HDH Holiday Tasting

Trigger alert: contains notes with opinions and low scores.

HDH HOLIDAY TASTING - Chicago, IL (12/3/2015)

HDH invited us to the office/warehouse in the south side for a lovely evening of great wine, conversation, and company. I was very lucky to get to try some wines that I’d otherwise never get the chance to try.

  • 2004 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs - France, Champagne
    I’m not too sure that this will become a convincing Ruinart for me. This bottle came across as quite light, with lots of acidity and minerality, but at the same time, suffering from a bit of bitterness on the back end and finish. (88 pts.)
  • 1998 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon P2 - France, Champagne
    This shows quite a bit of sappiness and yeastiness on the nose. You expect it to be mildly oxidative, rich, and opulent on the palate, but it’s actually a lot racier than that. The texture here is quite thick and creamy, and there’s a nice mushroom tone as well. On the other hand, there isn’t as much stuffing and concentration as I remembered, perhaps not the best showing of this wine? (90 pts.)
  • 2004 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé - France, Champagne
    My first taste of this wine was unimpressive. It ticked all the boxes, but that was it. When I revisited it (since I thought this was very different from my first taste of the wine a few months back and wanted to be sure of my assessment), this did become more expressive, showing some light florals and cranberry, as well as some steely acids. I think I’d like a slight touch more richness, but who am I kidding, I’d never kick a Dom rose out of bed. (93 pts.)
  • 2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut - France, Champagne
    Krug is always a winner in my book. The nose on this is quite big and yeasty, with the typical Krug gravity. The palate though didn’t show as bold as I would have expected. There was a little bit of nuttiness and good acidity here, but this can’t have been the best showing of this wine. (90 pts.)
  • 1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    From magnum. I really liked the nose on this. A good bit of earth and spice, as well as some sweet fruit. The palate seemed a bit advanced, especially for a 1999 from magnum. This had a lot of sappy fruit and a real ripeness to it that I didn’t really enjoy. There was acidity to cut through the fat, and the tannins still aren’t fully resolved, but all in all, there wasn’t much freshness on the palate. (88 pts.)
  • 1966 Château Léoville Poyferré - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    This was a surprisingly light bottle of wine, but did it show like a star. Perhaps a few years past its prime, but this was not in any severe state of decline. There was a lovely bell pepper note toned with pencil shavings and leather, as well as tart red fruit that was surprising to find on such an old wine. You could find all the same things on the palate, but the acidity at this point has started to stick out a little bit. Drink sooner than later. (90 pts.)
  • 1995 Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley
    I maintain that Dominus is one of the greatest Napa estates. Although this bottle strikes me as on the riper and blacker side of the Dominus wines, this bottle still has great restraint, and shows lots of black fruit, coupled with coarse dusty tannins. The power here is driven by the concentrated fruit extract, but handled very gracefully thanks to the fresh acidity. There was an interesting black pepper note on this that I found slightly out of place. (93 pts.)
  • 2006 Bond Pluribus - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Overoaked. Too much vanilla and blueberry and yet, by some miracle of nature, this somehow manages to be green and overripe at the same time. And then you feel the alcohol. Easy pass. (80 pts.)
  • 2005 Sarget de Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Maybe it’s my imagination, but there’s still just a bit of that Cordier funk in this wine. Yeah, it’s probably my imagination. Earthy and animale with tart red fruit influence, the palate is actually surprisingly light. In fact, it’s too light to handle the tannins and moderate oak treatment, resulting in something that’s not entirely on balance. (85 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Quite a dark Calon Segur, this wasn’t exactly the most willing to come out and play. There’s a clear graphite note on the nose and palate, but there wasn’t really much else I could pick out. Quite austere, and thanks to a slight bit of acidity, this was somewhat enjoyable nonetheless. I’m confident this has the capacity for a decade or two more, and will provide a relatively large-scaled performance (in Calon Segur terms, that is). (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Cos d’Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    A very unconvincing showing today. Completely closed. Huge and massive, with absolutely nothing pleasurable on the palate. Give it 20 years and pray that the emperor is clothed. (83 pts.)
  • 2010 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
    From magnum. You gotta be kidding me. This is the stuff that all the “critics” have been trying to sling? The vaunted 2010: the Brunello vintage of the year/decade/century/millenium. Beyond the pleasant red fruit, what else is there? Spicy oak? Yeah, I love me some spicy oak. (70 pts.)
  • 2011 Hyde De Villaine Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard - USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
    Why was this sweeter than a 2009 JJ Prum Spatlese? “If you were a dessert, what kind of dessert would you be?” “Oh, um, I dunno, I guess I’d be a stick of butter mixed with a pound of sugar.” While this might sound like a good thing, it is not, when the label says “chardonnay”. (70 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodega Numanthia Toro Numanthia - Spain, Castilla y León, Toro
    Very oaky, but somehow the insane amounts of fruit are able to absorb all that oak, and you don’t end up picking splinters out after tasting it. There’s a nice little bit of acidity to this, so this doesn’t become one of those hot masses of fruit. I’m also impressed that the heat here wasn’t extreme, though I likely wouldn’t be drinking too much of this at one sitting. (85 pts.)
  • 2009 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
    White fruits all the way here. There’s a really exotic hint of spiciness (lychees and lemongrass) on the nose, and the ripeness of the vintage plays very well with the Pruem style. Surprisingly open and approachable now (as we all know the reputation, which more and more seems to me as part of “received knowledge” rather than based on actual experience – young Pruem has been getting more and more accessible). Not the highest acid you will find on a riesling, but impeccably balanced with the sweet fruit and spice. (93 pts.)
  • 2013 Les Hauts de Smith Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    I’m pretty sure this is better than the SHL Blanc (which I’ve never had). And you know why that is? They don’t blast the poor juice with massive amounts of oak. There’s a clear note of grassy sauvignon blanc on the nose, but you know, that is what it is. The palate is racy, light, and really electric, with great acidity and freshness. Green, for sure, but not in a bad way. In the way sauvignon blanc ought to be made and drunk. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Maison Leroy Bourgogne - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
    A very convincing example of what Bourgogne rouge can be. I’ve always worried about this vintage, but perhaps it is a vintage which brings out the best in the lesser wines. This was light and crisp, with no signs of overripeness, and tons of juicy tart red fruit. Easy to drink and very enjoyable. (90 pts.)
  • 1997 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
    From the other vaunted Brunello vintage of the year/decade/century/millenium, this was certainly much better than the 2010 Altesino. This had a bit of overripeness to it. The midpalate and finish seemed to hollow out, and then you got a bit of heat on the back end. (85 pts.)
  • 1970 Château Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    What a spectacular bottle of Haut Brion. Elegant, with a very potent nose that had lots of stone and rich secondary qualities: a touch of leather, dried dates, and maybe even a slight hint of coffee. The palate is very complex, but it seems we opened this bottle a few years too late, as it seems to be on its last legs. But that’s not at all to say that this bottle was dead – there was plenty of life – sweet fruit, leather, and a nice touch of minerality. Fantastic Bordeaux. (95 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Nice notes. Love the honesty.

I was there yesterday and would echo many of your notes. I did feel the DRC showed better than you scored it, but hey, just my opinion.

I did have similar notes on the 05 cos being very closed and i enjoyed the 05 calon segur much more. I agree as well that the 70 HB was the WOTN.

I also preferred the Krug MV to the 2000 and thought the 04 dom rose was the best champagne on the table.

Lol, [welldone.gif]

Lovely notes… going to open another bottle of the 09 leroy bourgogne this night. I’ve found it have a lot of bottle-to-bottle variation. When it is on, it is lovely but I have had 3 subpar bottles in a row after 1 really nice one (thus spurring on my subsequent mini-stockpile). Hope it tastes like your experience.

Bond overall has been consistently underwhelming to me… but maybe cult cali cabs in general aren’t my cup of tea flavor-profile wise.

Enjoyed your champagne notes as well! Thanks!

Wow, now that I see the note about the 2009 Leroy, I’m confused. I thought it showed very poorly last night. I wonder if there was bottle variation even between the 3 bottles they opened…

Great notes, Adrian. I’m a little more generous on scores (hey, I’m a super nice guy rolleyes) but notes are pretty much spot on. The H-B was a real highlight. HDH really put on a great event - they always do.

Thanks for the notes. Nice to hear that the 1970 Haut Brion was fantastic, as we are going to drink one on Sunday night!

I must have left before the Haut Brion…

Fun event. I really like '00 Krug and think it’s just gotten better since release. '04 Dom has fattened up nicely too. The DRC wasn’t bad but was lacking in energy and disappointing, particularly in 1.5L. Altesino was just weird…

nice list of wines
less so after seeing your thoughts on them

I missed the Krug MV, actually. Must’ve gotten distracted by the nice brown label Krug and pink label Dom.

Michael K, I think it’s definitely possible there’s bottle variation on the Leroy. I only tasted from one of the bottles. Seems to be in line with Albert’s observation too.

Lawrence, I do tend to be a bit of a tough grader. For whatever reason, it seems to step on a lot of toes (especially on CT, but sometimes here too). As if others needed my scores for validation… has always puzzled me.

Jay, you never know if PC Principal is watching/reading. We gotta make this a safe space.


Brutal showing on that 2005 Cos, I was curious as a friend got me a bottle as a gift.

Appreciate the candor.

In all fairness to the Cos, it might get better with 20 years on it. But predicting how wines will age is at best a parlor trick. The low score is a reflection of how badly drinking it is at the moment. I wouldn’t hesitate to rate it highly if, in time, it actually starts showing something interesting.

I’ve never had it…but for some reason I enjoy seeing the 99 DRC rated an 88.

Thanks for the realistic notes and scores - super refreshing (especially considering this wasn’t a blind tasting)

Entertaining notes, Adrian. Fun hanging out with you for a bit.

The Haut Brion was indeed the WOTN and you captured it well.

The 1985 Talbot opened right after the Haut Brion was also really, really good – loads of bell pepper and cigar box.

Haut Brion is a unique and amazing wine. I have never tasted a bad one. The 78 was the first bottle opened in my new house in 94.

Great notes as usual. To bad about the '99 Gands Ech, sounds like a comprised bottle.

Too bad about the cos. Must be shut down hard. Had it a few years ago and it was killer with so much potential.

Parlor trick indeed!

I have not been a fan of modern Cos, and would not necessarily have expected a major Classified Growth to shine 10 years out, but thought perhaps with its new modern flair that it would. I have the 2003 as well, also a gift. Sitting on them for a long time. I’m not a buyer of Cos since the 2001 vintage.

If I had to guess, the 05 Cos must have been much more open a few years ago. Today, it has clamped down hard. I haven’t liked most new Cos for the same reason as Alfert, but the older ones, in particular the 1990, are awesome.