When it comes to mature and old wine, Darryl and Nancy quickly spring to mind. While mature Champagne and old Barolo make Darryl’s list so do relatively young bottles of Champagne and Northern Rhone!
1931 Fontanafedda, Barolo
1945 Clos des Lambrays
The really amazing others were:
2000 Krug, Clos de Mesnil
1986 Haut Brion, Graves
2006 Coche Dury, Puligny Montrachet
1999 Allemand, Reynard, Cornas
1998 Jamet, Cote Rotie
The last 3 were at the N Rhone dinner in Jan, Faryan’s excellent notes: Northern Rhone Masters Dinner.
The mind bending experience of the 2006 F.X. Pichler Riesling Unendlich, what a wine.
Next up are the favorite wines of Roland. Roland posts a particularly fun stream of pictures featuring the many wines he tastes throughout the year. You can be sure the classics will always be there, in my opinion, first from the Rhone then a mixture of Burgundy, Champagne, and Bordeaux. This love for French wines is reflected in his list. Enjoy!
Here are my favorite wines of the year, in order by increasing year, based solely on my memory and iPhone photos. Particularly excellent wines that showed well: 1961 Haut Brion, 1994 Rayas, 1990 Yquem and 1996 Taittinger.
1961 Chateau Tour Haut Brion, Graves
1966 Chateau de Pez, St.-Estephe (Magnum)
1990 d’Yquem, Sauternes
1994 Rayas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1995 Pignan, Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1995 Guigal, Cote-Rotie La Landonne
1996 Taittinger, Comtes des Champagnes
1997 Arnoux, Romanee St Vivant
1999 Lignier, Clos de la Roche
1998 Henri Bonneau, Cuvee Marie Beurrier Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1998 J. L. Chave, Hermitage
2002 Gros Freres et Soeur, Clos Vougeot “Musigni”
2004 Bollinger, Grande Anne Rose Champagne
2005 Baumard, Quarts de Chaumes
2007 Henri Bonneau, Chateauneuf-du-Pape
2009 Jamet, Cote-Rotie
The second guest post is from David Bloch. He has contributed a few posts over the years which you may read here. His selection of favorite wines for the year lean heavily towards France but other countries such as Italy, Spain, and the United States are represented too. I can attest that the December bottle of 2000 Antinori, Solaia was lovely!
Whites of the Year:
2000 Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier-Montrachet: an incredible mouthful of minerals. I had this wine once before – many years ago. This is a wine that is “fruit free.” It is simply all stones, minerals and rocks. Extremely long. I was concerned that the wine may have been over the hill, but it was terrific. I bought this bottle from a retailer in the City of London when I was working there in the early 2000s.
2004 Domaine Trimbach, Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile, Alsace
2005 Dauvissat, Chablis Les Clos (two bottles this year)
2010 Coche-Dury, Meursault Les Chevalieres
Reds of the Year:
1990 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac (purchased as futures for $25!!)
1995 Chateau Angélus, St. Emilion
1998 Tertre Rôteboeuf, St. Emilion
1998 J-L Chave, Hermitage
1995 Close des Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape
1998 Henri Bonneau, Marie Beurrier, Chateauneuf du Pape
2003 Domaine du Pegau, Cuvée Reservée, Chateauneuf du Pape
1996 Jean Tardy, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots
2002 Chevillon, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges
1996 Mascarello, Barolo Monprivato
1997 Monsanto, Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio
2000 Antinori, Solaia (twice – December and July)
1998 Clos Erasmus, Priorat
1998 Artadi, Pagos Viejos, Rioja
2001 Dominus, Napa Valley
2002 Joseph Phelps, Insignia, Napa Valley
Bubbles of the Year:
2002 Doquet, Blanc de Blanc Les Mesnil VV Champagne
2002 Taittinger, Blanc de Blanc Comtes des Champagne
2004 Bollinger, Grande Anne Rose Champagne: one of the best pinks I’ve ever had.
Sweets of the Year:
1986 Chateau Climens, Barsac
1998 Zind-Humbrecht, Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain Vendange Tardive: a powerful and super rich wine.
Taken in its youth:
2006 Donnhoff, Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Beerenauslese, Nahe
Surprises of the Year (exceeding expectations!):
1998 Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Champagne
2002 Chateau Palmer, Margaux
2006 FX Pichler, Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Kellerberg, Wachau
Happy New Year!
I started reading Decanter magazine during my Bristol days. I clearly remember my favorite issues which were those of December. These issues included descriptions of everyone’s favorite wines of the year. Whether there were old wines or new wines, these capsule summaries were fun relfections of both personality and tastings attended. This year I thought I would ask some friends to list their favorite wines of this year. Today I start off with a post by Eric Ifune. You might recall his name from such boards as Wine Berserkers and For The Love of Port. You also might have comes across his name as an attendee of the annual Madeira tastings organized by Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port) and Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.). It was earlier this year, at the epic Majesty of Malvasia Tasting, that I first met Eric.
I’m listing my most noteworthy wines from 2015. These are all wood aged fortified wines since that is my area of maximum interest, especially Madeira. A few might not be my highest rated, but they are amongst the most memorable. They are listed in chronologic order of tasting
The first is a Blandy’s 1907 Bual. Tasted at a friend’s house while sharing various Madeiras. It was opened on the spur of the moment. It had a deep, glowing, almost iridescent red-gold-green color. One of the most visually attractive wines I’ve seen in a long while. Brooding, rich caramel and toffee flavors. Huge and concentrated.
The 1839 Blandy’s Faja dos Padres Malvasia. Tasted at a grand Malvasia tasting in New York hosted by Roy Hersh and Mannie Berk. The Faja dos Padres is the most famous Madeira vineyard and historically known for the Malvasia Candida vine. It lies next to the ocean on the south side of the island at the base of a 300 meter cliffface. Originally it belonged to the Jesuits, hence the “dos Padres”. Rich and intense. Very sweet but with huge balancing acidity. Complete and complex. This was head and shoulders above the other wines at the tasting which were all great and historic in their own right. This is probably the best wine of the year for me, and the best Malvasia I’ve ever had.
1912 Niepoort Colheita Port. The best Port I’ve had this year. Tasted in Lisbon this past spring. It was very dark colored with a beautiful balance of richness, sweetness, and acidity. Very long and concentrated. A real beauty!
1900 JBF Verdelho Madeira. JBF stands for John B. Fernandes. He was a grower in Funchal at the turn of the twentieth century. His vineyards were close to today’s city botanical gardens. There were many growers at the time who made and sold wine to the shippers. His descendants immigrated to the US but kept some property on the Island. A lawyer did some work for them and was given this as a gift. It was in demijohns. The lawyer knew Francisco Albuquerque, the wine maker at the Madeira Wine Company, and asked his advice. Francisco recommended bottling the wine, and he did so for the lawyer in 2014. A smoky, rich wine. Sweet for Verdelho but with excellent acidity. Very concentrated with excellent balance. I love these unknown wines.
1912 Jose Maria Fonseca Bastardinho. JM Fonseca is famous for their Moscatel de Setubal and their table wines. They had a small vineyard of Bastardinho (the little bastard) as well. It’s the same variety as the red Bastardo, a rare grape on Madeira. Unfortunately the vineyard was grubbed up 20 years or so ago, but I understand JM Fonseca is thinking about replanting some again. This wine was very, very dark. Very concentrated, rich and citric flavored. Not as sweet as Moscatel. This is the best Bastardo/Bastardinho I’ve ever had. JM Fonseca still markets a small amount of a 30 year old Bastardinho which is very nice, but not nearly the concentration and depth as this vintage wine.
1996 Horacio Simoes Moscatel Roxo. Horacio Simoes is a small producer in Setubal. They make some excellent Moscatel de Setubal, but also have some of the rarer Moscatel Roxo or “Purple Moscatel.” It is a mutated version of the normal Moscatel. The normal Moscatel is the same variety as Muscat of Alexandria and the Roxo was found in a field in Setubal having spontaneously mutated. I think I like it better than the normal Moscatel, being less sweet and having more depth. This particular bottle was rich and concentrated. This is a producer to keep an eye out for.
Barbeito 1891 RR Bual Madeira. The RR stands for Riberio Real, a well-known vineyard about 200 meters above the fishing village of Camara de Lobos. The vineyard was owned by the Favila family who made this wine. This was tasted with Ricardo Dorigo of Barbeito who had the wine in demijohns. He has since bottled approximately 200 750 ml bottles. This wine is rich and meaty. It has huge concentration but great balance. Just mouthwatering stuff.
D’Oliveiras 1850 Verdelho Madeira. D’Oliveiras is famous for their stocks of old, old wine. The 1850 is still available for sale in their shop! I’ve had this wine maybe half a dozen times and it never disappoints. D’Oliveiras started as a partidista with vineyards in the San Martinho district west of Funchal. They sold wine prior to becoming a shipper themselves. One can sometimes see bottles with the stencil AO-SM, standing for Antonio Oliveria-San Martinho. This wine is from those original San Martinho vines. This particular taste was from a bottling 40-50 years ago. A popular misconception is that Madeira doesn’t age once in glass. It does, but at a glacial rate. The great United States Madeira collections from the 19th and early 20th centuries were based on glass aged wines. After decades, or even centuries in glass, the overt fruit and richness diminish. The wines become more delicate, lacy if you will. That change of 40-50 years given the initial richness of the 1850 due to extreme concentration made this a stellar bottle. Complex, very rich and concentrated with tropical fruit and toasted nut aromas and flavors. The new Madeira legislation passed in Portugal earlier this year now mandates a bottling date on all Canteiro aged wine. A good thing to my mind.
Faja dos Padres 2001 Malvasia (from cask). The same vineyard as the 1839 above. A Faja is a generic Madeiran term for a spit of land formed from a landslide of decomposing volcanic soil from a seacliff. They are prized as agricultural property due to their warmth and shelter from the elements. The Faja dos Padres was known for centuries for the Malvasia Candida variety. It is a tetchy variety to grow however, and by the mid-20th century, it was thought extinct on the island. The variety Malvasia Sao Jorge had supplanted it. A single vine was found near the cliff on the Faja dos Padres. DNA analysis confirmed it was the original Malvaisa Candida and its cuttings used to repropagate the variety on Madeira. The Faja dos Padres today consists of 9 hectares of land. There’s a garden-like mixed planting of tropical and semitropical fruit. The vineyards are on the more western end with Malvasia Candida and Terrantez planted. A small restaurant and bar serves local caught grilled tuna. I’m addicted to the limpets broiled with olive oil and garlic! There are also a few rustic but comfortable guest cottages for rent. The only way to visit is by boat or by the vertiginous two person elevator shown in the photo. Barbeito takes much of the grape crop, but some is reserved. It is vinified and aged on the property in a small stone lodge. This wine on property cannot be commercialized as Madeira, but is reserved for guests. Relatively pale for malvaisa, but this is young stuff. Meaty, savory, sweet, and spicy all at once. I’d love to see this after a few dozen more years!
Fernandez Family 1986 Verdelho (from cask). Manuel Eugenio Fernandes (the MEF on the cask in the photo) was a table wine broker on the island for many years. His hobby and passion, however, was for fortified Madeira. He bought and aged it in the basement cellar of his house in Seixal, on the north coast of the island. The wine was for family and friends. He only sold his fortified wines twice. Once he sold a pipe to pay for a flat in Lisbon when one of his sons went to University. He had a long life and had many children. All of them successful, doctors, lawyers, engineers. His children keep their father’s house in Seixal as a get together place for family events. The basement cellar is still there, and the family still make and age wine in their father’s memory. Again, this wine cannot be commercialized as Madeira since it is not registered nor regulated by the Instituto do Vinho, do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira (IVBAM), the government institution which regulates Madeira (and handicrafts such as embroidery). It also must be bottled by one of the registered shippers. A few bottles of an over 40 year old Verdelho were bottled by the Madeira Wine Company a few years ago in honor of Mario Eugenio’s 96th birthday, and these have the IVBAM selo. This particular wine was a Verdelho from 1986. Taken directly from cask using a bamboo wine thief. Shimmering pale amber-gold. Rich with honey and tangerine flavors. Beautiful and pure fruit. Plush mouthfeel and long on the end. If you could combine an old still Champagne and a Fino Sherry, it would be something like this. Wonderful to drink with family and friends, which is what the Fernandez family does with it.
“The hold-over prohibitionist will shake his head in sorrow and disapproval”: The rise of wine cookery in 1934
After the repeal of Prohibition on December 5, 1933, the legal availability of wine in America was reflected in newspapers and books. In particular interest for this post is the rise of articles and cook books featuring the use of wine as an ingredient through 1934. Starting at the beginning of the month of Repeal, pictures of dishes with accompanying recipes were published in newspapers with titles such as “Roast pheasant and wine-flavored sauce” and “Fresh Beef Tongue In White Wine”. It was felt that these recipes would be “collected by the up-to-date hostess for use at smart dinner parties”. Mrs. Penrose Lyly led off with a specific wine for her recipes in “Sherry Comes Back to the Kitchen”. “Cooking Art Is Now Being Rediscovered” by Cynthia Proctor is perhaps one of the earliest articles about wine cookery having appeared on January 21, 1934, in the Boston Herald. With wine described as an enhancement, several recipes were presented to “add zest” to one’s menus. These recipes include “Beef and Oysters au Vin” utilizing “port wine” and even “Wine Jelly” with angelica.
It seems the first American wine cookery book was published by The Browns on July 12th, 1934. The Boston Herald reviewed this book of “epicurean delights” on July 21, 1934. However, the main focus of the review is that the Brown’s were “not so exclusively devoted to wines as to fail to include this recipe for roast peacock”. “The Wine Cook Book” was reviewed by The New York Times a day later on July 22, 1934. This review is more descriptive of the layout of the book than embracing of the wine based recipes. The author felt The Browns who wandered “over the face of the earth” produced a unique cook book that would delight “the epicure and the connoisseur of foods and drinks” but the “prohibitionist will shake his head in sorrow and disapproval.”
Another important wine cookery book came out during the fall of 1934. Ida Bailey Allen’s “The Wine and Spirits Cook Book” contained “many ancient and many modern suggestions for gracious living”. One reviewer found it a book “to present to yourself as a special celebration, or buy for a friend who enjoys trying new dishes and dressing up old favorites.”  This book must have enjoyed some popularity for Ida Bailey Allen had her own daytime radio show, was the first female television host with her show “Mrs. Allen and the Chef”, and became editor at Good Housekeeping magazine.
Not all wine cookery books were entirely new publications. Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking School Cook Book” was updated to include recipes with wine. I should note that this and “The Wine Cook Book” were published by Little, Brown & Co. of Boston. The San Francisco Chronicle felt it was a signal to women that “so famous an institution” as the Boston Cooking School saw fit to include recipes “that require quantities of California’s noted vintages.” Even the “Delineator Cook Book”, edited by Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose of Cornell University, added a chapter on wine cookery.
Ida Bailey Allen writes in her Forward that right after Repeal she received many letters and queries on the service and use of wine and liquors in cooking. In order to publish her wine cookery book she had to perform “necessary research” which led her “into many hitherto unexplored fields”. She dug back deep for some of her recipes date back to the Colonial period. These recipes include “George Washington Snowballs” and “Pigeons Transmogrified”. It seems odd at first that 13 years of Prohibition could have obliterated the memory of recipes involving wine. However, in her first chapter we learn that wine cookery recipes fell out of use much earlier and not solely because of Prohibition.
Wine cookery fell out of favor in the 19th century. Ida Bailey Allen gives three main reasons: wines were imported thus expensive, little attention was given to native wines [perhaps in cooking], and the popularity of flavoring extracts with an alcohol base took hold. These three reasons were echoed by Mary Meade, the pen name of Ruth Ellen Church, on January 6, 1935, in the Boston Herald. Whether the first two reasons bear out or not, I can attest that the discussion of using wine as an alternative to a flavor extract or essence persisted for a few more decades.
It was commonly felt that wine and spirits contributed to cooking in three manners: it accentuates the natural flavor of food, it adds flavor, and it improves texture by tenderizing meat. For those concerned of the expense, Ida Bailey Allen explains that most of her recipes call for only a small amount of wine. The “heel-tap”, or what is left in a bottle or a glass at the end of a meal, is typically a suitable volume. Thus even those on a moderate income could afford to cook with wine and in doing so they would “open a new vista of flavors”.
 “Wine Flavored Sauce”. Date: Friday, December 1, 1933 Paper: Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts) Page: 11
 “Fresh Beef Tongue In White Wine”. Date: Thursday, December 14, 1933 Paper: Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts) Page: 28
 Lyly, Penrose. “Sherry Comes Back to the Kitchen”. Date: Sunday, December 3, 1933 Paper: Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts) Page: 38
 Proctor, Cynthia. “Cooking Art Is Now Being Discovered”. Date: Sunday, January 21, 1934 Paper: Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts) Page: 45
 For the Next Sunday When Company Comes. Book Notes. Date: Saturday, July 21, 1934 Paper: Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts) Page: 11
 Wine and Food: THE WINE COOK BOOK. By the Browns, Cora, Rose and Bob. 462 pp. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. $2.50. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 22 July 1934: BR10.
 “Here Are Some New Recipes To Make Tasty Desserts”. Date: Sunday, December 9, 1934 Paper: Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts) Page: 48
 “Cooking With Wine and Spirits”. Date: Wednesday, October 10, 1934 Paper: Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio) Page: 14
 Friendly, Jane. “Famous Cook Book Big Aid To Housewife”. Date: Thursday, November 1, 1934 Paper: San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) Page: 20
 Yea, There’s Need for a Book, When the Man Is the Cook!: A Batch of the Best Are Selected for the Bachelors. Here’s How to Escape the Ills of Eating Delicatessen. The Washington Post (1923-1954) [Washington, D.C] 18 Nov 1934: B7.
 Meade, Mary. “Sparkling Wine Secret of Tang In Many Dishes”. Date: Sunday, January 6, 1935 Paper: Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts) Page: 52
I grew up watching “The Frugal Gourmet” cooking show on television. Hosted by Jeff Smith, my mom owned his cookbooks and if I want an instant rush of childhood memories I need only to look at the red font of his book “The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine” (1984).
My exploration into the 20th century history of wine journalism illustrates how many early newspaper wine writers were in fact food editors, of whom many were women. It is perhaps a natural extension from publishing a food column in a newspaper to publishing a cook book. My particular interest is the genre of wine cookery books. I have purchased a number of these cook books this winter. I thought it would be fun to share some of these books that I have collected given this festive season of wine and cooking.
The rise of wine cookery books in Great Britain and America appears to have taken place in the post-war years of the 1930s. This was a time when economies were recovering from the devastation of the Great Depression. Andre L. Simon noted it had been several decades since there were “practical handbooks to the knowledge and use of individual wines”. As editor of the series Constable’s Wine Library he had seen to the publication of books about Sherry, Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Port. He coauthored “Madeira: Wine, Cakes and Sauce” with Elizabeth Craig in 1933. The following year in 1934, Elizabeth Craig’s “Wine in the Kitchen” was added to the series.
Back in America, Prohibition was repealed during December 1933. The following summer during July 1934, saw the publication of Cora, Rose, and Robert Carlton Brown’s “The Wine Cook Book”. If The Brown’s wine cook book was in celebration of the new found legal availability of wine, Elizabeth Craig’s book appears to acknowledge the lean years of the war and depression. Francois Latry, Maitre des Cuisines, Savory Restaurant, London looks to France in his introduction of Elizabeth Craig’s book. He notes wine brings “new ways of adding zest to old recipes”.
The Brown’s “The Wine Cook Book” continued to be reprinted, nine times in the first dozen years, thus continuing to be available through the end of World War 2. The years after World War 2 saw a steady succession of wine books with ties to wineries, wine advocacy groups and some were even published by wine journalists.
The Wine Institute was founded in 1934 and created The Wine Advisory Board in 1937 as their marketing board. The war in Europe restricted wine importations so many American looked to California for their wine. The Wine Advisory Board worked to market Californian wine and in doing so published many pamphlets and aided many authors over the years.
Anne Director, head of the consumer information division for the Roma Wine Company in California, published “The Standard Wine Cook Book” in 1948. The Roma Wine Company was popular in the 1930s and 1940s, advertising both in print and on the radio. The production of Californian wine soared in the mid-1940s. Competition amongst wineries led to increased capacity and increased advertising expenditure. Her book is no doubt part of this expenditure.
While the Roma Wine Company is not mentioned in Anne Director’s book, she is listed as working at “America’s largest wine producer.” They were certainly large with a bottling capacity of 20,000 cases a day in 1945. Also related to a winery, “The Lejon Cook Book” (1947) focused in on the wines Chateau Lejon from California. It was written by Jeanne Owen, secretary of the Wine and Food Society of New York and published by National Distillers Products Corporation.
Perhaps any mention of wine in a recipe meant home cooks would grab a bottle from California. Not lost upon the Wine Advisory Board they provided suitable recipes in “Fish Dishes With Wine” (1948). In the 1950 edition of “The Standard Wine Cook Book” the small pamphlet “14 Praise-Winning Wine Recipes for Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Wild Game” was included. It clearly recommends the local wine with choices of “California Sauterne wine” and “California Burgundy wine”. That same year the Italian Swiss Colony employed Gertrude S. Wilkinson, former food editor of The New York Journal-America, to write the pamphlet “Food Is More Fun With Wine” (1950).
George Leistner under the pen name Emily Chase became the first food consultant for The Home Advisory Service of the Wine Institute. She published “The pleasures of cooking with wine” (1960). Other publications by the Wine Advisory Board include “Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers” (1963), the shortened pamphlet version “The Revised Wine Cook Book” (1964), and “Gourmet Wine Cooking the easy way” (1968).
During this period New York state ranked second in wine production behind California. The Taylor Wine Company did not lay quiet for Greyton H. Taylor published the “Treasury of Wine & Wine Cookery” in 1963.
Also that same year Rebecca Caruba, the first female sommelier in America, England, and France, published “Cooking With Wine and High Spirits” (1963).
Morrison Wood, who wrote the column “For Men Only” in the Chicago Tribune first published “An Unusual Collection of Recipes With a Jug of Wine” in 1949. He continued to publish a number of other cook books. Ruth Ellen Church, who, under the pen name Mary Meade was the food editor of the Chicago Tribune, later became the first regular wine columnist in a newspaper. Her “American Guide To Wines” (1963) was a combination wine guide and cook book with an introduction by Morrison Wood. After retiring from the newspaper she later published “Entertaining with Wine” (1976).
I should also mention “The ABC of Wine Cookery” (1957) published by the Peter Pauper Press. This press came out with a series of ABC cook books during the 1950s and 1960s. The colorful dust jackets, whimsical illustrations, and text make them quite pleasing. For instance you may find, “Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly, Lavender’s green; Add wine to your sauce, and you’ll eat like a Queen!”
What appears between the covers of these books is subject to future posts. However, for a sweet ending, Anne Director’s Christmas Pudding includes such ingredients as chopped suet, molasses, sweet milk, nut meats, Port or Muscatel. Bon Appetit!
Lou and I gathered with our wives last week for our annual pre-Christmas dinner. We started in the living room drinking Champagne and eating a crab dip based on a recipe Lou grew up with as a child. The NV The Rare Wine Co, Les Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru Champagne was our young bottle. With more biscuit aromas than yeast the textured flavors were of lemon fruit and chalk by the finish. This is an easy going Champagne which will continue to provide interest for several years to come. I opened the 1970s release of the NV Besserat de Bellefon, Grande Tradition, Champagne with great curiosity. I served it extra cold to help preserve any bubbles. Despite the sound of some gas escaping when I removed the sound cork, the wine was indeed flat. This then was a balanced, lively old wine with the right amount of density, tart apple flavors, and old wood. I even found the fine golden amber color matched the nutty aromas on the mouth. Lou mentioned Abe Schoener’s carbonated sparkling wine so I had every intention of subjecting a small sample to our Soda Stream. While I forgot to do so I did mix a glass of the two Champagnes to positive effect.
With dinner we started with Lou’s oldest bottle of Aubert in the form of the 2008 Aubert Wines, Chardonnay, Reuling Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. This is a fairly alcoholic wine so it took an iteration or two to get it at the right temperature. Once the temperature was correct, this was a glorious Californian Chardonnay. It was aromatic, rich in the mouth, and quite mouthfilling but with fine acidity and minerality. It was a treat. We then moved to older Burgundy. The popped and poured 1978 Mongeard-Mugneret, Grands-Echezeaux immediately smelled great. Lou and I exchanged a quick glance to confirm the bottle was in sound shape. It took almost half an hour for the flavors to catch up. Then for one hour this was a compelling wine to smell and taste, reasserting that old Burgundy can make a fine drink! The evening ended with a glass of 1966 Offley Boa Vista, Vintage Port. It is not the most complex of wines but the sweetness is delivered with a seductive mouthfeel and a noticeable dose of old wood. It is an old Vintage Port that can be drunk without concern.
NV The Rare Wine Co, Les Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru Champagne
Imported by the Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose reveals more biscuit aromas than yeast. In the mouth, the very fine and firm bubbles quickly dissipate leading to a lively start of lemon flavors. With bright acidity on the tongue things wrap up with a textured, chalky finish. *** Now – 2020.
NV Besserat de Bellefon, Grande Tradition, Champagne (1970s release)
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. In the glass was a golden amber color with a finely aromatic nutty nose. The acidity gives an initial impression of a prickle on the tongue but there is no doubt this wine is flat. There is a fine balance of nut flavors, old wood, and tart apple flavors. The wine is slightly textured with salivating acidity, and a slight density. All in all, it is a charming still wine. *** Now.
2008 Aubert Wines, Chardonnay, Reuling Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Alcohol 15.6%. With air and proper temperature the nose smelled of waxy sweet aromas, butterscotch and supportive oak. This is a mouthfilling, sexy with but the consistent acidity and good minerality make it a joy to drink. The flavors start with sweet yellow fruit but turn to white by the finish. ****(*) Now.
1978 Mongeard-Mugneret, Grands-Echezeaux
Shipped by Robert Haas Selections. Imported by Vineyard Brands. The fine and deep nose was scented with aromas of cranberries and cherries. It took 15 to 30 minutes for the tart red fruit flavors to take on sweetness. This mixed well with the floral start, watering acidity, and ripe old wood hints in the finish. This lively wine was compelling to drink for another hour and even picked up a touch of grip in the end. **** Now.
1966 Offley Boa Vista, Vintage Port
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 20%. The marshmallow sweetness is matched by the round body making for a luxurious feeling wine from the very first glass. While not too complex, the fruit is pure and the supportive hints of old wood are just right. This bottle was in great shape without any hints of heat. In the end, a great old Port to drink. ***(*) Now but will last.