Peter,Peter Chiu wrote:
I have the Alpine Hillside 2006 in my cellar. I just finished my last bottle of 2006 Alpine vineyard last month when I presented this wine in a pair-matching tasting with a Faiveley CdMyland 2006 in single blind condition under the theme : 2 red of same vintage year. Very interesting result.....in that ....it is 100% identifiable for the 8 participants.
I am planning to do the Alpine Hillside 2006 in the similar format very soon. In order for me and my friends who are Burgundy lovers to enjoy this event more, please give me more information regarding your view of the following comments :
***** the best California Pinot is absolutely approaching world-class standards - and is worthy of world-class prices ****
Your post touches on several topics around which I have many thoughts that I would like to share (if you have the patience).
In my view a great wine is not a wine that emulates another. By definition, a great wine should offer a unique expression or personality that you can’t find anywhere else. It makes me quite happy to hear that our customers have preferences between our sites. This can only happen when the vineyards have consistent personalities and people are noticing. My favorite tasting at Rhys is to show customers the entire lineup. Tasting them side-by-side really illustrates these differences though unfortunately it isn’t feasible to do this often (if we want to have any low production wines to release!!). Burgundy of course offers this in spades. While they are both premier crus, I vastly prefer Clos des Ducs to Amoureuses though the market seems to disagree with me. In any case, I find much more complexity and interest in Clos des Ducs and this sort of preference isn’t possible without the sites showing consistent personalities.
With that said, I would encourage you to organize your tasting differently. I often read of people placing young CA Pinots in blind tasting with typically older and usually lower level Burgundy. Instead, I would encourage you to choose a Grand Cru of similar age. For example you mentioned the ’06 Alpine Hillside and I would recommend you compare this wine to an ’05 Grand Cru. If you want to make it more difficult, use 2 Grand Crus and try to include Burgundies that use stems and some new wood. If your tasters find this tasting easy, they are quite talented indeed. The last time I tasted the ’06 Alpine Hillside, I brought it to a very passionate Burgundy collector’s house for dinner. He had asked me to bring a Rhys with age. When I arrived he told me he wanted to serve it to his guests blind alongside a burgundy. Then he asked what I would recommend pairing it with and I replied an ’05 Grand Cru. I realize that may sound bold but there are good reasons that I can explain later. In any case, that is what he did. His guests included an importer of Burgundy and an auctioneer. When they tasted the wines neither could guess which was which and one professed no preference (liked them both) while the other preferred the Rhys. In any case, blind tasting results can vary quite a bit but I think wine lovers consistently underestimate the effect each wine has on the other in a comparative tasting.
The reason I choose a Burgundy vintage like ’05 is that the wines are more concentrated and intense. Of course they will shed this fruit intensity over time in the cellar but so will the CA Pinots. Also, may times people choose lower level Burgundies which see little wood and typically are lighter in concentration. The result is that the Pinots can taste more “New World” but as the Grand Cru comparison will illustrate that is not really what people are often keying on. So obviously I have many (sometimes conflicting) thoughts and experiences on this topic but I should end by also pointing out that I could not match a CA Pinot to a great many Burgundies from vintages like ’06, ’07 or ’08. If I want to fool someone I will stick to riper vintages such as ’99, ’02, ’05, or ’09.
One last point, when reading Wineberserkers about 90% of the time I read of people guessing wine origins correctly but in my experience (especially if I pick the wines!!) it is reversed and more like 10%. Any theories on this?