TN: CLT Wine Dinner (Mini-'70s LMHB vertical, Aged 20+ yr Napa, and Aged 10+ yr Pinot)


A wine dinner 18 months in the making thanks to innumerable COVID cancellations finally came together where eight of us shared 10+ year old Pinot Noir, a mini vertical of 70s La Mission Haut Brion, and 20+ year old New World Cabernet or Bordeaux blended wines
The Opener

  • 2006 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut - France, Champagne
    Nose: Bright aromas of citrus zest
    Palate: Creamy and lively with restrained acidity; a wonderful blend of apple, light apricot, and green citrus; soft minerality showing great structure and finesse
    Finish: Savory cream and citrus with medium length
    Admittedly I have comparatively limited critical exposure to sparkling wines but this was the finest Champagne I have tasted. What a start to the night.

Aged Pinot Noir

  • 2005 Rapet Père et Fils Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Ile des Vergelesses - France, Burgundy, CĂ´te de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru
    Needed 90 minutes of air to open up but when it did it was a joy.
    Color: Garnet with hints of orange
    Nose: Classic Rapet notes of earthy tomato (can’t believe this was true but it was), red berries, and cedar
    Palate: Medium body but fulsome notes of strawberries and soil with a dusting of chalk; a well-crafted wine
    Finish: Solid finish (30 seconds) with earthy notes of red berries
    Wine of the flight; Drink now or in the next few years. (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Aston Estate Pinot Noir - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Double decant 90 minutes before serving; Could have used 2 hours or more.
    Color: Solid and dense coloring of dark blackberry; would have guessed a 3 year old Napa Cabernet on looks alone
    Nose: Ask someone else because I hate dill and I hate American oak and that overwhelmed anything I could pick up; The aromas integrated hours later but I had given up on the nose of this wine by this point
    Palate: Big and chewy; Excellent and softening flavors of ripe black raspberry and black cherry with a note of spice. Comparatively simple and more straightforward relative to the 05 Burgundy but no less flavorful. If you like Thomas Rivers Brown you will like this wine. Good thing I like TRB.
    Finish: Long and flavorful.
    Good tonight; this wine can easily age another 5+ years with little fear of falling off.
  • 2011 Domaine Alain Michelot Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Les Charrieres - France, Burgundy, CĂ´te de Nuits, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru
    Double decant two hours in advance. Could use at least three hours but better yet wait a couple years.
    Nose: Fresh, young red candied cherries. Bright and floral. Very concentrated.
    Palate: A quality wine displaying a wall of flavors: cherry, red raspberry, meat notes, mineral and leather notes. This wine can go for hours on end.
    Finish: Somewhat stunted tonight but flavorful and medium length.
    This wine has the highest ceiling – if you let it age a bit – of the Pinots tasted on the night. (91 pts.)

20+ Year Old Cabernet or Bordeaux – Mini-Vertical La Mission Haut Brion

  • 1970 Château La Mission Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-LĂ©ognan
    Perfect Provenance. Slo-ox 2.5 hours before sampling.
    Color: Medium garnet color showing its age.
    Nose: Aromatic and fulsome; Earth, old leather, and tobacco
    Palate: Feminine and delicious. Fully integrated tannins. Great complexity, finesse and structure – earthy red fruits, subtle tobacco, and cassis. A wine lacking nothing.
    Finish: Long and fulsome.
    Stunning wine. Wish I could have savored this wine for hours. Provenance matters.
    Tied for Wine of the Flight.
    My Wine of The Night (WOTN); 2nd place overall but received the same # of 1st place votes as the winner. (98 pts.)
  • 1975 Château La Mission Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-LĂ©ognan
    Perfect provenance. Slo-ox 3 hours before sampling.
    Color: Ruby and vibrant. Looked like a youthful 2000 vintage.
    Nose: Opulent, mature cassis, truffle, and tobacco; still can’t believe how young this wine is showing
    Palate: Masculine, rich, full-bodied and sinewy. Classic Bordeaux in every sense: pencil lead, soft leather, red cherries, smoldering wood, cigar box. Integrated tannins and bold structure with a craftsman’s finesse.
    Finish: Fabulous long finish.
    A brilliant showing. This is a wine that can go for many many more years to come. Provenance matters.
    Tied for Wine of the Flight.
    Wine of the Night. (96 pts.)
  • 1978 Château La Mission Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-LĂ©ognan
    Perfect provenance. Slo-ox 3 hours before sampling.
    Color: Medium ruby with tinge of orange-brick rim
    Nose: Lively truffle, tobacco, and cedar
    Palate: Concentrated dark fruits: raspberries, cassis, and cherries. Notes of smoke, cinder, soft leather, cola, and gravel. A delightfully well-integrated wine drinking beautifully.
    Finish: Medium length finish showing delightful notes of earthy cherries, tobacco, and cedar.
    A joy of a wine that pales only relative to the two stunning wines ('70 LMHB and '75 LMHB) that preceded it. Provenance matters. (94 pts.)

20+ Year Old Cabernet or Bordeaux – California Dreamin’

  • 1991 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
    Cork popped 12 hours in advance and then recorked. I believe double decanted 3 hours before serving.
    Color: Dark ruby; very concentrated
    Nose: Classic Heitz Martha’s aromas of eucalyptus, menthol, and tarragon;
    Palate: Big but well-integrated. A restrained powerhouse. Excellent balance. Notes of soft blackberry and cassis with a lovely, sweet earthiness.
    Finish: Long and flavorful.
    An absolutely fantastic wine. The Napa style I fell in love with.
    Wine of the flight. My 3rd place wine of the night. (94 pts.)
  • 1994 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Slo-ox 2.5 hours before serving.
    Color: Dense, dark blackberry.
    Nose: Aged leather, cedar and graphite.
    Palate: Full bodied, muscular, and concentrated. Well woven flavors of black cherry, blackcurrants, and blackberries. Excellent balance of rich flavors and enjoyable earthiness. An elegant wine with a plush mouthfeel.
    Finish: Long and silky.
    A great wine. New world fruit in an old world style. The way California wines should be! (93 pts.)
  • 2001 Morgenster - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
    This was served blind as a mystery wine to the group.
    45% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc
    Color: Mature, dark red cherry
    Nose: Rustic aromas. Lightly sweet blackberry with hints of green bell pepper.
    Palate: medium+ body; There was a subtle vibrancy to the flavors that danced lovingly tonight – mature blackcurrants with notes of red cherry and tobacco.
    Finish: Enjoyably long finish of lightly sweet black cherry.
    The group guessed this was a Cabernet based wine though most knew it was not from California. Impressively this garnered multiple votes and placed 3rd as Wine of the Night. The Heitz Martha’s was nearly a tie for 3rd place. (93 pts.)

The Closer

  • 1981 Château Raymond-Lafon - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Color: Brilliant dark copper and amber. Really beautiful.
    Nose: Opulent aromas of apricot and honeysuckle
    Palate: Powerful, nutty, and jammy. Notes of caramel and apricot; A dessert wine’s dessert wine.
    Finish: Robust.
    A fun companion to the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc that I revisited

4.5 hours later a night of amazing wines and even better company concluded with everyone hazily stumbling into the midnight Charlotte air. It took a long time to come together but it was worth the wait.
Posted from CellarTracker

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Super impressive lineup there.

Did you book a private room or was this someone’s formal dining room?

Thanks. It was a great night especially with the wines are showing as well as they did. I can’t envision too many more times where I’ll be able to drink that mini-vertical of LMHB again with all three wines pretty much at the top of their game.

This was the main dining room at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Uptown Charlotte. They have private rooms available but we preferred to be in the main dining area.