with a touch of cloudiness.  The nose was mature with good notes of cedar.  In the mouth it was fruitier and richer than the nose.  The structured fruit made way to a racy finish, tannins, and an aftertaste of old ladies’ perfume.  There was a fairly consistent profile throughout the evening.  Jenn liked the earthniess and “salami” notes.   Lorelei commented “brown.”  This tasted tired on the second night. ** Now.

#2 – 2001 Firesteed, Citation, Pinot Noir
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir that was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels followed by seven years of bottle age before release.  A vibrant garnet color with a pigeon blood core and youthful look.  There was a fine scent to the nose.  In the mouth it revealed richer red fruit but was simpler.  Lorelei commented “Strawberry, pink.”  In the end it was a nice wine but I gave a nod to the Chauvenet-Chopin. **(*) 2014-2019.

The Syrah Flight

We then moved on to the Syrah Flight.  It was a relatively easy matter to identify what each of these three wines were for #3 and #5 bore a familiar resemblance with #4 showing less earthy, more pure, and primary fruit flavors.  #3 looked and tasted a bit older than #5.  All three wines were enjoyable and seemed to share one component, that of orange aromas in the nose.  Though the Cayuse was a step up from the Ross Andrew, the later was still a good drink and counterpoint.

#3 – 2003 Cayuse, Syrah, En Chamberlin Vineyard, Walla Walla
The fruit is sourced from the rocky 10 acre En Chamberlin vineyard planted in 2000.  This was quite opaque with a garnet rim that made me guess it was older.  There were flavors of roasted fruit, earth, and prominent notes of “olives and herbs” according to Jenn (but not in an underripe manner).  There were some orange and mango flavors along with smoke, darker fruit, and roast in this savory wine.  On the second night this showed more age. **** Now-2017.

#4 2008 Ross Andrew, Syrah, Boushey Vineyard, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah produced from three different clones sourced from the Boushey vineyard.  The wine is aged for 14 months in 70% French 320 liter barrels.  This was the youngest looking wine in the glass.  The medium nose was fruitier, more pure, and higher pitched than #3 and #5.  This wine was still primary with a rich, fruity personality, some sweet flavors, nice texture, and a little heat.  Still vigorous and lively on the second night. ***(*) Now-2017.

#5 2007 Cayuse, Syrah, Armada Vineyard, Walla Walla
The fruit is sourced from the extremely dense, 16 acre Armada vineyard planted in 2001.  This was a little lighter in color than the 2003 but only just.  In the mouth the rich, delicately textured fruit was perfumed with a sweetness that Jenn found akin to “chewing gum” but in a good manner.  More youthful than the 2003 with a rough finish this wine had an incredibly expansive, persistent aftertaste.  I found the wine savory and Jenn loved the saltiness.  It was still rocking on the second night. ****(*) Now-2022.

Lou and Aaron

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