Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Saint-Estephe’

1980s Beaucastel and Burgundy at the Woodberry Kitchen

Darryl and Nancy organized a small wine dinner at the Woodberry Kitchen in order to partake in ramps and old Châteauneuf du Pape.  Roland, Richard, and I joined them one fine evening this week.  Fortunately we had extra bottles in tow for this evening was marked by an unfortunate series of off and underperforming bottles.  A shame then that two vintages of 1983 and 1985 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, from two different sources were off.  A 1981 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape had a bad cork and despite a heroic effort by the wine to correct itself, it remained ultimately marred.  The 1978 Chateau Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe was more advanced than I had expected.

Thus the white wine highlight of the evening included the fine 1992 Zind Humbrecht, Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain, Alsace which still needs air for full pleasure.  It has a kiss of petrol followed by nuts and lively acidity.

For the red wines my favorites include a 1982 Thorin, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Chambolle-Musigny.  This represents a smaller and gentler example of an old-school mature Burgundy.  I enjoyed my glass and would happily have this as a house wine.  The mature Burgundy set the stage for a well-cared bottle of 1981 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape.  The last time I tasted this wine, my glass came from the dregs.  This time I had a proper pour which I kept around for an hour or so.  Good stuff!  This deep wine should drink at its peak for several more years.  In complete contrast the 1986 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape is yet to reach full maturity, instead it offers brighter, fruitier red flavors.  It will not achieve the depth of the 1981 but it does have that Beaucastel familiarity.

 

2011 Champy, Chassagne-Montrachet
Imported by Schneider’s of Capitol Hill.  Alcohol 11%.  A golden straw color greets.  The flinty nose makes way to a rounded, slight dense start backed by glycerin.  There are yeast and chalk flavors but the wine lacks verve from enough acidity.  ** Now.

NV Bereche, Vallee 66 Mois de Cave, Champagne
This wine is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay.  Bottled 07/07/2010.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is slightly oxidized with aromas of apple orchard.  The bubbles quickly become creamy with a fine vein of prickle.  The flavors have strength with chalky, fruit, and a slightly bitter finish.  It tastes fully mature.  *** Now.

1985 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, Riesling Spatlese Abtsberg, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Consigned from a private source to Zachy’s 2016 Rieslingfeier auction. Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  The nose is very aromatic and smells exactly like pure gasoline.  There is a fruity start backed by the petrol note a bit of grip then the wine completely fades off.  There is a strange lack of acidity.  Not Rated.

1992 Zind Humbrecht, Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain, Alsace
This also sports a bit of petrol on the nose.  In the mouth is a nutty, bitter, and coconut start.  This wine has ample acidity providing a lively start then drier middle before the acidity returns in the end.  With air it fleshes out a bit to bring the acidity in balance.  *** Now but will last.

1982 Thorin, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Chambolle-Musigny
Acquired from private collection by Acker Merrall & Condit.  Alcohol 11.9%-13.9%.  There is sweet fruit on the nose then violets and attractive, sweaty leather aromas.  In the mouth are sweet flavors that coat the tongue and a slight vibrancy.  A small example of a well-tasting old Burgundy.  *** Now.

1981 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Robert Haas Selections imported by Vineyard Brands.  This is in fine condition with sweet aromas and wood box complexity.  In the mouth are gently sweet flavors of perfumed strawberry which eventually take on fat.  There are pervasive flavors of leather, animale notes, blood, and an old-school perfumed aftertaste. **** Now – 2023.

1981 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape
No signs of seepage but cork was loose with a bit of wine on top of it.  Prominent volatile acidity and band-aids on the nose.  With air it cleans up a bit but can’t shape it.  The wine is fruity, supple, and weight but is marred by a band-aid flavor.  Not Rated.

1986 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by the Rare Wine Co.  Lighter in color than the 1981.  In the mouth are surprisingly young, reddish fruit flavors, a grippy nature, and brighter acidity.  This wine has both more structure and youthful grip.  It is not yet at full maturity but is gaining fat.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

1978 Chateau Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe – $18.95
Shipped by Les Vieux Celliers.  Imported by  The Stacole Co.  Dried banana on the nose.  In the mouth this is more advanced with red fruit, bananas, old greenhouse infused flavors, and a short finish.  ** Now.

1983 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, Reisling Auslese Abstberg  No. 125, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Acquired from a private collection by Chambers Street Wines.  Imported by Schenk USA.  Alcohol 9%.  Signs of seepage and the cork dropped in the bottle.  A beautiful orange color and attractive, scented marmalade nose.  Sadly it is undrinkable.  Not Rated.

A Blind Tasting of 2000 and 1996 Bordeaux with bottles of Dunn and Chave too

A few weeks back I was lucky to be a guest when Sotiris hosted his tasting group. We tasted seven wines blind of which one was a ringer.  Now I could not peg that we were tasting 2000 and 1996 Bordeaux but the 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley did stick out for it is certainly different.  Though the flavor is good, the structure is rather intense at this point so I suggest cellaring it for years to come.

The 2000 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien is a particularly fine wine which you may drink now and over the coming years.  From the nose to the flavor and mouth feel I could not help but to enjoy it. I thought the 1996 Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe showed well too.  The nose demonstrates how it is entering a mature phase but the power and acidity will see this through for some time.  As for the other bottles, the 2000 Chateau Quinault, L’Enclos, St-Emilion is a wine to drink now whereas the 1996 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien needs time to come into its own. Our bottle of 1996 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves was sadly musty but the  2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage was spot on.  This group loves Rhone wines so what a treat to finish up with Chave.  This is a fine, impeccably balanced wine that is still very young in flavor but the saline and fat notes hint at future complexity.

1) 2000 Chateau Quinault, L’Enclos, St-Emilion
Imported by Wine Markets Intl.  Alcohol 13%.  A garnet hint in the glass.  There are hints of maturity on the nose, ripe fruit, minerals, and Kirsch.  The mature ripe start soon brings minerals but is not as expansive as I expected.  There is a prominent vein of acidity, some herbaceous flavors, floral middle then less apparent acidity and spices in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2022.

2) 2000 Chateau Magdelaine, St-Emilion
Imported by Maison Marques et Domaines. Alcohol 13%.  The nose is more subtle.  This is a redder wine with fuzzy cranberry and red berry flavors.  It has a core of sweet fruit in the middle then takes on more body, grip, and an herbaceous bit. *** Now – 2022.

3) 2000 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators. Alcohol 13%.  This is a dark violet garnet color with an elegant nose.  There is power in the mouth which builds until the very finely textured flavors fill the mouth.  It also coats the mouth with structure.  Despite the strength this is an elegant wine with red fruit, minerals, and quite the aftertaste. **** Now – 2027.

4) 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%.  There is a eucalyptus start followed by a red fruit burst with acidity.  The flavor is interesting and different than the others.  This is a powerful wine with very, finely coating flavor.  With air flavors of blue fruit develop, warmth, and fresh grip.  The very fine structure is intense and there is a bit of a rough patch with heat right before the finish. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

5) 1996 Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Ginday Imports. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is fine and mature with a eucalyptus component.  The wine is bright with focused flavors of red fruit that takes on a citric hint in the middle.  With good power, the vein of acidity will see this wine develop for some time.  A lovely wine. **** Now – 2027.

6) 1996 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. Alcohol 13%.  There is a tough of cream to the nose.  The tangy and ripe, powdery blue fruit builds grip as it leaves flavor on the gums.  Powerful structure.  With air the wine develops attractiveness as the components balance out. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

7) 1996 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13%.  The musty nose makes with to a mature, mouth filling wine.  The flavor is lighter, the structure is there, as is mineral and cedar box but no denying this is flawed.  Too bad.  Not Rated.

2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage
Imported by Langdon Shiverick.  This is a tense wine with a saline note that adds complexity to the red fruit.  The structure is perfectly integrated, the balanced impeccable.  With air a very fine perfumed finish makes way to an aftertaste of gently coating fat. **** 2022-2032.

Lou’s Favorite Wines of 2016

January 2, 2017 1 comment

As Aaron and I drink many wines together, it’s inevitable that we have some shared wines on our top lists. The 1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill was obviously California with rich fruit and concentration but balanced by forest floor and a balanced acidity. What was especially interesting for me with this wine was that it was served with its brother, the 1978 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace.  This wine shared many of the characteristics of its sibling, but with more cassis, less earth and somewhat brighter toned.

I shared Aaron’s enthusiasm for the 1964 Mommessin Clos de Tart.  This is everything Burgundy should be—hugely complex as it balances a sense of fragility and depth. This oxymoronic nature of great, mature Burgundy was abounding in this wine.  I too loved the 1964 Beaucastel.  It’s too rare that I drink great, old Chateauneuf.  In an evening with an amazing vertical of great Beaucastel, this wine stood above the rest.  It was a beautiful mix of bright fruit, iodine and seaweed.

Moving on to two wines unique to my list are two more wines from 1964.  Both Burgundies were drunk at Berns’ and served from 375’s.  The first was a Senard Aloxe Corton Les Valozieres.  The second was a lowly villages Morey St Denis from Valby.  Both wines benefited from the cold conditions of the cellar there and were in pristine condition.  Though neither showed the pedigree of the Clos de Tart, they both showed as fully mature, complex and exciting.

cos

The 1989 Cos d’Estournel  also was part of a vertical of exceptional wines. Though I greatly enjoyed many of vintages served that night, the 1989 stood out to me (and just edged out the 2005). It had concentrated fruit, some green notes and a fascinating smoky spice like incense.  The finish went on and on.

zin

The 1970 Souverain Zinfandel was also from a 375 at Berns’.  This tasted still young and fresh and showed the heights that classic Zin can achieve.

My final two wines were probably more about the experience that the wines themselves.  The first was a 2011 Fevre Montmains Chablis that I had at Han Ting restaurant in The Hague.  This meal was probably my best of the year for exciting food and flawless service. The wine perfectly accompanied the Asian styled food.  It had bright acidity, a delightful minerality and will doubtless just get better with time, as it was just a baby.

Finally was a carafe of the house red at O’Tinello Osteria in Lago Albano just outside of Rome.  This fruity and fresh wine made locally had enough acidity to lighten the platters of cured meats, creamy pasta and the porchetta that the region is famous for.  It was a great reminder of the time honored pairings of local food and wines. We were close to the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo and I could imagine the Pope having a similar lunch in the bright March sun……

lago

Mature wines at an annual dinner

December 13, 2016 Leave a comment

Lou and I gather the families every year for a pre-holiday dinner featuring mature wines.  This year we were joined by Darryl and Nancy for whom mature wine is a bit of an obsession.  To accompany the dinner of crab cakes, coq au vin blanc, and leg of lamb we had planned nothing more than opening a random series of mature red wines.  This was then surrounded by a Champagne and white wine starter eventually to be concluded with a dessert wine.

The Champagne was in the form of the impressively boxed 1990 Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Vintage Cave Privée.  This is surprisingly fruity on the nose with precise flavors in the mouth that are supported by robust bubbles.  There is only a touch of yeast and the sense of maturity really takes many hours to develop.  It was a good showing.

The white wines moved us onto experimental territory.  The 2008 The Scholium Project, Naucratis, Lost Slough Vineyards is Verdelho on steroids.  Unfortunately the 16.3% alcohol breaks through towards the finish as pure alcohol.  No matter how seductive and correct the nose is, I could not get past the burning sensation in my throat.  The 1998 Hugel, Riesling Jubilee Hugel, Alsace is only made in the best vintages.  You get that sense from the lifted aromas on the nose but in the mouth the wine is starting to tire.  Switching gears once again, the 1995 Pierre Morey, Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres  is a wine for mature Chardonnay drinkers.  The apple orchard flavors and bits of subtlety speak of maturation but the fat draws you back to peak drinking.

oldies1

1990 Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Vintage Cave Privée
Imported by Moet Hennessy.  Disgorged October 2008.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose is quite pretty with a surprising amount of berry fruit.  The fruit continues in the mouth but soon picks up lemons and baking spices with a touch of yeast.  With air the flavors develop towards maturity.  The wine has good precision to the flavors which are enlivened by fine, robust bubbles.  This is more of a fruity wine than yeasty/biscuit wine.  **** Now – 2026.

oldies2

2008 The Scholium Project, Naucratis, Lost Slough Vineyards
Alcohol 16.3%.  There is a rich, nutty, creamy, and seductive nose.  In the mouth is a rich mouthful followed by toast and baking spices.  The wine finishes spicy with a sharp, alcoholic jolt in the end.  It starts of promising but is unpleasant by the end.  *** for the nose but for drinkability * Now.

1998 Hugel, Riesling Jubilee Hugel, Alsace
Alcohol 12.5%.  There is an attracted, lifted nose with lemons and herbs in the short finish.  Interesting to smell but tiring out.  ** Now.

1995 Pierre Morey, Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres 
Alcohol 13.5%.  The golden amber color speaks of maturity.  In the mouth is an moderately dense wine with apple orchard flavors and spot-on acidity.  It is clearly at its peak, with a suggestion of subtlety, that is briefly waylaid by the fat in the finish.  *** Now.

While Lou and I finished our dinner preparations we required some red wine.  Together we had both stood up a dozen or so bottles to try which we arrayed on a desk.  A fine looking 1976 Bitouzet-Prieur, Pommard was selected at random.  I was curious about this wine, Pommard being the first mature Burgundy I ever drunk.  This bottle is from the first year Neal Rosenthal began working with the estate.  The significant amount of muddy looking mold under the capsule foretells disaster in my experience.  While not completely gone the dusty, dirty aroma pervaded the flavor.  Down the drain it went and out came the cork on the half bottle of 1969 Sterling Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.  From the first released vintage, this wine was in good, though fully mature shape.  Peter Newton and Michael Stone founded Sterling Vineyards in 1964 with Ric Forman as the winemaker.  Both Peter Newton and Ric Forman went on to found Newton Vineyards once Sterling was sold to Seagram in 1977.  So this is an historic wine in two senses.  It proved a solid experience though the aroma of bananas and sweet rather than lively aspect of flavor prevented it from being excellent.  No regrets though, for one should try as many 1960s Californian wine as possible, for it is an historic period.

oldies3

1976 Bitouzet-Prieur, Pommard
Shipped by Neal Rosenthal.  Imported by Select Vineyards LTD.  Alcohol 11-14%.  It smells of dust and dirt.  There are some dark flavors in the mouth but the dusty, dirt aspect is less than subtle. An off bottle.  Not Rated.

oldies4

1969 Sterling Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (375mL)
Alcohol 12%.  The nose reminds me of red fruit and bananas.  In the mouth are clean flavors of red fruit which are sweet.  With air this becomes quite a mouthful. The assertive acidity brings forth a burst, of sweet flavor.  It leaves the impression that this was a larger, slightly sweet wine in youth.  *** Now.

With dinner we sat down to some serious wine.  The glass bottle of the 1961 Drouhin, Domaine General Marey-Monge, Romanee St-Vivant was covered with cellar grime and label damage from racking.  It is one of those bottles whose provenance was lost over the years or decades.  There was a fair bit of ullage but the color through the green glass, though light, reminded me of watered down cranberries which is a good indicator.  With a gorgeous nose and lively flavors, there is much on offer with this wine.  If I nit-pick, it does not have the harmony of the 1964 Momessin, Clos du Tart but it has personality.  I really like this type of wine.  Just one year younger the 1962 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac had very top-shoulder fill just below the neck.  This was my first experience with Lafite.  Yes, I have sadly written about more older vintages than the number of bottles tasted.  Still this proved a great start.  The nose is great, unique, and worth spending some time on.  In the mouth this is a fully mature wine with just a touch of fat and graphite.

I admit the 1945 Chateau Calon-Segur looked horrible.  As you can see by the picture, it still does, with the label almost falling off after lying in my equally old Eurocave.  Inside the glass is what counts so the top-shoulder fill, dark color, and firm cork waylaid some fear.  All of that aside, being of the 1945 vintage and bottled by John Harvey & Sons of Bristol, where I spent my sophomore year abroad, warranted trying it out.  The color is the darkest of all opened that night.  The nose and the flavors are marked by eucalyptus with bright, tart, red fruit.  In the end it is a relic.

With calls for more fruity wine I selected the 1979 Chateau Cabrieres, Chateauneuf du Pape.  The fill was excellent and the capsule contemporary so I suspect this is an ex-domaine release.  I cannot imagine someone would fake a modest vintage of Chateauneuf du Pape.  I liked it a lot.  To me it offers a balanced, mature Chateauneuf.

I recently wrote how I prefer equally old dessert wine following an old wine tasting.  I am happy to report that the 2009 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes marks me wrong.  It is incredibly complex and flavorful both on the nose and in the mouth.  This is an outstanding wine.

oldies5

1961 Drouhin, Domaine General Marey-Monge, Romanee St-Vivant
Imported by Dreyfus, Ashby, & Co.  This is almost light brown in color.  The nose, though, is gorgeous with aromas of cranberry and vintage perfume underpinned by an earthy note.  With air it develops both bacon aromas and hints of smoke.  In the mouth the vintage flavor tastes sweeter with air.  This is a vibrant wine with fine acidity.  As should be the case, this old Burgundy develops with air, improving at first then maintaining its lovely state until finish.  **** Now but will last for a decade.

oldies6

1962 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac
Shipped by Mestrezat-Preller.  Imported by White Company Ltd.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  The nose is aromatic and beautiful from the very first pour.  It sports sweet, unique aromas of blood and iron.  In the mouth are bright, clean red fruit which follows the nose.  There are hints of fat and hints of dry graphite.  This is drinking at its peak.  **** Now.

oldies7

1945 Chateau Calon-Segur, Saint-Estephe
Bottled by John Harvey & Sons of Bristol.  The color is remarkably dark but of proper garnet brown.  There is a fresh nose of eucalyptus and dust.  Similar eucalyptus mixes with bright, tart red fruit carried through with watering acidity.  There is even some structure.    *(*) Now.

oldies8

1979 Chateau Cabrieres, Chateauneuf du Pape
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose smells of a library and garrigue.  This wine peaks after 10 minutes providing an attractive blend of blue and red fruit, garrigue, and leather.  Everything is in balance with this properly mature wine.  It still suggests at ripe fruit.  *** Now.

oldies9

2009 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes
The nose is amazing and almost effervescent as the aromas fly out of the glass.  In the mouth is a core of butterscotch flavors, ripe pineapples, and sweet cream.  This racy wine is already, impressively complex.  Why not drink it now?  ****(*) Now – 2036.

oldies10

The Heart’s Delight lunch with the Ambassador of France, Gérard Araud and Herve Berland of Chateau Montrose

The French Ambassador’s residence is located in Kalorama just off of Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC.  Completed over one century ago, this grand Tudor Revival building was purchased by the French in the 1930s.  Following the completion of a recent renovation, this house has resumed its social role in the city.  Last week it was the scene of a spectacular wine lunch hosted by His Excellency, The Ambassador of France to the United States, Gérard Araud featuring the wines of Chateau Montrose.

Bruce Bassin

The lunch took place as part of the Private Series of events organized by the Heart’s Delight Wine Tasting & Auction.  Heart’s Delight is an annual five-day event of wine tastings, auctions, and meals aimed at raising money for the American Heart Association.  The first event took place in 1999 in memory of Bruce Bassin who passed away the previous year from a heart attack at the young age of 40.  Bruce Bassin had managed MacArthur Beverages since he was 28.

My experience with Heart’s Delight is only recent, having become a member of the Auction Committee just a few month ago.  That this lunch is the first event I have attended at Heart’s Delight is due to an invitation from Mark Wessels, the current manager of MacArthur Beverages.  It was a remarkable introduction for this intimate lunch took place for only two dozen guests.

HeartsDelight5

This is the first time the wines of Chateau Montrose have been featured at Heart’s Delight.  They were presented by CEO Hervé Berland who shipped the wines straight from the cellars of Chateau Montrose. Hervé Berland pulled out all stops in his selection of wines by including the 1990 and 2010 vintages, both of which Robert Parker rated 100 points.  Robert Parker described the 1990 vintage as “one of the all-time modern legends from Bordeaux” with the 2010 as “among the greatest vintages ever made in Montrose”.  This is also the perspective of Chateau Montrose who regarded the 1990 vintage as the reference standard by which subsequent vintages were held against until the 2010 vintage came along.

HeartsDelight2

The lunch began during a mild spring afternoon on the terrace with glasses of 2012 Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande Blanc, Saint-Estephe.  Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande is located near Chateau Montrose, both of which are owned by the Bouygues family.  Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande primarily produces red wine with just a small amount, some 250 cases, of white wine as well.  Our glass of 2012 represents the first vintage of the white wine made using the fruit of very young vines.  Though made mostly from Sauvignon Blanc the substantial inclusion of Semillon lent it an appealing amount of fruit and body.  After canapés and a photograph with his Excellency we moved inside for lunch.

HeartsDelight3

Lunch was cooked by Chef Michel Bastide.  The beautifully plated and aromatic dishes were quite flavorful. They were rich enough to stand up to the wines yet not overpowering.

Emince de bar marine au pollen de fenouil
Creme de caviar Oscietre
*
Casserole de petits legumes de racines
Jus d’estragon et truffe
*
Magret de canard poele
Artichauts et girolles
*
Petit bijou du Vermont et pousses de cresson
Pain aux raisins
*
Nage d’orange sanguine
Emulsion de pamplemousse
****
Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande, Saint-Estephe, 2012
La Dame de Montrose, Saint-Estephe, 2011
La Dame de Montrose, Saint-Estephe, 2010
Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe, 2010
Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe, 2005

Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe, 1990

Chateau Montrose is located on a gravelly knoll adjoining the Gironde.  From this unique microclimate it produces powerful, age-worthy wines.  Indeed, my recent experience with the wine includes the older vintages of 1959, 1964, and 1966.  In contemporary vintages, selection is strict with approximately half of the wine destined to be the grand vin, one-third as the second wine La Dame de Montrose, and the rest is sold off.

HeartsDelight4

All of the red wines were double-decanted at least one hour before lunch started.  We began with the 2011 and 2010 La Dame de Montrose.  The 2011 vintage is mostly Merlot with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is a wine to drink now for the young-tasting, grapey fruit is refreshing to drink.  The 2010 vintage features mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest Merlot.  This bottle was particularly tight and in need of further aging.  The 2010 Chateau Montrose, on the other hand, is more expressive with impressive amounts of concentration and lurking power.  There is great depth with a substantial structure and acidity to support long term development but none of this is overbearing.  Hervé Berland spoke of an effort to fine tune the tannic structure of the wines.  That is a remarkable goal for the quality of the tannins is spectacular in the 2010.

HeartsDelight1

Our shift to the 2005 Chateau Montrose brought along the first aromas and flavors from bottle age.  If the 2010 is a wine to marvel at future potential than the 2005 is one which is starting to exhibit that potential.  The bottle age comes across as an undertone for there is still mouth filling, age-worthy concentration.  I really enjoyed my glass but it is best left for further development.  The 1990 drank at or near full-maturity.  The gorgeous nose is mature with earthy hints and spices.  The wine fills the mouth with seamless concentrated mature fruit and fine complexity.  This is, perhaps, the most powerful of all the wines tasted that lunch but there is no sense of heaviness.

As we passed from the terrace to the dining room earlier that day, we walked through the Salon des boiseries where a portrait of George Washington hangs.  George Washington had a lifelong interest in wine but never tried Chateau Montrose for it was not founded until after his death.  George Washington was familiar with the best red Bordeaux, having ordered claret by the case not only for his table but also to drink at a boat race.  He certainly would have enjoyed the wines of Chateau Montrose for he placed orders for the “best old wine of Lafitte” and “old” 1785 Chateau Margaux.  He even once corresponded about the pleasures “which a Glass of good Claret seldom fails to produce.” It is a sentiment I shared as I drank from that final glass of 1990 Chateau Montrose.

The savory 1988 Chateau Meyney

January 21, 2016 Leave a comment

In the recent past the 1988 Chateau Meyney, Saint-Estephe would have been one of the oldest wines in my basement.  As such, I carefully saved this final bottle.  Last tasted seven years ago I found it oscillated between shut-down and open states. Today it is a fully open wine which is comforting on the nose and rather savory in the mouth.  I suspect you can drink this with full enjoyment over the next five years or so.  This wine was purchased many years ago at MacArthur Beverages.

Meyney1

1988 Chateau Meyney, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Chateau & Estate Wines.  This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There are comforting, scented aromas of leather and roast earth.  This savory wine has mature, dark fruit and polished wood that matches the juicy acidity.  There is still freshness as well ripe, dry texture but the wine remains at its peak with a touch of earth and vintage perfume.  *** Now – 2021.

Meyney2

From young Boillot to old Giscours, La Mission Haut Brion, and Montrose

November 2, 2015 Leave a comment

Drinking old Bordeaux from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s is a complex game for you cannot predict the quality of the wine based on vintage and chateau alone.  This period saw not only significant changes in technology but estates also changed ownership with vineyards subsequently reconstructed and replanted.  As a result, I find reading about the history of these wines adds depth to the experience of drinking them.  It also extends the period during which I think about the wines.  Before I could think about Bordeaux, Lou and I tucked into a pair of white wines.  Even after being open for three days, the 2012 Henri Boillot, Meursault proved it needs a few more years in the cellar.  I found the oak supportive of the tart, grippy lemon flavors.  On the other hand, the 1998 Robert Mondavi, Chardonnay Reserve, Napa Valley shows gobs of oak without enough interesting flavors.

OldBdxNight1

2012 Henri Boillot, Meursault –
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was aged for 18 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol ?%.  The aromas already bore complexity and were supported by oak.  In the mouth the wine was fresh, tart and grippy with spot-on lemon flavors, good acidity, and some raciness.  The structure is clearly supportive for development.  *** 2014-2022.

OldBdxNight2

1998 Robert Mondavi, Chardonnay Reserve, Napa Valley –
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented and aged in oak.  Alcohol ?%  The nose was a bit stinky with sweet and heavy aromas of oak.  The flavors were soft and creamy with just enough acidity to prevent flabbiness.  With an eye towards mouthfeel, the matching tropical flavors eventually leaned towards fresher, weighty lemons.  With notes of wood and old wine, this was ultimately a survivor.  Not my type of wine. * Now.

I expected the 1961 Chateau Giscours, Margaux to be dead and despite Mark Wessel’s (MacArthur Beverages) warnings of volatility, I still expected the 1970 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Graves to be drinkable.  Lou selected the as 1964 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe a backup bottle which I prejudged as an apt replacement for the Giscours.  The corks for the Giscours and La Mission Haut Brion were in fine form and of good aroma.  A quick sniff of the Giscours surprisingly revealed sweet fruit, “jammy” as Lou described, that was attractive and indicated the wine was very much in good shape.  On the other hand, the La Mission Haut Brion was volatile and as reflected in Lou’s facial expressions, not worth drinking.  Up came the Montrose from the cellar and out came the cork.  There was somewhat troubling mold encased down the top sides of the cork but the bottom smelled fine.  Lou poured the Montrose and we both immediately commented on the relatively youthful, and certainly dark color of the wine.

OldBdxNight6

Bottles of 1970 La Mission Haut Brion, and indeed the vintages surrounding it, are known to be marked by volatile acidity.  The explanation lies within Clive Coates’ Grands Vins (1995).  Frederic Woltner bought the estate in 1919 and upon his death, his son Henri Woltner took over running things.  The Woltner’s were remarkably progressive, having installed stainless steel tanks in the 1920s and 1950s (from a brewery none the less).  This enthusiasm for the wine seems to have faded during Henri Woltner’s final years before his death in 1974.  It is this period, particularly from 1967 to 1974 that Clive Coates details as one of a “lack of supervision” with the wines suffering from “an excess of volatile acidity.”  The famed oenologist Professor Emile Peynaud was brought in as a consultant in 1974 and the wines subsequently improved.  Needless to write, our bottle of the 1970 vintage, represented this slump in full force.  As a replacement we drank a lovely bottle of 1964 Chateau Montrose.  You may read about the history of this youthful wine in my post “Picked before the rain”: the 1964 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe.

While the 1970 La Mission Haut Brion lived up to its reputation I think the 1961 Giscours somewhat exceeded it.  Once described by Michael Broadbent as “Not highly recommended”, notes of this wine by the major writers are noticeably absent from such books as David Peppercorn’s Bordeaux (1991).  Chateau Giscours was acquired by Nicolas Tari in 1954.  Nicolas Tari was an experienced winemaker from Algeria who set about reconstructing and replanting the vineyards.  When he started purchasing the estate in 1947, only 7 of the 80 hectares were planted with vines.  Thus the 1961 vintage was produced from young vines.  The most recent significant note on this wine comes from Clive Coates.  From a tasting in 2003, he describes the “Rich, aromatic, quite concentrated nose” as well as “no great complexity or distinction” in flavor.  As far as our bottle relates, he is spot on!

OldBdxNight4

1961 Chateau Giscours, Margaux –
Unknown shipper and importer.  The attractive nose bore sweaty, low-lying aromas of sweet and dark fruit.  At first, the wine shows weight that matches the nose but after an hour it starts to thin out by the finish.  The initial flavors of tart red fruit and hints of dark, earthy flavors take on older flavors that echo in the mouth.  As leather notes develop there is a bit of a grip at the back of the mouth and even some tart, strawberry flavors in the end.  *** for the nose alone but overall ** Now.

OldBdxNight3

1970 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Graves –
Unknown shipper and importer. Top-shoulder fill.  Old and foxy on the nose and certainly not worth drinking.  With air the wine developed sweet fruit flavors that could not overpower the volatility.  Not Rated.

OldBdxNight5

1964 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe –
Shipped by Pierre Cartier & Fils. Imported by Monsieur Henri Wines. Alcohol 12%.  Mid-shoulder fill.  A beautiful wine in the glass with a dark and youthful core of color.  Both the nose and the mouth exhibit firm, cherry red fruit, and hard, watering acidity.  The wine is not terribly complex, instead it offers pure fruit flavors that are both beautiful and elegant.  *** Now 2030.

OldBdxNight7