TN- 12 Maya, 88 Pichon Baron, 89 Magdelaine, 07 Comtes, 12 Togni, 98 Schaefer Spatlese Auction and more

Notes from a great Saturday evening Holiday BYO at Classic Storage Dallas. While I look forward to going home to Austin in a couple of months, I have to say the Classic Storage crowd here in Dallas is a group of people I am going to miss very much. Please forgive the short notes- this was a highly social occasion and I did the best I could. With about 50 people in the room, none of use could taste everything- so this is just a small sampling that includes what I opened plus what I was lucky sample courtesy of the generosity of other guests.

2007 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne (tasted within 15 minutes of opening)

bright yellow color, bright brioche nose, apple, pears, white blossoms, on the palate a good ripe core- though happily for my tastes not sweet to the degree of the 2006- with a racy long acid-driven finish, vibrant orange notes, lemon grass tones, hints of mineral on the finish, young yet but very approachable and this should cream out beautifully in just a few years, overall a very classical rendering with exceptional balance- a bit of a rarity in a decade that has produced some superlative but also singular vintages, for my part this is a back up the truck kind of champagne to enjoy over the next 10-20 years while we wait for the 2008s to mature.

()+ 2025-2050

2011 Alexandre Filaine Sensuum cuvee Vertigo

good bright champagne color, deft nose with light cream notes and a beautiful breadth of pastry crust, persistent pear note, on the palate magnificent, lush, balanced, superbly- almost digitally- precise, honeysuckle, racy mousse, great length, quite closed in its way despite all it is showing now, 2011 is far from a highly regarded champagne vintage but wines such as this and the Krug 167 Grand Cuvee and 23 Rose (both with 2011 as a base) evidently didn’t get the memo, a good future ahead, it’s hallmarks are ease and elegance- very much in the vein of Perrier Jouet Fleur and Roederer Cristal.

(****)+, 2025-2040

2012 Dalla Valle Maya - decanted and enjoyed about 20 minutes later

near black purple-red color, intense oak on the nose- but well integrated and not raw, cherries and a wide array of dark fruits with pepper notes, on the palate tight and slippery (slippery meaning it goes over the tongue but it feels as though there is a bit of a wall between tongue and fruit- a common feature in young Lafleur and Trotanoy) at first, a smooth and pure gushing of blackberry and cherry fruits, cassis, chalk tones coated in sweet fruit, chocolate notes with time, fine long finish, the exotic qualities of Dalla Valle buried deep but hinted at, this is a baby yet but based on experience should start to get very exciting within 3-5 years at most, marvelous and another reminder of why this is not only my favorite of the CA Cults but also the only one I cellar, it is not just the heavy Cabernet Franc presence that keeps me coming back- but also the balance, there is much excess here- but all in its proper place.

(*), 2023-2037 lots of fun now- but the Cabernet Franc needs a little more time to fully express itself

1988 Chateau Pichon Baron - 6 hours after opening

good maturing red color, attractive aged cedar and dill on the nose, cherries and cassis, on the palate a sedate cherry and cassis fruit- fully mature- with forest notes and a hint of clove and dark spice, saddle leather, a beautifully relaxed and mature mid-weight - all the hallmarks of a fine 1988, the 1989 and 1990 were particularly glamorous at this address and have lived up to their early promise- but the 1988 has its own great appeal for me as do many wines in this vintage, ideal for a quiet evening at home with a rich stew or over a lunch of steak frites, fine finish as well with excellent length- exceptional length for 1988 where the only fault with many otherwise good wines is a short finish, calming, endearing, along with Lafite and Magdelaine one of the finest 88s I have encountered in recent years, and with time in hand.

****, now to 2033

2012 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon

deep purple-red color, classically restrained nose of cedar and cassis, on the palate a great depth that will not fully surface for many years yet, cassis, cherries, a sort of olive note- in a good way, underbrush notes already starting to appear, with time a rich black cherry note appears as the wine livens up a bit and shows a great vibrant quality, this needs another decade I think but will be worth the wait.

(****)+, 2030-2050

1996 Chave Hermitage Blanc

deeping yellow color, buttery nose, wild grass, soft and sweet fruits, on the palate honeycomb, lemon grass, fine long finish with lime driven acids, a full and rich wine- sweet throughout but never cloying, viscous and textured yet sleek with good tension, a full array of fruits peeking out at various points- melons and orchard mostly, I have little experience with white Rhones but there is no doubt this is a world class wine and I would love to try this again in a more quiet setting as there is much to ponder here, it seems in its full glory but time in hand- and perhaps more development yet to come.

****+, now to 2030 best guess on my part- as noted above I have very little experience with Rhone whites

1989 Chateau Magdelaine - served 15 minutes after decanting

good bright red color just starting to brick, intense underbrush on the nose, sweet aged cassis and mulberry, raspberries, dark forest floor, sweet plum and blackberry tones, on the palate heavy underbrush framing a sweet and almost punchy fruit, elegant in its way despite its substantial and sweet-tinted textures, cassis, mulberries, cloves leading into a fine long finish, this was a spontaneous decision at an event crowded with big CA wines when I discovered two of my fellow attendees had never tried Magdelaine, there could be no worse setting for such a wine- and yet it dazzled us all, it gave just enough to inspire one to take a glass into the corner and really explore it- only to emerge happier for the experience, even alongside 2012 Maya- the quiet elegance and confident structure of Magdelaine gently works its magic, a great vintage of Magdelaine very much in the vein of the magnificent 1985- though where the 1985 subtly glows the 1989 has a bit more of a sweet decadence to it courtesy of the vintage, time in hand- this has decades of life ahead.

*****, now to 2050+

2015 Dirty and Rowdy Traditional Method sparkling white wine

rich yellow color, a very unique nose- mostly apples but with a distinct and deep streak of dark berry fruits, on the palate good firm structure surrounds a friendly and generous apple-driven fruit leading into a good finish, not a terribly complex wine- but balanced, unique and very enjoyable, if this were easier to obtain it would go on my short list of must-haves for festive events, young yet and I would be interested to see what happens to this with a little bottle age.

***+, ready now but perhaps more to come

1998 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese Auction

double decanted 3 hours before serving and enjoyed over 5 hours

bright gold mature color, honey, marzipan, decadent blood orange and hints of lime on the nose, on the palate much more an Auslese than a Spatlese- to be expected given the vintage and that this is an auction wine, viscous and rich with orange, tangerine, lime and marzipan notes- all dripping with honey and overlaid with a celestial network of pinpoints of white acids, mineral and slate notes underlying the decadent fruits, this is every bit as good as the magnificent 2005 but here there is more heft and opulence, a stunner of a wine and fully mature, good lengthy finish that is just barely starting to weaken at the very tail end, this has a good decade left in its prime I think- but there is no need to wait.

*****, now to 2025.

Salivating reading these notes, Tom. Wonderful. I absolutely love your description of the 88 PB–ideal for a quiet night at home with a rich stew or lunch with steak frites. I admire much more Bordeaux than I love, but these are the kinds of vintages that turn on some of the emotion for me

Those Schafer wines are something, eh? From a couple months ago, a 2005 BA:

"2005 Willi Schafer Graacher Domprobst Ries Beerenauslese

A last pull from Randy on Sunday night, oh my my. This is a real true-blue meditation wine, real maple fudge quality to apple turnover and apricot. Really infuses you. A great end to the weekend, blew the 07 La Tour Blanche out of the water."

I can help with a note on the D&R 2014 version of the sparkler–clearly the part of my note about “only vintage” is in error :slight_smile:

"2014 Dirty and Rowdy Sparkling

As far as I know, the only vintage they’ve done it. 75% PB, 25% Sem. Traditional Method. Whee–Jamaican ginger beer wafts up the glass. Citrus too. In the mouth, it’s very much cider for me, in taste and feel. A lot of people liked this at the table."

Yea no kidding that’s quite a night. I did the same thing with an 85 Magdelaine and it was singing from pop and pour, while more recent showings of younger bottlings, including 2000 and 1995, tell me this wine in quality years really does need a lot of maturation to truly appreciate the details it can deliver. I do not have the 89. Yet… now you made me look.

Excellent notes.

Tom, I certainly wasn’t as diligent in my note taking as you were and I was definitely not as focused on a smaller number of wines considering the sheer number of bottles that were open, but it was a great time shared with great people and I did at least think to take a few pictures so thought I would share those here.

Another 1988 Bordeaux that’s showing great right now is the Pichon Lalande. Hadn’t had one for many years so decided to see how it’s been doing. Terrific – lovely aromatically, smooth, ready to drink but with at least 5-10 yeaars left, probably more.

Hoping for even more wonderful 1988s, we opened a Gruaud Larose this last weekend. Good, but not in the same ballpark as the Pichon. Still quite tannic, with not quite enough fruit to keep up at this point in its life. Lots of time left, though.

Great notes Tom. Great lineup. You must have meant short notes regarding the overall quantity since the notes are pretty explicit. Like your impression re the 07`CdC as they matchup with my experience as well.