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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lost Friday Lunch

September 15, 2016 Leave a comment

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For several years David Ehrlich has been organizing a series of weekday wine lunches.  Known as the Lost Lunch his idea is for a small group to enjoy a fine meal and an array of fine wines over the course of an entire afternoon.  Six of us recently gathered in the backroom of Black Salt where we kicked off the lunch with a bottle of 1996 Dom Perignon, Oenotheque Champagne.  This is an excellent Champagne which, with air and warmth, revealed an attractive amount of maturity.  It is simply a flat out treat to drink which was not only an outstanding way to start the afternoon but it was one of my top three favorites wines of the meal.  Rather than go through all of the wines I will jump straight to the 1971 Cav. L. Brero & C., Barolo Monvigliero Riserva.  The color of the wine is still deep with mouth filling flavors of vigorous fruit which take you by surprise.  The concentration builds with air, adding berries and baking spices, but never buries its great acidity.  The Monvigliero vineyard is located in Verduno which is on the northern edge of the Barolo region.  The vineyard itself is located on a high hill and is the only vineyard completely facing south.  It may be a romantic notion but you can taste that combination of ripe fruit from the sun and crispness from the altitude.  Regardless, it is an undeniably good wine.  For dessert we drank a lovely half-bottle of 1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes-Barsac.  This Climens not only feels luxurious in the mouth but the complex flavors make you want to take another sip.  I see no reason to hold back on drinking small formats.

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1996 Dom Perignon, Oenotheque Champagne
Imported by Moet Hennessy USA. Disgorged 2008. The light, toasted gold color leads you to a sweet, floral and fruity nose. The fine and robust bubbles first bring toast and yeast notes before a core of sweet fruit slowly expands in the mouth. Complexity is gained from old wood notes and a steely, chalk finish. With air and warmth this lovely Champagne shows more citrus, spices, and maturity. ****(*) Now – 2026.

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1971 Domaine Gustave Gros, Richebourg Grand Cru
Shipped by Remoissenet Pere et Fils. Imported by Excelsior Wine & Spirits Corp. Acquired from The Don Stott Cellar, Sotheby’s Wine. The color is relatively deep but the nose offers old leather and generally older aromas. In the mouth the wine is a little tired, though it is round and gentle, there is still some apparent structure in the finish. With moderate air it takes on a little fat and old spices but the finish becomes shorter. Overall it lacks some definition. *** Drink up.

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1991 Jean Gros, Richebourg Grand Cru
Imported by Chambers & Chambers. Alcohol 13%. The nose improved significantly with air eventually revealing some maturity. In the mouth are focused flavors of black cherry which never shook off firmness. The wine has a tangy grip that matched flavors of red fruit complemented by smoke. The flavors persist through the aftertaste. This wine will continue to develop. **** Now – 2026.

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2007 Domaine Francois Raveneau, Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux
Alcohol 13%. Acquired from Acker Merrall & Condit. Of the pair of Raveneau this has more acidity and tang which matches the white and chalky fruit. This is very precise, more citric, focused, and acidic. **** Now – 2021.

2008 Domaine Francois Raveneau, Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13%. The rounded start brings mango flavors. Despite the generous feeling this wine has grip and control. There is an attractive, weighty lemon flavor which is not tart. The finish brings chalk and a touch of tightness indicating a bit more aging potential. This was my favorite of the pair.  **** Now – 2021.

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2010 Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Meursault Clos de la Barre
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by Wines Unlimited. Alcohol 13%. This is an electric wine from the berry fruit to the chalky, grippy tang which coats the bottom of the gums. The structure is still there too but this is drinking great right now. **** Now – 2018.

2011 Lucien Le Moine, Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres
The flavors are forward with good fruit but the oak is immediately noticeable. There is chalk and acidity in the finish but the fruit is reduced and the oak returns as butterscotch. Perhaps it will integrate with time. ***(*) Now – 2019.

2011 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrieres
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. The lightest of the three Meursault. Compared to the others it had a berry fruit core but showed less concentration, less fruit, and watering acidity. That said it was cool in aspect with clean fruit and moderate minerality. I would drink this up. ***(*) Now.

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2001 Domaine A.-F. Gros, Richebourg
Imported by Pelton Imports. Alcohol 13%. This is a young, grapey wine with concentrated flavors of berries. It remained firm with primary, clean fruit yet shows strong promise. I would age this several more years before trying again. ***(*) 2020-2030.

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1952 Giacomo Borgogne, Barolo Riserva (red capsule original release)
Imported by T Elenteny. The pale amber color will be shocking to some. In the mouth the flavors are rounder than the color indicates. There is certainly vigor to this wine as the flavor fill the mouth, albeit they are simple in nature with watering acidity. The palate is more engaging than the nose. Very much alive and drinkable but this was never a strong wine. *** Now.

1971 Cav. L. Brero & C., Barolo Monvigliero Riserva
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This is quite deep in color. In the mouth are concentrated fruit flavors, berries, and cinnamon spices which persist on the tongue. This wine is full of vigor, still has weight to the fruit yet is crisp from the acidity. It builds concentration with air leaving baking spices in the aftertaste. An impressive wine. ****(*) Now – 2026.

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1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes-Barsac
Imported by Pearson’s Wine Imp. Co. The golden amber color makes was to luscious and seductive flavors. This is an unctuous wine with noticeable residual sugar. It is not just the mouthfeel that is attractive but the flavors of apricot and ripe, Christmas spices. Drinking great right now. **** Now but will last.

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2001 Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Auslese *, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. A little asparagus stink on the nose. There is a zippy start with tart, white berry fruit, and rather dry body.  It remained acidic.  *** Now

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A Rare Chateau de Beaucastel Vertical from 1964 to 2001

August 3, 2016 2 comments

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When the end of Prohibition in America was in sight, the “potent” and “celebrated” wines of Chateauneuf du Pape were mentioned as amongst the “Legendary Potions” that the Europeans were waiting to ship to our shores.  Once the purchase of wines was legal The New York Times published a thorough description of international wines that Americans should drink.  It was, in short, a refresher to the world of wine.  From the Rhone were recommended Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, and Chateauneuf du Pape.

Chateauneuf du Pape soon became an American favorite.  It was always listed for sale typically along with Pouilly Fuisse, at reasonable prices from the 1940s into the 1970s.  These were frequently negociant wines but the occasional estate bottled selection like Mont-Redon was available at a premium price.  In the 1950s a new style of early-drinking Chateauneuf du Pape was developed largely relying on carbonic maceration.  This dip in quality was soon met with a rise in price.

The American wine boom of the early 1970s led to the massive price escalation of the 1971 and 1972 Bordeaux vintages.  These price increases far exceeded the effects of the revaluation of international currencies from the fixed Bretton Woods system to a free-floating system.  This caused most European wines to increase in price some 10% to 20%.  In 1973, however, the favored Chateauneuf du Pape doubled in price in a matter of months.

The popularity of Chateauneuf du Pape plummeted due to price and by 1981 The New York Times called it “France’s Forgotten Red”.  Over the next year wines from such traditional estates as Chateau de Beaucastel and Chateau Mont-Redon were once again available  at reasonable prices.  These offerings began with the recently released and outstanding 1978 vintage.  A few older vintages were available too.

Lost amongst the turmoil of price escalation and carbonic maceration is discussion of the vintage of 1964.  This vintage is considered excellent but yields were significantly reduced by a summertime hailstorm.   Throughout this post-war period, Chateau de Beaucastel is consistently described as a traditional Chateauneuf du Pape estate fashioning wines meant to age.  Curiously enough, it is the first vintage in which Jacques Perrin employed his vinification a chaud technique where he heated the grapes.

John Livingstone-Learmonth considered the 1964 Beaucastel “a supreme wine”.   It was recently served as the oldest wine at a tasting of thirteen vintages of Beaucastel.

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The Beaucastel tasting was organized by Darryl Priest and stocked with wines from a total of ten attendees.  Darryl felt that lamb would be an ideal accompaniment to old Beaucastel.  It was from a single lamb that six out of seven courses were created for us by Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley at Ripple in Washington, DC.  Here is the menu:

*
lamb tenderloin tartare, sicilian pistachio, za’atar cracker
**
glazed lamb rib, corn pudding, crispy squash blossom
***
lamb loin carpaccio, baby heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, smoked labneh
****
lamb neck ragu, roasted potato gnocchi, fillet beans, harissa, parmesan
*****
rack of lamb, roasted leg, charred eggplant, oven roasted tomatoes
******
slow roasted lamb shoulder, merguez sausage, braised rainbow chard
*******
lemon verbena panna cotta, raspberry coulis, apricots, sable

After starting with a very drinkable NV Billecart-Salmon, Champagne Brut Rose we launched into the Beaucastel.  We drank the wines from oldest to youngest.  The two bottles of Hommage were decanted and the old bottles were simply popped and poured.  We largely rotated who started off pouring the wines so no one person would be stuck with the dregs.

Though a few bottles were shamefully off, such as 1978 and 1989, there were many excellent wines. My favorites list includes 1964, 1979, 1981, 1990, and 1995 Hommage.  For this post I will just comment on the oldest vintages as they are the least known.

The biggest surprise of the night was the 1964 Beaucastel. Due to the high prices of Chateauneuf du Pape in the 1970s, less was imported and sold in America.  This in part contributes to the difficulty of finding older vintages here.  This particular bottle came from a parcel that Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Company, purchased several years ago from a European cellar.

The bottle, label and capsule were in pristine condition and so was the cork when I extracted it.  A quick sniff revealed good fruit on the nose and a remarkable amount of fruitiness in the mouth.  Incredibly, the wine opened up with air and continued to drink well for nearly four hours.  David Bloch was reminded of a bottle of 1964 J. Mommessin, Clos de Tart that he, Lou, and I drank this summer.  They both taste of a similar period and style.  If you review older articles about Chateauneuf du Pape it was at times equated as a less expensive Burgundy.  In fact there are a handful of advertisements in England and America where Chateauneuf du Pape is listed under the heading Burgundy!    Everyone at the table commented on this wine.  Though no consensus was formed, there was discussion of the 1981, 1990, and 1995 Hommage as being favorites of the night.  I will add one observation.  The bottle of 1964 was the first one finished off including the very last dregs.

This was my second time tasting the 1976 vintage this summer.  Both from bottles Darryl sourced. This evening the 1976 was less advanced but it is still a solid wine at best.  The 1979 vintage proved very interesting.  It is an acidity driven vintage, bright and not ripe like the 1964.  I kept returning to my glass to be consistently surprised at how youthful it stayed.  Bill is spot on with his comment that it is on the same glacial pace of development as the 1964.  In contrast the 1981 vintage is a beautiful, elegant, and gently ripe wine that is drinking very well right now.  Please find my tasting notes below.

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NV Billecart-Salmon, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by T. Edward Wines.  Alcohol 12%.  There is a good, fruity start followed by the presence of a yeast bit but the fine, ripe fruit soon takes over.  This is a generous wine with balanced bubbles, and even some grip in the finish.  I would not be surprised if some wine saw oak for there is a sense of old wood.  Drinking great right now.  ***(*) Now.

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1964 Domaine de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Though light in color there are plenty of aromas and flavors.  It begins with earthy, garrigue infused aromas that open with air to reveal sweaty, red strawberry fruit.  In the mouth the flavors quickly fill with ample flavor and incredible amounts, for its age, of red fruit.  This wine is very much alive with brighter red fruit towards the finish and lively acidity throughout.  It ends with an ethereal, mineral finish. This bottle drank great over four hours.  Clearly this is a wine from a different era. ****(*) Now but will last.

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1976 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Darker than the 1964.  The nose sports more stink and barnyard but does reveal a floral and herbal freshness.  The flavors are controlled with an acidity driven start and short finish.  There is a fair amount of barnyard character here but it is not off putting.  Less advanced than the bottle tasted last month but it leaves a similar impression.  ** Now.

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1978 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is rugged, smells older and past-prime, eventually of blood.  The palate confirms this is not in the best shape for it is compact and short in flavor.  The acidity and aftertaste are there but this bottle is old and not a good representative.  Not Rated.

1979 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The lively color is promising and fulfilled by the sweaty aromas of leather and smoke.  This is an acidity driven wine with red fruit, structure, and surprising youth.  It is well-balanced with gentle earthiness and watering acidity.  This old-school wine will never be as generous as the 1964 but it will certainly drink well just as long.  **** Now – 2031.

1981 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The beautiful and fine nose balances earthy and olive aromas.  In the mouth the fruit, earth, and acidity are well balanced.  This wine has levity with elegant, ripe fruit and a gentle, ripe sweetness that lingers in the mouth.  **** Now – 2021.

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1983 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A very different wine with aromas of flowers and candy.  With some rough and hard flavors, plenty of acidity, and a tangy finish it is time to drink up.  ***(*) Now.

1985 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Lactic nose.  Not right.  Not Rated.

1989 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There is some VA on the nose which the palate confirms as a slightly underperforming bottle.  There is however plenty of ripe, strawberry fruit, and strength.  Not Rated.

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1990 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a great nose which conveys tension and complexity with fresh aromas of garrigue, fruit, saddle leather, and stink.  In the mouth, this wine has youthful grip, lovely balance, a firm finish, and an inky aftertaste.  There is plenty of flavor in the end.  ****(*) Now – 2035.

1998 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Alcohol 13.5%.  There are pure flavors of clean, assertive fruit driven by acidity.  It shows the grip and tang of the vintage.  This is a strong wine with old-school flavors of Kirsch.  A good wine. **** Now – 2036.

2001 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Alcohol 13.5%.  This is so young with clean flavors of strawberry and cherry fruit.  It is still in early development as it oscillates between flavors of fruit then garrigue and cedar.  Good acidity.  ***(*) 2021-2036.

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1994 Chateau de Beaucastel, Hommage a Jacques Perrin, Chateauneuf du Pape
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is subtle with mature, earthy aromas.  The softer and gentle entry brings dark, sweeter fruit and garrigue in the finish.  A fine wine that could use a longer finish, suggesting it is time to drink up.  **** Now.

1995 Chateau de Beaucastel, Hommage a Jacques Perrin, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Those nose offers animale aromas with bits of berries and Kirsch poking through.  In the mouth the concentrated, powerful flavors of ripe fruit cling to the mouth leaving extract in the aftertaste.  The flavors are also accented by animale notes.  The power is driven by acidity leaving fine, drying tannins.  **** Now – 2030.

The dessert wines were led off by the 1973 Domaine des Baumard,  Quarts de Chaumes.  This is a vintage that Phil Bernstein recently tasted at Baumard, where it is still available, so he imported a small quantity.  It is lovely stuff!  It is complex from decades of age but it is also very lively.  There is even a curious red berry fruit flavor.  The combination of residual sugar and acidity will see this wine through for decades to come. The 1988 Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes is drinking great right now.  I love Sauternes and this bottle did not disappoint.  The 1989 Huet, Moelleux Le Mont Premiere Trie, Vouvray reminds me of an apple orchard but it was too subtle and short in the finish to warrant much excitement.

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1973 Domaine des Baumard,  Quarts de Chaumes
The nose was stinky at first with cheese and some tuna.  This is a tight and vigorous white wine with flavors of apricots, apple spice, and creme brulee.  It is a little thick with noticeable residual sugar.  It is quite complex and offers surprising red berry fruit in the middle.  There is plenty of acidity that will see this wine through many years to come.  **** Now – 2036+.

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1988 Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The attractive amber color is followed by a robust nose.  The tangy fruit is matched by well-balanced residual sugar and acidity.  It soon becomes clear there is great sweetness here from ample residual sugar.  Drinks well right now.  ***(*) Now-2020.

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1989 Huet, Moelleux Le Mont Premiere Trie, Vouvray
The subtle nose is followed by apple and fallen orchard fruit making it the most vinous of the dessert wines.  It is perhaps, a little subtle and short to warrant future aging.  *** Now.

“Sturdy and Deep-Flavored”: Wines from our Thanksgiving weekend

November 30, 2015 Leave a comment

For the past several years I have taken the effort to drink American wine for the Thanksgiving holiday.  While I largely kept to that theme this year, I did kick things off with a bottle of Spanish Cava.  I did so because the earliest Thanksgiving memories of my mother are from Spain.  She spent her childhood in Zaragoza where the family was sure to celebrate Thanksgiving.  They used imported American ingredients to prepare the classic dishes of turkey with gravy, potatoes, green beans, and of course, many, many pies.  They did, however, drink Spanish wine with their meal.  Our Spanish bottle of 2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva took several hours to open up.  While it does require a few more years in the cellar, it eventually revealed attractive hard cherry flavors with just the right amount of texture.

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2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Imported by Neal Rosenthal. This wine is a blend of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Monastrell. Alcohol 12%.  After a few hours of air, the firm but quickly dissipating bubble made way to dry flavors of hard cherry and cola.  Quite different and certainly rather in need of age, things wrapped up with a textured finish and just a hint of yeast.  **(*) 2018-2025.

I tend to rely on red wine for Thanksgiving and this weekend I tasted through some mature reds.  Lou and I picked up a number of bottles from the Earthquake Cellar which was recently sold off by BP Wine.  The NV Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties bears no date but the fact that this magnum is in a 2/5 gallon bottle dates the wine to the 1970s at the latest.  I personally believe the wine is from the 1960s for several reasons which places it during a period of fascinating change as detailed in History of Sebastiani Vineyards, 1955-Present.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Sebastiani was a bulk wine operation that produced wine solely for other labels.  Some 90% of this wine was dessert wine such as port, sherry, muscatel, and tokay.  By the early 1970s the transition to selling table wine bottled under the Sebastiani name was completed.  The bulk operation was no more.

The impetus for change developed in the mid 1950s under the control of August Sebastiani.  At the time, the Allied Grape Growers/Petri Group were going to start bottling their own wine at facilities throughout the country.  Gallo, in response, decided to bottle their wine in lightweight bottles so they could ship it across the country.  These two actions put direct competition on Sebastiani which had no choice but to change.  There is also the story that August Sebastiani’s wife Sylvia tasted a “really, really, really good cream sherry” which turned out to be a wine produced by Sebastiani for another label.  Why not bottle such good wine under their own name?

The Sebastiani brand was developed in the 1950s and a very basic bottling machine known as a Fillabelmatic was purchased.  However, the transition away from bulk wine production did not begin in earnest until around 1960.  Throughout the 1960s dessert wines were still produced but various tiers of wines were developed including table and varietal wines.  The varietal wines were not only bottled in 4/5 quart bottles but also in half gallon bottles and apparently magnum bottles.

Our particular bottle of Sebastiani wine clearly predates the conversion to metric wine bottles.  This requirement was passed in 1977 and went into effect in 1979. The basic Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon label from our bottle was used during the 1960s and 1970s.  Bearing the common theme of “Sturdy and Deep-Flavored” this label was used for both non-vintage and vintages wines.  Vintages wines such as 1963 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 9, 1968 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1970 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve all list “North Coast Counties” with a winery location of “Sonoma Valley, California”.  The 1972 Mountain Burgundy, 1973 Barbera, and 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve that was bottled in 1979, all bear “Northern California” as well as the zip code 95476.  This suggests that the non-vintage blend could be from the period of 1963 through 1971.

The cork was solid and the wine itself in sturdy enough shape that it drank fine over three evenings.  It was rather stinky and animale at first but it did clean up.  The fruit was sweet with rounded flavors and no hint of French or American oak.  Instead this time-machine of a wine transported us back to the days of redwood.  The images it conjured might have outpaced the quality of the wine but it was enough to last a glass or two.

As for the other wines, the 1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley slowly responded to air over the course of an evening.  With cherry and wood box flavors it only gave the slightest hint it would not develop any further.  By contrast the 1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley was forward on the nose and in the mouth with plenty of fruit and glycerin.  While clearly modern, it was not a bad drink at all, and in surprisingly strong shape.  The 1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape was in great shape, offering everything you could want from a somewhat rustic Rhone wine which has not yet hit full maturity.

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NV Sebastiani Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties (2/5 gallon)
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was quite earthy at first with animal fur aromas.  Over time the stink faded off to reveal sweet fruit and wood box flavors in the mouth.  The wine softened a touch revealing rounded flavors and gentle old wood that lasted over the next few days.  ** Now but will last for many years.

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1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13%.  The nose revealed gentle aromas of earth, cherry, and tobacco.  In the mouth the firm cherry flavors matched the polished wood notes.  This slightly savory wine still sported a rather fine structure.  The flavors thinned out some by the finish where there were some cola-like flavors, watering acidity, and roasted earth.  *** Now but will last.

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1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine was immediately aromatic with round fruit and wood box.  In the mouth the flavors were forward with round black fruit that was almost thick with glycerin.  With air this modern wine showed more minerals, blackness, and some nearly resolved tannins.  ** Now – 2020.

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1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Ginday Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine had a good core of red and black fruit and a pleasing amount of structure that leant towards the not quite rustic personality.  Clearly a good wine in shape for continued development.  *** Now -2022.

There was also a pair of dessert wines.  From the lightest of a group, the bottle of 1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes was youthful, fresh, and rather unevolved which meant it did not tire the palate at all.  A brief taste of the 2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland already reveals an interesting amount of complexity.  It is noticeably richer and thicker so think of it more as a sipping wine to wrap things up.

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1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes
Imported by Luke’s Distribution Co.  Alcohol 14%.  In fine condition, this wine brighter, floral and yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the youthful, floral and orange citrus accented fruit has an appealing level of viscosity.  The level of acidity keeps things fresh and slightly watering through the saline marked finish.  I would cellar this further.   *** Now – 2035.

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2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland
This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Scheurebe, and Riesling that was fermented and aged in oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Already a deep color , aromas of petrol with both fresh and dried apricots step out of the glass. With air hints of black tea develop.  In the mouth, this is a thick wine with viscosity that is noticeable in the finish and aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2035.

A dinner party with old wine

September 22, 2015 Leave a comment

This past weekend Lou and I went to a fun dinner party where we ate heaps of meat and drank some old wine.  Lou’s friend Todd spearheaded the food side of things and Lisa offered up her place.  This meant that Lou and I selected the wines.  We started with a very fresh tasting 2008 Drouhin-Vaudon, Chablis Premier Cru.  It showed younger than I expected with the bottle age taking off any rough corners and adding a hint of orchard fruit.

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Once everyone arrived and set about tucking into the cheese and charcuterie, we cracked open the NV Michel Turgy, Reserve Selection, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs and the NV Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier, Champagne Brut Premier Cru.  The Turgy is a pure Chardonnay based Champagne that was vinified entirely in stainless steel.  The Vilmart is a blend of mostly Chardonnay with Pinot Noir that was both fermented and aged in oak.  This made for an enjoyably different pair of wines, with the Turgy very aromatic with mature aromas and more explosive bubbles.  The Vilmart had a subdued nose but was top-notch in the mouth with a luxurious mousse and all around harmony.  I highly recommend you seek out both of these.

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With our palete wet we moved on to a trio of Pinot Noir.  I have written about the 2001 Domaine Serene, Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve, Willamette Valley and 2003 Brick House, Pinot Noir, Cuvée du Tonnelier, Willamette Valley before so I shall pass over those.  The third bottle, in the form of the 1985 Comte Armand, Pommard Clos de Epenaux, showed an attractive maturity with plenty of earthy aromas that pervaded through the mouth.  We have drunk one bottle before that seemed very young, this bottle was very expressive with good strength.

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With the bottles of Pinot Noir drained we moved on to a pair of Bordeaux.  Perhaps the 1982 Château Prieurié Lichine, Margaux was destined to be a mere solid experience due to the heat stress in Margaux or the estate itself.  It was, nevertheless, a decent wine that only helped elevate the excellent bottle of 1982 Château Meyney, Saint-Estèphe.  The Meyney proved quite aromatic with satisfying presence in the mouth.  It was both mature and youthful at the same time making for a fine glass.

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For the 1978 vintage we opened a pair from Saint-Julien.  I had high hopes for the 1978 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien but this particular bottle offered darker red fruit, that while good, did not have quite the vigor it should have.  The 1978 Château Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien on the other hand was completely open with its aromatic nose, expansive flavors, and strength.  You could generally say the 1982s were fruitier and the 1978s were more rugged.  More importantly, though, all four bottles provoked delight and were drained of their very last drops.

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To transition to the Sauternes course we selected the 1977 Ridge Late Harvest Zinfandel Trentadue Ranch, Sonoma County due to the bit of residual sugar at bottling.  From a drought vintage in California, I was prepared for it to be sherried at this age.  It wasn’t!  In fact it was like a solid, rustic old Californian wine.  Be it the high alcohol level or its age, it drank more like the previous wines than a dessert wine.  Lou is a firm believer in old Ridge wines and this bottle demonstrates why.  I wish I could write more about the wine but I only had a tiny pour as I was quick to check on the Sauternes.

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Both of our bottles of Sauterne were from good vintages.  I expected the 1983 Château Bastor-Lamontagne, Sauternes to be more advanced given the color and simpler given the reputation.  My expectations were met for there was a burst of mouthfilling, dark, botrytised fruit followed by a simpler and shorter finish.  The sweetness was more obvious too.  Quickly down the hatch it went!  With everyone adjusted we poured the 1988 Château de Rayne Vigneau, Sauternes.  This is an important vintage for the vineyard had been replanted, the rebuilding of the chais was complete with new stainless steel tanks, new barriques, and a cold chamber first employed for the 1987 vintage.  Fortunately, the cold chamber was not required for the 1988 vintage which was the first to experience the pneumatic press.  All of these updates showed through the wine.  It was beautiful, more on the elegant side but it sported a finely articulate nose with perfectly balanced fruit, acidity, and sweetness in the mouth.  As Lou commented, it is ready for a long future of development.

Many thanks to Todd, Lisa, and everyone else for such a fun evening!

Tasting 2001-2011 vintages of Descendientes de J. Palacios in Bierzo

January 16, 2015 Leave a comment

It is easy to taste more wine and research more subjects than I can write about.  These notes from a fall tasting of wine from Descendientes de J. Palacios prove that point.  The Palacios wines all came from a single cellar purchased last year by MacArthur Beverages.  The owner bought them direct from the Rare Wine Co. and had cellared them properly since purchase.  Thus there was no more reason needed to purchase these wines other than curiosity.  As I have an incredibly tiny dining room Roland generously offered to host the tasting.

Introductory Wines

That a white wine from Bierzo could be purely Dona Blanca was revealing for most.  The nose of the 2011 La Vizcaina, La Del Vivo, Lomas de Valtuile, Bierzo  was quite engaging and I enjoyed the mouthfeel.  It’s a shame it was so pricey. The 2011 Adega Algueira, Ribera Sacra  acted as a transition wine being made from Mencia in Ribera Sacra.  This young, grapey wine left me wanting to jump into the Palacios wines.  This pair of wines were purchased at Despaña Vinos y Mas.

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2011 La Vizcaina, La Del Vivo, Lomas de Valtuile, Bierzo –
Imported by Peninsula Wines.  This wine is 100% Dona Blanca.    Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was aromatic with forest and fresh pine notes.  In the mouth fresh fruit flavors eventually developed and were kept lively by balanced acidity.  The wine was rounded with glycerin becoming softer towards the finish.

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2011 Adega Algueira, Ribeira Sacra –
Imported by Polaner Selections.   This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 13%.  This wine seemed reduced at first eventually showing a grapey, black fruited style of Mencia.  The wine was young with a citrus hint and grapey tannins.

The Descendientes de J. Palacios Tasting

The wines of Descendientes de J. Palacios are the result of the collaboration between Ricardo Perez and Alvaro Palacios that began in 1999.  They put together some 30 hectares of vines located in the hills near Corullón in the region of Bierzo in the northwest of Spain.  For our tasting we spanned much of the estate’s history with vintages that went from 2011 back to 2001.  The wines themselves encompassed four different bottlings.  Petalos marks the entry level and is made from old-vine Mencia sourced from many sites.  The Villa de Corullón uses fruit from vines up to 90 years of age located in vineyards that flank Corullón.  The Moncerbal and Las Lamas wines are made from vineyards located in the same valley south of Corullón .  The Moncerbal vineyards are located on a steep hillside between 650 – 740 meters in elevation.  The vineyards generally face south-west.  The soils here are a mixture of slates, quartzes, and marbles.  Las Lamas represents the fourth wine we would taste.  The fruit for these wines are sourced from small vineyards located just west of Moncerbal at similar altitude.  Here the vineyards face south with soils of broken slate.

The wines of Descendientes de J. Palacios quickly escalate both in price and scores.  With this in mind it might be surprising that the pair of vintages from the entry-level Petalos caught everyone off guard.  The 2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo  is a strapping, young wine that I strongly recommend you find some for your cellar.  I write this because the 2006 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo  has entered that second stage of life showing both fruit and bottle aged flavors.  It has developed incredibly well.  I will admit that, for no particular reason other than a lack of information, I half expected it to be past its peak.

Of the other selections my favorites included the 2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo and the 2005 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo.  This pair showed good balance of fruit, acidity, and strong structure that should reward after a few more years in the cellar.  Sadly, the trio of wines from the 2001 vintages showed as a whole that they were past their prime drinking.

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2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This showed round, grippy young fruit, some smoothness before savory, black minerals, and a slightly warm finish.  With air this robust wine became salty with drying, fine tannins.  A strapping wine.

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2006 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14%.  The attractive nose immediately showed more maturity.  The low-lying flavors were almost meaty with fine to medium textured tannins.  There was significant life in this wine which was still fruity showing red cherry, tart cranberry, and strawberry flavors.  With air the wine became more fragrant with floral aromas that made way to old wood and tart red fruit in the mouth.  Lovely.

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2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Villa de Corullón, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 15%.  This wine was young and robust with a tight core of deep, sexy, racy fruit.  The fruit was sweet (alcohol?) but not from residual sugar.  This wine definitely stepped things up with not quite brawny floral flavors that retained lots of focus.

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2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was an attractive, dark nose that was not quite stinky.  The flavors had a cool start followed by very fine blue fruit, a cinnamon finish, and dense, expansive aftertaste.  There was a robust, powerful structure that left drying tannins on the gums.   With air this wine showed good balance with dense, sweet blue fruit, lovely acidity, and a black minerally finish.

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2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a hint of butter on the nose.  In the mouth were lighter red fruit flavors that were gently dense and stylistically different.  There were very fine, smooth tannins that were more obviously from wood.  It had some texture.

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2005 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The subtle berry nose opened up to step out of the glass.  There were exotic flavors in the mouth that were savory with strawberry notes and spicy tannins in the structure.  There was concentrated fruit, lovely acidity that was more abundant than the 2007, and a really good finish.  Nice wine.

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2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a nose of tobacco followed by firm fruit in the mouth.  There was acidity and vintage perfume notes but the soft focus and hollow middle were detracting.

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2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Villa de Corullón, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 13%.  The vintage perfume aromas were delicate.  The wine was very easy to drink with a personality of lighter fruit, strawberry flavors, and acidity.  It remained very approachable.

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2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14%.  Though this was fruity the flavors dropped off by the finish.

Interlude

With the last three wines from the 2001 vintage leaving us wanting, Roland returned from his basement with a bottle of 2005 Granja Remelluri, Rioja Gran Reserva.  Into the big decanter/glass it went.  Roland worked the decanter, coaxing the wine to open up before pouring it out.  It was gorgeous!

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2005 Granja Remelluri, Rioja Gran Reserva
Imported by De Maison Selections.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A harmonious wine with sweet fruit complemented by wood box.  The wine tasted younger as it breathed.  There is clearly strong potential with this wine.

1988 Sauternes

Our Sauternes flight proved we were doomed by vintages served in threes.  You know you are in bad luck when Panos Kakaviatos remotely diagnosed a problem with the 1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes  based on a Facebook picture.  These wines came from two different cellars.

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1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  With flavors of apple orchard fruit this was more advanced than it should have been as also evidenced by the color.  The fruit, glycerin, and acidity was all up front.

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1988 Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This managed to remain floral.

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1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley. Alcohol 14%. This had grapier fruit and while the acidity was present, the flavors were very short leading to a textured, residual sugar infused finish.

The Calon Segur Vertical 2010-1982

January 29, 2014 1 comment

Chateau-Calon-Segur. Image from Cocks and Feret, Bordeaux and Its Wines. 1883.

Just over one week ago I had the opportunity to taste 16 vintages of Château Calon-Ségur ranging from 2010 back to 1982.  The tasting was organized by Panos Kakaviatos who managed to convince general manager Laurent Dufau to present his wines at Ripple in Washington, DC.  The estate was recently acquired by Crédit Mutuel Arkéa and Jean-François Moueix.  They hired Laurent Dufau who informed us this was the first promotional tasting in the United States in 120 years.  I recommend you read Panos’ post Calon Segur 1982-2010: first ever promotional tasting in the US both for the background information and his perspective on the wines.  Three important facts to consider are that until 2002 the wine was bottled on two separate dates, once in the spring and once in the July to September time frame.  This fact alone introduces bottle variation.  Secondly, in 2006 Vincent Millet took over the winemaking for the estate.  Vintages prior to 2006 tend to have 50% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon but Mr. Millet increased the Cabernet Sauvignon proportion to 80%.  He also sourced the fruit from the main 55ha vineyard.

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We began the evening with glasses of Krug Champagne served by Maria Denton.  Krug might be a fixture at Panos’ Bordeaux tastings in Washington, DC and it is of good effect.  Everyone gets excited.  There were many familiar faces present including Phil Bernstein (MacArthur Beverages), Chris Bublitz, Maria and David Denton, John Gilman (View From the Cellar), Darryl Priest, Karen Taylor (France Magazine), and David White (Terroirist).   My assigned table included Kathy Morgan, Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours), and Christian Schiller (Schiller Wine).  You may find Christian’s post here A 16-Vintage Château Calon Ségur Vertical Tasting in Washington DC, with Wine Writer Panos Kakaviatos and Laurent Dufau, Managing Director, USA/Bordeaux. All of the wines we tasted were decanted as early as 3pm so they had plenty of air.  In adding my brief comments both the 2010 and 2009 vintages have strong long-term development ahead of them.  The 2008 was drinking quite well as was the 2005 vintage, the last prior to Vincent Millet.  The later had initial notes of maturity and was just downright fun to drink.  Reaching back further the 1989 was my favorite wine of the night.  A classic mature wine.  Unfortunately, my 1982 was full of sediment as was the rest of the table.  It was decent but muted and in no way compared to the 1989.  At the very end each person received a small pour from three different bottles of Sauternes.  I have come to love Sauternes very much so it was to my delight that I discovered these bottles were still a third full at the end.  The 1986 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey provided a lovely end to the evening.

Laurent Dufau and Panos Kakaviatos

Laurent Dufau and Panos Kakaviatos

2010 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This wine had a subtle herbaceous nose.  In the mouth were enjoyable yet firm and concentrated flavors.  There were notes of graphite and spices in the finish followed by a good aftertaste. ***(*)

2009 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This bore a darker nose of black cherry with some deep, meaty aromas.  The flavors were blacker with meat, a little hint of minerals, with some texture in the finish. ***(*)

2008 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
The nose was finely scented with some toast.  In the mouth were firm cherry and black fruit flavors which were lively in the mouth.  This wine was more open, drinking well, and had good acidity. ****

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2007 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
The nose was richer and aromatic with chocolate notes and vegetal hints.  In the mouth there were initial fruit flavors then a wall of structure.  Much different than the 2006, with more green herbaceous notes. **

2006 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This had a very tight nose of clean fruit.  In the mouth the tight fruit had both good structure and acidity.  There were red fruit flavors which morphed into black fruit.  The wine was elegant, perfumed, and had a good mouthfeel.  A good wine. ***

2005 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
The nose was a touch darker.  This was a fun wine with rustic flavors and chunky tannins.  Drinking really well with hints of maturity. *****

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2003 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
There was a little perfume on the nose. In the mouth were black fruit flavors, watering acidity, and presence of structure.  This well done wine mixed minerals with structure in the finish.  It had good fruit, texture, and balance.  It was rather open.  ****

2002 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This was a thinner wine with a little more minerals.  The flavors leaned towards the red and it still had structure.  **

2001 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
There was a linear delivery of fruit with some tart red flavors and a touch of vegetal notes.  It bore hints of bottle age but presented a youthful aspect.  There were black minerals in the finish and red fruit which was both dense and cool.  A young wine.  ***

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2000 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
The nose was a bit earthy with spices.  In the mouth the wine was young and not showing too much.  It had powdery notes of rocks and structure in the mouth.  Clearly meant for the long-haul.  ***(*)

1999 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
There was a good, tight nose.  The flavors were concentrated with prominent acidity and a slightly ripe finish.  This was a good, fresh wine with some baking spices and a little earth.  It was drying in the finish. ***

1998 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This revealed a little volatile sharpness on the nose.  In the mouth this wine came together with air.  It showed complexity with a tough, robust finish.  There were attractive black fruit and floral elements.  ****

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1996 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This wine was fresh yet firm with some leanness wrapped around the structure.  There was black and red fruit and some spice.  Very nice. ****

1995 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This was more linear in delivery with acidity and more mellow blue fruit flavors.  The flavors had some weight and there was a little toast to the structure. ***

1989 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This bore a lovely, earthy finely scented nose with mature aromas.  In the mouth was good fruit, concentration, drying structure, and a little roast.  My wine of the night.  It had a balance between maturity and liveliness which made it a treat to drink.  ****

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1982 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This glass full of sediment was poured from a bottle with a perfect label.  There were darker fruit notes, ripeness was there, some roast, a good wine but ultimately lacked that extra dimension. ***

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1986 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes
This had the lightest color the three Sauternes.  There were apricot and floral notes.  The residual sugar and acidity were balanced with some crispness to the wine.  The apricot flavors became sharper towards the finish.  Drinking well now.  ****.

1989 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes
This had a piercing nose followed by sharpness in the mouth.  This bottle was not showing well. NR.

2001 Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes
This had a slightly candied aroma followed by sweeter flavors and more obvious residual sugar with less acidity.  The flavors leaned towards marmelade.  ***

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