Brian B. put together an absolutely stunning dinner event on Sunday at Chaya in downtown L.A., rounding up an incredible list of wines, and having them all paired with appetizers, 4 beautiful savory dishes, and dessert. The gathering was fun and casual with a walk around Champagne tasting to start, then the steady flow of wines began at the table.
–The Champagne flight was a really nice surprise–a pleasure to start off with 3 equally great, but very different styles.
–The Chardonnays were very good. I thought the Kongsgaard may have been my WOTN (along with the Leoville). It was fantastic, despite my Burgundy leanings.
–The Pinots were very good as well, but I personally find the high alcohol somewhat of a barrier to enjoying these otherwise great wines. That being said, they all had something very intriguing to offer, and were all very different in character, which sometimes is not the case with CA Pinot.
–Talk about intriguing–a flight of 1973 Napa/Sonoma Cabs! How great is that–and they all were around 12%. Woohoo!!! I thought the Sterling was really good, and the Freemark was great for the fruit it still carries with it.
–I honestly don’t even know if I’ve had a “100 Point” wine. Maybe I’ve had 1 or 2 over the course of 10 years. Here we have 4! The interesting thing is that opinions seem to vary quite a bit on some of these wines on Cellar Tracker. I guess it’s a question of taste–you either like em or not. I liked these, but they’re not really my style. Plus, I really top out at about 93-94 points! And then the Leoville Las Case may have gotten buried after the other 3 had assaulted my palate, leaving it bruised and tired. Anyway, they need lots more time. I think I also realize that rating a wine 100 points is somewhat akin to rating a song 100 points. You can’t measure a song–but at the right time, the right place, the right mood, a good wine (or song) can make you orgasmic. Or say nothing to you if it’s the wrong time.
–Sweeties: I forgot to write down the name of the Pedro Jimenez but it was super nutty, raisiny, rich, thick, motor oil of a wine. Lots of fun, but probably should have been poured after the '92 Port, which was a stunner.
Huge Thank You to Brian (and Jennifer) for the wines and organizing the dinner, and to everyone else who contributed. It was really great meeting everyone, and although the wines were super serious, the evening was super fun.
Champagnes and Sparkler
1997 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
I got a good dose of baked apple and a little caramel on the nose with a little nuttiness and yeast; creamy, powerful, and a long tangy-citrusy finish. Aging very nicely. (92 pts.)
NV Paul Dethune Champagne Brut Grand Cru - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
Sugar cookie notes on the nose with high-toned fruit (grapefruit) and a nice classic Champagne yeast; mouthfeel is well-balanced, medium bodied, with very good length and slight fresh herb notes. Never heard of this producer, but very impressed. From magnum. (92 pts.)
NV Ployez-Jacquemart Champagne Brut Rosé - France, Champagne
This had lovely aromatics of dried leaves, underbrush with a slight dried red currant-cherry thing going on–very intriguing; in the mouth it’s lively, fresh, airy and creamy and has fine bubbles with a touch of small forest berries; excellent finish. I really liked this tonight. Maybe 93. (92 pts.)
2005 Yves Boyer-Martenot Meursault Les Narvaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
Pure mineral nose of stones and metals; clean, pure rocky notes; medium body, medium to medium low acidity; slightly oily with white floral notes. Very nice and classic. Maybe 91. 13.% alc. (90 pts.)
2005 Kongsgaard Chardonnay - USA, California, Napa Valley
Flamboyant nose with hints of heady reduction, melon, nutty, something I call “straw basket”, fairly rich and oily with white flower notes and white fruit in the mouth. This is not typically my style, but I loved this. It was very well-balanced with alcohol in check, good citrusy acidity, and lots of flavor and complexity. (93 pts.)
2005 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Elegant white fruits, tangy acidity, very smooth, with a slight dose of alcohol on the palate but wears it well. I liked this but did not find it exceptional, or that complex. Maybe the Kongsgaard before it smothered it a bit. My score is by no means low, but I wouldn’t rate it the high scores it seems to garner here and elsewhere. 15.3% (92 pts.)
2008 A.P. Vin Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Concentrated blackberry-cherry notes with roasty-toasty aromas; pure black-raspberry jam in the mouth with an iron-steal mineral component too; this is fun, but really hot on the palate. Classic jammy SLH style; I liked this a bit more as it opened up in the glass. 14.9% (91 pts.)
1998 Peter Michael Pinot Noir Le Moulin Rouge - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Blackberry notes initially with hoisan sauce, brown spice; velvety and plummy with cherry notes and a tiny spicy kick in the finish. Very nice, complex, smooth and supple with good age. Still has a ways to go. (92 pts.)
2006 Aubert Pinot Noir UV Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Appealing black cherry notes, cola; very silky and plush with great blackfruits-berries in the mouth and a little spice in the back end. This was a bit hot on the palate for me, but very nice nonetheless. (92 pts.)
2000 Baron de la Charrière Romanée St. Vivant - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Romanée St. Vivant Grand Cru
Dusty smells dominated initially, then pomegranate with sticks; medium light body with lighter dusty tannins; good earthy notes, but still lively and a slight tangy red fruits core with elegant concentration. This is not showing in top form, but enjoyable. Maybe 91 if not tasted side by side with the likes of Aubert and Peter Michael! (90 pts.)
1973 Cabernet Sauvignons
1973 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled - USA, California, Napa Valley
Lovely aromas of plum, spice, pot-pouri, and darker berry fruit; good sweet-tart aspect on the palate with faded fruit and light body but still with remnants of structure and an decent finish. Classy. 12% (92 pts.)
1973 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley
Polar opposite of the Sterling with impressions of red fruits–sweet cherry, strawberry, and an intriguing note of marijuana; light, faint tannins, with a nice juiciness–amazing for this age. (91 pts.)
1973 J. Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Sonoma County
Sauteed mushrooms with a little black currant; a bit flat and earthy in the mouth, with sour notes; this was over, but still had something interesting to give. (88 pts.)
100 Point Wines
2009 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de mon Aïeul - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Pure black-blue-red fruit with cherry liqueur aromas; somewhat rich in the mouth with more blueberry notes; creamy, pie crust, very nice, but very young and primary. Where’s the terroir? 95 WA (91 pts.)
2007 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de mon Aïeul - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Beautiful complex nose already of herbal notes, black fruits, and even a floral aspect; rum cake with a spice in the mouth (maybe a touch hot), silky, good acidity, silky, well-balanced with a long pepper-spice infused finish. This needs lots of time in the bottle, but very good. 100 WA (93 pts.)
2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
Blackberry notes with other black fruits; concentrated, jammy, with grippy tannins; pure black cherry and blackberry flavors along with a dose of black pepper and a touch of coffee in the hot finish. Solid but not my style. 100 WA (92 pts.)
2007 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
Packed and concentrated blackberry-raspberry puree, hot liqueur in the mouth but still lively; nice, huge, with some mineral aspect, but really buried by the fruit. 100 WA (92 pts.)
2005 Château Léoville Las Cases - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Cigar, dried leaves, pure cassis, deep haunting nose; medium bodied (after the Saxum) and tons of minerals on the palate; fine, but very tight still. This will produce wonders in 10-20 (or rather 30-40?) years. 100 WS (93 pts.)
1992 Taylor (Fladgate) Porto Vintage - Portugal, Douro, Porto
Amazingly balanced; purple fruits with nutty, chocolatey flavors; still very young. Great way to finish an exceptional tasting dinner. (93 pts.)
ps–I omitted the menu because I can’t remember exactly all the dishes. Taking wine notes takes its toll! I also don’t remember the Pedro Jimenez Sherry we had in the dessert flight.
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