Posts Tagged ‘Pessac Leognan’

Top values from Bordeaux: Marsau and Clos Marsalette

Phil at MacArthur Beverages recommends the two wines featured in this post and so must I.  The 2015 Chateau Marsau, Cotes de Francs is a highly mineral, savory wine with an attractive nose of herbs.  It is a top value at $22, offering both personality and the ability to age for several years.  For me, the 2014 Clos Marsalette, Pessac-Leognan is all about satisfyingly deep aromas and supple, dark flavors.  This may be a forward wine but it still has tension.  It is the sort of wine I want to drink glass after glass of and worth every bit of $25.

2015 Chateau Marsau, Cotes de Francs – $22
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Merlot.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose of herbs evokes sage and thyme.  In the mouth there is a savory edge to this highly mineral wine.  There is a focused vein or core of ripe and dense black fruit.  There is  subtle perfume in the end with a cool, zippy finish.  The supportive structure leaves ripe, gum coating tannins and a spicy note.  It has strong personality!  ***(*) Now – 2025.

2014 Clos Marsalette, Pessac-Leognan – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc fermented in wooden and concrete vats then aged for 18 months in 40% new oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A good nose of deep aromas.  In the mouth this is dark with licorice and cassis, a bit gravelly with tense freshness.  With air it is decidedly dark fruited with cassis and a eucalyptus/greenhouse hint.  The tannins are present yet completely integrated.  It takes on a cooler tilt with air.  This is a very satisfying, supple wine to be drunk now.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

“There is no such thing as Round Hill”: 1974 Round Hill, 1970 LMHB, and 1978 Mastantuono

January 4, 2019 3 comments

Sickness and scheduling issues meant I was never able to host any tastings this holiday break. I did manage to meet up at Lou’s house for an impromptu tasting of mature wine.  I was given several bottles of 1970 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Graves from that odd DC cellar years back.  With ratty labels (the 1970 is still visible though) and good fill, the cork came out in good shape.  Just a brief bit of bottle stink soon blew off to reveal deep aromas.  It is deep flavored as well, yet also lifted, quickly showing fully mature flavors.  Equally good, the 1974 Round Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley lived up to my hopes.

It is due to these two wines that I stayed at Lou’s for nearly five hours as we finished off both bottles.  Two years ago I mentioned Round Hill in the context of some old Ernie’s bottles I had opened.  Ernie Van Asperen ran a chain of more than 80 liquor stores in California.  He also operated a negocient business, purchasing up extra wine from wineries who bottled it for him under the Round Hill and Ernie’s labels.  Round Hill wines could be highly regarded and won medals at the Los Angeles County Fair.  Frank J. Prial, a judge at the fair, wrote in The New York Times that he found this “amusing because there is no Round Hill.”

As for what was in our bottle we do have some clues.  In 1980, the Underground Wine Journal wrote that the 1974 Ernie’s “Special Selection” Cabernet came from old Souverain stocks that were sold off in the 1970s.  In 1974, Souverain was sold by J. Leland Steward to a group of investors.  They in turn sold Souverain to Pillsbury Co. under which the new winery was constructed in Alexander Valley.  It was not a profitable deal, for Pillsbury sold off the Souverain winery and its assets in 1976.  Round Hill was founded in 1977.  That same year Frank J. Prial noted that wine from Sonoma Vineyard and Souverain were bottled under the Round Hill label.

There is a strong chance, then, that the 1974 Round Hill is actually Souverain.  Whatever it is, Ernie knew what he was doing for it is an excellent wine at the height of maturity.

I do love a good surprise and the 1978 Mastantuono, Zinfandel, Dusi Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County represents just that.  I refrained from any prior research so was quite impressed with the savory and saline profile of this full-bodied, red fruited wine.  Founded in 1976, Mastantuono is the fifth oldest winery in Paso Robles.  The Dusi Vineyard was planted in 1923 so even at the time, the Mastantuono was made from old vines.  The 1978 vintage was a hot year producing “intensely flavored” Zinfandel according to Robert Parker Jr. in The Washington Post during 1981.  This bottle is intense yet savory, lending interest as it reflects both the vintage and vineyard.  It lasted about two hours in a decanter before it started to fade.

The wines that evening were a treat!

1970 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Graves
Deep flavored with ripe hints and goof lift.  Additional notes of low-lying leather and minerals adds complexity.  The watering acidity weaves through the palate as the wine grips the sides of the gums, turning redder in flavor.  With air it offers up deep flavors of cranberries and other bright fruit.  **** Now but will last

1974 Round Hill Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  A deep, black cherry color offers more pigment than the LMHB.  Immediately striking as medium-bodied with good fruit weight and rounded nature.  This wine is rich in flavor with no hard edges due to fully integrated structure.  It is dense and gravelly with minerals and grip by the middle.  It took half an hour to open up in the decanter, eventually offering big mouth feel and flavor for hours.  A touch of structure comes out in the end. **** Now but will last.

1978 Mastantuono, Zinfandel, Dusi Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County
Alcohol 12.5%. A fresh nose with an herbaceous hint.  A savory, salty start soon yields bright red fruit that is deep in flavor.  This is a medium to full-bodied wine with quite the weight to the fruit.  Flavors of candied berry and old leather mix with good watering acidity, actually zippy acidity.  A very solid wine.  The savory personality makes it stand out.  *** Now but will last.

A blind tasting of 2014 Bordeaux

Several weeks ago I was a guest of Phil’s tasting group for a blind event featuring featuring seven wines.  I will admit to being confused.  I thought some wines from Bolgheri, others certainly from Bordeaux, and I was sure one was Barbera! Six of the wines were Bordeaux and what I thought was Barbera turned out to be from California.  All wines were from the 2014 vintage which I did not guess.

When we sat down to taste the wines they had the corks removed just one hour prior.  The naturally forward wines showed the best but the subsequently decanted Pichon Baron improved greatly.  In all fairness, I heard that the Clinet improved greatly after three days.  If in doubt hold on to your 2014s!

My favorites include the 2014 Chateau Les Carmes de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, undoubtedly the best value of all wines tasted but also my type of wine, and even the forward 2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan.  The best wine for long-term development is the 2014 Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac.  There are interesting flavors here but the balance and stuffing will see it evolve into something quite engaging.

Please find my notes below in the order the wines were tasted.  If my ratings seem conservative just remember these wines are young!  Many thanks to Phil for including me.

2014 Chateau La Gaffeliere, Saint- Emillion – $55
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14.5%. Still young in color with dark aromas of mulberries. In the mouth black fruit, cherries, and good acidity are still structured. The fresh finish brings powerful tannins. With air the fruit takes on a cool aspect but is sappy and chewy with a graphite note. Will certainly improve with age.  ***(*) 2020-2035.

2014 Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac – $99
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.   This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot.  Alcohol 13.5%. The nose remained tighter. An almost puckering start with wood flavors and a tart finish on the tongue. The tannins are fairly unresolved grabbing the gums but there is an interesting blend of fruit and flavors. After decanting the fruit balanced out the structure revealing good harmony and flavor.  **** 2023-2038.

2014 Chateau Giscours, Margaux – $59
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon. 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.5%. Tight, somewhat aromatic but unevolved. In the mouth are focused and tight flavors of black fruit. The wine is fresh but also very young with structure and acidity reminiscent of Bordeaux. It takes on hints of fat in the finish, some greenhouse, and is clearly built to age. ***(*) 2023-2035.

2014 Chateau Les Carmes de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan – $65
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This is a blend of 54 % Cabernet Franc, 32 % Merlot, and 14 % Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13.5%. A little more on the nose perhaps some meat. There is more immediate fruit weight compared to structure. This is a dense wine with gum coating, rather than drying, tannins. The watering acidity is integrated with the structure. This wine is young but in balance with a hint of fruit in the end along with baking spices. **** Now – 2028.

2014 Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate – $54
This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvingon, 14% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Monte Bello Vineyard. Alcohol 13.7%. A good nose of black fruit and violets but the aromas are almost raisinated. There is a riper core of dark and ripe fruit, quite the structure but the brambly fruit perseveres. It has a soft edge and notes of sweet oak. Reminded me of Barbera!  *** Now – 2026.

2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan – $75
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 14%. There is depth to the nose. In the mouth, ripe fruit, black and violet, exists in a structure but there is more good fruit to the balance. It is a good modern wine, will be ready sooner, with nice weight that marks the structure as supportive. It opens up well, is the most forward, and even offers a mineral finish. **** Now – 2030.

2014 Chateau Clinet, Pomerol – $69
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.5%. This is a finely flavored wine, cool in flavor, structured, and focused. It did not give up much. *** 2021- 2031.

The 14th Annual Heart’s Delight Press and Sommelier Luncheon


This past week I attended the 14th Annual Heart’s Delight Press and Sommelier Luncheon held at the Hotel Sofitel Washington, DC.  The luncheon is just one part of the Heart’s Delight Wine Tastings and Auction which was spread over five days.  This event began in memory of Bruce Bassin of MacArthur Beverages in 1999 with the intent to raise money for the American Heart Association.


The tasting and luncheon was held in Le Bar.  The space was arranged with the 13 wineries located across two sides of the room, the luncheon buffet on a third side with the bar itself holding water and plenty of wine glasses.  Within the center of the room were cocktail tables for tasting and eating.  A small number of us gathered for the event including Ben Giliberti (Calvert-Woodley), Dave McIntyre (The Washington Post and DMWineLine), David White (Terroirist),  Don Winkler and Mike Potashnik (International Wine Review), Christian Schiller (Schillerwine), Dick Rosano (Weekly Wine Pick), Karen Taylor (France Magazine), and Rebecca Canan (Terroirist). For Christian Schiller’s thoughts on the event you may read Heart’s Delight 2013 – A Bordeaux and American Wine Feast in Washington DC for a Good Cause, USA.


I decided to visit the tables in clockwise order.  Many others had the same idea so despite the small number of attendees there was a bit of a jam where Chateau Palmer met Chateau Clerc-Milon.  In the end I ran out of time and was unable to taste the wines of Chateau Clerc-Milon and Martinelli.  What I did taste was a highly pleasurable array of distinct wines with even the most structured and tannic wine was still enjoyable.  Besides the outstanding quality of the wines I thought the feel of the room was calm.  The number of wines being poured, the number of attendees, the size of the room, and food worked together.  The event became a social affair.  Attendees and winemakers freely chatted and towards the end of the luncheon, everyone started to mingle and small groups formed.

Château Malartic-Lagravière

Bruno and Veronique Bonnie Laplane

Bruno and Véronique Bonnie Laplane

The Blanc is produced from a smaller 6 hectare plot.  Due to its size there is no rush for harvest so they pick the fruit over three tries.  Véronique commented that the Blanc ages well, developing minerals as it does.  The oldest vintage of Blanc in the cellar is the 1945!  The red varietals encompass 43 hectares so it is harvested all at once, plot by plot.

2010 Château Malartic-Lagravière, Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
This wine is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon which was fermented in barrel then aged on the lees for 11 months in 50% new oak barrels.  The nose was floral with light raspberry and a little grassy aromas.  In the mouth there was acidity driven flavors which built weight to reveal ripe, spiced texture, tang, and increased intensity.  There was a very good, persistent aftertaste.  Nice wine.

2010 Château Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Leognan
This wine is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel and oak vats then aged for 18 months in 75% new oak barrels.  The nose revealed a little ripe fruit, red aromas, vanilla, and bramble fruit.  In the mouth the red and blue fruit was youthful with vigor.  There were ripe tannins which coated the lips and teeth as part of the ripe structure.  The flavors became blacker and racy in the finish turning to tart black fruit in the aftertaste.  It sported fine acidity.  This was quite approachable.

Château Haut-Bailly

Diana Paulin

Diana Paulin

This wine is composed of 20% fruit sourced from a very old vineyard located by hind the left read of the Chateau.  These old vines are approximately 120 years old, being just post-phylloxera.  This vineyard includes plots where six varietals are coplanted.  In order to differentiate between the early and late ripening vines they are tagged with ribbons.

2010 Château Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Leognan
This wind is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc which was aged in 55% new barrels.  The nose revealed concentrated fruit, berry bramble, and an attractive funk.  In the mouth the black and grapey fruit flavors showed firm focus.  This wine has obvious structure with fine ripe citric/wood tannins mixing with black berries in the finish.  This needs age and will be quite comfortable in the cellar.

Château Léoville-Poyferré

Anne Cuvelier

Anne Cuvelier

The estate was acquired by the Cuvelier family in 1920.  Since then they have constructed a new winery, planted new vines, and just in time for the 2010 vintages was the installation of new stainless steel cuviers.

2010 Château Léoville-Poyferré, Saint-Julien
This wine is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc which was fermented in stainless steel then underwent 50% malolactic fermentation in barrels followed aging in 75% new French oak barrels for 18-20 months.  There was a youthful nose of vintage perfume, grapey aromas, and a good greenhouse aroma.  In the mouth there was an underlying darkness with firm, spicy structure supporting the red and black fruit.  There were drying tannins and some integrated, salivating acidity.  This was a lip coating wine which will clearly benefit from age.

Château Palmer

Château Palmer is the classical wine with Alter Ego the contemporary.  Alter Ego features a larger percentage of Merlot along with shorter barrel aging which makes it more forward. Any fruit not deemed for the Grand Vin or Alter Ego is sold off.

2010 Château Palmer, Alter Ego, Margaux
This wine is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Merlot.  The nose bore good perfume.  The mouth followed the nose with dark perfumed flavors, good acidity, and a racy aspect towards the finish.  This was attractive and probably the most forward of the Bordeaux.

2010 Château Palmer, Margaux
This wine is a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot.  There was a dark, perfumed nose with pungent berries which stepped out of the glass.  In the mouth the seductive fruit mixed with dark perfume and some tart red flavors.  The structure was integrated with the flavors taking on a berry quality leaning towards blue and black fruit.  Already very nice in its youth.  Effortlessly flavorful.

Clos Dubreuil

Lisa Simon

Lisa Simon

This wine is produced from fruit sourced from a tiny 10 acre vineyard under the consultancy of Michel Rolland.

2010 Clos Dubreuil, St. Emilion
This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was tight  In the mouth there was focused blue and black fruit, structure, hint of vanilla, and some extract.  There were ripe, grapey tannins which stuck to the lips.

Château Troplong Mondot

Myriam Ruer

Myriam Ruer

With 33 hectares of vines Troplong-Mondot is one of the largest estates in St. Emilion.  The vines themselves average 65 years of age.

2010 Château Troplong Mondot, St. Emilion
This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  The nose stepped out with lipsticky aromas of bramble fruit.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit, black, inky fruit which was mouthfilling and attractive.  The vein of flavor stood up to a fair amount of structure.  The tannins coated the lips and gums.  This was drinking well.

Château Pontet-Canet

Alfred Tesson, Image courtesy of Christian Schiller

Alfred Tesson, Image courtesy of Christian Schiller

The Tesseron family has slowly replanted the vineyards and improved the winery since they acquired it in 1975.  The fruit is fermented in both wooden vats, without temperature control, and modern concrete vats installed in 2005.

2010 Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot which was fermented in oak and cement vats then aged for 16 months in 60% new oak barrels.  The nose was of ripe, mixed fruits.  In the mouth the soft forward fruit had blue flavors with both integrated acidity and tannins.  It was approachable and soft in a sense with some low-lying flavors and a grapey finish.  A fair amount was going on with absolutely no hard edges.

Meteor Vineyards

Jason Alexander

Jason Alexander

Meteor Vineyards dates to 1998 when Barry and Tracy Schuler purchased a proper in Coombville.  The vineyard was planted in 1999 on a rocky knoll at 500 feet.  The soils are volcanic and might be part of a caldera.  The vineyard is planted with only Cabernet Sauvignon and this particular wine is produced from three different clones.

2009 Meteor Vineyards, Perseid, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 22 months in 65% new French oak.  The nose preceded the mouth with dark, racy Cabernet Sauvignon fruit.  It has a sweet vanilla beam with a cool aspect and pervasive, dark perfume.  It was almost lush but the structure was inside to provide a framework.

Château Guiraud

Laure Planty

Laure Planty

This is an 18th century estate which since 2006 has been run by Robert Peugeot, Olivier Bernard, Stephan Von Neipperg, and Xavier Planty.  The fruit is sourced from some 85 hectares of vineyards.

2010 Château Guiraud, Sauternes
This wine is a blend of 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. RS 132 g/L.  Alcohol 13.7%.  The nose was fruit with fresh, mandarin oranges.  In the mouth the residual sugar was noticeable before the very attractive body coated the tongue.  There was a glycerin feel along with flavors of baking spices and some creme brulee.  The acidity was integrated.  An inviting young wine.

Château Coutet

Dominique Baly

Dominique Baly

The estate has been producing wine since the 17th century.  Today it is the largest Barsac property with 35 hectares of vines and is owned by the Baly family.

2010 Château Coutet, Barsac-Sauternes
This wine is a blend of 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle.  RS 154 g/L.  Alcohol 14%.  With warmth this showed more apricot flavors and that balance was such that the residual sugar was lessened by the acidity.  The finish wrapped up with peaches and stone fruits.  A lively young wine.

A Few Wines Tasted In Seattle

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment

These wines were casually tasted during my recent trip to Seattle.  The Ash Hollow starts off lush from the very first glass and would be quickly finished in a social setting.  But on the third night I was quite captivated by the nose and was almost content to just smell it.  The Cor Cellars showed a bit more breed and remained confident in itself over three nights.  I would be curious to try it again out of a wine glass instead of a tumbler.  The Chateau La Garde had attractive black fruit but we all suspected this will bow down to its structure.  The Syncline was nice.  From a cooler vintage it offers up a bright profile of blackberry and red fruits which are enlivened by its acidity.  I think it attractive and would stick a few bottles in my cellar for short-term aging.  Please find my casual tasting notes below.  The Chateau La Garde was purchased by Clark & Julia’s some time ago, the Ash Hollow and Cor Cellars were purchased at Whole Foods, and the Syncline was purchased at Soul Wine.

2008 Ash Hollow, Nine Mile, Walla Walla Valley – $20
This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 14.4%.  The color was medium garnet cherry.  The light nose was pretty with floral aromas, citrus, and tropical fruit.  Nice nose.  In the mouth the fruit was up from with some looseness.  The black and red fruit was heady with some tang and spice followed by pretty fruit in the finish.  This became elegant and attractive on the third night as it showed more restraint.  Tasted over three nights.

2009 Cor Cellars, Petit Verdot, McKinley Springs Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills – $20
This wine is 100% Petit Verdot which was aged for 18 months in barrel.  The color was a medium black cherry.  In the mouth there was inky black fruit which was very focused with ripe flavors and some spice.  The wine starts off very gentle then there is an expansion of flavors as it puts on weight in the finish.  This seductive wine becomes a little racy in the finish followed by some warmth and tannins in the aftertaste.  Tasted over three nights.

2005 Chateau La Garde, Pessac-Leognan –
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  This wine is an almost equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Popped and poured back and forth between glasses.  The light nose offered up tight but enjoyable black fruit and eventually some black tea.  The pure, youthful black fruit in the mouth was met by firm structure and fine-grained tannins.  Decent flavors but it firmed up with air and appears that the fruit will subside and the structure take over.

2011 Syncline, Subduction Red, Columbia Valley – $20
This wine is a blend of 39% Mourvedre, 29% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 9% Carignan, 7% Counoise, and 2% Cinsault.  It was fermented in open top as well as closed-top concrete Nomblot tanks with inoculated yeasts.  It was then aged for 11 months. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a purple ruby.  The light nose has aromas of delicate black fruit, ripe red fruit, and some strawberry.  In the mouth the flavors are framed with a firmness and well-integrated acidity.    There are red raspberry fruits which are bright.  A bit perfumed in the finish with darker fruit and citrus, followed by mild salivation, citrus notes, and a light amount of very fine tannins.  With air the fruit shows delicacy and purity.  I would cellar this for one year.

I Join Phil for Bottles of 2000 Bordeaux

October 26, 2012 1 comment

I recently joined Phil and his tasting group for one of their periodic tastings. The theme was kept secret by Phil though he admitted there was a ringer. After we tasted through the wines people began to offer their guesses as to what we were tasting. I believe a consensus of Bordeaux or Bodeaux-blend was quickly achieved. Our attempts to narrow it down further resulted in a slew of vintages and other guesses. The ringer, however, was singled our for being something else. I was personally surprised and pleased to find out we had been drinking the 2000 vintage! As we were about to tuck into gigantic lamb-shanks with a white-bean puree Phil opened the Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot. Except for the Billecart-Salmon and Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot all of the wines were double-decanted one hour before tasting. The majority of the wines came from Phil’s wine cellar. The other wines, those with prices, were recently purchased from MacArthur Beverages. My notes are presented in the order the wines were tasted.

There were some fine wines this evening. The Billecart-Salmon was a great way to start the evening and was consumed as everyone settled down for the tasting. My favorite wine was the Chateau Giscours for its charisma and confidence. It is balanced and perfectly drinkable but will develop for some time. I suspect many others enjoyed this bottle as it kept “disappearing.” I rather liked the Chateau Monbousquet as well. It showed young with firmer flavors and structure in the finish. The Chateau La Louviere was quite nice as well and kept developing over the two hours I was there. If you try it now give it three hours of air before drinking. The Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot had primary fruit which was quite drinkable. My tasting note was taken within the first hour of being open so bear that in mind.

The Chateau Reignac was a good wine which continued to develop over the evening, perhaps a solid wine. I am curious to hear how this fared over the rest of the evening. The Chateau Potensac was awkward, at first giving the impression that it will develop with age then shutting down upon revisit. The Chateau Haut-Bergey was at its peak during my first glass so perhaps this is best to drink over the next several years. The Pine Ridge stood out when first tasted. Upon revisiting the wine I drank it while eating my lamb and it was completely satisfying. (In retrospect this is too strong of a statement. I meant that drunk with food it was not distracting.)

Many thanks to Phil for inviting me over to his house, as well as to the rest of the group who, for the second time, made me feel welcome.

NV Billecart-Salmon, Brut Rose, Champagne
This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir vinified as a red wine. Alcohol 12%. This bottle had been in Phil’s cellar for 2-3 years. The color was a light, clear salmon rose. The light nose was yeasty and of delicate red fruit. In the mouth the flavors were very light with initial fruit then yeasty apple which mixed with dry, red fruit flavors. It became a bit grippy and racy in the finish. There was good acidity and a textured aftertaste with an earthy note. The bubbles were delicate and integrated. Very harmonious from age and quite satisfying to drink. **** Now.

2000 Chateau Potensac, Medoc – $50
Imported by Vignobles LVDH. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc sourced from 30-year-old vines. It was fermented 15-18 days then aged 12-16 months in 10-15% new oak barrels. Alcohol 13%. The color was medium garnet, showing some age. The medium nose was aromatic with a little green house note. In the mouth there were tight black fruit, wooden structure then a touch of red fruit. It was a little rough in the middle with a drying finish and fine tannins in the aftertaste. It could still use more than an hour of air. Upon revisiting it seemed tighter with a developing wood note. **(*) 2016-2022.

2000 Chateau Reignac, Bordeaux Superieur
Imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons. This wine is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in both stainless steel and oak tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 12 months new oak barrels. Alcohol 13%. The color of medium garnet was lighter than the Potensac. The medium strength nose showed some roasted earth. In the mouth the dryer red fruit was supported by structure. The flavors become more tart in the middle where slightly riper, spicy tannins came up. The wine caused one to pucker a bit in the finish. Upon revisiting the nose was more aromatic and the flavors were expanding. *** Now-2022.

2000 Pine Ridge, Onyx, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 60% Malbec, 24% Tannat, and 16% Merlot which was aged for 17 months in French oak barrels.. Alcohol 14.1%. The color was light to medium garnet with a dark cherry core. The nose was light with sweet notes and butter. In the mouth there was cherry red fruit, which was tart and showed some focus. The flavors became overripe towards the finish as a little mineral and blue fruit flavors came out. There were a light amount of fine tannins. Upon revisiting there was still some sweet fruit. I do not see this developing further but then I suspect it will drink fine for some time. ** Now-2018.

2000 Chateau Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Leognan – $70
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot sourced from 30-year-old vines. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel then aged 16-18 months in 50% new oak barrels. The color was a medium cherry garnet with a dark core. The light to medium strength nose was concentrated with dark aromas and a little eucalyptus. In the mouth there was tart fruit at first which expanded quickly then thinned out in the finish. There was a gentle vein of black fruit and minerals throughout. The flavors turned tart in the finish. There were still wood tannins. Upon revisiting there were more red and blue fruit but I preferred my first glass. *** Now-2020.

2000 Chateau La Louviere, Pessac-Leognan
Imported by USA Wine Import. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot sourced from 20-year-old vines. It was fermented 21 days in stainless steel vats then aged for 12 months in 50-75% new oak barrels. Alcohol 13%. The color was a medium+ dark cherry garnet. The young nose revealed focused fruit and eucalyptus. This wine was youthful in the mouth with lift from the acidity and a fine tannic structure. The youngest thus far it left appealing dry, sticky tannins on the lips. Upon revisiting it revealed more concentrated fruit which was youthful. Good potential here. ***(*) Now-2025.

2000 Chateau Moulin Riche, Saint-Julien
Imported by A.H.D. Vintners. The second wine of Leoville Pyferre this is a bled of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc sourced from 20-year-old vines. Alcohol 13%. The color was light to medium. The nose was a little earthy. The flavors were of bright red fruit, a little wood note, and a general feeling of being old. Upon revisiting the red fruit showing citrus-backing with some juicy acidity. This is drinking at its best right now. ** Now.

2000 Chateau Giscours, Margaux – $100
Imported by The Stacole Co. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc sourced from 30-year-old vines. It was fermented 15-20 days in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in 33% new oak barrels. Alcohol 13%. The medium strength nose revealed good concentration of fruit and a cedar note. In the mouth the flavors had fine concentration, good blue fruit, along with acidity and tannins that were perfectly balanced. Still youthful. Immediately charming. Upon revisiting the nose took on sweaty leather and the mouth showed more spices. A lovely bottle starting to hit its stride. **** Now-2027.

2000 Chateau Monbousquet, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – $60
Imported by Bacchus Importers. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 40-year-old vines. It underwent fermentation for 28-35 days in stainless steel tanks then was aged for 18-22 months in new oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was a medium+ roasted and garnet with a dark core. The fine nose was scented with cedar. In the mouth this fine wine had gentle, sweetly spiced fruit then filled the mouth with black fruit. It firmed up a bit in the finish where the flavors were drier. There were drying ripe tannins which were a little spicy. Upon revisiting the good nose revealed ripe fruit. There continued to be nice fruit in the mouth which left the impression of many years of developing ahead. Almost at the level of the Giscours. **** Now-2027.

2000 Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Imported by Glazer’s. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 35-year-old vines. It was fermented 28-30 days in stainless steel tanks then underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 18 months in new oak barrels. Alcohol 13%. The color was medium+. In the mouth there was finely texture blue fruit that morphed into primary black and red fruit. There was a gentle texture, cool spiced fruit, and a little bit of spicy tannins. A very drinkable, young wine that needs some age. ***(*) Now-2022.

New World Syrah and Cabernets at Jace’s House, 18 March 2011

These notes are from a tasting that Lou and I attended at Jace’s House.  My brief notes are below.

The Bubbly and Whites

N.V. Ulysse Collin, Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Champagne
The light nose was yeasty.  In the mouth there were apple flavors, almost salty, and nice acidity.

1995 Château Pape Clement, Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Graves
The nose was oxidized.  Flavors of tart apples, clearly past its prime, wood, almost Jura-like, with its persistent oxidized aftertaste.  Seen better days.

1999 Domaine Borgeot, Santenay 1er Cru Clos de la Comme, Santenay 1er Cru
The nose was light and refreshing.  With air there were sweet fruit flavors, crisp acidity that caused the mouth to water, still steely, with almost fine tannins.  A good drink!

The Cabernet Sauvignons

2002 Karl Lawrence, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This was clearly young, clamped down, sporting primary dark fruits with a dose of tannin. I’d sit on this for a few years.

1997 Heitz Cellar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trailside Vineyard, Rutherford, Napa Valley
This was my favorite of the first flight. There were ample amounts of ripe fruit with a lovely amount of earthiness and spice. It was big and dense in the mouth without being over done and took on a racy character through the evening.

1991 Beringer Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley
This was my second favorite of the flight. I got a bit of menthol on the nose. It did not have the weight or power of the Heitz but was lovely and plenty of life left.

2000 Bodegas Caro (Barons de Rothschild / Catena) Caro, Mendoza
This was my least favorite of the night. An almost off-putting nose like the inside of a perfumed, old chest of drawers with dense, sweet aromas.

1985 Dunn Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This was my third favorite of the flight. It had a lovely, garnet color to it. It tilted towards tart, sour red fruits with a bit of greenish on the finish. The fruit was a bit too tart in my mind.

The Syrahs

2007 DuMOL, Syrah, Eddie’s Patch, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
This was my least favorite of the Syrah’s. It had an odd, light nose but in the mouth it was rich, creamy, lovely feel but as a whole it was almost out of control.

2007 Betz Family, Syrah, La Côte Rousse, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
This was my second favorite. The light nose moved on to structured, blue fruit, and tannins. It showed a young, inky personality that clearly needs more time. I’d sit on this for several years.

2007 Cayuse, Syrah, Cailloux Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley
This was a clear standout with its light, spiced fruits and a creamy, lifted palate. A nice wine and so easy to drink. My favorite of the Syrahs.

2007 Tensley, Syrah, Colson Canyon Vineyard, Santa Barbara County
This surprised me at the end of the night when it finally showed rich, spiced fruit. But the heat at the end was just too distracting. Drink this one cool!

2001 Long Vineyards, Johannisberg Riesling Botrytis, Napa Valley
The wine was a caramel color in the glass.  There was a light+ nose of botrytis, fresh caramel flavors, apples, but not enough acidity.

2006 Josef Lentsch, Trockenbeerenauslese Dankbarkeit, Neusiedlersee, Burgenland
This showed fresh fruit, ethereal, lots of fresh fruit, acidity, and grip with a creamy coating.  Quite nice.

1999 California, Washington, and Bordeaux wine dinner

February 5, 2009 1 comment

Our usual group gathered this past weekend for a tasting of 1999 wines from California, Bordeaux, and Washington. It was hosted at Lou and Adrienne’s house. They were joined by Dave, Deniz, Todd, Marissa, Adam, Jenn, and myself.

We started off with the 2002 Argyle Brut then moved on to the 2006 Peay Chardonnay before working our way through the red wines.

All wines were tasted blind. They were also decanted for sediment at 4:30pm. Lou threw in the 2000 Merlust Merlot ringer, purchased for 117 Rand. At the time he didn’t reveal anything about the ringer. The Canon La Gaffeliere was a group favorite followed by the Meerlust. The Meerlust is a best buy.

Here are the groups rankings:
Wine #1 – 35 points – 1999 Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere
Wine #2 – 27 points – 2000 Meerlust Merlot
Wine #3 – 19 points – 1999 Andrew Will, Sorella
Wine #4 – 14 points – 1999 Ch. Gracia
Wine #5 – 12 points – 1999 Ridge, Monte Bello

These three tight for 6th with 8 points each:
Wine #6 – 1999 Andrew Will, Merlot, Ciel du Cheval
Wine #6 – 1999 Ch. Pontet Canet
Wine #6 – 1999 Ch. La Tour Haut Brion

2002 Argyle, Brut
Apples on the nose with mild fizz that feels like a slightly older bottle. Yeasty with medium length and perhaps a touch of cinnamon.

2006 Peay, Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Very light straw color and cloudy. A light nose of crisp, lemon zest and citrus. Slightly creamy in the mouth with some minerals. A nice wine that some found slightly detracting by some warmth and overtly toasted oak in the finish.

Flight #1
1 – 1999 Ch. Pavie-Macquin, St. Emillion
The nose on this wine disappeared rapidly leaving the fruit behind and impressions of oak, cedar, and some soy sauce. In the mouth there were lean blue/red fruits that got leaner towards the finish where a moderate amount of stout tannins took hold.

2 – 1999 Andrew Will, Merlot, Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
There was initially some sulphur that blew off to reveal a strong nose of old-world smells: stink, barnyard, and some smokiness. In the mouth there were roundish red fruits that were underripe and overpowered by the tart acidity.

3 – 1999 Ch. Pontet Canet, Pauillac
A medium nose of high-toned, lifted smoke and tobacco. In the mouth the palate really follows the nose with cool blue fruits developing/expanding in the middle. Powerful, fine+ tannins come across in the finish. Almost austere compared to the Meerlust.

4 – 2000 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch
A muted nose compared to the first three. In the mouth ripe red berries, dark olives, make way to very fine tannins that coat the front of the mouth. There is a fair amount of power and the tannins are quite nice. It gave the impression of needing more time but in the glass it faded with time and became more vegetal compared to the Canon La Gaffeliere.

Flight #2
5 – 1999 La Sirena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Volatile acidity on the nose followed by red cranberries. In the mouth there are soft red-liquor and raspberry flavors that make way to a weak somewhat stinky finish. Eh.

6 – 1999 Ch. La Tour Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan
Very light nose. There are cool blue fruits, cassis, pencil lead, and tobacco with a thread of minerals the last through the finish. A strong wine that some found hard to drink. When revisited the core of dark blue fruit was still growing but stayed simple in flavor, not getting more complex.

7 – 1999 Ridge Montebello
Chunky red/blue fruit on the nose. Big in the mouth with nice fruit, leaving impressions of power and reminding you with the assertive tannins. I preferred this over #6. When revisisted I found aromas of lipstick and flavors of dusty, herbs, and green fruit. A decent wine that probably will not get better.

8 – 1999 Cornerstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A strong almost singular nose of green pepper with some black pepper spiciness. This immediately turned off half of the group. In the mouth, good weight, not heavy but powerful green pepper flavors supported by watering acidity, and some sweetness/liquorice in the finish. Eh.

Flight #3
9 – 1999 Ch. Gracia, St. Emilion
A light+ earthy nose with good aromatics right away. Some found brett and cooked meat. Good weight to the fruit but there was some heat mixed in with the moderate tannins and toast. Revisited later it became more out of balance and developed a very light nose of candied popcorn.

10 – 1999 Andrew Will, Sorella
Red cherries on the nose with some finding too much green. In the mouth more red fruits with citrus like acidity, high-toned, sweet blue fruit with some dustiness. There was a good amount of fruit to this wine that some liked and other thought this was a liquid vegetable cart. Revisisted later it was fading and didn’t last long.

11 – 1999 Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere, St. Emilion
A light, delicate nose with chocolate, meat, and coffee. Lovely in the mouth with cool blue fruits in a undoubtedly rich and full bodied package, that develop into a dark fruit aftertase. Revisited later the wine was still developing with grainy fruit, darker flavors, and some spice coming out. Well done, some thought this must be the ringer and a 2000 Bordeaux.

12 – 1999 Behrens & Hitchcock, Cuvee Lola
Very severe volatile acidity with cherry flavors. Some, like myself, decided to try it and immediately launched it into the spitton. Synthetic cork I believe.

Flight #4 – Let’s drink some more!
1999 Clos du Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape
Focused fresh, bright red berries but not to the purity of Charvin. More red berries in the mouth, this wine is slow to develop and puts on weight with air. Definitely stands out compared to the previous 12 wines. Nice, give it more time or more air.

1982 Ch. Potensac, Medoc
A medium nose of sweaty cedar and some sweetness. A bit sour in the mouth, slightly fading fruit, but the core flavors are there. There are still some unresolved tannins. Better than the 1982 Rouget and in no state of dropping off the cliff but it is best to drink up.