TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

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Mike Grammer
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TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#1 Post by Mike Grammer » November 30th, 2019, 10:02 am

It was time for the Toronto posse to make our way down once again to visit with our great, good friend Berto Dorta. This trip will be extra-special as his daughter, Eden, is taking the star turn in their local theatre company's production of Annie. Our first day saw many wines tried

2015 Rhys Blanc de Blancs

This has good bubbles and initial entry, but nothing stands out and sort of short finish. Glad to try, though, haven't had one before.

2008 Dom Perignon

2nd taste in the last 2 months. Again, very complete already, and for me quite distinctive. As some of the others comment, you can’t stop drinking it. Real saline character but also plenty of fruit. Smooth and long to taste, it should be a winner for a long time.

2008 Cristal

I last had this in July 2018. It hasn’t budged a millimetre since then. Supercharged acidity and drive, both aromatically and on the palate. This, with lemon and unripe apple, absolutely demands your attention. Nick and I are on team Cristal between the two, while Berto and Dave are on team Dom. I wait to hear from Tran and Jay. But the ceiling on this wine is limitless.

2014 Rochioli SB

Plenty of semi-ripe collection of fruit here, bits of riper gooseberry among it. To taste, it has more heft and less sparkle than I’m used to. Nowhere near the super-tropical versions of Cali SB, it still is not as good as I’m used to from them.

2018 Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard Chard

This is about my 4th or 5th Kumeu River. Their top-end cuvee and, I think, the only one of theirs which sees oak. It’s hard to get at this, it’s funky without funk, if that makes sense. The balance and length are there, and tingeing of bitterness without it at all being overbearing---but it isn’t my thing in Chard in terms of what I want in taste.

2013 Sainte-Antoine Chablis Valmur

Nose has a li’l seashell mixed with apple core and touches of lime. Smooth to taste, at the same time I’m not sure I’d pick out Valmur—or even Chablis—blind. Nick comments that it has some Chassagne about it. It may be the vintage. It’s fine, but not exceptional

2000 E Pira e Figli Via Nuova Chiara Boschis

Tomato leaf, sour strawberry and raspberry, this has a great deal of life on the tongue, with fine length and promise of much in the future. That promise is realized the next day, when some tar and darker earth notes—and perhaps even some barnyard—show up. On the palate, this has really gotten to textbook Barolo—berries take the lead but florals, earth and a small bit of eucalypt, actually. Very fine wine here.

1989 Huet Clos du Bourg Moelleux

Had high hopes for this, but it just didn’t show a lot---some dried apricot and maybe ticks of vanilla. But I think some heat damage may have hit this. There should be wonderful life and there isn’t. Boo.

2013 Meo Camuzet Clos de Vougeot

Cherry notes on the bouquet and in the mouth. Pleasant enough wine, but here is another one that there’s no way I’d call it for Clos de Vougeot. For me, I’m missing any sense of terroir of Clos here.

2018 Dirty & Rowdy Evanghelo Mourvedre

A *very* generous person sent me 6 of these as payment for 3 people’s “tribute” for my fantasy football winnings a few years ago. I am deeply grateful as I love this bottling. Of course, this is super-young, but it has the coffee grounds and rooty, dark fruit that I would want to see. Will check on it again today.

1983 Tokaji Wine Trust Co. Tokaji Asxu 3 Putts

A curiosity that Berto was gifted by a store. Dried apricot and a bit of dried tangerine, but not a lot left here, probably saw some storage issues.

1996 Ridge Geyserville Zin

Really like it in the sniffer---resolved semi-dry red and black berry fruit with cedar box and earth tones. For me, there is some disconnect on the palate with a front-palate richness but a sense of bitterness, heat and clipped from the back of the midpalate on. This came in listed at 14.9%. Very nice nose, though.

1999 Dr. Burklin Wolf Scheurebe Eiswein

Had forgotten I’d bought this curiosity. And this is quite good indeed---loads of apricot and quince scents, along with traces of vanilla. To taste, there’s a definite creamy side (which I think is the grape variety in this type of iteration) and while it misses Riesling-like acidity, it makes up for it in expressiveness of aromatic replays. Enjoyed by everyone, I think.

1997 Dow VP

Fun discussion with Nick about this, I certainly defer to his much greater port experience but the discussion went to what each of us look for in an ideal port. Nick likes the nuttiness that comes with greater age. So do I, but I’m also all over what this has to offer, which is beautiful, expressive blue and purple fruit with trim of sweet raisins. We all agree it is even better the next day, putting on weight but still retaining the terrific expressiveness. There is some heat at the back, but it fits in as a very pleasant finish to what the main has to offer. Great port, at least for me.
Last edited by Mike Grammer on December 2nd, 2019, 10:27 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#2 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » November 30th, 2019, 10:31 am

Can you usually identify Clos vougeot? It’s such a big vineyard, I feel like it’s not as distinctive as many in burgundy.

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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#3 Post by Mike Grammer » November 30th, 2019, 12:39 pm

I don't know if I can answer for sure, just for me---Clos to me has a definite "bigger" (not in an overblown way, just in a textural way) ruggedness with maybe some extra chewy quality in the palate. I agree that there's plenty of room for some diversity within the commune/vineyard.
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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#4 Post by Jayson Cohen » November 30th, 2019, 5:26 pm

Team Cris-non?

That’s really too bad about the Huet. We had a beautiful bottle at our ‘89 Huet tasting in September.

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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#5 Post by Mike Grammer » December 1st, 2019, 6:47 am

Team Dom after Saturday. The 04 Rose cannot be denied as the wine of the weekend.
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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#6 Post by Tran Bronstein » December 1st, 2019, 8:42 pm

Sigh. How this post gets so many hits without containing a whit of truth is beyond me. Naturally it is up to me to use my impeccable photojournalistic skills to properly embellish this thread with what actually happened.

Board members Mike Grammer, Jay Shampur and yours truly along with our friend David He made an American Thanksgiving holiday trek to visit our good friend Humberto Dorta and especially to see his young superstar diva daughter Eden in her first leading role on stage as the titular Annie. So much rejoicing, drinking, eating and singing was to be done.

We left quite early as Michael was worried about the traffic and figured the border crossing would be especially brutal. I predicted that we would sail through the border as it was highly unlikely there would be droves of Americans wanting to go back home to the US from Canada. If anything, Americans would be traveling to Canada, not the other way around. Since I am the acknowledged smart one, of course I was correct and we just sailed through. Our thanks, BTW, to the gracious and polite US Customs officer who was giving up her own holiday weekend to help keep our mutual border safe.

Given that we made excellent time, we had time to drop by Premier Wines for some wine shopping and Wegman’s for some groceries. Then we headed on over to Berto’s and were met by fellow board member Nick Christie and his girlfriend, Berto and his daughter Eden. Then it was time to start cracking open the good stuff:

BOUCHARD PERE ET FILES 1996 BONNES-MARES – Bottle was corked, or as Nick sarcastically likes to call it, The Tran Special. I find corked on a red much harder to detect than a white because the wine part comes through before the TCA. This had already been decanted earlier. I detected no TCA on the nose, but I didn’t really get a nose either which was a bad sign. On the palate, a little sweet red fruit, then salt, then umami... then battery acid?!? Weird turpentine like and very sour finish. Yep, something’s wrong here. Don’t worry, we’ll come back to another bottle of this tomorrow.

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RHYS 2015 BLANC DE BLANCS – A light perlage, fresh green apple flavor and a very short finish. An okay sparkler, I guess, but does an entire Canadian contingent really travel all the way to the good old U.S. of A for just OK? Of course not.

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SAINT-ANTOINE 2013 CHABLIS GRAND CRU VALMUR – A very creamy smooth texture stands out. Sulfur on the nose. Leesy. Strong ripe green apple flavor. Far more mellow than I was expecting. I enjoyed this.

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DOM PERIGNON 2008 BRUT – Petrol and green apple on the nose. Chalky and acidic. Lush and complex fruit on the palate, yet still goes down quite easily. This was just fabulous. As Berto put it, this was too easy to love. Agreed.

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E PIRA E FIGLI 2000 VIA NUOVA CHIARA BOSCHIS BAROLO – Chalk and a little heat on the nose. Was a little corky at the start but that rapidly blew off. Strong cow manure, oh pardon me, “barnyard” on the nose on the very first whiff. Strong sour cherry flavor, tannins are completely receded, perfect texture. Nice.

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KUMEU RIVER 2018 MATE’S VINEYARD CHARDONNAY – The lean crisp style inherent in the New Zealand terroir that has made their Sauvignon Blanc an international winner plays out quite differently when applied to other varietals. This flagship Chard has a gunpowder nose and is quite crisp and leesy. Despite the tell-tale green apple flavor indigenous of Chardonnay, it somehow manages to still come across like an NZ Sauvignon Blanc without the grassiness. As David put it, it’s actually too clean of a wine if you can imagine such a thing yet he still rightly gave it props for showing off the NZ terroir properly. Indigenous yeast fermentation, 100% barrel fermented, 100% malo-lactic fermentation and 11 months maturation in barrel. I really think we opened this far too young and had no right to expect much without giving it some proper time.

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2008 LOUISE ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT – Chalky, crisp, acidic, plenty of green apple nose and flavor, but the standout characteristic is the pure silky body, with Nick noting how much superior its perlage was over the Dom. Agreed, this is an amazingly lean and pure wine. But with that said, the Dom was much more complex. We interestingly had an even split on which of the two Champagnes was better. David said they were both great and gave us an analogy: the Dom is a beautiful California girl and the Cristal is a beautiful Parisian woman.

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ROCHIOLI 2014 SAUVIGNON BLANC – This had the requisite grassy nose but on the palate it’s all sweet white grapefruit with no acidity and a strong creamy texture. Normally that’s very good in a white wine, but combined with the other characteristics it made for an odd duck of a Sauvignon Blanc that didn’t gain any traction with the group.

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RIDGE 1996 GEYSERVILLE – 75% Zinfandel, 17% Cariginan, 6% Petite Syrah, 2% Syrah blend. Just beautiful. Tannins have gone all silky and receded leaving a sweet red fruit finish that was great with our cheese tray and became even fruitier with the salty charcuterie. Just crying out to be paired with food. You can tell it must have been a powerhouse in its youth.

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MEO CAZUMET 2013 CLOS DE VOUGEOT – Considering that a white Meo Cazumet is one of my WOTYs over in that thread, I had very high expectations for this. They weren’t quite met. Very pleasant sour cherry flavors with a touch of pine on the nose and a small tannic presence. Good but not the mindblower I was expecting.

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DOMAINE HUET 1989 CLOS DU BOURG 1ERE TRIE MOELLEUX – Caramel and quince on the nose. Lots of caramel, burnt sugar toffee, and dried sultana raisins on the palate. This is one of the best white Passito or Passerilage sweet wines I’ve had in a while. Except that the bottle says its an Huet 1er Trie and it tastes nothing like the last ones we’ve had at Berto’s. Mike suspects its somehow been heat damaged which explains a lot. What does that say about the superior craftsmanship and structure of this wine when a fault only succeeds in essentially turning it into another kind of sweet wine? Technically a faulted wine, yet somehow still incredible to experience because of it.

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WEINBACH 2016 CUVEE CATHERINE PINOT GRIS – Surprising gunpowder nose that was more like a Meursault. Lots of smokey crenshaw melon and a touch of crispness but also a massive body and high heat. Not integrated yet and needs time.

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TOKAJI WINE TRUST CO. 1983 TOKAJI ASZU 5 PUTTONYOS – An odd duck bottle that Berto found in a box while making a major spirits purchase and was gifted to him along with a 76. The jet black color is really not a good sign. As expected, completely maderized with a burnt sugar flavor, emphasis on burnt, with slight burst of quince and what was likely a once high lemony acidity coming through at times. Cleary heat damaged, but something remains underneath, best to use as a cooking ingredient now.

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DR. BURKLIN-WOLFE 1999 SCHEUREBE EISWEIN – A rare full-sized German icewine bottle and an even rare Scheurebe version. A fresh pine needle nose, full body, sweet and very smooth texture that glides on the palate. Lots of honey, acidity, apricot and candied lime. A bit syrupy but not sticky. Superb texture and even a very slight hint of botrytis tingle. This was superb. I spoke to Mike about the difference between this and a Canadian icewine is that a Canadian version would be dead after 10 years. After 20, this one tastes like it was just bottled last year. Really speaks well of the German terroir but I strongly suspect the botrytis lended some preservation power.

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DOW’S 1997 VINTAGE PORTO – This superb Port has high heat, a huge raspberry nose, and rich sugar plum flavors with a gentle touch of tannin on the finish. Nice notes of coffee bean and tobacco on the finish as well. Superb and even better the next day when some caramel notes started showing up.

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ZIND-HUMBRECHT 1995 TURCKHEIM GEWURZTRAMINER – I was so looking forward to this one until I saw the maderized brown color in my glass. Sweet lychee, ginger, burnt sugar, and high heat... and then cardboard! Aargh! Could have been amazing but for. Sadness as Berto pours it down the drain.

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CLOS DES PAPES 2004 CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE – A cherry liqueur nose and a beautiful smooth texture. Lots of sour cherry as opposed to the purple grape I usually get with a CdP. Tannins all integrated.

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DIRTY AND ROWDY 2018 EVANGHELO MOURVEDRE – Smoked meat and cherry on the nose. Full of strawberries and some light tannins. Enjoyable if a little young.

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To go along with this, Nick cooked a delicious perogie, brussel sprout, mushroom and bacon dish while we laid out a cheese board and some charcuterie for dinner. As evening turned to night, it was time to turn to some bonus spirits:

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Last edited by Tran Bronstein on December 2nd, 2019, 9:03 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#7 Post by Tran Bronstein » December 1st, 2019, 8:51 pm

CAVA DE ORO EXTRA ANEJO TEQUILA – I wasted no time going back to this bottle. Smoky peat nose, sweet peat, smoke and quince in a full almost syrupy body that is unusual for Tequila but works amazingly well for it. Still a winner. We polished off the remnants and I took the beautiful decanter back home with me to Canada.

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GLENDRONACH 1992 DANISH RELEASE – Sweet barley nose, a light body and a long peaty finish. The Oloroso sherry nuttiness is prominent on the finish.

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HUMBERTO’S RON CANA – This is a 25 year old homemade rum distilled by Berto in Puerto Rico and aged together with meat and cheese. You read that correctly. It’s a local specialty and as you might imagine an acquired taste and also known as Pittoro. It’s essentially a moonshine rum that is then aged with other varyingly wild ingredients to make it unique. Very dark in the glass, my trepidation gives way to sweet molasses and creamy rice pudding flavors just before some beef, soy sauce, and stinky cheese flavors hit. Quite interesting but obviously a little dissonant once you know what it’s made with. To be honest, I would have loved to try a pure ron cana because the base was actually delicious before the finish kicked in.

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SKREWBALL PEANUT BUTTER WHISKY – Exactly what it sounds like, an American corn whisky with peanut butter flavor. Pleasant enough but a little too sweet and seemed gimmicky and more of a cocktail ingredient to me.

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RUMCHATA -- Mild liqueur that very much tastes like the white rice based Horchata drink I grew up with in Central America, basically a sweet rice milk with a light touch of rum.

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TRES CASTILLOS ANIS FINO ESCARCHADO – Puerto Rico white rum based anisette famous for the large anis twigs and natural rock sugar crystals in the bottle. Really quite syrupy, thick and sweet but the natural anis flavor is beautiful and not overdone like black licorice candy. Really enjoyable in a small quantity on the rocks.

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DOLIN VERMOUTH DE CHAMBERY – Always been curious about this French Vermouth as it is the Spanish and Italian ones that get all the glory. It was a typical Vermouth with baking spices and sweet red fruit. Nothing particularly exciting or outstanding about it.

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WOODFORD RESERVE CHOCOLATE MALTED RYE -- The rye grain for this year’s Woodford Reserve special edition is toasted long enough to make it taste like chocolate. And you know what? It works! 70% corn, 15% chocolate malted rye and 15% distillers malt. This has a smooth body and is long and chocolately as promised on the finish. Doesn’t have the high heat finish I usually associate with Bourbon. If this comes out of the natural process of merely toasting the rye grain, it makes me wonder why more bourbon makers don’t do it. It was actually really quite a nice changeup.

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YELLOW CHARTREUSE – I adore green Chartreuse’s sweet and complex herbal taste and was looking forward to this. It’s much heavier on honey and saffron and far less herbacious in flavor. Quite different but still good.

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FERNET BRANCA – I make my own amaro mixing this with equal parts of the more herbacious Unicum and the more orangey China-China. On its own, however, this was suprisingly heavy on the mint and eucalyptus. (Not pictured)

Wow, that was a lot of wine and spirit for the first day. I’ll get to the next day’s extravaganza with more wine and spirits and way more food in the next report which I’ll append to Mike’s Day 2 thread. Until then, enjoy Humberto's blatant product placement.

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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#8 Post by Mike Grammer » December 2nd, 2019, 10:26 am

Good effort here, Tran, if misguided ;) I forgot about the 96 Bonnes Mares. These are from, I believe, a case set, and to be honest, we've only had 1 out of 4 that has shown well. This one was another maderized dead soldier and the subsequent bottle opened next day by Berto, it had decent Burgundy sniffs and tastes but nowhere near the power and atmosphere of what you'd like from this plot. I only quickly tasted the 04 Clos des Papes. It was OK. The 95 Z-H Herrenweg de Turckheim was definitely corked.
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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#9 Post by Nick Christie » December 2nd, 2019, 11:06 am

As ever, Tran's thoroughness is impressive! We even get a note on Peanut Butter Screwball Whiskey (shutters [help.gif] )...

The two '08 Champagnes were the stars of today (and in the top 4 for the weekend). As I had to admit to my host, I went Team Cristal as my preference for a pop and consume, as even though it's more one-dimensional, it's creamy, frothy balance is just outstanding (particularly when served at cellar temp). Humberto kept a glass in the cellar for basically 24 hours, and it's got a long future. Basically both wines are fantastic, and while the '08 Dom is probably more well-rounded, refined and better with a meal pairing... there was just something crazy seductive about that '08 Cristal.

It's possible I've been influenced by Tran. You know, in ancient times, people traveled far and wide to seek virgins who gave esoteric advice which may or may not immediately make sense. Tran is our own smooth-skinned virgin who often speaks in riddles.... 3 years ago, Tran declared that we'd all discover that everything is a pretender compared to Cristal. He has been Cristal's John the Baptist, believe in Cristal he said, and all shall be redeemed.

So here I am giving a semi-one dimensional Cristal the edge over a clearly (at this point in their young lives) more well-rounded Dom. To the bemusement of my host :)

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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#10 Post by Tran Bronstein » December 2nd, 2019, 1:11 pm

Y'all should have seen the pale ghostly expressions on Nick and Humberto as they had to admit to me out loud that I might actually be right about Cristal. I really don't know why they're surprised. As Mike Grammer so helpfully declared to them, I am the smart one. See my sig below. [bow.gif]
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Re: TNs--Weekend at Berto's, Nov 19--08 Dom, 08 Cristal, Others

#11 Post by Mike Grammer » December 2nd, 2019, 1:18 pm

From the mouths of babes...comes baby talk.
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