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A half-bottle of 1977 Graham’s Vintage Port

The 1977 Graham’s, Vintage Port is the only Port we drank over the holidays.  In the half-bottle format the Port soon opens up to reveal itself as fully mature.  It is of moderate sweetness but the mixture of brown sugar, cloves, and cinnamon flavors add to the impression of being an end of evening drink.

1977 Graham’s, Vintage Port half-bottle
Imported by Ginday Imports.  Alcohol 21%.  There is a rounded berry core that mixes with wood box flavors.  The wine rounds out even more as it takes on brown sugar, cinnamon, and hints of tobacco leaf.  There is a good dose of acidity which keeps the balance spot on.  Of moderate sweetness you are reminded of it in the finish due to brown sugar and cloves.  This is just the slightest notion of heat.   ***(*) Now – 2028.

Eric Ifune’s most interesting fortified wines of 2017

December 26, 2017 2 comments

Eric Ifune’s love of fortified wines once again comes through in his third annual post of his favorite wines of the year.

Once again, I’m naming my most interesting fortified wines of this year, 2017. Not necessarily the best, but the most interesting. They are listed chronologically.

Bastardo and Moscatel Madeira in New York

1875 Shortridge-Lawton Bastardo
Tasted at a large tasting of Bastardo and Moscatel Madeira in New York. This was the best wine of the tasting. Shortridge-Lawton was an old shipper founded in the mid-18th century. It is now a minor label of the Madeira Wine Company. This wine was bottled by the MWC for the Sherry-Lehman shop in the 1970’s.

Bastardo, a red skinned variety, almost completely disappeared from the island due to Phylloxera. A few growers have replanted a bit. I believe there’s now about half a hectare grown currently.

Red-copper green in color. Aromas of lemons and a bit of musk. On the palate, very rich and mouth filling. More citrus flavors. Excellent acidity and very, very long. Much better than both Blandy’s and Cossart-Gordon’s 1875 Bastardos at the same tasting.

50 year old blends

A new category of indicated age wines was approved for Madeira a couple of years ago. This is the 50 year old category. Several producers have now released 50 year old blends. I managed to taste a few on the island this past spring. Given the extensive aging needed for quality Madeira, this is an exciting new category.

Justino’s 50 year old Terrantez.
Bottled Feb. 24, 2017.
Terrantez is my favorite variety on Madeira. Still relatively rare, it’s gaining in plantings. Copper-bronze in color. Smoky, nutty, and tangy aromas with limes and a hint of VA. Rich and concentrated on the palate. A proper old Terrantez with a hint of bitterness at the end. Long and balanced.

Henriques & Henriques 50 year old Tinta Negra
Bottled Sept. 2016.
The same legislation which allowed for 50 year old wines also permitted the Tinta Negra (formerly TInta Negra Mole) variety to be listed on labels. This wine originally belonged to Joao Eugenio Perreira, a grower in Camera dos Lobos. Beautiful bright gold copper. Irridescent. Complex aromas of smoke, wood, and leather. A sweet (doce) style of TN, with great balancing acidity. Very long with lemons and limes on the finish.

Barbeito 50 year old Bastardo
Not officially labeled at the time of tasting.  550 bottles will be produced. This wine will be named in honor of Ricardo Frietas’s grandfather. Barbeito has been experimenting a lot with Bastardo lately. From both Ricardo’s grandfather’s stocks and from the Favilla family stocks. Irridescent gold-green with a hint of rose. Spicy and floral with smells reminicent of roses. Medium sweet (Meio Doce). Very complex with beautiful balance.

Blandy’s 50 year old Malmsey
Bottled 2016.
400 liters produced. A blend of multiple vintages: 1952, 1964, 1974, 1975, 1978. Bronze, red, gold in color. Beefy and citric aromas. Perfect balance for me. Great concentration and richness. Smoky with tangerines on the palate. Very long.

32 Vintages of D’Oliveiras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1875 D’Oliveira’s Malvasia
Old JNV (Junta Nacional) seal, in bottle before 1979 (Seen in far right).

I was fortunate to attend a large tasting at D’Oliveiras with over 32 Vintage and age indicated wines. This wine showed a dark bronze color with a green-gold rim. Huge aromatics with smoke, musk, soy, limes, lemons, pralines, and dried fruits. Dense and rich in the mouth. Quite sweet but not overly so. Great balancing acidity. Accompanied with a long citric, meaty finish.



1850 D’Oliveira’s Verdelho. Bottled 2016.

D’Oliveras’s keeps their wine in cask until bottled to order. Thus, this wine was in cask for almost 166 years! Luis D’Oliverira is shown presenting his wine to the right. Very dark bronze color with a copper green rim. Hugely concentrated, as can be expected for a wine in cask so long. Smoky, spicy, citric with toasted nuts and a hint of VA. Sweet due to the extreme concentration but with huge, huge balancing acidity also concentrated. Flavors of limes, tangerines, brown sugar. Very, very long.

The Marquis de Pombal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The grounds and cellar of the Marquis de Pombal estate

Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the 1st Marquis of Pombal and 1st Count of Oeiras, was one of the most important figures in Portuguese history. He was the Prime Minister in the mid-16th century. His statue is in Lisbon in Pombal Square. He rebuilt Lisbon after the disastrous 1755 earthquake and repulsed Spanish invasion. He also reformed the government along enlightenment lines and demarcated the Douro wine region, the first demarcation in the wine world. His estate is near the town of Oeiras, just outside of Lisbon and the vineyards he planted formed the basis of Carcavelos. Carcavelos was once a very famous Portuguese fortified wine, rivaling Madeira. However, because it is close to Lisbon, it has been swallowed up by urban sprawl. At one time it was virtually extinct, however a few years ago, some viticulturists brought it back. It’s stronghold is it’s original one, the Pombal estate. It’s now owned by the local government. There’s a couple of smaller outside vineyards, but they are threatened. There is a total of 25 hectares of Carcavelos, 12.5 belong to the Pombal estate. A 5 hectare vineyard is just outside the estate, but it’s for sale at a price which would preclude viticulture. The grape varieties are mainly white with a few red. Arinto, Boal, Galego Dourado, Negra Mole, Trincadeira and Torneiro. Villa Oeiras is the company producing wine from the old Pombal estate. They use the old estate cellars. They also have a facility in the old Pombal stables where the wines are fermented. I had a fascinating visit earlier this year. The wines are fortified with a 77% aguardiente which is locally produced. One huge difference from other fortified wines is the use of new 225 liter oak barrels. They are doing many experiments with different barrels from different sources and woods, French and even a Portuguese sourced oak. Different toast levels as well. I had a chance to taste the same wine brought up in different oak barrels and the difference was marked. The new oak gives a tropical fruit and coconut quality to the wines which is not unattractive. Highly unusual and distinctive wines.

2004 Villa Oeiras Carcavelos
11 years in oak. 17.5 % alcohol by volume.
Burnished bronze, gold, green color. On the nose, nuts, oak, tropical fruits, honey, and coconut. Velvety mouthfeel. Sweet, tropical fruit flavors. Good acid balance with a long, saline finish.

Villa Oeiras 20 year old Carcavelos
Average age of 20 years.
Bronze gold green in appearance. Looks similar to an old Verdelho Madeira. Oaky, coconuts on nose. On the palate, sweet with almond skins and dried citrus fruits. More coconuts and tropical fruit. Nice acidity and great balance. Very long.

A trio of old Colheita Port

Quinta do Noval 1968 Colheita Port.
Bottled 2016.
Sitting and relaxing on the waterfront in Vila Nova de Gaia. Wanting something good to imbibe, got a half bottle of this from the Noval shop. I’ve had this before, but bottled several years earlier. Now, it’s become even more superb. Full tawny, gold, green. On the nose, nutty, spicy with caramel, limes, and tangerines. On the palate, enormous complexity with flavors of limes, oranges, cinnamon, apricots. Very rich and long.

Quinta do Noval 1937 Colheita Port
Bottled 2008.
At a large multiday tasting of Ports in Seattle. Bright cola colored with hint of green at rim. Complex nose with smoke, dried fruits, nut skins, and pralines. Full and rich on the palate. Intense with great balance. Very long and sweet. Very complete wine.

1957 Kopke Colheita Port
Bottled 2015
Also in Seattle. Dark tawny colored. Musk and brown sugar aromas. Lots of concentration on the palate. Not real sweet. Dried fruits and citrus. Nutty. Great complexity of flavors. Lots of depth and very, very long. Better than the Kopke 1937 and that’s saying something.

A tasting of 1997 Vintage Porrts

I was fortunate to attend a large tasting of 1997 Vintage Ports to celebate their 20 year anniversary. 30 different Vintages served blind.

1997 Croft Quinta da Roeda
Very, very dark. Really young looking. Purple all the way to the rim. Sweet and plummy. Still primary. Aromas of bing cherries. Rich and velvety mouthfeel. Lots of tannins still. Lots of primary fruit. Really long. Needs lots of time to peak.

1997 Fonseca
Dark, just beginning to lighten at the rim. Still rich and primary aromas. On the palate, tannic with lots of grip. Very primary plummy fruit. Almost painfully young.

1997 Calem
Very dark purple all the way to the rim. Very spicy and primary aromas. In the mouth, rich and very primary. Very tannic but everything in balance. Lots of depth and length.

1997 Ramos Pinto
Dense impenetrable dark purple. “Black as Egypt’s night” was the old term. Nose somewhat reticent but plums and spices. On the palate, tight and tannic. Black fruits. Great depth and concentration.

A retrospective of 1977 Vintage Port

I also had the good fortune to attend a 40 year retrospective of the famous 1977 Vintage Ports. 13 wines tasted blind. At this age, lots of variability.

1977 Sandeman
Deep red color. Going rose-tawny at rim. Spicy aromas with strawberries and violets. Just starting to turn secondary. Velvety mouthfeel. Sweet but with great balance and vibrant acidity. Great intensity. Quite long.

1977 Gould Campbell
This has long been considered an overachiever for the vintage by Port aficionados. Still impenetrable dark purple color. Very floral nose with citric fruits and violets. On the palate, sweet with lovely, juicy plummy fruit. Not real intense but beautiful balance. Not the most complex, but very satisfying.

1977 Taylors
This was the best wine of the tasting. There’s a lot of bottle variation, but this one was spot on. Just starting to go tawny colored at the rim. Spicy cherries and citrus on the nose. Rich, velvety mouthfeel. Great intensity. Sweet and plummy. Very long and satisfying. Vibrant and youthful.

A modest LBV Port

October 25, 2017 Leave a comment

I had forgotten about the bottle of 1985 Fortnum & Mason (J.W. Burmester), Late Bottled Vintage Port until a few weeks ago.  What a perfect choice then when a dinner guest asked for a glass of modest Port, it could be younger than the 1960s, he jokingly added.  After double-decanting the bottle it proved to be mature with an interesting combination of red fruit and marmalade.  With rounded body and some complexity it would deserve higher marks but for the distracting heat in the finish.  A solid glass but I would be tempted to grab a 10 year old Tawny.

1985 Fortnum & Mason (J.W. Burmester), Late Bottled Vintage Port
Bottled in 1989.  Alcohol 20%.  A not unattractive nose of sour red cherries.  In the mouth are ripe, red fruit and marmalade flavors mixed with brown sugar sweetness, wood notes, and baking spices.  It is a rounded wine with moderately sweet body.  In the finish there are tart red berries and unfortunately some distracting heat.  ** Now – 2022.

For drinking now, the 1974 Warre’s, Late Bottled Vintage

February 19, 2017 Leave a comment

The 1974 Warre’s, Late Bottled Vintage is at a state where it drinks perfectly.  There are mature wine flavors, spices, and wood box delivered with a seductive round mouth feel.  The structure is fully resolved with enough acidity to leave a fresh impression.  In short, there is no reason to hold onto this Late Bottled Vintage any longer.  You may pull the cork and start drinking to satisfaction but if you give it a bit of air, it will improve a notch.

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1974 Warre’s, Late Bottled Vintage Port
Imported by Robert Hass Selections.  Alcohol 20%.  There is an ample volume of round, berry fruit with quite a lot of body present from the very beginning.  It is in a fully integrated state with vintage wine flavor, christmas spices, wood box, and some ripe brown sugar flavor.  Perhaps there is a softness to the round quality but the wine is still very fresh.  With air the sweet cream and Christmas spice is carried with a glycerin mouthfeel.  The rounded structure is fully resolved.  **** Now but will last.

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A mystery bottle of 1970 Warre Vintage Port

There was a time when much of the Vintage Port sold at MacArthur Beverages was English bottled.  These wines were purchased by the case upon which the vintage and house were labeled.  But as Mark Wessels and Andy Creemer recently related, the bottles inside were unmarked.  Despite efforts to organize or tag the bottles, some bottles strayed losing any outwardly visible identification.  I purchased what must be the last two of these stray bottles.

Vintage Port corks are largely branded.  I cut the bottom of the lead capsule on the youngest of the two bottles.  Despite scrubbing the neck of the bottle and using various flashlights, I could not make out any brand on the cork.  The mystery was revealed when I extracted the cork using my Durand.  This English bottle of 1970 Warre Vintage Port was in fine condition.  It offered elegant flavors of fruit, wood, spice, and even a bit of grip on the tongue.  There is no sense of power, rather that of a wine which has crested peak drinking and should be drunk up.  Which is what we did, making me all the more happy to solve my mystery.

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1970 Warre, Vintage Port
The good, clear color reflected in the clean, elegant flavors of this wine.  It begins with fruity flavors, fig and hints of wood with a touch of warm spice in the finish.  The wine grips the tongue leaving an impression of white nuts in the aftertaste.  *** Now.

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Eric Ifune’s 2016 Fortified Wines of the Year

December 27, 2016 Leave a comment

Eric Ifune returns this winter to describe his favorite fortified wines of 2016.  I first met Eric at the annual Madeira tastings organized by Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port) and Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.).  As you can see in his post, Eric drinks some rather amazing and rare wines, so I am excited to present his thoughts.

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I’ve had the great fortune to attend multiple tastings of fantastic fortified wines this year. These are my most memorable in chronologic tasting order.

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Henriques & Henriques Boal AB
A wine from the stock of the late John Cossart, the former head of H&H. This is a distinct wine from the famous H&H duo of the Grand Old Boal and the WS Boal. Probably from the early 19th century. Recorked in 1952 and 2011. The bottle itself is very old, a three part molded hand blown bottle approximately 150 years old.

A pale gold, green, amber color. Beautifully iridescent. A lovely, delicate floral fragrance with almonds and pralines. Just the barest hint of VA. Very, very long with limes and pralines on the finish. Just a lovely, gentle old Boal. Really beautiful. Not as dense as the WS or Grand Old Boal but fine and delicate.

The hand written labels are by Ricardo Freitas of Barbeito who reconditioned the Cossart Wines.

1898 Barbieto MMV Verdelho
Bronze gold green color. A meaty, savory aroma of cabbage, nuts, pralines. It smells better than it sounds! A very lean, acidic style of Verdelho which I love. Flavors of lemons and tangy pralines. A very, very long lemony finish. Just mouthwatering.

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1863 Barbeito MMV Malvasia.
These wines originally belonged to Ricardo Freitas’ mother, Manuela Vasconcelos, who ran Barbeito before Ricardo.

Bronze green, gold in appearance. Very fragrant and floral. Just the barest hint of VA. Savory and delicate on the palate. High acidity with wonderful balance. Did I say I like a lot of acidity in my Madeira? A gentle style of Malvasia. Very long with a finish redolent of tangerines.

1880 Barbeito MMV Malvasia.
This was commercially available via the Rare Wine Company. The majority of this wine was the mother wine of Barbeito’s excellent 40 year old Malvasia “Mae Manuela” blend that Ricardo Freitas created in honor of his mother. The remainder was bottled as a straight 1880.
Very dark, almost opaque with an olive oil meniscus. Dense and rich aromas with iodine, saline, savory and sweet flavors. Very dense, intense and rich. A complete contrast to the 1863. Musky, caramel and toffee. A great, concentrated Malvasia if somewhat monolithic.

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1795 Barbeito Terrantez
A very famous wine. I’ve been fortunate to have tasted this on several occasions over the past several years. Originally the property of the old Hinton family on Madeira, then owned by Oscar Acciaioly. Half was obtained by Barbeito and placed back into wooden casks for oxygenation. It was bottled a few at a time and slowly released to the market. The last of it was 23 bottles filled and sold in 2006. This particular bottle was from September 2000.

Dark bronze color with a green, gold rim. Huge and complex aromas of limes, oranges, toffee, and toasted nuts. On the palate, intense and electric. Great acidity. Not particularly sweet but beautiful balance. Huge depth and complexity. A long citric finish. Just wonderful!

1895 D’Oliveiras Malvasia
This was bottled in 2014. D’Oliveiras has the largest stocks of really old wine left on the island. They still have some of the 1850 Verdelho in cask! They will bottle wine as they need it. This was very dark, opaque in appearance. Smoky and dense aromas with citrus and molasses. On the palate, dense but not particularly sweet. Nice acidity. Flavors of grapefruit, lemons, honey, nuts, and toffee. Long, musky finish.

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1810 Borges Sercial
This was one of the famous wines that Henrique Menezes Borges purchased in the mid-19th century and passed on down to his descendants and not as part of the company holdings. These family wines were thought to be in wood for approximately 100 years. They were bottled from demijohn in 1989. Two demijohns of this 1810 Sercial yielded 45 bottles.

Bright copper, gold, green color. Spicy aromas, a bit spirit. Toast, nuts, and apples on the nose as well. Rich and fruity on the palate. Almost black fruited. High acidity. Beautiful balance. An almost Verdelho level of sweetness due to the extreme concentration. A long, scintillating finish. A bit atypical for Sercial but still a real beauty.

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Herdade do Mouchao Licoroso 1929 Solera
Herdade do Mouchao is an Alentejo estate with an almost cult status in Portugal for their table wines. They also make a vinhos licoroso which is the generic Portuguese term for a sweet fortified wine. Mainly Alicate Bouchet grapes. I think of them with penultimate organic viticulture. No monoculture here, the estate is a patchwork of vineyards, old forest, cork oak groves, pasture for sheep and poultry. Lots of biodiversity.

This particular wine is tasted at the estate from cask. It was refreshed several times, hence the solera designation. The average wine age is 45-50 years old. Impenetrable dark color with a browning rim. Very fresh aromas of walnuts, citrus fruit, figs. The barest hint of VA. Very thick and viscous on the palate, but fresh with great acidity. Not overwhelmingly sweet. Lots of lime, grapefruit, brown sugar and toffee. A very long nutty, figgy finish. Just wonderful stuff!

Quinta do Mourao San Leonardo “60” White Port
Quinta do Mourao is a Port producing Douro estate. Known in the industry for their large stocks of old, superb wood aged Ports. The famous houses would purchase old, wood aged wines from them to beef up their own stocks. The Quinta releases their own wines under the San Leonardo label. Not seen in the States until just recently when they obtained an importer based in Los Angeles. Their range of Tawnies of indicated age: 10, 20, 30, and Over 40 are among the best in their respective categories. They have older stocks as well. This is one of White Port. Technically, this is a White Tawny Reserve since there is no official category older than over 40 years. It is over 60 years in average age and so has the proprietary name “60 White.” This is not released in the States yet, probably this coming year. Tasted with the importer. Amber, gold color shot through with green. Spicy aromas with orange and toffee. Almost like a Christmas cake. Waxy on the palate, almost like an old Chenin Blanc. Very rich with huge complexity and depth. Lots of balancing acidity. A long finish with honey, limes, and tangerines. Eye opening as to the heights of White Port.

Quinta do Mourao San Leonardo “100” Port.
Another release tasted with the importer. This is wood aged with an average age of 102 years. Also a Tawny Reserve with the proprietary name of “100.” Very dark color with a gold green rim. Toffee and roasted nuts. Almost painfully concentrated. Huge and intense but balanced with huge acidity as well. Toffee, caramel, brown sugar on the palate and finish. This is a wine to be savored in small amounts it is so rich and concentrated.

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1970 Taylors Vintage Port.
Oporto bottled. Decanted a few hours before and tasted single blind. Dark core, just starting to go tawny at the meniscus. Spicy with leathery, citrus, and strawberry aromas. I really like the smell. On the palate, dense and rich. Sweet, but perfectly balancing acidity. Very long with tangerines and other citrus fruits.

1970 Dows Vintage Port
Tasted side by side with the Taylors, also decanted a few hours beforehand and tasted single blind. Also Oporto bottled. Even darker than the Taylors. Ruby rim. Young, spicy, plummy aromas. Black fruited, smoky. Very powerful, rich, and tangy. Tasting much, much younger than a 1970. Great balance. I think I like the Taylors a hair more to drink now, but might prefer the Dows in some years.

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Cockburn’s Crusted Port bottled 1929 by Averys.
I’ve not heard of a crusted Port from 1929 let alone seen one. Now I can say I’ve tasted one!

A crusted Port is a bottled aged Port from several years. This was bottled in 1929 so presumably it is a blend of several years prior. Decanted approximately an hour or two beforehand. Beautiful iridescent rose, tawny colored. Still fresh aromatics, savory-sweet with red fruits. Rich and velvety mouthfeel. Indeed the mouthfeel was exceptional! Dense with glycerin. Not a heavy weight, but a beautiful elegant wine. Bright, firm, and vigorous despite the age. Great balance and length. Conversation about the table is convinced there is a lot of 1927 vintage in this wine. 1927 was a very high quality, long lasting, and prolific vintage. Indeed, not all of it was bottled as vintage port; hence the consideration this bottle contained much of it.

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1900 Jose Maria da Fonseca Moscatel de Setubal
Very dark with a brilliant gold-green rim. Musky and savory aromas. High toned and minty. On the palate it is dense, rich, and sweet but with excellent acidity to balance. Sweet, long, rich finish. Textbook Moscatel. IMO, Setubal makes the best Moscatels in the world.

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1937 Warres Colheita Port
Bottled in 1997. Dark, opaque core fading to a tawny then olive oil rim. Smoky aromas with lime zest and a hint of VA. Rich and concentrated on the palate. Buttery mouthfeel. Limes and brown sugar flavors. Great balancing acidity. Long and concentrated.

1961 Krohn Colheita Port
Bottled in 2008. This was before Taylors, Fladgate bought out the Weise & Krohn company. Dark, tawny colored. A bit of VA on the nose, but lots of toffee and citrus as well. Very rich and sweet. Not the concentration as some of the older Colheitas, but beautiful and perfect balance. Long and satisfying. If you can find any of this still on the market, I’d snap it up!

Quinta do Mourao San Leonardo “60” Port.
Another wood aged Port from Mourao. I was fortunate to try this on two separate occasions about a week apart. Again, a Tawny Reserve, this time over 60 years of age. This is the red version in contrast to the white one listed above. Similar notes for the two times. The first taste was from a limited edition 750 ml bottle. The second from the regular release 500 ml bottle. Dark, opaque center with a copper-gold rim. Smokey and citric nose. Dense and sweet with huge complexity on the palate. Toasted nuts, lemons, tangerines. High levels of balancing acidity. A long, lemony finish. These old wines from Quinta do Mourao are a revelation as to the heights great wood aged Ports can achieve. One might think they could use them to beef up their Tawnies of Indicated Age, i.e. 10, 20, 30, and Over 40 years; however, their Tawny Ports are terrific as they are, and these older wines are extra special.

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The Sensational Sercial Dinner: 1875 through 2008

December 26, 2016 Leave a comment

I was careful to note I drank from a magnum of 1976 Lanson, Champagne and even took a picture of the bottle of 1996 Louis Roederer, Cristal Champagne and Jacque Selosse, V.O. Champagne Extra Brut. However, my tasting note for the 1998 Dom Perignon, Champagne “racy, yeasty, rich, mineral wine flavors” is unaccompanied by a picture. This might sound haphazard but Champagne is the first thing drunk after the all-day Sercial Madeira tasting. The need to refresh oneself with Champagne and talk to old friends leads to a sort of frenzy. Everyone jockeys for a pour of Champagne. It is not a time to take note.

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Dinner is seated, at a very long table. The pace of wine is measured by the sommeliers who impose a logical order on what is drunk. Every guest is encouraged to bring a magnum of mature wine or preferably two bottles of the same. This is not always possible so there is a large variety of red wines. I take pictures and jot down brief impressions so I may recall the evening later on. There were only two off bottles this night the 1959 Joh. Jos. Prum, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, feine Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and 1978 Heitz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley. In Germany 1959 is a legendary vintage and in America both Joh. Jos Prum and Heitz Martha’s Vineyard are legendary wines. In some punishing coincidence a friend brought a bottle of 1975 Martha’s Vineyard to my house this year. It was off too. Damn and double damn.

Of the good wines, they fell into two camps. Those which are too young to follow a tasting of 19th century Madeira and those which are appropriately mature. In this latter category two particular bottles stand out: 1966 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien and 1875 Isaias W. Hellman, Angelica Wine, Cucamonga Vineyard, San Bernadino County. The 1966 Ducru sports a fantastic nose. I find some old wines have a sweaty aspect to their nose almost like aromatic umami and this bottle did as well. The flavors were equally attractive with that sweet concentration of flavor from age. It does not just taste mature, it tastes different.

My experience with Californian wine only includes vintages into the 1960s. I can assure you the last wine I would have expected at dinner was not just a pre-Prohibition Californian wine but one from the 19th century. In a particularly unforgiving act of arson in 2005, some 4.5 million bottles of wine were destroyed including 175 bottles of Hellman Angelica and Port wine, certainly most of the remaining stock. I can only imagine a handful of bottles survive to this day. Now scarcity alone does not make for a fine wine, what is in the glass does.  With a bit of volatile acidity and dust on the nose the 1875 Hellman may have given slight pause but in the mouth this is an unctuous, powerful, and mouth coating wine.  I managed to prolong the pleasure for a few more weeks because I was allowed to take the empty bottle home.  There was still damp sediment in the bottle so I stoppered it.  Every few days I would smell the bottle to swim once again in 19th century aromas.

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2002 Dauvissat, Chablis Grand Cru Le Clos
Imported by Vieux Vins. The yeasty nose makes way to minerally, white and yellow fruit flats. This seductive wine is rich with a hint of yeast, ripe tannins in the finish, and fat in the aftertaste.

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2008 Domaine Coche-Dury, Meursault
Alcohol 12.5%. This is a fresh, lean wine that tastes yeasty and older in the mouth. IT leans towards pure lemon flavors.

2007 Domaine Coche-Dury, Meursault
Alcohol 12.5%. This is a grippy, concentrated wine with fresh acidity. A little weight comes out with air but this is all about lemon tartness. To match the flavor is a fair amount of acidity.

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1959 Joh. Jos. Prum, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, feine Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Imported by O. W. Loeb & Co. Corked! D*mn!

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1970 Domaine Dujac, Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Combottes
Imported by Frederick Wildman. Alcohol 13%. The dark, garnet color matches the rather mature nose. In the mouth this is a very dry wine with old perfume mixing with linear, red fruit, The structure is still there, out living the fruit, as this gentle, old wine dries up.

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1967 Odero, Barolo
A Chambers Street Selection imported by T. Elenteny. The nose is a little stinky, which I find attractive, before aromas of candied cherry come out. This is old-school lively, with structure from the ripe tannins. Perfect for what it is.

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1961 Burlotto, Castello di Verduno, Barolo
The foxy, earthy flavors come with initial concentration. It is a dry wine offering more flavor than the Oddero. Maturity has brought old-school flavors, a sweet aspect, and earth. It wraps up with drying, textured tannins.

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1967 Cordezuma, Barolo
A Chambers Street Selection imported by T. Elenteny. The color is young, almost cranberry-ruby in color. In the mouth this is a simpler wine which is tart, citric, and bears less fruit.

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1981 Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Rioja
An odd wine with almost mushroom flavors, yeast, and floral pork (WTF!). The acidity is bound up with the modest bit of structure.

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1990 Prunotto, Barbaresco Montestefano
Alcohol 13.5%. Tobacco. Young!

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1995 Guigal, Cote-Rotie La Landonne
A Thomas Gruenig Selection imported by Torion Trading Ltd. Alcohol 13%. This is way too young. Structure, drying, and bracing at this point.

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1995 Guigal, Cote-Rotie La Mouline
A Thomas Gruenig Selection imported by Torion Trading Ltd. Alcohol 13%. This is aromatic with a fine nose just beginning to take on mature aromas. In the mouth the red fruit is starting to soften a touch. Overall this is a focused wine with powerful structure through the fresh finish. Young.

dinnerwines13

1989 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Imported by Johnston. Alcohol 12.5%. The mature Bordeaux notes are starting to escape but this is still so young.

dinnerwines14

1989 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac
Shipped by SDVF. Imported by South Wine & Spirits. Alcohol 12.5%. This is more open with cassis, minerals, and fat. Nice.

dinnerwines18

1966 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Shipped by Raoul Lucien & Co. Imported by Combeau-Collet & Cie. Alcohol 12%. The fantastic nose is aromatic and a touch sweaty with cranberries and red fruit. It develops some old-school perfume. In the mouth the flavors have some sweetness to them before the drying finish. A lovely wine at 50 years of age.

dinnerwines19

1966 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, Pauillac
Shipped by A. de Luze & Fils. This is less giving, more linear, soon shutting down to simple, cranberry, and red fruit flavors. It is firm and tight in the mouth with a shorter finish.

dinnerwines20

1978 Heitz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley
An off bottle.

1992 Harlan Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Young and primary.

dinnerwines22

1937 Niepoort, Colheita Port
Imported by W. J. Deutsch Co. Alcohol 19%. There is a sweet start with flavors of black tea and wood. There is a fair amount of noticeable acidity before the slightly harsh finish.

dinnerwines21

1875 Isaias W. Hellman, Angelica Wine, Cucamonga Vineyard, San Bernadino County
Though there is some volatile acidity on the nose, it is fine and articulate, with a bit of dust matching its age. The fruit tastes so different. This is a powerful and lip coating wine which is still racy and sweet. The fruit persisted through the dark finish. With air this unctuous wine, with its plentiful residual sugar, builds glycerin and baking spices. In great shape!

Ricardo, the author, and Mannie

Ricardo, the author, and Mannie