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.
1999 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St-Julien
Immediately upon opening notes of tobacco and leather. Then blackberry competing with cedar. Then more fruit. A really solid mid-palate. The wine is so “Bordeaux.” Nice texture and quite stylish. This is really a classic middle-aged Bordeaux that transcends the vintage. I was impressed by the length. This wine will hold for many more years in a cold cellar. Will it further develop? DB.
One great aspect of now living near Lou is that I can just pop over for a drink. Which is exactly what I did yesterday after work. Lou suggested a random selection so I had stood up a random bottle of the 1970 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien midday. I opened the bottle at Lou’s house, successfully removing all but the very last bit of cork using a Durand. I was able to fish this last bit out using just the screw. Not knowing the condition of the wine we poured from the bottle rather than decanting for sediment. The wine was certainly stinky and tight at first but the nose cleaned up after half an hour of air and the flavors developed their dimensions. I drank my share of the wine both at Lou’s house then at home with Jenn. I did the same with the 1999 Domaine Grand Veneur, Chateauneuf du Pape. The Grand Veneur was a lighter, mature wine which was generally agreeable all around. Lou had double-decanted this wine so it was ready to taste. I would drink this Grand Veneur before it thins out even more. It was the Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou that we prefered and finished up first. There was more complexity, more mouth-weight, and overall satisfaction in drinking. In truth I had hoped for a bit more presence but given that we were still happily drinking it while sitting on the couch watching home renovation shows, is all that matters. What a great way to end the night!
1999 Domaine Grand Veneur, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Ginday Imports. This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre which was aged in vat and oak casks. Alcohol 14%. There were both wood notes and some sour red fruit that was generally attractive. In the mouth were black fruit flavors, garrigue towards the middle with a slightly rough finish. The wine oscillates between roundness and in need of more flesh. Sometimes there were hints of ripeness. ** Now but will last.
1970 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Imported by Cross & Blackwell Vintage Cellars. Upper-shoulder fill. Alcohol 11.5%. There was a good, moderately deep garnet color. The nose had quite the bottle stink at first which morphed into wild onions and eventually cedar underlaid by onions. The wine eventually became savory and mouthing filling with notes of cedar followed by tart red and black fruit. The middle was lifted with a sappy nature, integrated acidity and a decent length. There was even still some ripe structure and blue fruit which was left on the gums. The wine was a bit linear at times with a short finish but did give ethereal sensations of midplate ripeness. ** Now.