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Mature wines from California and Bordeaux

September 22, 2016 2 comments

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Lou and I gathered last night to taste through five different bottles of mature Bordeaux and California wine.  Three of the wines turned out to be of interest.  The 1974 Louis Martini, California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon falls into that category of mature, yet very stable, classic California profile.  It still has fruit, body, and some supporting structure.  It will not knock you over but it is a good drink from a great vintage.  The 1980 Beaulieu Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley moves into the modern spectrum.  This is also from a strong vintage which is reflected in the dark color and youthful robustness.  If the Martini is mature, old-style Cali then the Beaulieu is clean, robust, and modern.  Well-stored bottles will drink well for many years.  The final bottle we opened turned out, as I hoped, to be the best.  The first indicator of the potential for our bottle of 1979 Chateau l’Evangile, Pomerol was the long, legibly branded, clean cork.  After tasting the wine I soon became fixated on the texture and the flavor.  This round and weighty wine is infused with fat yet balanced by lively acidity.  The mouthfeel is gorgeous.  If you move beyond texture there is ripe fruit to be relished too.  Lou likened this wine to old Burgundy which Robert Parker echoed years ago with a specific Chambolle-Musigny descriptor.  It is a beautiful wine of which I made sure none of my share was left over by the time I went to bed.

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1974 Louis Martini, California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol 12.2%.  Very top-shoulder, bottom neck fill.  There is a sweet cedar/old wood nose that still retains that vintage Cali signature.  The slightly round, red fruit has some body and modest grip.  The middle is almost minty fresh followed by a slightly short finish.  This gentle wine mixed old-style flavor with vintage perfume and modest aftertaste.  The nose fades a bit with air but remains surprisingly stable in the mouth.  *** Now but will last.

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1980 Beaulieu Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%. Bottom-neck fill.  This has a relatively deep garnet color.  In the mouth are clean fruit, spices, and weighty citrus.  The fruit becomes sweeter in the finish.  This is a youthful, robust wine with good acidity, and ripe structure.  A good, clean wine.  *** Now – 2021.

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1970 Chateau La Gay, Pomerol
Mid-shoulder fill.  This is a simpler wine with tangy red fruit, livey acidity, and citric tannins on the gum.  The finish is dry and mineral, leaving tannins on the gums.  Definitely mature but still sports an ethereal sweet red and citric fruit in the aftertaste.  Unfortunately, this is marred by a musky, dirty note.  The cork smells musky too.  Robert Parker writes that until 1982, the ancient barrels used to store the wine shared space with chickens and ducks.  Hmmm.  * Now.

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1978 Chateau Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien
Imported by Chateau & Estates Wine Company. Top-shoulder fill. It turns out the cork was floating in the wine.  Lou took one sip, spit it out then dumped the bottle.  Not Rated.

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1979 Chateau l’Evangile, Pomerol
Shipped by Beylot & Co.  Imported by Majestic Wine and Spirits Inc.  Alcohol 12%.  Very top shoulder fill.  This is a round and weighty wine with subtle, dense hints of glycerin.  The sweet and coating flavors quickly show good mineral structure.  What is glycerin turns to be seductive fat which does not slow the wine down for there is lively acidity.  It is quite lifted in the end.  **** Now.

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Mostly Bordeaux Tasting at Lou’s

September 26, 2009 1 comment

Earlier in the winter a group of us gathered at Lou’s house to taste some of his Bordeaux. Lou couldn’t find his 1982 Ch. Potensac so he substituted the 1984 Pesquera instead. That turned out to be a lovely treat. All of the wines were decanted about 1-1.5 hours prior to the tasting. The four Pomerols were served as the first flight with the remaining four in the second flight. The 1982 Branaire and the 1984 Pesquera were my favorite of the evening.

Flight #1 – 1982 Pomerol

1982 Ch. Rouget, Pomerol
This wine contains 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc that spent 24-30 months in barrel. This showed a light, stink nose of some hay and green notes. This bottle had the most dried out fruit out of all of the wines served. It still contained a core of tannins.

1982 Ch. L’Enclos, Pomerol
This wine contains 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec that spent 20 months in barrels and vats. A nose of dark fruit followed by dark fruit and minerals in the mouth. Holding together better than the Rouget.

1982 Ch. La Croix, Pomerol
This wine contains 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 20-24 months in barrel. The strongest nose of the first flight. Green but not menthol aromas. In the mouth there were berries, green fruit, that put on weight with air. A medium-strength aftertaste and a bit more acidity. To me the best of the first flight.

1982 Ch. De Sales, Pomerol
This wine contains 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 18-22 months in barrel. The lightest color of the first flight. An advanced browning color. Some cheesey funk on the nose. Somewhat sulphuric in the mouth, with hints of youthfulness but faded fast.

Flight #2 – The rest!

1982 Ch. Branaire (Duluc-Ducru), St. Julien
This wine contains 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot that spent 18-24 months in barrel. A light youthful nose of dark sugar, cinnamon, and leather aromas. In the mouth flavors of red fruit, black currant were delivered with good body and good tannins in the aftertaste. Easily the best of the 1982s.

1988 Ch. Meyney, St. Estephe
This wine contains 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot that spent 16 months in barrel. A light, young, tight nose. Rather tannic, greener, higher-pitched fruit than the 1986. The nose opened with air. The wine seemed to oscillate throughout the evening and at times was quite good. This was somewhat beguiling because the wine couldn’t decide to be present itself as young and shutdown or opening up to middle-age. I’d cellar this one longer to find out.

1986 Ch. Meyney, St. Estephe
This wine contains 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot that spent 16 months in barrel. A softer nose than the 1988 that left impression of dark berries and lemon. This was still fairly tannic and showed redder fruit in the aftertaste.

1984 Pesquera, Ribera del Duero
A unique, strong nose of red berries and cedar. With air ripe, red fruit come out to complete this well-balanced wine. A lovely treat, this drinks well now but will easily last. On the second night it was still going strong.

For dessert
2001 Rappahanock, Vidal Blanc, Virginia
A light color of amber. A nose of tart, bright, apricots. More apricots in the mouth. They were sweet and almost too cloying.