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.
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’.