Thursday TNs: A trio of Togni's, plus assorted whites

I’ve been going out in the last few months with a group of friends who can best be described as enthusiastic wine novices - they really enjoy nice wine, but are still in the learning stages in terms of what they like & don’t like.

Tonight, we checked out a local BYOB and I brought along the 1995, 1996 & 1999 Phil Togni Cabernets so they could get the feel for a little vintage variation. I’m sitting here with a last glass of the '95 as I type this - still an opaque purple-red, with a nose that screams minerality, iron, and red & black fruits. On the palate, this wine is a little thin/pinched, with sour red fruits and tannins you can stiill feel caressing your enamel - for this wine, the nose is superior to the palate, and I think this was unanimously the least favored wine of the trio. I was concerned the '99 might be too young, but it showed well right out of the bottle (none of the wines were decanted, but I did uncork them around 3:30, so they had some minimal aeration for about 3 hours prior to consumption). I’m not sure which I liked better, but both the '96 & '99 are drinking well right now, with clean, bright fruit and a pronounced mineral backbone.

We started with two of my favorite whites for current consumption, the 2006 Pepiere Muscadet Clos des Briords and the 2006 Hirtzberger Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Rotes Tor. The Pepiere just oozed minerality, but the Hirtzberger blew it away (not surprising given the price differential here, and certainly no slam on the Pepiere) with it’s complete package of fruit, slate, and overall complexity. I’ve had this wine about five times since it’s release, and I’m starting to think that it’s just about the perfect wine to serve to an Austrian wine novice to expose them to the amazing quality of this region.

We finished with a 375 of the 1990 Rieussec. Nice, but not superlative, and more advanced in this format than I expected. While the caramel overtones were tasty, I expected more from this wine.

Still, all in, not a bad way to spend a Thursday evening [welldone.gif]

Thanks, Bob.

Are your feelings on the '95 that it needs more time, or that it’s an inferior wine, and really wouldn’t benefit from much more age?

I recently had my fourth bottle of this. I had pretty much the same impressions as you, but I would add that Tognis always taste green to me. Since about 2003 I’ve had one every two years. Tognis ( I bought the 93, 94 and 95) are always a disappointment for me. I would say I have never committed infanticide with these. Eight years is long enough to wait to make a judgement on a Cali Cab. I think eBob must have a man crush on Togni. These are not all that great. That said I will not touch another for many years. Maybe I’ll try my next 94 in 2014-2019. Hopefully that’ll do the trick.

Todd, off last night (and also combined with my tasting of a '94 three weeks ago) I would say that the '95 is inferior to the '99, '96 & '94. That said, it is still a young wine, so it’s possible that it could further develop & improve. The '99, for a wine that is very young, showed surprisingly well last night, and off this one showing, may ultimately be one of the best Togni’s made in the 90’s, although I think for current consumption the '96 & '94 are probably a little more complex right now.

Dan despite your statement that 8 years is enough to drink a California Wine, if you want to enjoy them then drink them when they are ready and not when you are ready. The 92 Togni is drinking great. I have not had any 95’s yet although I did have a 96 that was not quite there to my palate. The green does disappear but each vintage is different. That’s why Togni and Dunn always suggest buying their wines by the case so that you can experiment until you are happy. If you buy one or two and drink them too soon, you get results and negative notes like this.

Daniel, that “green streak” you refer to is the reason why Togni remains one of the most controversial Cali cabs made. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not sensitive to whatever it is in the wine’s makeup that might provoke that type of reaction, because last night I did not detect any hints of “green” in any of the three vintages. So I guess I’m lucky in the fact that my palate is in some way limited [wink.gif]

FWIW, the four wine novices I was tasting with last night were unanimously blown away by the Togni’s, the only debate really being whether the '99 or '96 was superior.

I appreciate the info on the 99. I have 4 of them and every time I think of opening one, it loses out to something else. Based on your note, I’ll go with the feeling next time.

Well I think waiting eight years to have a first taste of any Cali Cab shows a lot of patience. Hopefully the 95 Togni, at 14 years old, is still an just awkward adolescent. I sure they will get better, but it never fails to surprise me that a Cali Cab can take so long to come around. As I said, I am forgetting the rest of my Tognis until at least 2015.
BTW, speaking of patience, I also recently had my first Dunn Howell Mt., a 1993, that I bought in 1996. Now that wine is SMOKIN!

The 93 Dunn HM has been ready for 3 years. It is the 92’s turn to finally be ready. 92 Mag will be coming to Tejas in November with a Togni. I just had an 87 it was smokin as well. I wish the 85 would open up already. [thumbs-up.gif]