Another Blake Brown Comes To Town event! (Taittinger, Bereche, Produttori, Williams-Selyem, Giacosa)

Many of you have seen the ‘Blake Brown comes to the OC’ threads, as every time he drives south to pick up his Envoyer and/or Lopa wines, he reaches out to our group and @Chris_Seiber organizes a dinner. This time I was asked to host, and happily accepted the honor.

As the host, I didn’t have a chance to take notes on every wine, so I’m starting the thread in the hopes that the more studious among us - @Frank_Murray_III, @Blake_Brown , and @Andrew_Christiansen (as well as Chris) - can chime in with more detail. I ordered Italian catering from a wonderful local restaurant (those who know Maison in Dana Point, this is from Giana, the chef’s newest little place) and had enough food for 30, though there were 12 of us. Fortunately the wives showed for this event, adding beauty and grace to the night.

My highlights:

Among the bubbles was a mini-vertical of Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut - 2006 and 2008. I was excited to finally try the 2008 I’ve heard and read so much about (on WB, of course) and WOW is this a big wine! I was standing next to Blake and commented the second the wine hit my palate - it really explodes, delivers a powerful and complex array of minerals, fruit, bubbles, mouthfeel, everything. Almost a bit ‘too much’ for me, frankly. Then came the 2006 - a wine I have some of but still haven’t tried - similar in style, a more elegant presentation of the same. I think the 2006 had a more delicate touch overall, and was pleased at the stylistic similarities between these two wines - each showing uniqueness of vintage but continuity of house style.

1997 Williams Pinot Noir Rochioli - Burt’s last vintage, @Steve_Nordhoff mentioned to me) - amazing Burgundian nose filled with flint (I saw Steve’s supermodel wife Mariko react negatively to a glass of red wine that was placed in front of her, she saw I noticed her scowl, she asked me if it was corked, I smelled it and fell in love (with the wine!) - I didn’t know what it was, as I hadn’t tried any of the reds yet, but I faintly saw an '05 Burg in the distance so I assumed that’s what it was, until Steve told me it was the W-S Rochioli!) Gorgeous wine, elegant but with pure and sweet fruit, perfect phase of life for me, expressive and rewarding.

Side Note: Blake and I double-decanted our wines prior to everyone else showing up, and we’re glad we did, as then what was in the bottle was ready-to-pour without having to be mindful of sediment. Even in a group of wine geeks, one never knows how carefully individuals will pour, so the practice is a smart one, worth the effort. @Andrew_Christiansen did with his spectacular wine as well, which I’ll touch on below

2003 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba - I bought two bottles of this wine years ago as birth year wines for my daughter. The ripeness of the vintage had me scared a bit, so I wanted to try one to see if it was even worth waiting much longer to enjoy the other on her 21st birthday. This wine had so much grip and structure, great fruit profile with no signs of pruning or over-ripeness - a testament to how the legendary producers in any region can handle a super ripe vintage. Very pleasantly surprised - far more structure than any other wine in the lineup, and quintessential gum-and-cheek assaulting superfine dry tannins - classic first rate Nebbiolo character. A great pairing with the food (in fact, unintentionally the food and wines were perfect together)

1983 Bellerose Vineyard Merlot - I purchased this wine because of this thread - Your favorite Cali Wineries... that are gone now? - #177 by Terry_H_a_r_r_i_s - the minute I read these three notes I put Bellerose on a watchlist on WineBid, and bottle popped up, so I grabbed it. Great vintage, @Ed_Kurtzman 's recommendation (seconded and thirded by other Berserkers) so it sounded like the perfect wine to get for a Blake Brown event! This wine was just wonderful - lush, complex, aged so gracefully, pure fruit and gorgeous expressive floral profile on the nose - several of us marveled at how well it held over the years, as Merlot doesn’t have the tannins or acidity many other varietals have, particularly from CA. I enjoyed an extra pour post-cleaning when everybody left and Blake had fallen asleep and this wine continued to emerge and develop. Some remains in the bottle, in the refrigerator, but I’m not confident it will hold well overnight with that much air exposure.

1967 Produttori di Barbaresco Barbaresco - this wine was so light in color it was almost a Rosé, so expectations were low. As with the W-S Rochioli, Giacosa, and Bellerose, this was double decanted, so it was clean and clear. I was grossly undersold on this wine by @Andrew_Christiansen, he setting up an apologetic description of the wine, and wow did it over-deliver. Fruit still had good life to it, an expressive nose of tar and florals, palate still had some tannic grip, wasn’t dried out as one might expect from appearance - still going strong, a treat. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to enjoy this wine.

Thanks, @Chris_Seiber for heading up the charge, and to all who came. A really fun night, and some of the most memorable wines I can recall having with ‘the OC crew’.

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Good lord, that’s some Thursday night!

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Once you drop off my TN book, I can write up my powerful provisions of TN prose this weekend.

In short, I can see why people like the 2008 Comtes, as it has a richness and presence that is notable. But, the 2006, I still don’t find that wine to my liking–comes off sweet to me, zesty, not my thing.

I know that Blake drinks as much, or maybe the most Comtes, of anyone I know or have seen, and he knows that wine like family–no bull, that’s the truth. And I love the fact that he is so invested emotionally in that wine and that he shares it as part of his fellowship in drinking with us, and his group up in Santa Barbara County. Taittinger should sniff out the advocate they have here and leverage that if they were smart.

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Awesome thread, pics are great. I noticed from my gathering last night, none of us took pictures of the people. They were more static pictures of the food and the bottles only. Really well done Todd!

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When Chris was taking them, several thanked him for doing so, as it is so rarely done, but always appreciated thereafter

Extraordinary time and drinking!

:scream::
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Yeah, @Steve_Nordhoff, mitts off the bowl, bro!

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What fabulous night and one that gave me an opportunity to see why these guys are so righteously great people, they have some super fine ladies behind them. Everyone stepped up with many great wines and Todd and Jen were the consummate hosts sharing their fabulous home with us. As usual, we discussed and reviewed the wines amongst us which is helpful in getting other palate`s input and enhancing the learning process.
Also as usual, the thread gets posted almost immediately and I’m a few days away from adding my notes and pics.

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You and Chris were missed. I know you would have loved this one.

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O my… he must be a terrific guy if he keeps getting invited :wine_glass:

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I didn’t do much in the way of notes last night. I did more talking than tasting, as it was bitchen to have a number of the wives along with us for this dinner at Todd’s. And, I ate like sh#t during the day, showed up hungry, with migraine symptoms so I just tried to hang in there and do some notes. I didn’t even taste all the reds, as there was a lot of wine out…16 bottles? Kind of average for us die-hards, provided it was just the guys and I was in game shape. Blah blah blah. Thanks to Todd and Jen for opening up their crib again to us, been a while since I rocked some bottles at French-town. It was a cool evening, but I ejected early. Good seeing all you guys, and for Blake for trudging down in the soul-killing traffic of Los Angeles to get to us. A hero, this Blake Brown, for many reasons, most of all the soul that lives in this generous human. :heart_eyes:

  • 1997 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Rochioli Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (11/11/2022)
    Man, Blake continues to dig up and share these gems with us. 25 years old, the wine hasn't (at least to me) faded at all. Distinct cinnamon note, even what I thought might express as cinnamon red hots candy, although this wasn't a cloying feel. Plum, cherry RC cola (the kind we had in the can as kids). Wish I could have retasted today but all gone. Thank you Blake for continuing to share these treasures with us.
  • 2002 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Russian River Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (11/11/2022)
    Pretty cool and generous (but that is who he is) of Ramon to break out both the 2002 WS Pinots to share with Blake who was in town. So, we ended up with the 2002 Sonoma County and the Russian River bottlings, and for good measure, Blake brought the 1997 WS Rochioli so we had this cool trip of WS history to taste. For my taste in comparing the 2002s, I preferred the SC as it just drank better for me, for my palate. Where the RRV shows a more creamy red fruited profile with spice and tang, the SC has better delineation, offering both earth and acidity, herb, hard cherry candy and a bit of jamminess in the finish. No heat in these wines, no apparent oak. The early era WS are still delicious.
  • 2002 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Sonoma County - USA, California, Sonoma County (11/11/2022)
    Pretty cool and generous (but that is who he is) of Ramon to break out both the 2002 WS Pinots to share with Blake who was in town. So, we ended up with the 2002 Sonoma County and the Russian River bottlings, and for good measure, Blake brought the 1997 WS Rochioli so we had this cool trip of WS history to taste. For my taste in comparing the 2002s, I preferred the SC as it just drank better for me, for my palate. Where the RRV shows a more creamy red fruited profile with spice and tang, the SC has better delineation, offering both earth and acidity, herb, hard cherry candy and a bit of jamminess in the finish. No heat in these wines, no apparent oak. The early era WS are still delicious.
  • 2006 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut - France, Champagne (11/11/2022)
    I've had this wine a bunch of times now, close to a dozen. And even last night, alongside the 2008, which for me is superior to the 2006. I just don't dig the 2006, as it has a zesty, candied citrus that comes off sweet for me, and the wine just expresses a roughness that doesn't do it for me. This is a diverse hobby, and I can only judge my own palate, without holding judgment on others who like this cuvee, but I'm just not a fan.
  • 2008 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut - France, Champagne (11/11/2022)
    When this was first poured after opening, it had a distinct toast and matchstick aroma, but with air (seemed like about 20 mins), that pretty much blew off. What then emerged was a pretty cool floral aromatic, reminding me of honeysuckle. Within the core of the wine, lemon oil and anise, with a concentration and richness. And when I let it go still (suing a pour later into the evening), it was pretty nice. I can really see why people are digging this version of the wine. It's very good, but in thinking about comparators, I still prefer and think Vilmart Coeur de Cuvee beats this wine on price, acidity and farming.
  • 2012 Bérêche et Fils Champagne Premier Cru Le Cran Ludes - France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru (11/11/2022)
    Second bottle from the trio I bought. This bottle showed better than the first, and based on some of the feedback I overheard last night. others received the wine well, too. This is the July 2019 disgorgement, 50/50 Pinot Noir/Chard with 3 grams of dosage. The aromatics on this reminded me a lot of the 2008 Taittinger Comtes that was served alongside this Le Cran. A good whiff of honeysuckle and a bathroom talc/floral nose....really cool to smell. Tis has a good coil of lemon and lime citrus, paired with a slate mineral texture. The fruit spans the range from banana, peach, dried lime and terrific balance. I believe this cuvee has now passed through the $100 US, even $125 depending on where you find it, but I still really enjoy it and will stay with it provided the price stays in that range for what is in the bottle.
  • 2015 Chartogne-Taillet Champagne Hors Serie - France, Champagne (11/11/2022)
    First time tasting this C-T cuvee. Not sure if this is the tete de cuvee but at a price into the $150 (or more) US, it's expensive. This wine took a little time to get my attention, and it needed some air to come around but when it did I really dug it. October 2020 disgorgement, 100% Chard farmed from Merfy and Avize. Ginger, pear with a good level of concentration. As the wine breathed out, I picked up mango and peach, which really rounded out the profile nicely. There is good structure here too. Appreciate Steve sharing this with us.

Posted from CellarTracker

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Don’t despair Blake. I’m with you on 06. Love your love child! :joy:

Got several magnums sleeping at home …

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I opened the 08 Taittinger CdC tonight also. Fabulous. Can’t get enough. Amazing wine.

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Great tasting and notes. I love the '06 Comtes too, but haven’t opened any of my 2008’s. It was such a late blossoming vintage for so many Champagnes to my palate, I’m trying to be show a little restraint with the '08 Comtes.

Wow, Todd, thanks for the shout out. I have fond memories of Belleroses from the '80s. I actually have two magnums of Cab from the '80s. I should send you one!

Ed

As I was about to make a Screaming Eagle helicopter move, I did not want to drop the glass.

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Seatbacks and tray tables in their full and upright position for landing!

While I`m lagging on the notes, here are some more pics:



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throw me an invite if you ever do a Burg and/or Champagne dinner. In a couple weeks I have no more call excuses! I’ll be semi retired.

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