Lunch w/ 3 champagnes, 15 white/ reds from Pessac-Leognan, 2 Sauternes

Our monthly lunch group had another stellar time at the Santa Barbara Club with the ever present over the top service, ambience of the private library dining room, food/ menu preparation with respects to wine pairing for our theme which for this occasion was primarily whites and reds from the Pessac-Leognan appellation of the left bank of Bordeaux.

This theme was initiated by one of our members who is celebrating a 60th birthday later in the month and had a 1955 birth year wine in magnum format from this appellation. It was also allowed for some to bring champagne and other wines that complimented the theme wines and provide some balance with our menu pairing.

Our menu:

First Course:
Seafood saffron crepe with Maine lobster, salmon and shrimp with lobster sauce

Second Course:
Duck breast with truffle-blue cheese puree with sunchoke sauce

Third Course:
Lamb moussaka bowl ratatouille & lamb mint reduction

Cheese Course:
White cheddar, goat feta cheese, mozzarella

White chocolate raspberry tart

The wines:

1st flight of 3 champagnes:

2002 A.R. LENOBLE MILLESIME BLANC de BLANC BRUT GRAND CRU- Ive had a fair amount of this bubbly and always found it to be enjoyable and on this occasion, an entirely different profile than the other 2 in our lineup; this had more weight and substance with a more serious layered tastiness and complexity; theres some spicy pear, honeysuckle and peach fruit that eventually is joined by some lemon zest; all is delivered in an oily texture which perpetuates the experience through the long finish.

NV LAUNOIS BLANC de BLANC BRUT RESERVE GRAND CRU- heres another Ive had a few times and always found it to be beautifully balanced and somewhere in the middle of expression of fruit and character as did this bottle; it was so consistently pleasant with tasty, mellow citrus notes and a hint of honeycomb sweetness; it had bright acidity and a steady gentle focus with enough to satisfy and not overwhelm.

NV L. AUBRY BRUT 1ER CRU- this came in with another entirely different profile than the first 2; it offered somewhat tart lemon lime notes that was less so with time and a little warming; the sour, tart fruit sent me back to the first 2 and they showed so much better with time as well then I returned to this one and it was somewhat enhanced but still with tart fruit notes.

2nd flight of 5 white wines from Pessac Leognan:

1990 DOMAINE de CHEVALIER BLANC PESSAC-LEOGNAN- made from mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a bit of Semillion; delicious, rich and creamy texture carry all of the treasures from the front to the back of the palate to expand the duration of pleasure for this superb white wine; the fruit and floral notes were sublime with nice citrus dominating; but the hallmark here is the incredible smooth and lush mouthfeel.

2001 DOMAINE de CHEVALIER BLANC PESSAC-PEOGNAN- such a different animal from the 90`, this had a lot of unexpected minerality with some flint and lead pencil notes; where it was similar was the creamy texture; in this case, carrying fine orange and lemon flavors all the way to the back end with a long welcomed finish.

2013 CHATEAU HAUT BERGEY BLANC PESSAC-LEOGNAN- this youngster exuded in giving fresh, ripe tropical and orange citrus notes from the aromatics on; it was laden with tangerine and mandarin especially and after a short time in the glass, some minerals, herbal and grassy notes typical of Sauvignon Blanc arrived and stayed the course.

2010 CHATEAU HAUT BERGEY BLANC PESSAC-LEOGNAN- this was a more evolved rendition from the 13`; some minerals, some fresh flowers, tropical and citrus, but with more body and texture and more expansive.

2013 LUNE d`ARGENT CLOS des LUNES- 70% Semillion, 30% Sauvignon Blanc; medium body, very herbal, grassy, mineral and flint notes which suggested just the opposite of the blend percentage to me; some honeysuckle and lemon zest peaked through from time to time; perhaps in time, this evolves and expresses more of the Semillion characteristics; a rare blend which is usually at least reversed.

3rd flight of 2 reds:

1979 DOMAINE de CHEVALIER PESSAC-LEOGNAN- the nose suggested this could be really good and that was an understatement; it was superb and eventually my WOTD; the aromatics gave off a bounty of talc infused spicy white pepper laced red cherry and dark fruit notes that continued on in perfect balance and with seductive mouthfeel; the taste profile and overall experience is full of grace and charm; it`s medium bodied with layers of depth and the finish is so soft, easy and long; a complete sensual treat.

1979 CHATEAU LA MISSION HAUT-BRION PESSAC-LEOGNAN- loved the mature blueberry, plum and black currant fruitiness throughout which was aided and abetted in a good way by a sprinkle of spice, leather and milk chocolate; by mid palate, a burnt black berry and prune character shows up and changes things dramatically and then all falls off rather abruptly.

4th flight of the birth year wine:

1955 CHATEAU BOUSCAUT PESSAC-LEOGNAN- 1.5L; readily apparent smoke dominates the nose followed by some pine needle and a touch of mint chocolate to accompany the dried black cherry flavors; the color and taste profile supported this as a still viable wine which the magnum bottle format most likely enhanced; very acceptable; charming with finesse and sustained integrity.

5th flight of 3 reds:

1998 CHATEAU LA MISSION HAUT-BRION PESSAC-LEOGNAN- showing youthful color and feisty exuberance, this took off and went onward and upward giving off aromas of spice and talc infused black cherry joined by other rich black and blue fruit while being delivered in a big and bold nature; it definitely has a strong backbone to support longevity; what made this even more acceptable is the texture was smooth and easy on the palate.

1988 CHATEAU LA MISSION HAUT-BRION PESSAC-LEOGNAN- still young and vibrant this shined with pepper and smoke accents amidst the wild black cherry/ berry notes; a bit of heat shows up toward the finish and after time and a revisit, it was still apparent; loved the first half.

2000 LA CHAPELLE de la MISSION HAUT-BRION PESSAC-LEOGNAN- this second label of the grand chateau was easily noted for early on Brett in the nose and throughout the taste; what is good is that the positive characteristics were not overwhelmed and thus allowed to show through even with the steady 4-ethylphenol barnyard accent still apparent; as soon as I wrote down “good beyond Brett”, 2 on my left and 1 on my right caught my attention and almost in unison stated “Brett”; I liked the tasty black cherry berry fruit along with mineral, tobacco and leather notes.

6th flight of 3 reds:

1998 CHATEAU HAUT-BAILLY PESSAC-LEOGNAN- this was a good experience; it satisfied on all levels with youthful color, an enticing perfume, pleasant taste and wonderful mouthfeel; served up in a light to medium body, it gave up spicy cinnamon dark fruit early on and thereafter, demonstrated beautiful balance and although not big, it was elegant and yet very fulfilling; so much to like here.

2000 CHATEAU HAUT-BAILLY PESSAC-LEOGNAN- this had a big invitation to explore and enjoy from the nose on; there`s some toasted fresh dark berries that have a wild character that later on became more of dried, concentrated black currant and black berry; by mid palate the invitation was suspended and held in abeyance; it finished with some heat and the fruit on the dried out side.

1989 CHATEAU HAUT-BAILLY PESSAC-LEOGNAN- this had some of the same notes as the 00` with dried out dark fruit with a toastiness and in this case, a mint accent; the fruit here was more approachable and in time, moved into a more fresh expression as if it was somewhat closed and now opening up to reveal more treasures; by the end, it became much more enjoyable, but still seemingly tight and not ready to give its all; this is definitely in a decant in advance stage now.

7th flight of 1 wine:

1998 CHATEAU PAPE CLEMEN PESSAC-LEOGNAN- very youthful, vibrant and yet accessible; the nose had some layers of smoke and spicy black fruit which were joined later on by some minerals, toasted chocolate and earthiness; the dark fruit profile was more on the fresh and ripe end with black currant predominate.

2 dessert wines:

2005 CHATEAU RIEUSSEC SAUTERNES- poured from a 375 ml., this creamy rich and thick honeyed, tasty treat was full of apple, honeysuckle, mint, lemon lime and especially apricot; it was a bit on the green side with time on its side for a long maturation period.

1970 CHATEAU FILHOT SAUTERNES- from a 750 ml.; a generous bring and one that certainly placated anyone`s preference for apricot nectar; this thick and creamy dessert in a glass glided over the palate and hung on forever; a little sip will do ya just fine.

I remain thankful and grateful for this stellar lunch group and the unspoken commitment to bring extra special wines without any prodding or extreme definition of the wine theme.


the rest of the gang:


Astute, very vivid and well-written notes. Thank you very much for posting!

Just one question: could you please tell us if the red wines were decanted and, if so, how long before serving them?

All the best,
Alex R.

Thanks for your kind remarks Alex. I usually allude to the wines that were decanted, but in this case failed to do so. There were a few that were decanted in advance and a few that were decanted after arriving. I do recall the 2 79s were decanted after arriving and there were at least 2 others. Ill make it a point to note this more consistently in the future.

Great notes. Thanks!

I appreciate your remarks Chris.

Nice lineup. I’ve tried but can’t get my enthusiasm up for white bdx.

Arv, the 90` Chevalier might help to persuade you; it was really good.