2002 Dom Ruinart Rose - lightly pink, almost peach in color, crisp acid with a rich mouthfeel, showed it’s (8 grams?) dosage but well balanced, and was a hit with probably 4 of the dishes, as several had some sort of pickling to them. Dom Ruinart does BdB better than Rose in my opinion and 20% still pinot is a lot. The result was a wine that was a bit funky from the burg, with musky peach, faded red berries, florals, and a meatiness. Overall pretty good, but just not nearly as enjoyable to me as the 2002 BdB. 93 and not really worth the money in my opinion.
2018 Walter Scott X-Novo Chardonnay - I brought this because both KJJ and Alfert had not yet tried X-Novo, and so we mused a bit on how it could be a dead ringer for Burgundy - flinty (though less than the last bottle I had), powerful on the palate with sweet lemon and ginger, less fruit-focused than some other WS bottlings but legendary among the faithful for a reason. Really pretty flinty and smokey nose followed by lemon curd, mineral, yellow fruits, hint of spice. Really nice all around chard that could easily have passed for high level white burgundy. 95ish
1982 Chateau Le Gay - while trying to hear the 100 ways Alfert tries to pronounce this wine was enjoyable, the wine seemed to fall just a bit short of expectations for me, if only because the rest (as you’ll soon read) stood out so well. Tannins fully integrated with the fruit, sweet cherry, hint of graphite, the midpalate just seemed a tad hollow to me - palate weight was good, finish was decent, but I feel this may have peaked a few years ago. This wine was like Alfert, enjoyable, smooth, approachable, but kind of simple. I kid. Probably at its apogee right now with almost fully integrated tannins, sweet cherry and fading blackberry fruit, hint of cigar and touch of cedar. Just not that complex. No waves of interesting tidbits pouring in. It’s just a very nice enjoyable wine. This would be in that 91 point range where it’s all very correct and nicely done, but missing the complexity to drive it to the next level.
1999 Louis Jadot Clos de la Roche - exceeded my expectations, and I thought it was in a wonderful space now. Very perfumed nose of red cherry and mint, floral, palate was silky and expressive - great wine for several pairings as well, and I went back for additional pours several times. I thought this was really pretty good, with beautiful and aromatic cherry, raspberry and pomegranate with violets, asian spice and a hint of something savory. Finish was nice and long. I tried a bit of this the next day and it was really aromatically expressive and complete on the palate. This was really fun and still had nice balance and structure to continue aging for a good long while with enough fruit to remain really enjoyable. 94ish.
2010 Pierre Gonon Saint Joseph - KJJ has fallen victim to the WB push on Gonon St. Joseph and started buying recently, but his first was 2017 vintage, I believe, so I figured I’d bring the one that put Gonon on the map in terms of this community, the one discussed so often back in 2012 and many years since. I drank 2 of these bottles young, and the wine now seems younger than it did then - nowhere near at peak. Dark in color, nose full of savory character and heavy in black olive, big and brash on the palate, dark fruits and cured meats, cheek-busting structure with big round tannins - this wine needs more time, to be sure. Enjoyable now, wonder what the 1/4 bottle we left for KJJ tastes like today, if he tried it! That extra air would help, to be sure. This is an absolute monster, with strong tannins and fairly high acid.
It has a solid core of black and red fruit, though not sweet, with a big savory element of beef blood, tapenade, grilled leeks, and savory herbs. Mineral element on back end. This wine needs like a whole extra decade or two. My big question is whether in 15 years the fruit will be sweet and thorough enough to compliment the acidity and structure. Time will tell. A lot of time. If so, then this wine will be extraordinary when it comes around. 92-94 but could really improve with time. Maybe.
1989 Chateau Beaucastel - So happy KJJ brought this, as it was the star of the show for most of us. A legendary wine when it is ‘on’, this bottle was definitely so. Perfect balance of the bretty and earthy character melded with sweet bright red cherry, touch of cedar on the nose - beautiful nose overall. Palate was simply rewarding, light in weight but delivering beautiful balanced fruit dominated by sweet strawberry, raspberry, and garrigue. To me, the peak of what CdP can be, reminded me of when I owned much more than I have now and would enjoy regularly, but also literally the best ‘traditional’ CdP one could enjoy (I take Rayas out of this competition because it is so unique). Amazing wine. I struck gold with this wine as it was in perfect condition and was just what I’d hoped it would be. Medium bodied, with a strong tobacco and leather note complimented by beautiful blackberry and raspberry, musky cherry, florals, garrigue, pemican, and on and on. Very complex and delightful with near-perfect balance between fruit, savory, acid, and structure. Drink now though. 96ish.
2014 Marcel Juge Cornas - darker in color but light on the palate - fresh and lively, plenty of green notes on the nose, hint of VA (KJJ believed it to be far too VA-ridden for his enjoyment, I feel like the characteristics in this wine were typical of the style, the ‘new style’ of Northern Rhone producers, versus the booming behemoths like Gonon), smoky, red fruited and savory, gripping acidity I admit I was a bit torn here. There is a lot of black and red fruit, not as intense a structure as the Gonon, making this a bit more accessible. Good balance of acid and structure with black and red fruits, spices, a lot of fun savory elements. It’s very complex, and when chilled early, didn’t show strong VA. But as this warmed in my glass, I thought it took on a quite strong balsamic vinegar aroma that was difficult to overcome, eventually driving this wine to the bottom of my list on the night, which was really too bad.
2005 Clos Rougeard Les Poyeaux - a unicorn wine, KJJ’s first time trying Rougeard, my 2nd - another spectacular wine, close tie (if not tied exactly) with the '89 Beaucastel as WOTN. Nose on this is a dead ringer for 1st growth Bordeaux, as unique an expression of Cab Franc as Rayas is in CdP, I encouraged Alfert to bring any remaining bottles he has to blind tastings with high end Bordeaux and see if anyone can peg it. This wine had a balance of elegance and strength, great fruit and acidity, balanced and rewarding, nice mineral character to it - a wine that makes you think, and think hard. I didn’t really think of this as 1st growth because I thought (i) it showed more cab franc typicity and (ii) thought this was a little lighter in body than a full on 1st growth bordeaux. But none of those are knocks on this wine, which I thought was really special. This is medium bodied and perfectly balanced, showing very nice reddish and blackish fruit in a glorious state of maturity where it retains a hint of sweetness but is layered and complimentary of the secondary and tertiary notes that are developing. This had a hint of green bell pepper to go with tobacco, pencil, herbs, and spices, all balanced with a nice minerality. It’s all there, and it’s all balanced, and it’s layered and complex. More subtle than the Beaucastel, but no less complex. Excellent wine and unlike the Beaucastel, on an upward trajectory. 96ish.
1994 Dalle Valle Cabernet Sauvignon - I was a bit turned off by the toasty oak on the nose on this wine, but nobody else at the table seemed to mind. Old school Napa cab on the nose with herbs and dark plum, weighty and silky mouthfeel with a touch of tobacco around the red and black fruit. Felt FAR younger to me than 1994, as if this wine has the ability to go 30 plus more years easily. I actually really like this though it was very different than the other wines. This was in absolutely perfect condition, poured dark, and was surprisingly youthful. I drink a good amount of Napa cabs this age and close to this age, and this was younger than most. Still showing classy black currant and cherry notes with some oak spice and a hint of sweet pipe tobacco. It would be easy to call which of these wines was the Napa cab as the fruit here is just different. That sweetness, balanced by the spice and pipe tobacco notes, is really pretty and like a comfortable blanket. This has room to age, but I love them like this. 94ish.
No photos of the handsome crew, but one of the wines: