Nor-Cal Châteauneuf-du-Pape tasting, Feb 09

originator of this post and his musings below. this was a really fun night.

my thoughts are in italics.

the beginnings…

2005 Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey Meursault-Blagny 1er Cru La Genelotte - not 100% sure about the vintage but this was a great white burgundy, minerals, saline, stone coupled with bright acidity and great balance and mouthfeel.

Bruce & i picked up the White Burgs @ Kermit Lynch and Bruce is obviously well-known there and got us a nice bro-deal! OMG was this bright and beautiful. would have killed for some fresh shellfish to accompany this blissful Chardonnay. in a word, glorious. wine was decanted an hour or so.

2005 Bruno Colin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Boudriotte - more oak on this one, more lush and seductive taste profile. this one was great for sipping by itself and although had more oak, was very well balanced and had great finesse.

i asked the merchant @ Kermit Lynch for a contrasting Chard to the Meursault-Blagny he picked for us. i agree with Joel this wine was more pleasant to sip without food accompaniment but it was nowhere near as enticing or interesting as the Bernard de Cherisey. also got an hour of air-time.

the tasting…

2006 Domaine de Durban Côtes du Rhône Villages Beaumes-de-Venise Vieilles Vignes - this was our starter wine, bright red fruit, sweet but still had good acidity. slightly candied and a bit new world.

had but a sip as this was the transition wine to the big boys below. not my cup of sweet tea.

1994 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape - great perfume on the nose, flowers and more flowers. on the palate was a bit light, had some band-aid action going on. acidity was still there but the wine felt past its prime.

best nose of the evening and this was the first of the CdP’s i smelled. i was so psyched! very floral and definitely high perfume but the mouthfeel was lacking and the taste as banal as the nose was uplifting. weird experience from a celebrated producer in vintage originally dismissed but one that has been written about recently with some recapitulation.

1995 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau - everyone’s WOTN, everything was just in the right spot, tannins were soft yet had grip, smooth as silk, fruit was still bright yet the secondary flavors were at their peak without overpowering the fruit. excellent balance. WOW.

OMG, pick your thesaurus apart for words that mean seamless and lovely. all anyone could hope for from a bottle of wine. interestingly the nose was tight and sans flowers after the Beaucastel. the taste and mouthfeel a real treat, bathe in this one if you can get a Nebuchadnezzar. amazing, i had a full glass from this decanter!

1998 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée - lovely nose, again perfume of flowers and strawberry. the entry and mid-palate were excellent, LOADS of finesse and elegance. this wold have been a strong contender fro WOTN but the finish was a bit short. Also acidity was slightly too soft.

this bottle was like the momma bear between the 1994 BC and 1995 VT. strong producer and great vintage, i think i liked this more than the 1998 Caillou but only by a smidge.

1998 Le Clos du Caillou Châteauneuf-du-Pape Domaine du Caillou Reserve V.V. Cuvée Unique - heftier than the Pegau, this had better acidity but i found this not as elegant as the Pegau. good structure but the elements have not yet all come together.

in a lot of ways i liked this more than the Pegau, more immediately satisfying and tasty though the Pegau nose was way prettier. would like to see these two bottles do battle again in a few years.

1999 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau - all the elements for a great wine are there, however the wine is very young, even after 5+ hours of decanting it was still quite tight. great balance and structure, loads of red fruit and no hints of the usual barnyard funk.

surprising to me how much tighter this wine was than the glorious 95 VT. would like to revisit in 5 years. i don’t know if this bottle speaks for 1999 in The Southern Rhone.

2001 Le Clos du Caillou Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve le Clos du Caillou - this was distinctly a bigger wine, more than any that came before it. dare i say it had a bit of new world nuances, like sweeter fruit, more oak and the slight cherry cola taste. don’t get me wrong, this was a great wine, and has years or decades of life. this was way too young and i think it needs at least 10 more years to mature. right now it was a bit tight and the fruit is more dominant, but you know that this will be a knock out when it becomes mature.

WHOA, this wine will one day be something like nectar. i’d guess 15+ years before you get a real taste @ what will be coming for decades. much thx to Clem for giving us a glimpse. had nearly a full glass from this decanter.

the contrast…

2004 Alban Reva Syrah - BIG, HUGE, ENORMOUS, TITANIC. need i say more? this was unquestionably the biggest wine of the night. Black and almost opaque, this was hedonism in a glass. Clearly new world, with the obvious long term oak treatment. However the alcohol and oak was being carried by the fruit, so in the end this was still a balanced wine (surprisingly). Not the best food wine in my opinion, but it is an experience to that was memorable.

i believe it was Fred who had the comment of the night declaring Reva “a dog on a table full of cats” - as dogs want to satisfy and play nice, befriending all. clearly this isn’t the goal of CdP, or cats! amazing wine and really better than other “mouthcoaters” from the central coast. i had a full glass, thx Joel.

2005 UNTI Grenache - definitely new world compared to the CdP’s we just had. Had lots in common though with the Cotes du Rhone. Bright red fruit, slightly sweet and hardly any rustic taste components. A good wine but not as complex as the ones we just had.

Joel got me with this blind as i was pretty buzzed already. knew the color was something light like varietally correct Zin but the nose was non-Zin. eventually i decided this was a Syrah-infused Pinot but i should have been able to guess Domestic Grenache, and not one from Pax or SQN either. i really wasn’t thinking as this was a logical blind choice and sadly i have been to Unti!

the stickies…

N.V. Alvear Pedro Ximénez Montilla-Moriles Dulce Viejo Solera 1927 - caramel, burnt sugar, cane sugar, molasses, honey and a slight raisin taste. very very sweet, good but a bit too cloying for me.

also not for me, especially after all the wine we’d consumed.

2004 Alvear Montilla-Moriles Pedro Ximénez de Añada - unfortunately was not able to try this one. others were saying this was even sweeter than the Solera.

also passed on this one.

The 1994 CdP Beaucastel is not nearly close to being past its prime. It is coming out of a closed state, and each bottle will be russian roulette for a while but past prime… no chance…

i have heard from some friends who are BC-aholics that there has always been real bottle variation in the 1994 vintage. i never thought the wine was past its prime but considering the pricepoint bottle variation doesn’t thrill me.