TN: Cork Vault August Bottle Share--78 Giacosa Riserva, 85 Certan De May, 96 Calon-Segur and more


The monthly bottle share at Cork Vault came and went but not without more than a few surprises. Wines ranged from solid QPRs to aged beauties right in their drinking window to powerhouses that both blew your hair back and delighted your senses. These are only notes on wines I both tasted and am comfortable writing notes on. I missed the 2004 Joseph Drouhin Chablis Les Clos which would have been a great lead-in to the 09 Corton but you can’t have everything I guess.
Approximate order in which wines were tasted

  • 2009 Hospices de Beaune Corton-Cuvée Docteur Peste Faiveley - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
    90 minute decant. This wine was extremely expressive at the 2 hour mark. Explosive nose of complex red earthy fruits and brown leaves. On the palate vibrant notes of rustic cherries and strawberries filled your senses with integrated tannins resolving into a smooth lengthy finish. A great wine that will age 10+ years easily. (95 pts.)
  • 2008 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Classic QPR that delivered as expected. Needed a decant and about 45 minutes to open up but had a fun balance between earthy red cherries and the more rustic old world flavors. (91 pts.)
  • 1968 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único - Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero
    70% tempranillo, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 7% merlot and 3% malbec
    You would never guess this wine was 50 years old. A 20 year old Red Burgundy? Sure. But not five decades of aging. This wine was in bloom on the evening – rich, complex nose of dried figs and red cherries. More finesse than power, the mouthfeel was delicate but the flavors of dark cherries, black currants and dried herbs were fulsome. Would have loved to savor this wine in a more intimate setting if only to selfishly enjoy the rich subtleties of this beauty.
  • 1985 Château Certan de May - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Took about 90 minutes slo-ox to open up but when it did it was fantastic. On the nose rich aromas of cherry, graphite, dry forest leaves, and earthiness. Medium bodied, the wine was plush on the palate – silky with slight minerality followed by notes of cassis, aged red cherries, plums, and maybe even some pepper. A savory long finish this wine was a brilliant combination of structure and finesse that reminded me I need more aged Right Bank in my cellar. (95 pts.)
  • 1986 Château Beychevelle - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    slow-ox for 4 hours and still needed to be decanted to fully open up. Classic aromas of light red fruits, graphite, and cedar. Medium weight on the palate, this wine was showing the maturity you would expect from an ‘86 – dark red cherries, cigar box, and soft leather. A wine to savor in the moment but drink up now. Delicious but lacking the heft of the ‘89 we drank recently though still a fine showing on this evening. (93 pts.)
  • 1997 Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Decanted 90 minutes before sampling. Classic mid-90s Napa Cabernet-- the best of new world fruit crafted in an old world style. Pleasant aromatic earthy, musty cherry nose with hints of cedar. Minerally on the mouthfeel the wine displayed a youthful flavor lending some thoughts to botrytis adding more punch to the cherries, fig, and cassis. Nice, smooth finish. A fine example of 90s Napa wine making.
  • 1996 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot
    Slo-oxed but probably could have used a decant because the wine didn’t fully express itself for ~90 minutes but when it did it was beautiful. Fragrant nose of cedar, tobacco and leather. Well structured wine with finesse. Aged black cherry and currant flavors with fully integrated tannins allowing for an exceedingly pleasurable drinking experience. Nice medium-length finish. Right in its drinking window and singing given enough time to open up. (94 pts.)
  • 2000 Chateau Musar - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
    3 hour slow-ox which I have found to be the perfect window for Musar vintages at ~20 years. Equal parts Cabernet, Carignan, and Cinsault. Wonderfully expressive nose with aromas of black fruit and pencil shavings. Classic smoke on the palate with plums, pepper, and spice weaved together deliciously. Pleasant medium-length finish. A joy of a wine. (94 pts.)
  • 2014 Bennett Family Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Fine QPR wine if underrated at ~$35 - $40 a bottle. A simple but enjoyable wine. Waited two hours slo-ox to sample. Standard Napa nose of dark black fruits and cocoa. Loamy on the mouthfeel, I would swear the grapes were sourced from Coombsville. A really nice, flavorful wine. If you like the modern Napa style, this one is a very big, easy-drinking crowd pleaser. (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Château Chasse-Spleen - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Moulis en Médoc
    Decanted two hours before sampling but needs at least four hours to open up. 2010 was a big vintage and it shows – bright powerful nose of dark fruits. The wine was smooth and high quality though lacking complexity likely reflecting the need for more age and/or air. A pleasurable wine but I would wait some time before opening the next bottle or decant 4 - 6 hours ahead of time. (91 pts.)
  • 1978 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Speciale Santo Stefano - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    What a powerhouse. This was decanted for four hours before we ran out of patience (it was 11pm at this point) but this was a joy to taste through its evolution. This is a wine you decant in the morning to serve with dinner that night. I could not disagree more with the sentiment in prior notes that suggest this wine loses fruit with air. Complex, powerful, and well-structured. Vibrant aromatic nose of dried leaves and earthy, rustic red fruits. On the palate it was rich, complex, structured, and flavorful – ripe, dried red fruits, and nutmeg. While I knew the wine would continue to evolve well past closing time, these flavors stayed with me into the morning. An undeniably special wine even if it didn’t reach its apogee due to the lateness of the hour.
  • 2001 Torbreck RunRig - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Four hour decant. Another powerhouse that could have used an eight hour decant. Quality undeniable. Strength evident at every stage. A big wine that can go another twenty years. Surprising amount of sediment – definitely needs a filter. This is a heavyweight waiting for its moment to explode. At 20 years old this drank like a new release major label Napa Cabernet – Dense layers of dark fruits: black raspberry, blackberry and boysenberry. Tasty, balanced, and bold – not a wine to be trifled with.

Another fantastic night of great fun in the Queen City. The wines were only surpassed by the company, generosity, and camaraderie of the attendees. Cheers!
Posted from CellarTracker

NOTE: this is a repost since the Giacosa was mislabeled in my original post.


Nice lineup! Thanks for the TNs

Thanks for the lovely notes.
Cannot agree with you more about decanting many hours ahead for old Barolo. A few months ago I opened a 1947 Monfotino and a 1958 Mascarello Barolo in the early afternoon for drinking with dinner.Both we’re tremendous and even as good the next day.This is something I would never do with old Bordeaux or Burgundy. It’s pretty amazing with older Barolo.

I agree. Nebbiolo is fairly unique. I stand them up for months, then decant carefully for sediment, and air them for most of the day. I typically decant Nebbiolo in the morning of an evening tasting. I even bought a decanting stand so I can use a candle and avoid almost all of the sediment. I don’t do that for any other grape, although I use it for vintage port.
Off topic for Nebbiolo but back to Kevin’s original post, I have more 1996 Calon Segur than any other wine in my cellar. We declared it our anniversary wine and have opened a bottle every year since 2003. It’s just recently hit a beautiful drinking window that seems destined to remain open for decades. It still needs a long decant. Our 25th anniversary is this month and we may open a 3L.


Hate that I missed you guys this month. Catch you in September!


Love the '85 Certan de May & the Giascosa!

Seems both have a long journey ahead!

Great tasting!


Thanks for the notes. I have one or two Calons left and was thinking of opening one this fall. Sounds like that wouldn’t be a bad idea but no rush either.

Good notes, thanks.

That '85 Certan de May is in the same vein as the '86 that I had at a local wine-dinner a few years back. So good, memorable and all in the classical mode. I also remember having a good '78. Availability of nicely-aged wines by this property doesn’t come around often, at least in my market.

1979 Certan also superb. In a vintage where Pomerol excelled, this was a stand out.

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I don’t need to tell you that you picked a beauty here but I’d wager that 3L needs plenty of air. On this night the 750ml would have been perfect with a decant and 60 - 90 minute wait. A fantastic wine. Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary!

It’s a lot of fun in a very casual setting. Plenty of great wine to go around. Hope you can join us next time.

Nice notes, Kevin. But the picture of the dog and the corks is even better!