Pinot Smackdown Chicago 5/28/10

A number of the usual suspects gathered at the Ken Kailin’s house for the latest iteration of the Pinot smackdown. Ken was gracious and generous as always; the food–especially Mel’s Duck Breast and Jeff’s Wild Mushroom Lasagna–was very good; the company was predictably opinionated and intertaining and the wines were all darn good. We started with a few whites, moved to the main event, had a few wines with dinner and finished with a few blind brain teasers. The main event was in a slightly different format for us. Everyone brought a bottle to enter into the smackdown–some, but not all, were declared in advance. They were bagged and numbered and presented in one flight. Everyone then had an hour to sample the 12 pours and to rank the wines 1-12. I’m sure everyone has their own approach. I try and judge the wine on its current presentation. I do not rank on potential or how I would enjoy the wine with a bottle over dinner. I believe most of the wines were opened and allowed to air in the bottle for an hour before pouring.

The wines, using the random numbers then assigned were (with the groups composite score and ranking):

  1. '00 Marcassin Marcassin. 75 points, #6 (my 9).
  2. '07 Kanzler Sonoma Coast. 66 pts, #2 (7)
  3. '04 D. Laurent Charmes-Chambertin. 71 pts, #4 (12)
  4. '06 Aubert Reuling. 85 pts, #10 (my #1!)
  5. '06 Small Vines. 78 pts, #8 (3)
  6. '04 Calera Selleck. 75 pts, #7 (8)
  7. '05 Kistler Kistler. 69 pts, #3 (10)
  8. '07 APVin Rosella’s. 62 pts, #1 (6)
  9. '07 Radio-Coteau Terra Neuma. 83 pts, #9 (2)
  10. '06 Rhys Alpine. 102 points, #12 (11)
  11. '06 (?) Domaine Serene Mark Bradford. 87 pts, #11 (5)
  12. '05 SQN Over & Out. 72 pts, #5 (4)

No the Rhys was not a flawed bottle. I admitted early in the tasting that it was giving me the most trouble. I thought it had the most potential but just was not pulling together now. I’m happy to have some in deep sleep. The Laurent was easily identifiable as an '04 burg. I’m not very sensitive to the green meanies, but this had the coarse thinness that '04 can present. The '04 Leroy Bourgogne with dinner was much, much better. I thought the Calera needed many more years and I have to stop saying that I do not like Oregon pinots given how I rank them blind.

The range from top to bottom here is very narrow (at least 3-12/unlike my fellow tasters I though the Aubert and the RC where a step above the rest). To show how small the range was neither 1 or 2 got much support for the top spots, yet won because of uniform middle of the pack support. Of course I could have won (Kistler) if I hadn’t–yet again–slammed the wine that I brought. I was surprised at the Marcassin showing, I’d love to try another bottle sometime.

The starter whites:

  1. '07 Jemrose Viognier. My 6th or 7th sampling of this wine. Always tasty.
  2. Vintage? Domaine Serene Coeur Blanc. Pinot as a dry white wine. I missed this one.
  3. '04 Bouchard Meusault Les Perrieres. Really, really good. We need to do a chardonnay event.
  4. another Burg that I missed.

    Later wines (I passed on quite a few of these) some with dinner, some later. Mostly double blind:

1 '04 Leroy Bourgogne–one of the good bottles. No green notes at all. Full, rich and elegant.
2 '07 Williams-Selyem Riverblock
3.'03 Cayuse En Chamberlin
4. A Malbec
5. '01 Fanti BdM. I thought bretty on the nose, but clean on the palate. Nice early showing for an '01
6. '08 Pinot (I missed the producer)–showing smoke taint unfortunately
7. '03 Tablas Creek Panoplie–I was hoping to fool the group, but everyone got new world right away. Guesses all over the board on age and grape though. Very nice. Hold.
8. '89 Chave Hermitage–slightly off-bottle or palate shot? Probably both.
9. '83 Margaux–did I mention that Ken is a generous host.

I may have missed a few and I’m sure some of the more diligent scribes can post more useful notes.

Wally did his usual great job organizing and everyone stepped up with their wines. Fun time.

Yikes - the Rhys Alpine apparently wasn’t a hit!

Sounds like a really fun way to do some blind tasting. Hagen, maybe next lunch at your office, we do a blind ‘smackdown’ like this?

So sorry I missed this one–hopefully the next event.

Sounds like fun guys. Nice notes, Dan and great photos, Mel.

Looks like the delicious factor prevailed in the blind line up.

Look at Mel, all fancy in his chef’s garb.

Funny award for the ‘worst’ wine.

Amazing food from Jeff and Mel and wonderful hospitality from Ken! Thank you guys!



My Aubert (third from the bottom) won a new award “lowest QPR of the night”
the trophy is a two headed dildo (no photo due to the NSFW nature…)

entirely inspired by that goofy fella named chris freeman

Looks like a good evening, looking forward to the next one.

I see Wally once again didn’t crack the top 3

I agree, Todd - Mel does look rather fancy-schmancy in his chef’s get-up - one might almost say Emeril-like [cheers.gif] . And that sliced steak looks positively deelish.

Anyone recall how that '02 Colin-Deleger Remilly drank?

Awesome shots!

Looks and sounds like fun. Nice to see an 04 Burg do so well.

Sure thing. We have done this a few times but always happy to do again. Lets all start gathering our best and brightest and line them up soon. Of course we won’t have the fancy food at the office. We’ll go with The Hat or Sushi.


were those ducks bodybuilders before they were sacrificed? Those look like NY strip steaks.

Here are my notes on the wines. I rated them twice through the course of the tasting and posted the average, hence the half point scores:

Wine 1 – '00 Marcassin Marcassin – Medium ruby color with reticent nose. Nice bold flavors of tart cherry and cranberry. Med-long, mouth puckering finish. My #3, Group #6. (rating 93).

Wine 2 – '07 Kanzler Sonoma Coast - Young, tight, very primary and sweet. Medium finish. My #6, Group #2 (rating 92)

Wine 3 – ’04 Dominique Laurent Charmes Chambertin. Slight bricking and a little lighter color than the others. Tart and tannic, but the long mineral laced strawberry finish gave this away as the lone Burg. My #5, Group #4. (93)

Wine 4 – '06 Aubert Reuling – Overripe and sweet, with a long fruity finish. My #10, Group #12. (91)

Wine 5 – '06 Small Vines– A rich, tart, bold wine that’s still tight and not showing its best. Nice long finish though, and a wine I would be very happy to own. My #2, Group #8. (rating 93.5).

Wine 6 – '04 Calera Selleck - This wine was very open and nicely balanced. Powerful flavors of ripe strawberry and a long finish. My #4, Group #7 (rating 93.5)

Wine 7 – '05 Kistler Kistler The richest wine in the line up. I found this to be great on the nose and beautifully balanced, long, bold, and delicious. A real mouthful. My #1, Group #3. (rating 96)

Wine 8 - '07 APVin Rosella’s – A nice, but unremarkable wine for me, although obviously my opinion is in the minority. Good fruit and balance and a med/long finish. My #9, Group #1 (rating 91)

Wine 9 – '07 Radio-Coteau Terra Neuma – Another nice wine that couldn’t stand out in the group. Good fruit, decent acidity and a medium finish. My #11, Group #9 (rating 90.5)

Wine 10 – '06 Rhys Alpine – A wine that overwhelms you with sweetness. Powerful fruit but out of balance on the medium/long finish – My #8, Group #10 (rating 91.5)

Wine 11 – '06 Domaine Serene Mark Bradford – A wild & crazy wine. Lots going on and the component parts are very good. Long, tart, tannic finish, but the wine is wildly disjointed. This may come together In a couple years, and if it does, it will be really good. My #12, Group #11 (rating 90)

Wine 12 - '05 SQN Over & Out – A decent wine that has a good rich fruit through the mid-palate, but is short and tannic on the finish. My #7, Group #5 (rating 92)

Thanks again to Ken for hosting, Mel & Jeff for the great food, and to everyone for making this a great event.

BC Bud, Shane?

I’m more interested hearing about the non-smackdown wines than the pinots. Sounds like some good stuff.

it was good. Not oxidized which is what I was happiest about

I had duck exactly like that last summer in Provence. From ducks used for fois gras. Bought at the local food store, very easy to saute at home.


Hudson Valley Foie Gras Magret duck breasts


Looks like it huh. Jeez- a good thing I wasn’t driving…In my defense I did do a 50 mile ride that morning and may have been a little dehydrated… [berserker.gif]