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A mature 2002 Bourgogne Blanc and a trio of 1979 Californian Cabernet Sauvignons


Lou likes to gamble on white Burgundy. This week he proved that a basic Bourgogne Blanc can develop with age.  Of course he hedged his bet.  Jean-Marc Boillot is the grandson of Etienne Sauzet and former winemaker at Olivier Leflaive. This combination of a well-respected producer and the outstanding 2002 vintage have produced what is essentially a mature table wine.  The 2002 Jean-Marc Boillot, Bourgogne Blanc drinks well now for it is fresh with attractive mouthfeel.  It is not complex but then it never was meant to be.   Sadly the bottle of 1989 Stony Hill, Chardonnay, Napa Valley was advanced in color and dead in the mouth.  I even forgot to take a picture of the label.

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2002 Jean-Marc Boillot, Bourgogne Blanc
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from young vines which was fermented and aged in oak. Alcohol 12.5%. The clean, yellow fruit is surprisingly rounded. There is a touch of yeast and a touch of apple orchard fruit which points to maturity. The wine remains fresh in the finish, though it is a little short in length. With air the wine becomes a little racy, developing sweet fruit and a touch of grip before the dry finish. All in all this is a lively wine.  **(*) Now but will last.

Lou and I decided to drink a flight of Californian wine from the 1979 vintage.  Michael Broadbent once described it as a cool vintage with useful wines.  Kelli White recently assessed the vintage as capable of still yielding excellent wines.  The 1979 vintage in California came a decade after the American wine boom began.  This boom in wine consumption meant there was a year after year increase in vineyard planting and continual increase in the number of Californian wineries.

I should add that all three red wines had fills into the bottom of the neck.

The 1979 St. Clement, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley comes from a winery whose history spans this period.  It was in 1964 that Michael Robbins bought an old Victorian mansion with a tiny vineyard.  He planted vines then sold wine under the Spring Mountain Vineyards name only to sell the winery to William Casey in 1976.  It is under William Casey that the St. Clement name was developed along with a good reputation for its Cabernet Sauvignon.  Our bottle was in fine shape reflecting this reputation.  The color is the deepest of the trio, matching the deep aromas and flavors of dark fruit.  This is a wine to savor on a cool fall night.

Stonegate was established in 1973 on land that the Spaulding family bought in 1969.  By the early 1980s production had reached nearly double that of St. Clement.  The 1979 Stonegate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vail Vista Vineyard, Alexander Valley is marked by a prominent eucalyptus note on the nose and in the mouth.  This alone sets it apart but there is also this beguiling combination of inky flavor, minerals, a savory aspect, and general intensity.  If the St. Clement is deep and dark the Stonegate is brighter with more acidity and intensity.  What a lovely, contrasting pair worth drinking again.

Sonoma Vineyards came about after a decades worth of winemaking by Rodney Strong.  By 1970 Rodney Strong was selling some 150,000 cases of wine so he built a new winery and named his operation Sonoma Vineyards.  It was not until 1980 that he began to sell wines under the Rodney Strong label.  He had a customized label service for customers which appears to be the origin of our 1979 Sonoma Vineyards, University Club, Special Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County.  The University Club is located in San Francisco where it was founded in 1890.  Clearly a club must provide nourishment and drinks for its members.  In this instance with its own wine label.  The wine itself had a vegetal nose and overall softness.  I suspect it was never great to begin with but of enough quality to survive for decades.

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1979 St. Clement, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%.  This is quite dark and significantly deeper in color that the other wines.  The nose remains deep and attractive with a combination of fruit and some game.  In the mouth is a bright start with good body and weight to the flavors which are still supported by structural components.  The wine still has ripe tannins which coat the mouth as the lively flavors build on the gums.  The dark fruit and character of the wine never faded over four hours.  ***(*) Now – 2021+.

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1979 Stonegate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vail Vista Vineyard, Alexander Valley
Alcohol 13%.  There are some meaty, fruit aromas but it is eucalyptus which comes through on the nose.  The mouth follows with eucalyptus infused fruit.  The wine builds intensity and ripeness, becoming almost inky.  There is a curious quality, almost mineral in this decidedly savory wine.  The juicy acidity is more prominent than in the others.  An old wood note comes out.  The finish does not match the intensity of before but moderate flavor persists in the aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2026.

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1979 Sonoma Vineyards, University Club, Special Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
Alcohol 12%.  This wine is a bit more grippy and vegetal.  With integrated acidity the brighter fruit ultimately softens by the animale finish.  It is a gentle, mature wine that should be drunk up.  ** Now.

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