19 wines 1964-1990 w/ Spanish, Napa Cabs, Bordeaux, Tuscan, Portugal

Our lunch group held another fabulous lunch at our mainstay venue, the Santa Barbara Club, in our special dining room used for all of our lunches, the Library Room.

Our wine themes have pretty much remained very general and yet when it comes to what folks bring, it become very impressive in that everyone steps up and bring gems without beyond expectation. For this day, our theme was to bring any wine 1990 or older.

Fifteen of us enjoyed the following menu along with the wines listed thereafter:

Tasty finger licking appetizers

First Course
Sunchoke soup with lamb lollipop

Second Course
Seared duck breast with caramelized pear, parsnip pure and huckleberry sauce

Third Course
Roast beef tenderloin with roasted asparagus-mushroom arugula salad, blue cheese crumbles and roasted baby potatoes

Cheese Course
Wild mushroom brie, gorgonzola, St. Andre, Smoked Gouda

White chocolate raspberry tart

The wines:

NV RH COUTIER BRUT- a nice and fitting palate prepping bubbly offering lots of full bodied, rich flavors evolving and unfolding including peach, pear, papaya, pineapple and grapefruit.

First flight of 4 reds:

1970 BODEGAS FRANCO-ESPANOLAS BORDON CORSECHA SPECIAL RIOJA- decanted for 15 minutes prior to serving; from a great vintage in Rioja, this showed beautifully albeit with considerable age represented first by the light browning color and then from the very sweet tertiary fruit notes of spicy red and black cherry; it was delightful and so giving of its fruit flavors in a light to medium expression.

1970 BODEGAS FRANCO-ESPANOLAS ROYAL RESERVA RIOJA- browning color with a darker hue than the first wine; again, very sweet [also not to a fault], delicious spicy black cherry/ berry fruit in a medium body and lingering fruity finish.

1985 BODEGAS MUGA PRADO ENEA GRAN RESERVA RIOJA1970 ROYAL RESERVA RIOJA- this was amazing; it was beautifully balanced, had such an inviting fruit filled nose, generous gifts of red cherry and cranberry with spicy accents, a wonderful mouthfeel and long, satisfying finish; my WOTD perhaps, even though there`s 17 more to go.[this and the Opus were my top choices]

NV HARASZTHY CELLARS BUENO VISTA PINOT NOIR SONOMA [purchase tag of Aug. 1964 on the bottle]- how many have heard of this winery? We were blessed to have a viable wine although the bottle and label appeared to have seen better days; the nose had some musty, earthy dried fruit character certainly not representative of any Pinot Noir I`ve ever had, nor did the taste; this would be a great name the varietal quiz wine; nonetheless, the taste profile was more than decent with dried black currant and blackberry mostly coming in.

Second flight of 4 reds:

1982 OPUS ONE NAPA- 82% Cabernet, 16% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot; great wine in perfect balance with smooth silky texture and milk chocolate laden black cherry/ berry/ currant fruit and some talc and sandalwood; although it was full bodied, it had grace and elegance which is the epitome of the iron glove, velvet fist analogy; it was the complete deal from its youthful color, aroma, taste and long pleasant finish; one of my favs on the day and competing for WOTD.[tied for #1]

1980 MAYACAMAS VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- generous amounts of spicy, cedar, cigar box and earthy accents embellish the black raspberry, black cherry fruit; past mid palate, the earthiness tends to overwhelm the other notes; overall, this was a good bottle and pleasant drink; it had some tough competition in this flight and prior to it; in another time, it could definitely stand up on its own.

1981 MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS- 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc; this bottle of the regular release [as opposed to the reserve] showed beautiful maturity with tertiary, dried fruit notes of black currant, plum and black raspberry; the tannins were pretty stiff and close to dominating, but not; the finish had a huge shift toward more fruitiness and left a big smile on my face.

1982 CAYMUS VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- another regular release that shined from this stellar producer, this bottle gave and gave loads of treasures; there was serious, concentrated dark fruit in the nose followed by more in the taste profile consisting more on the wild side of blackberry, plum and currant that had a sweetness that blended in perfectly; full bodied, complex and long.

Third flight of 4 wines:

1989 CHATEAU PICHON LONGUEVILLE COMTESSE de LALANDE PAUILLAC- Ive had some really good bottles of this vintage over the years and this one came in just OK, but not in the highest echelon and certainly no candidate to compare to the 90 which I love and yet have had some 89`s that were in the comparative conversation; the color was a youthful vibrant dark purple; the aromatics contained a fair amount of earthy almost barnyard like dried cherry and cranberry which continued on in the taste profile with dried blackberry and black cherry more evident; it had a light to medium body which suggested along with the other notes this bottle may be on the downside of what was originally really good; just MHO.

1990 CHATEAU TROPLONG MONDOT ST. EMILLION- this was a different breed of cat evidence by the aromatics and then with all that followed; there was some herbal, truffle and licorice dried black cherry and blueberry fruit with all notes on the mild, light side; it was medium bodied at best and had a mellow type influence on the palate; good wine and an easy quaffer.

1985 CHATEAU PRADEAUX BANDOL- Mourvedre; no typical musty, rustic notes here for aged Mourvedre, this was all about tasty pleasure; following the great aromatics, the taste profile included nicely spiced and peppered lightly sweetened black cherry/ berry fruit which persisted throughout the entire experience and it was an experience.

1982 CHATEAU BEYCHEVELLE SAINT JULIEN- the nose was not so inviting having some veggie character and Im hoping this dissipates upon tasting; it did not; Ive long appreciated wines from this chateau and do not remember having a bottle that resembled this one; there was a bit of redemption in that there was some decent dark fruit and an OK mouthfeel, but I couldnt get past the veggie component which Im assuming is a bottle variation.

Fourth flight of 4 wines:

1982 CHATEAU LEOVILLE BARTON ST. JULIEN- major earth tones show up in the nose and border on Brettanomyces, 4-ethylphenol, band aid like aroma; theres some minty, musty notes that join in with the black currant and plum fruit; drinkable and questionable; this is my first bottle of the 82 from this chateau that I recall and Ive heard from others that theyve had some issues as well. I found similar input on Cellar Tracker.

1990 CHATEAU LEOVILLE BARTON ST. JULIEN- a good bottle with nice balance, light and easy on the palate, mild to medium weight and tobacco and cedar infused blackberry notes to please; loved it.

1990 CHATEAU LA RESERVE LEOVILLE BARTON ST. JULIEN- 70 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot; this 2nd label bottle had a bit of a metallic, copper aroma as well as some cedar and leather to compliment the black currant and blackberry fruit which continued on throughout the taste and finish; interestingly, as is often the case, this was more satisfying than its parent.

1990 ANTINORI TIGNANELLO TOSCANA- I have had nothing but great bottles of this in the past and this one continued the trend and shined as did all those before it; the nose offered some earth tones along with saddle leather and sandalwood which were joined by spicy red and then black cherry and black currant fruit coming in the taste; more talc appeared by mid palate where the pleasure of the smooth and soft mouthfeel was clearly evident; hallmarks were the wine`s balance and the richness of the fruit with still youthful exuberance and energy which crescendoed in 2nd and 3rd tastes; a candidate for WOTD. [#2]

Fifth flight of 4 dessert wines:

2009 RIEUSSEC SAUTERNES- honeyed green apples, vanilla, almond butter and hints of papaya served up in a thick substance that coats the palate all the way to the back end in this young, vibrant Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc blend.

MV BODEGAS SCHOLTZ HERMANOS LAGRYMAE CHRISTI MALAGA- made from Pedro Ximenez [PX] fruit, this delicious and seriously concentrated dessert treat is thick and almost chewy in its texture and coats the palate with a film of sweetness rarely experienced; a little drop will do ya.

1989 DOMAINE du MAS BLANC GRAND VIN de BANYULS “RIMAGE LA COUME”- this was big and intense with a medicinal component in the aroma and serious rich fruity flavors; another drop sipping sweetie.

1985 WARRE VINTAGE PORT- this was really good and gentle with just enough amounts of clove, dark chocolate and black licorice notes in a medium body and having a soft texture; I expected it to be bigger and bolder and it had finesse and charm; lovely and so approachable now; a fitting end to a wonderful luncheon.

This experience was an outstanding, diverse, once in a lifetime assortment of rare and treasured wines shared with special people at the table.



What a great line up.

Lunch is so smart. Much better than trying such things with dinner.

Glad to hear the Caymus stood up. I have some of their regular bottlings from the late 80s and early 90s still, and they are still holding up quite well!

Thanks Ron. I remember the 94 Caymus reg. was spectacular as opposed to the Select which was pretty good in its own right. This was another example. Its also a timing matter as to when we catch them in their cycles of being open and on.

more pics:

With about 1/4 of the bottle of the 1990 ANTINORI TIGNANELLO TOSCANA remaining, I took it home, vacuum pumped it, put it in the frig and re-explored it 3 days later. My notes we`re pretty consistent with a few add ons and more superlatives.

The nose still had a lot of earthy, leather and sandalwood plus the black cherry and black currant, but now black raspberry shows up with all continuing on whereupon the talc re-appears; the mouthfeel was even more soft and easy and the balance once again stood out; if anything, it was even more enjoyable the 2nd time through even though it was days after the initial tasting. This was truly a great bottle and worthy of more recognition.