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Mature white dinner wines in Seattle

On an increasingly sunny evening, over goat cheese, a dinner of ravioli with butter sauce, and a Cardamon infused cake, I enjoyed three bottles of wine white.  The wines were served by a new friend who inherited his interest in wine from his father.  It is for him that I opened the 1979 De Foreville Barbaresco at my house not too long ago.  Last week we met up in Seattle for a dinner with mature white wines.

The bottles we drank were purchased upon release.  All of the wines he selected are drinking at peak maturity right now, though the Sauternes will clearly last.  The 2001 Weingut Robert Weil, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheingau is more expressive on the nose but when I revisited it at the end of the evening I was pleased by the evolution of its mouthfeel.  The 1986 Domaine Long Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos is a nice surprise because I drink very little old white Burgundy.  I thought it interesting how this wine still has some fruit and weight.  We wrapped the dinner up with a bottle of 1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes.  We remarked on the darker color, perhaps more advanced than other Sauternes, but the wine in the mouth is good.  It is a good wine to progress too because it comes across as only moderately sweet which makes it easy to drink.  When I returned home I checked a bottle I have, from a completely different source, and it is similar in color.  Stay tuned for reports on future bottles drunk together!  Note, it was a casual evening so I only jotted down my impressions after the meal.

2001 Weingut Robert Weil, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheingau
Alcohol 10.5%.  A good maturing nose which remains expressive.  The flavors are front loaded becoming drier by the middle.  The wine is more about mouthfeel which continues to develop over the stones and minerals.  Drink up.

1986 Domaine Long Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
Imported by Asherton Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  It is a beautiful, golden straw color.  The aromas and flavors are in fine shape and any hints of maturity are only reflected in the color and a bit in flavor.  It remains focused with a touch of dense weight to the white and yellow fruit over some stone notes.

1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes
A darker amber color but the wine is in good shape.  The nose is gentle, smelling of apricots.  In the mouth it comes across as moderately sweet due to the balancing acidity and glycerin infused body.  With air orange peel and baking spices come out and the length improves.  In a completely balanced state right now.

As thick as a phone book: my first trip to Bern’s Steak House

April 20, 2016 2 comments

The TSA officer at the airport asked if I was escaping the Washington, DC rain for the warmth of Florida.  No, I replied, I am going down to drink wine with my friend.  With the officer perplexed I explained that Bern’s Steak House was my destination.  A woman in the security line chimed up, Bern’s is my favorite place in the world.

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Bern’s  Steak House in Tampa, Florida is legendary amongst wine lovers due to the half-million bottle wine cellar that contains table wines dating back to the 19th century and a few fortified wines which are even older.  Founded in the 1950s by Bern Laxer and his wife Gert, wine has always played a major role at the Steak House.  Decades worth of purchasing ensured that there are still ample supplies of wines from the 1960s and later which were bought on release.  Coupled with nearly obsessive backfilling of ancient vintages, particularly for Bordeaux, there is also unparalleled depth.  Many of these bottles were imported specifically for Bern’s.   Fortunately, the prices for most of these wines appear frozen in time.

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Most tables at Bern’s do not test the depth of the wine list.  This fact combined with the sheer size of the wine cellar means there is still an impressive supply of old wine at all price points.  Many wine-loving groups make regular trips to plunder the cellar.  During the rise of the wine bulletin boards, Bern’s largely remained a place you did not post about or if you did, you certainly did not mention the Bern’s name.  I suspect some posters did not mention all of the wines they drank for fear of the cherry pickers finishing off such satisfying gems as bottles of 1970s Crozes-Hermitage at $30 per bottle.  Hence the unwritten rule of those who plunder Bern’s wine cellar, don’t mention it.

This silence was not always the case.  The Bern’s wine cellar was mentioned in major newspapers over the decades and the wine list, available for $35 in the late 1980s, was even recommended as a Christmas gift.  In 1978, Frank Prial began to include mention of Bern’s Steak House in his New York Times articles.  Described as “[o]ne of the most unusual lists anywhere to be found” he describes the book of a wine list as being “chained to the table to keep from disappearing.”  For $15 one could pay for a copy instead.  Also in the New York Times, Florence Fabricant mentioned the inclusion of Bern’s in The Wine Spectator very first Grand Awards in 1981.  Three years later Fred Ferretti focused in on Bern’s in the article “Wine List Thick as Tampa Phone Book.”  Later that year Frank Prial wrote the list was “bigger than most telephone books.”

The wine list was still chained to the tables when James Conaway wrote about Bern’s for The Washington Post in 1987.  It was actually a marble fixture to which the list was attached.  Apparently this did not stop people from stealing the wine list for a woman was once employed to ferret out lists hidden under furs and shirts.  Despite the wine list shrinking to the size of the Washington, DC, phone book, a cool $1 million Dollars of wine were sold each year.  Frank Prial still wrote about the Bern’s wine list some two decades after he first mentioned it.  He noted that even Bern Laxer called the immense book “absurd.”

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My friend Lou first visited Bern’s nearly a decade ago and he has been sharing stories about his adventures ever since.  It was to join Lou at Bern’s that caused me to flew down to Tampa.  Lou was there the evening before my arrival so it was with delight that I looked at texted pictures of 1964 Domaine Edmond Valby, Morey-Saint-Denise, “Dried cherries, herbs and a little tar” and 1961 Pierre Ponnelle, Chateauneuf du Pape, “[V]ery different. More earth and animale.”  For our dinner together, we were joined by two of Lou’s colleagues. Though they know little about wine, they are curious to try any old wine.

Lou and I found ourselves at Bern’s ahead of the other couple.  We sat ourselves in the bar to flip through the wine list.  After confirming the relative quality of the 1973 vintage in Germany, Lou somewhat randomly picked a bottle of 1973 Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern, Hattenheimer Nussbrunen Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau.  Drunk over one hour, the nose remained rather shy but the fruit flavors picked up definition and weight.  While it was not the most complex wine, it offered a pleasing combination of freshness and maturity.

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1973 Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern, Hattenheimer Nussbrunen Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau
Imported by Frank Schoonmaker Selections.  The color is a youthful light, vibrant amber gold.  The light nose bears some petrol aromas and is generally subtle yet very fresh.  The tart, yellow fruit mixes with good acidity and some textured tannin before picking up mid body weight.  With air the flavors become sweeter with better definition of fruit and some ripeness in the aftertaste.  *** Now.

Once seated at the dinning table we began our succession of red wines with the help of Senior Sommelier Brad Dixon.  Brad was excited about a mature Beaujolais, something that Lou has long mentioned, so he soon returned with a decanted bottle of 1983 Heritiers Finaz Devillaine, Moulin-a-Vent. Alexis Lichine described Moulin-a-Vent as the “king of Beaujolais”, capable of slow development in great vintages such as 1983.  Likely produced by a de Villaine relative, think Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, this bottle is a lively, compelling wine of tart red fruit, minerals, and wood notes.  I would not compare this particular example to Burgundy, as some old Beaujolais is compared to, rather it is its own unique wine.  Clearly great vintage and great storage.

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1983 Heritiers Finaz Devillaine, Moulin-a-Vent
Imported by B Strauss Selections.  Alcohol 12.5%. The wine is a relatively dark, young color.  The nose is of cranberries back by a wood note.  In the mouth is a bitter red fruit start before black, mineral hints come out.  This lively wine is compelling to drink.  The drying tannins and wood note before the tart finish lend to the impression of perfect storage.  *** Now but will last.

A balance was struck between less expensive and more expensive wines.  The pair of of Northern Rhone reds represented low priced wines from negociants. John Livingstone-Learmonth and Melvyn C. H. Master wrote that Leon Revol sold wines “which are consistent without being spectacular.”  The Revol house was founded in the early 20th century. They own no vineyards, instead fruit was purchased from all over the Cotes du Rhone.  The negociant Maison Brotte sold wine under the Pere Anselme label and become associated with their Chateauneuf du Pape.  No amount of proper storage could change the fact that the 1979 Leon Revol, Cornas, from a superior vintage, was more engaging than the 1980 Pere Anselme, Cote Rotie.  The Revol offered more interesting and complete flavors.  The Anselme did have a bit of attractive meat flavor but was simpler and perhaps, a touch old.

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1979 Leon Revol, Cornas
Imported by Bay Distributors.  Alcohol 12%.  There are fresh, red fruit and greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth, the tart red fruit takes on some lipstick, a wood note, and a tart, citric pithe finish.  *** Now.

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1980 Pere Anselme, Cote Rotie
Imported by Bay Distributors.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This nose reveals buttery, tart red fruit.  In the mouth the slightly meaty red fruit plays it tight with good structure of old wood and a hint of roast.  ** Now.

The Californian flight proved to be the best of the night both in terms of the wines and history.  Mike Grgich came to California in 1958. He first worked for Lee Stewart at the original Souverain Cellars then went on to Beaulieu Vineyard, Robert Mondavi Winery, and Chateau Montelena.  Grgich Hills Cellar lead off with the 1977 vintage so our bottle of 1979 Grgich Hills Cellar, Zinfandel, Alexander Valley stems from the very early days.  It is an outstanding wine.  With a youthful color it was fruity on the nose followed by deep, chewy flavors backed by lively acidity and the right amount of cedar notes.  It was the favorite wine of the evening.  Clearly at full maturity.  The half bottle of 1970 Souverain Cellars, Mountain Zinfandel, Napa Valley came from the year Lee Stewart sold the winery to a group of investors.  There was then, for a time, a Souverain of Rutherford in Napa Valley  and a Souverain of Alexander Valley in Sonoma.  The later eventually became Chateau Souverain.  Our half bottle bears the original Lee Stewart label.  There are other bottles of 1970 “Souverain of Rutherford” Cabernet Sauvignon bearing post-sale labels.  This wine is classically structured with fresh flavors of tart black fruit.  I would almost venture it is not yet ready to drink.  At least from the Bern’s cellar!

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1979 Grgich Hills Cellar, Zinfandel, Alexander Valley
Alcohol 13.7%.  The deep, youthful color is easily matched by the deep berry fruit on the nose.  In the mouth are beautiful fruit flavors that range from blue to tart red by the middle.  The lively acidity, cedar note, and slightly chewy aspect continue to delight through the aftertaste.  Drinking so very well.  **** Now.

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1970 Souverain Cellars, Mountain Zinfandel, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%.  This fresh wine is infused with cedar that supports the fresh, focused, and tart black fruit.  This classic wine sports a lively personality and great structure.  It leaves a menthol freshness in the aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

After dinner we moved up to the Harry Waugh dessert room with its mini barrel shaped rooms.  We all opted to drink various dessert wines by the glass.  Two of the glass of Port were particularly good.  The 1965 Taylor Fladgate, Crusted Port leans towards the sweet, marshmallow spectrum but the addition of baking spices and expansive flavors make it a hands-down solid drink.  However, it was 1978 Quinta do Noval, Vintage Port from a modest vintage, that was the Port of the night.  It was complex, inky, and poised for further development.  To add to the surprise, it is one of the cheapest Ports by the glass.  In the end, that is what Bern’s is all about.  You walk in with a general plan about what you want to drink but in the end you taste other wines you never expected to be so interesting.

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1977 Barbosa, Vintage Port
The round berries and youthful flavors become super expansive and drier by the finish.  Unfortunately there is some heat at the end.  ** Now.

1965 Taylor Fladgate, Crusted Port
This fruity wine offers up a touch of marshmallow, subtle ripe baking spices, and other sweet notes.  The finish is quite expansive.  *** Now – 2025.

1970 Delaforce, Vintage Port
Musty, tastes of old red fruit. Not Rated.

1978 Quinta do Noval, Vintage Port
The deep ruby color speaks of promise.  There is a lot going on in the mouth.  The fruit is wound around a core of complementary wood.  The fruit mixes with bakings spices, ink, and other complexities.  Simply a really nice vintage Port.  ***(*) Now.

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The Majesty of Malvasia Dinner: Tasting vintages from 1926 through 2002

June 29, 2015 1 comment

It took quite some time for the 20 bottles of Madeira to be equally poured into some 400 wine glasses.  With each pour the room became incrementally more aromatic until everyone was collectively talking about the beautiful aromas.  The doors to our private room were even shut at one point so as to infuse all of us.  During this waiting period I was able to meet the other attendees.  While there were mostly new introductions, there were a few people I had read about passionate Madeira lovers whose names are synonymous with old Madeira.

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The day’s festivities did not end with the Malvasia tasting.  Dinner was to be held after the tasting in the private room next to ours.  We were all asked to bring a bottle or two.  What had not already been shipped was being collected then staged in the dining room.  Several others took a peek at the other wines and returned excited.  Curious as to what could be exciting compared to 20 bottles of very old Madeira, I entered the dining room.  There on two spot lit tables stood bottles and magnums encompassing old vintages of European wine.

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It was a cache of vinous treasure.  I was rather stunned to see magnums of Burgundy such as 1970 Domaine Dujac, Aux Combottes.  The brace of 1950s Staatsweingut bottles brought pleasure but the bottles of 1929 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, 1928 Frederico Paternina, Gran Reserva Rioja, and 1926 Chateau Latour Haut Brion stopped me cold.  How incredible that there was a trio of red wine from the 1920s!  And I should also mention a 1933 Moulin Touchais Anjou Blanc.

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After spending approximately six hours tasting and discussing Madeira, I was both tired and hungry.  As we all moved to the dining room the mostly magnums of Champagne were broached to be accompanied by platter after platter of appetizers. There were such bottles as 1985 Lanson Brut, 1990 Pol Roger Brut, 1996 Philipponnat “Clos des Goisses” Brut, 1999 Tattinger Comtes de Champagne Blancs de Blanc, 2002 Les Mesnil Blanc de Blancs, and a vintage of Salon Cuvee ‘S’ Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs that escaped me.  It was not a time to take notes but rather to recharge, fortify, and chat with others that I did not sit next to during the tasting.

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Suitably recovered I sat down to dinner between Ricardo Freitas of Barbeito Madeira and Mannie Berk.  We were at one gigantic table which fortunately still allowed us to speak with those across the table.  After the sommeliers had performed any requested service, each bottle they were placed on the table in front of each owner for the first taste.  This was handled in the order of Champagne, white wine, red wine, and dessert wine.  The number of bottles opened must have been staggering for the next several hours a new wine came by every three to five minutes.  Indeed, at the end of the dinner there were nearly four dozen bottles and magnums arrayed out for the staff to finish.

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This quantity of top-notch wine might seem obscene but it worked for me.  Through everyone’s generosity I knew this would be another unique tasting so I did my best to capture it.  True, I had trouble keeping up with all of the wine, even with just writing the coarsest of notes, while eating dinner and talking away.  I managed to accumulate some five wine glasses which I used to triage what I was going to concentrate on.  For example, I tasted but did not note 1996 Louis Jadot Griots-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, 1990 Domaine Paul Pernot Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, 1989 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles, 1973 Berberana Rioja Reserva, and 2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon.  No doubt there were other wines I could not even get to.

I must first state that the most revelatory bottle, though not the “best” per se, was the 1959 Staatsweingut, Domaine Kloster Eberbach, Assmannshauser Hollenberg, Spatburgunder Auslese, Cabinet, Rheingau.  It never even occurred to me that old German Spatburgunder or Pinot Noir could drink so well.  This bottle was still perfumed on the nose and though the residual sugar and short finish were indicating age, it was a pure pleasure to drink.  There must be a few others onto this wine for the 1935 vintage fetched over $2500 at the spring auction held at Kloster Eberbach.  As for young wines, the 1995 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue, Musigny Grand Cru was stunningly complex with a killer nose and all the components for long aging.  I can see what all the fuss is about.  At the more mature side of Burgundy, the 1976 Georges Lignier, Clos de la Roche showed great from magnum.  Even Berry Bros & Rudd notes on their website that this wine “was superb, still remarkably youthful” when drunk in 2009.  If I had to pick one Italian wine it was, again in magnum, the 1985 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà.  The nose alone left one satisfied!  There were many other lovely bottles of wine so I encourage you to step through my brief notes.  Thanks again to Mannie and Roy for organizing the dinner as well as to everyone else who pulled from their cellars and excitedly shared their precious bottles.

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1953 Staatsweingut, Domaine Kloster Eberbach, Rauenthaler Wulfen Riesling Auslese, Cabinet, Rheingau
There was a great nose followed by flavors that were not too sweet but of ripe fruit.  The wine still had some richness with a spicy, soft finish.  In great shape.

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2002 Domaine Patrick Javillier, Meursault Les Tillets Cuvée Spéciale
This had apple-like flavors with a more austere finish.

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1996 Domaine Roulot, Meursault Les Luchets
This tasted young with great acidity that was lively on the tongue.  The flavors had controlled ripeness with both chalk and smoke notes and a citrus pithe finish.  Nice.

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1990 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
The nose was very aromatic with red fruit.  In the mouth were racy, black fruit flavors, the whole wine was à point.

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1982 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Barolo Bussia Soprana
This was young with dry, firm and linear flavors.  I noted it needs a few more decades of age.

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1985 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà
There was a beautiful nose followed by lovely, dry fruit, and a tart, linear finish.  With air the fruit became more prominent and the nose, stunning.

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1995 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco
There was a rather perfumed nose followed by concentrated flavors of bramble and dry, young fruit.  The wine turned black with drying, grippy tannins that left a very youthful impression.

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1958 Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserva
After decanting this revealed a good Riscal nose.  There were mushroom flavors in this wine that was still very much alive.  It had dusty, black fruit, dry flavors, and still had structures.  If faulted it was a touch hollow.

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1964 Bodegas Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Reserva
The nose was slightly medicinal but seemed to clean up.  Compared to the Riscal this bottle had riper, polished fruit that was still supported by structure.  There was more power in the finish with a better sense of completeness.

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1928 Frederico Paternina, Rioja Gran Reserva
There was tart, red structured fruit that was brighter and youthful in a sense.  But with air it started to fade.

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1979 Chateau Latour, Pauillac
This was classic with bell pepper notes, black fruit, grippy tannins, and a fresh personality.

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1976 Georges Lignier, Clos de la Roche
The nose bore mature aromas that mixed with campfire notes.  In the mouth the wine was straight up beautiful with youthful grip to the fruit and noticeable structure.

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1970 Domaine Dujac, Aux Combottes
The beautiful nose set up the wine with its structure that supported ethereal flavors, turkey stuffing notes…simply put, a lovely wine to drink.

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1979 Dupont-Tisserandot, Charmes-Chambertin
The nose was of roast earth and mushroom.  In the mouth earthy red fruit, acidity, grip, structure, that made for a lovely, overall experience.

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1995 Joseph Roty, Cuvee de “tres vieilles vignes”, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
There were beautiful flavors of deep orange and red fruit that was clearly the youngest tasted thus far.  It took on some lovely cranberry red fruit and showed a lot of potential.

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1979 Mugneret-Gouachon, Echezaux
The nose was stink with tart fruit and eventually cleaned up a bit.  The flavors followed in the mouth but not so much.  Still had some body.

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1959 Staatsweingut, Domaine Kloster Eberbach, Assmannshauser Hollenberg, Spatburgunder Auslese, Cabinet, Rheingau
This wine was surprisingly lively with old perfume, some sweetness, and fruit.  The finish was a bit sharp and short with noticeable residual sugar.  Still, an old wine that was a treat to drink.

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1995 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue, Musigny Grand Cru
Wow, there was a killer, young nose of lipstick and perfume.  In the mouth there was incredible complexity despite this young wine having tart, cranberry, red, and black fruit that was structured.  This left an impression.

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1966 Graham, Vintage Port (bottled by Justerini & Brooks)
Beautiful.  This bottle left me wanting for more.

Tasting Old Wines with Darryl and Nancy at Blue Grass Tavern

February 11, 2014 2 comments
Baltimore, Maryland, skyline and waterfront. Detroit Publishing Co. 1910-1915. Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Baltimore, Maryland, skyline and waterfront. Detroit Publishing Co. 1910-1915. Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

On a snowy evening Phil and I drove up to Baltimore to taste several flights of wine.  Darryl and Nancy were hosting an evening of old wine at the Blue Grass Tavern.  Their contributions and those of the other attendees were beckoning.  There were both familiar faces, including Jeffrey Snow, and several new ones.  We sat in the intimate back room which glowed  inside and allowed views of the coating of snow which was still falling as we sat down.  The dinner was a satisfying meat fest which was punctuated at the end by plates of cheese and an incredible amount of dessert.

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To start with 1990 Moet et Chandon, Dom Perignon was great not only because the bottle was in top form but also because it was the second youngest wine of the evening.  We tasted through a number of wines at a reasonable pace and I never felt rushed nor short on my own pours.  The most physically satisfying flight was that of the 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape.  There great wines came from excellent cellars so the provenance showed.  If you have not yet drunk mature Chateauneuf du Pape then make every effort to do so.  I also really enjoyed the old Barolo flight.  There was nothing dried out or difficult about these wines, they really do develop for an incredible amount of time.  They were subtle in a way that when I tasted through the mixed French flight I kept wishing I was drinking the Barolo instead.

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1990 Moet et Chandon, Cuvee Dom Perignon, Champagne
Alcohol 12.9%.  This was opened right before serving.  There was a light toasty nose which was initially subtle before it blossomed with air to reveal mature white wine aromas and riper fruit.  In the mouth there was a fresh and crisp start carried by very fine bubbles that turned into a soft, lovely mousse of mature yellow fruit.  There was a chewy finish and long textured aftertaste which haunted my mouth.  This wine was in great shape and really was evocative of mature white Burgundy.

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1983 Staatsweingut, Rauenthaler, Baiken, Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau
Imported by Atlanta Wholesale Wine.  Alcohol 10%.  There was a killer nose with a little petrol.  The wine opened up quickly in the mouth bringing on petrol and riper fruit.  There was seamless acidity, drier flavors towards the finish and a hint of tartness.  The palate was not quite up to the  nose but still a very fine wine.

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1983 Kirchmayr, Solist, Traminer Spatlese, Neusiedlersee 
Imported by Domaine Select Wines.  Alcohol 12%.  This was very aromatic, rather Gewurztraminer like.  It provided a ripe, round mouthfeel with a woodsy mineral note.  It still had some sweetness, a racy hint,  and with air, a mellow personality.

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The Barolo flight had been decanted such that they had about four hours or so of air before dinner.  The 1962 Cappellano was bottled by Giovanni Troglia who was a wine merchant in Turin.  Darryl reported the oddly shaped bottle was sealed with a glass top fused with metal to the bottle.  So he had to delicately pry away before gaining access to the cork.

1962 Cappellano label scanned by Darryl Priest.

1962 Cappellano label scanned by Darryl Priest.

1962 Cappellana label scanned by Darryl Priest.

1962 Cappellano label scanned by Darryl Priest.

I thought the 1967 Francesco Rinaldi the darkest and freshest of the three.  This impression was not only due to it being the youngest of the trio rather, as Mannie Berk (Rare Wine Co.) pointed out to me, it was aged in demijohn.  Indeed in Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman’s Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1991) they write that Luciano Rinaldi “keeps some of his Barolo in these 9- and 14-gallon (34- and 54-liter) jugs for ten years or more.  The wine is decanted off its sediment into bottles or magnums before being put on sale.”  At the time of their visit there was still 1967 in demijohn.  This was practice was common in the old days of Barolo so perhaps this younger vintage was the most traditional of the three.  Michael Garner and Paul Merritt note in Barolo: Tar and Roses (1990) that it was the old practice to transfer wine from botte to damigiana for maturation.  However, the deep frost of 1929 wiped out vast stocks of these glass demijohns providing incentive to shift aging methods.  The 1958 Giacomo Borgogno showed more mature with earthy and ethereal flavors.  I thought an interesting contrast.  The 1962 Cappellano with its funky bottle quickly took on a nose of pure cumin with funky flavors in the mouth.  It reacted a bit to the air, putting on more flesh, and provided a third unique Barolo experience.  In the end a very satisfying flight.

1958 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli, Red Capsule, Barolo Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Acquired from a Private Collection and auctioned by Acker Merrall & Conduit, November 2013.  There was a strong, earthy nose with a hint of band-aid.  In the mouth were fresh, earthy flavors of black and red fruit.  The acidity was there, perhaps a hint of banana, followed by more piercing flavors in the finish and a haunting aftertaste.

1962 Cappellano, Barolo
Giovanni Troglia bottling.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a funky nose which cleaned up to be a pure aroma of cumin.  The funk followed in the mouth where the wine was dry.  It reacted well with air, became a touch savory and fleshed out.  An interesting wine.

1967 Francesco Rinaldi & Figli, Barolo
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Acquired from a private collection by Chambers Street Wines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was very dark and the darkest of all three in the flight.  The nose was initially subtle then became more aromatic.  There was tangy red fruit in the mouth, lots of pleasing grip, and acidity which was very present.  It still had tannins, was a little dry, and puckering towards the end.  It remained very fresh and engaging.

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This was a mixed flight and a little underwhelming given the old Barolo and 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape flights it was sandwiched between.  There was a connection in that the Ausone and the Francesco Rinaldi were of the same vintage.  This vintage of Ausone came from the period when the vines were becoming increasingly older as there had been no replanting since 1950.  Both the Ausone and Montrose were fermented in old wooden vats.  I preferred the Montrose which was fresher.  To have mature Trousseau from Arbois was probably a first for many.  This particular bottle of 1988 Camille Loye came from a small parcel imported by Crush.  While it was not a wine I would want to drink an entire bottle of, it was enjoyable, and not near decline.  Finally, the Nicolas Potel was young with an interesting flavor but the powerful tannins were still too obvious.

1967 Chateau Ausone, Saint-Emilion
Imported by DKDJ Imports.  Acquired from a private collection.  There was a nose of beef stock and perhaps a hint of a sweet note.  There were flavors of black and red fruit in the focused start.  It had watering acidity, ripe spices, minerals, and a structure that still had tannic grip in the finish.  Ultimately, it was on its decline in life.  It did not seem to get better with air.

1970 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Alexis Lichine & Co.  There was a curious nose which was both fresh and animale.  There was levity in the mouth, a greenhouse hint, and a young core.  It was a good wine that did not show the level of evolution that the Ausone did.

1988 Camille Loye, Cuvee St Paul, Arbois Rouge
Imported by Vineyard Road.  There were flavors of red cranberry, citrus pith, and fresh acidity.  It was an interesting wine, in fine shape, and I can see why one person said  an “orange red wine” and another “curious”.

1999 Nicolas Potel, Latricieres-Chambertin, Grand Cru
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by C’est Vin.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was very fresh.  There was a little earth to the flavors, a ripe note and an interesting flavor profile.  There was a lot of unevolved oak which showed in the powerful and very fine tannins in the finish.  This wine packed a punch at the end.  Clearly the youngest tasting bottle of the even.

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We almost had a quartet of 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape but the Rayas, Pignan was badly corked.  Still, the remaining three bottles were excellent.  The Charvin had been double-decanted ahead of time so it probably had two hours of air before it was poured. The other wines were opened just minutes before and not decanted.  While this difference should be noted there is no denying the Charvin was a great wine.  This vintage represents the first produced by Laurent Charvin for all of the wines had been previously sold off.  It remained excellent to the end.  I also really liked the Pegau which can be so satisfying to smell and to drink.  This bottle came from a good cellar and even with some air kept a youthful nature.  The Beaucastel may have been more polarizing and not with the same depth of flavor but I very much enjoyed it.  That three different wines could be so satisfying was evidenced by how quiet the table became.

1990 Domaine Charvin, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were aromas of tobacco and red fruit that stood out of the glass.  In the mouth were lovely flavors that were a little savory and sappy with cherry and Kirsch notes.  The wine had weight and purity.  Despite the maturity the flavors had a ripe, dense core.  A real treat.

1990 Rayas, Pignan, Chateauneuf du Pape
Acquired from a private collection by Acker Merrall & Conduit Internet.  An off bottle.

1990 Domaine du Pegau, Cuvee Reservee, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Hand Picked Selections.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was great complexity in the familial nose but the flavors were young.  There was a good mixture of spices and fruit which was black red.  The chewy tannins made way to youthful weight, sweet fruit and sweet spices.  It had a spicy structure in the finish and a long aftertaste that took on ripe notes.

1990 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was very aromatic.  The flavors were expansive in the mouth but did not develop the weight or presence as the Charvin.  Some ripe fruit developed, an animale flavor, and the structure was more present.

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Unfortunately, the 1991 QBA was not worth drinking.  The 1995 Beerenauslese had an explosive entry into the mouth with an engaging mixture of black tea flavors.

1991 Carl von Schubert, Maximin Grunhauser, Herrenberg QBA, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer – (375 mL)
Alcohol 10.9%.  The nose was oxidative with a hint of apples and apricots followed by beef stock.  There were apple flavors, tart-like fruit but in the end dried out.  No.

1995 Carl von Schubert, Maximin Grunhauser, Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer – (375 mL)
Imported by Robert Chadderdon Selections.  Alcohol 6.5%.  There was a ripe nose of apples and apricots.  The wine had a lively burst into the mouth with not-quite bracing acidity.  The complex flavors blended in tea notes and maintained texture on the tongue followed by a tartness in the aftertaste.

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The Baumard was curious in that it was rather clean and almost primary.  Perhaps it needed more air or years in the cellar.  I believe some people continued to work this wine in their glass so perhaps they have a better opinion.  There is not much Terrantez any more on Madeira so the Cossart Gordon bottle was a treat to taste.  It was opened right before tasting and had great aromatics and powerful flavors.  It was a bottle I would be curious to track for a few weeks.

1989 Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume
Imported by Classic Wine Imports.  Acquired from a private collection by Acker Merrall & Conduit Internet.  The nose was sweet and sweaty but remained youthful and tight.  In the mouth the sweetness over powered the acidity at first, it was in there but bound tight.  Remarkably unevolved.

1977 Cossart Gordon, Terrantez, Madeira
Imported by Premium Ports & Madeiras.  Alcohol 20%.  There was a very aromatic and gorgeous nose.  In the mouth were powerful flavors of salty and rich orange-red fruit.  It had subtle weight.

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A Surprise Amongst the Lovely Wines at Little Saigon

October 3, 2013 1 comment
David and Phil outside Little Saigon.

David and Phil outside Little Saigon.

Seven of us recently gathered for a wine dinner at Little Saigon down in Falls Church at the suggestion of David.  Given the list of attendees David, Roland, Darryl, Nancy, Jeff, and Phil it came as no surprise to see many excellent bottles of wine.  What did surprise me was how a bottle of wine from 1991 originally described by Robert Parker as “a competent, correct wine in what was a dreadful vintage.  It is spicy and weedy…78 pts” became one of my favorite wines of the night.  More on this wine later.  Roland has been eating at Little Saigon in for a very long time.  After following his suggestion to bring bottles of German, Alsatian, Rhone, or Burgundy wine it was easy enough to leave the ordering of the food in his hands.

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Roland tried to manage successive waves of food since his typical waiter was absent.  We ate such dishes as crispy shrimp wonton and vegetable spring rolls to fried chicken wings with garlic and crisp salted calamari.  A plate of gigantic prawns gave no hint of what was to come.  The pace increased to a frenzy as the kitchen prepared everything else at once.  A whole rockfish with greens came out.  This was quickly followed by dishes of seared pork, quail, and pan-seared steak cubes.  It sounds like a crazy meal but in the end it was not.  Roland avoided spicy dishes so I never once thought there was a clash between food and wine.  In retrospect I believe the dinner would have been incomplete without so many dishes.

We sat at a large round table with a large lazy-susan in the middle.  We brought boxes of our own stems and there were even decanters as well.  Corkscrews and an Ah-So, a very nice Le Crueset model Jeff recently picked up in France, opened those bottles which had not been double-decanted.  I suspect the lazy-Susan is typically used for food but we used it to hold our wine bottles.  Both the dumpling sauce and the highly-coveted thin sauce resided here as well.  The latter of which, the kitchen released only one bowl at a time.   Perhaps it is like balsamic vinegar.  The small platters of food were relegated to the table until the Sterno and rockfish arrived which were of a size requiring the lazy-Susan.

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The 2008 De Conti, Anthologia Blanc offered an interesting start being a generous white wine from Bergerac.  I thought the 2006 Prager, Riesling,  Federspiel , Steinriegl and the 2008 Willi Schaefer, Riesling Kabinett, Graacher Himmelreich good in the beginning but ultimately a bit soft in the middle for my preference.  In the form of a new producer for me, the 2004 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling Spätlese, Winkeler Jesuitengarten provided my second favorite white wine of the night.  It balanced mature flavors with verve and a seductive mouthfeel.  Next came a pair of wines from Dönnhoff.  The 2001 Dönnhoff, Riesling Spätlese, Norheimer Kirschheck was more mature, earthier, good but not exciting.  This could be due to the 2002 Dönnhoff, Riesling Spätlese, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle which shined through everything else.  While I thought the 2004 Weingut Spreitzer was good but the 2002 Dönnhoff was a league ahead.

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We then turned to the red wines.  Darryl had been holding back on opening the 1991 Domaine du Pégaü, Réservée assuming it would not last once opened.  The bottle was in great shape as was the cork which was not even stained on the sides.  It started off with a less attractive nose of medicine and band aids but this eventually blew off and the wine came alive after an hour of air.  It was my second favorite red wine of the night being a lovely, mature Chateauneuf du Pape.  Darryl quickly checked that he purchased this bottle last year for $29 from Cellar Raiders.  Certainly the best buy of the evening.  Next up was the 1997 Paolo Scavino, Bric dël Firsc which turned out to be a mess so I dumped it.  The 1998 Domaine Santa Duc, Prestige des Haute Garrigues  still had plenty of fresh fruit but was not in the same class as the 1991 Pegau.  The 1998 Tardieu Laurent, Gigondas  exhibited too much wood and while not bad, was just not interesting to drink.

We moved on to a pair of Chateauneuf du Pape from the hot 2003 vintage.  These were polarizing for some.  I actually enjoyed the 2003 Le Vieux Donjon which I spent time drinking with my food instead of thinking about it.  I did not like the 2003 Pierre Usseglio et Fils, Cuvee du mon Aïeul for most of the evening.  It was a sizeable wine with a significant prune and raisin component that I do not like very much.  At Phil’s suggestion I tried the wine again at the end of the evening.  It had changed to become clean, pure, and not so powerful.  I am curious to hear other people experience with this wine.  The last wine was my favorite red wine of the evening.  The 2004 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage had been decanted many hours before dinner.  I do not know what a mature Chave, Hermitage tastes like but the impeccable balance, sense of purity, and long finish lead me to believe this has a wonderful future ahead.

I was recovering from a sinus infection so please excuse the brief impressions below.

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2008 De Conti, Anthologia Blanc, Bergerac
Imported by Elite Wines.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a golden yellow.  The nose was complex with candy and passion fruit aromas.  In the mouth were rich flavors and fine textured wood notes.  It was mildly unctuous with its ripe lemon flavors, integrated acidity, and minerals.  Distinctive. ***

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2006 Prager, Riesling,  Federspiel , Steinriegl, Wachau
Imported by Vin Divino.  This wine is 100% Riesling fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The wine started with textured, acidity driven flavors then it fell off to reveal a softer midpalate.  It tasted like it was maturing.  There was a minerally bit which mixed with some outgoing flavors. **

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2008 Willi Schaefer, Riesling Kabinett, Graacher Himmelreich, Mosel
Imported by Michael Skurnik.  Alcohol 7.5%.  There was a lot of initial texture with some on the tongue tip before minerally softness came out. **

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2004 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling Spätlese, Winkeler Jesuitengarten, Rheingau
A Terry Theise selection imported by Michael Skurnik.  Alcohol 7.7%.  This wine had a rocking start followed by a creamy, tropical middle.  There was a little petrol and expansive oily flavors.  A beautiful wine which maintained its attractive mouthfeel. ***

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2001 Dönnhoff, Riesling Spätlese, Norheimer Kirschheck, Nahe
Alcohol 9.0%.  The color was a golden yellow.  The soft nose bore an earthier hint.  In the mouth the wine had plenty of mature notes.  Perhaps drinking at its best. ***

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2002 Dönnhoff, Riesling Spätlese, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Nahe
Imported by Premier Cru.  Alcohol 8.5%.  The color was slightly golden yellow.  This was a lively, acidity driven wine with a lithe start, persistent flavors, and acidity which was spot on.  Good mouthfeel.  Plenty of life ahead but hard to resist now. ****

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1991 Domaine du Pégaü, Réservée, Châteauneuf du Pape
Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium to dark garnet.  It was aromatic from the beginning with aromas that stepped a bit out of the glass.  The flavors were mature but in great shape, initially revealing a medical note and leaner flavors.  After an hour it fleshed out to become very enjoyable and savory with black fruit, minerals, and a little savory bit.  Still has life left. ****

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1997 Paolo Scavino, Bric dël Firsc, Barolo
Imported by Vin Divino.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was almost brown garnet.  The nose was minty fresh and finely articulated.  In the mouth were lean flavors, minty with a spine of acidity driving it through.  This was followed by heat and roughness through the finish.  Kind of a mess.

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1998 Domaine Santa Duc, Prestige des Haute Garrigues, Gigondas
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  Alcohol 15%.  There was a good nose followed by flavors of dark fruit, a little cedar box.  The ripe fruit was still fresh with good depth and length with ripe tannins and good acidity.  There was a leather note.  Will last longer. ***

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1998 Tardieu Laurent, Gigondas
Alcohol 14.5%.  There were flavors of dark, firm fruit with steely acidity wrapped around a firm, drying, spicy tannic core.  It developed a haunting, dark earthy note.  It remained rugged with wood notes in the aftertaste. **

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2003 Le Vieux Donjon, Châteauneuf du Pape
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  The redder nose made way to approachable flavors of red and black fruit despite the firm, ripe tannins.  ***

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2003 Pierre Usseglio et Fils, Cuvee du mon Aïeul, Châteauneuf du Pape
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Cinsault and Syrah sourced from very old vines.  It was raised in epoxy-lined tanks and some oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose bore pruned and raisin fruit.  In the mouth this was a blue fruit bomb with extract and raisin notes.  The flavors built even bigger with lots of fine tannins in a structure that hit the back of the throat.  Dense.  Revisited at the end of the evening it had become more approachable with clean blue and black fruit. **(*)

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2004 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14%.  The fine nose was of clean fruit.  In the mouth were roundish flavors with a little earth and leather accenting the tart and cool, red fruit.  There was salivating acidity in this well-knit wine with truly lovely red fruit. Precise and clean with impeccable balance and understated power which made for a long, engaging finish. ****(*)

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The 2010 Bouchard Pere et Fils Tasting

January 18, 2013 4 comments

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This week I was fortunate to be invited to a 2010 vintage tasting of the wines of Bouchard Pere et Fils. Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils states 2010 is “a very promising vintage.” The harvest started September 20th and finished October 1st. The grapes were small with very concentrated juice with yields ending up 15-20% lower than average for both red and white. The bottling dates were a little earlier than normal.

This is an annual event organized by Panos Kakaviatos with the help of Henriot who provided ten different wines. The tasting dinner was held at Lavandou who provided us with two long tables at the front of the restaurant where we could spread out. Present were Karl and Adelaide Keller, Howard and Nancy Cooper, Amy Ray, Darryl Priest, Ben Giliberti, Paul Marquardt, Tim O’Rourke, David Choi, Ken Brown, Kevin Shin, Maria Denton, Annette and Christian Schiller, and Panos Kakaviatos. There were ten different wines served all of which were finished bottles save for the barrel sample of Montrachet. There were two bottles of each wine so there was plenty of wine for each person to taste. Many of us brought our own glasses to taste from. In addition to the 2010 Bouchard wines provided by Henriot everyone contributed an extra bottle or two.

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Champagne Starter.

We started off with a bit of Champagne as people gathered, said hello, and took their seats. I particularly liked the 2006 J. L Vergnon, Resonance.

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NV Veuve Fourney & Fils, Brut Nature, Blanc de Blancs, Premier Cru, Champagne
Imported by Simon N Cellars. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. Alcohol 12%. The light nose was dry with yeasty aromas and a touch of sweet biscuit. In the mouth there were green apple flavors to start with firm bubbles which coarsely dissipated. Then there was slightly sweeter fruit and a tart finish. ** Now.

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2006 J. L. Vergnon, Resonance Grand Cru Brut, Champagne
Imported by Wegandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% Chardonnay vinified in stainless steel. Disgorged October 2011. Alcohol 12%. The light to medium strength nose was more interesting. There were finer bubbles in the mouth which had good strength before turning into a mousse. The very fine mousse mixed with acidity on the tip of the tongue. Nice aftertaste. A second bottle also showed well. *** Now.

The 2010 White Wines

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The white wines were enjoyable with quality increasing from Village to Premier Cru to Grand Cru. With the Meursault Les Clous showing darker fruit the Beaune Clos Saint-Landry had a distinctive tropical note which set it apart. The Corton-Charlemagne was a strong step up with its lemon notes and balance for aging. This acted as a springboard for the Montrachet whose nose was immediately distinctive and attractive. At first the nose was more impressionable than in the mouth. But I was fortunate to find some remaining later in the tasting, there was only one bottle after all, and it had developed tremendously with air. It is amazing to think this is a barrel sample and not finished.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Meursault Les Clous, Village
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from soils of calcareous marls on a hard platform. It was aged for 8-10 months in up to 15% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. There was a light nose of tighter, darker fruit. In the mouth there was similarly tight fruit with a creamy touch that was focused. There were some spices and a barrel note in the aftertaste. ** 2015-2019.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Beaune Clos Saint-Landry, Premier Cru
Imported by Henriot This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from soils of limestone and clay with marls. It was aged for 8-12 months in up to 15% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The light nose was a touch fruitier with more tropical aromas and some floral notes. In the mouth it was a bit structured with a hint of tropical fruit and young grip. There were apples and stones in the aftertaste. **(*) Now-2019.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from predominantly limestone soils and clay. It was aged for 12-14 months in up to 20% new oak. Alcohol 14%. The light to medium strength nose tilted towards lemons. In the mouth the white fruit slowly expanded in the mouth with good acidity. This balanced wine has structure for aging. There were lemon notes and minerality as the wine warmed and breathed. ***(*) Now-2028.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Montrachet, Grand Cru
Imported by Henriot. Barrel Sample. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from soils of gravelly limestone. It was aged for 12-14 months in up to 20% new oak. Alcohol 14%. The light to medium nose was aromatic and complex with flinty aromas and deep fruit. It opened up over the course of the glass. There was good depth in the mouth with spices and a broader, weighty nature. There finish was nice as well as the spiced aftertaste. Upon revisiting there was ripe lemons and spice in the beginning. An oily mouthfeel developed along with a fine, almost grainy texture. Clearly the best thus far, precise, focused, and determined. ****(*) Now-2033.

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The 2010 Red Wines

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The red wines were fun with the Beaune Teurons a good start. It was more forward and young, compared to the red-fruited Savigny-Les-Beaune which though tight, was more complete. The Volnay Cailleret was a great step forward and a wine I kept revisiting throughout the night. It was my favorite red along with the Beaune Greves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus. The Volnay Cailleret shows more purple and black notes as if born of stone and able to weather age. The Beaune Graves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus is more old-school in flavor with depth, lightness and perfume. Both were completely different and very attractive.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Beaune Teurons, Premier Cru
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from estate and purchased fruit. It was aged 8-14 months in 20-40% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. There was a light, good nose of finely delineated red and black fruit. In the mouth there was good, racy black cherry fruit. The flavors were simpler but worked with the juicy acidity and the blacker red racy vein. There were fine tannins which coated the tongue and lips. It has a young, attractive personality which was somewhat forward. **(*) 2016-2023.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Savigny-Les-Beaune, Village
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from estate and purchased fruit. It was aged 8-14 months in 20-40% new oak. Alcohol 13%. There was a light, tight nose with slightly deeper, dark red cherry fruit. In the mouth there was brighter red fruit, leaning towards cran-raspberry. The acidity and fruit were integrated with a little Pinot note in the aftertaste. *** Now-2023?

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Volnay Cailleret, Ancienne Cuvee Carnot, Premier Cru
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from soils of thin limestone and clay on cracked rock. It was aged 10-18 months in 60-85% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The light nose bore the fine scent of red and purple fruit. In the mouth there was a bit of a creamy start as the wine rounded out with a black and red mineral vein. There was controlled ripeness to the flavors which became blacker with air. There was a powdery sweetness in the finish. Nice. Youthful. **** Now-2033.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Gevrey-Chambertin, Village
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from estate and purchased fruit. It was aged 8-14 months in 20-40% new oak. Alcohol 13%. There was a very light and tight nose which was not that appealing, sort of blend of fruits and vegetables. In the mouth there was firm red fruit, athletic, and a core of ripe red fruit. There were fine, strong tannins which powered through the aftertaste. Upon revisiting a second bottle it showed a bit better but was still my least favorite of the reds. *(*) 2015-2019.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Vosne-Romanee, Village
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from estate and purchased fruit. It was aged 8-14 months in 20-40% new oak. Alcohol 13%. The nose was very light with exotic berries. In the mouth there was tart red fruit, more cranberry flavors, then very fine tannins. This is very young and the tannins are quite strong. ** 2018-2028.

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2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Beaune Greves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus, Premier Cru
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from soils of limestone and clay. It was aged 10-18 months in 60-85% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The very light nose bore fine, black and mulberry aromas. In the mouth there was old-school flavors of light, red fruit. It was finely articulated. The acidity, tannins, and fruit were all in balance as the flavors slowly expanded. There was a perfumed, lipstick finish with black, focused fruit. You can drink it now with extended air but best to cellar. **** Now-2033.

Other Wines

The appetizers started to arrive so we cleansed our palates somewhat before moving on to the other wines. Of these I thought the NV Jean Piere Bouchard, In Florescence well-done with a mixture of flavors and bubbles which persisted through the finish. The 2002 Domaine de Courcel, Pommard Grand Clos Des Epenots sported a refined, attractive nose but in the mouth it revealed it still needs to be cellared. I took a break during my entree to drink a little wine. I then resumed tasting the other wines and revisited some of the 2010 Bouchard wines. A pair of wines from Weingut Himmel appeared with the 1999 Weingut Himmel, Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Spatlese drinking well. It was an appropriate finish before the two bottles of Chateau Climens.

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NV Andre Clouet, Un Jour de 1911, Champagne
Imported by Village Wine Imports. Alcohol 12%. There was a light autumnal color. There was a light to medium strength nose of oxidative, baked apples. In the mouth there were aggressive bubbles, plenty of acidity then bubbles and flavor just disappear. The flavors were older in the mouth, in an oxidative style with a long aftertaste. A bit disjointed in nature but still had some appealing aspects. Flawed.

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2002 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Meursault Genevrieres, Premier Cru
Imported by Cliquot. Alcohol 12%? There was a nutty very mature nose with a touch of ripeness. In the mouth the flavors were short. The acidity was still present. There was a gently ripe aftertaste. Drank best with food. ** Past.

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NV Jean Pierre Bouchard, In Florescence Blanc de Noirs Brut, Champagne
Imported by Potomac Selections. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from lieu-dit Cote de Val Vilaine. Alcohol 12.5%. There was a fine nose with a mixture of yeast, apples, and sweet biscuit. In the mouth there were very fine bubbles, sweet biscuit flavors, and bubbles which lasted through the finish. Well done. *** Now-2018.

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2002 Domaine de Courcel, Pommard Grand Clos Des Epenots, Premier Cru
Imported by Chateau & Estate. There was a fine perfumed nose which was attractive with finely wooded aromas. In the mouth there were fine flavors, structured wood box notes, and a sense of its age but more is required. Young. ***(*) 2018-2028.

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1981 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Chevalier-Montracher, Grand Cru
Imported by Vintage Wine Company. Alcohol 13%. The color was a light amber. There was a creamy-like texture but the flavors were over the hill. Nutty with plenty of acidity. There was a structure of fine, ripe tannins. * Past.

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1996 Weingut Himmel, Hochheimer Kirchenstuck Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau
Alcohol 8.5%. The color was a tawny amber which looked old. The very light nose was a bit nondescript. In the mouth the flavors were better and not as old. There was a little weight to the tooty fruity flavors in the middle, a little petrol, and some tartness. A bit of grip developed in the finish. ** Now-2018.

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1999 Weingut Himmer, Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau
This had a better color of light, golden straw. In the mouth there was racy fruit, good grip, a rather young personality, and good residual sugar which mixed with the acidity. ***(*) Now-2028.

The Dessert Wines

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The last two wines were a treat. Not only was it my first time drinking Chateau Climens but I got to drink two different vintages. I wanted to bring a bottle of Sauternes to the tasting because I figured there would be a lot of Champagne and I am on a bit of a Sauternes kick. Many thanks to Phil for helping me select this bottle from 2004. I found the nose delightfully complex and really engaging in the mouth. It is one of those wines which I would be hard pressed to not drink it right now despite decades of life and development ahead. Lastly the 1975 Chateau Climens with 29 additional years of age was only slightly darker than the 2004. It was not as complex but had really good acidity and liveliness.

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2004 Chateau Climens, Barsac, Premier Cru
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is 100% Semillon sourced from 20-year-old vines. It was vinified in 35-45% new oak then aged for 20-24 months. Alcohol 13.5%. The medium strength nose was very complex with Christmas spices and exotic aromas. In the mouth the Christmas spices continued with mouthfilling, rich flavors of vanilla, and apricot. This is a seductive wine with viscosity and good acidity. A real treat to drink right now. ****(*) Now-2043.

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1975 Chateau Climens, Sauternes-Barsac, Premier Cru
Imported by Charles Lefranc Cellars. This wine is 100% Semillon which was fermented in casks then aged for two years in 25% new oak. Alcohol 12%. There was a light nose of petrol and wood box. In the mouth there was still up-front white fruit, apple flavors, and acidity. With air the fruit because a bit creamed. This was not as complex nor as long in the mouth. Nevertheless still a lovely drink. Quite elegant at almost forty years of age, still has levity, and should last for some time. **** Now-2035.

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2006 Leitz, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling, Spatlese

January 24, 2012 1 comment

Vineyards, Image from Weingut Leitz

After recently trying a 2006 Hexamer Riesling I just had to unscrew a 2006 bottle from Weingut Leitz!  Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz is a vineyard site located on the eastern side of Rudesheim named after the shrine showing Mary Magdalene.  At the top of the hill is the Abbey of Saint Hildegard which originally controlled this vineyard.  The vineyard is located at elevations from 100 to 165 meters with a grade of 13 degrees.  The vines grow on sandy loess soils mixed with gravel and quartzite.  I highly recommend you check out the interactively informative Leitz website.  This wine was purchased from MacArthurs several years ago.  If you have bottles in your cellar than I recommend holding on to them for several more years.  Otherwise I recommend that you try a recent, available vintage.

2006 Weingut Leitz, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling, Spatlese, Rheingau – $20
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  This is a rich yellow color in the glass.  On the first night there was a light spritz with a beam of acidity that immediately made way to rich, creamy fruit with long-lasting ripe flavors, and a little sweet spice with a gravelly texture in the finish.  On the second day, the nose reveals subtle, dark yellow fruits.  This wine was well-balanced, the richness carried throughout by acidiy, almost chewy in texture, it makes you want to drink another glass.  I suspect this will develop for several more years and last quite a while.