TN: Domaine de la Cote and Burgundy blind tasting dinner

Hi All, on Friday 1/13/23 6:30pm, we held the Domaine de la Cote and Burgundy blind tasting dinner at Noreetuh in NYC. The evening turned out exactly as I had hoped and I believe everyone had a great time. We had the honor of two special guests. Darren Palace, the representative for the DDLC winery was great. After each flight, as we revealed the wines he spoke at length about the terroir, the vintage, and the winemaking techniques used to create that particular wine. We also had Dustin Wilson, master sommelier, and star of the three Somm documentaries join us. He spoke about pinot noir and how great pinot can be found all over the world and socialized with everyone. It was a learning experience watching him taste and evaluate the wine, a true professional!

Here are my tasting notes for the evening. I am definitely missing some notes from the afterparty as there were so many bottles and I don’t think I tried them all. Plus, at that point in the evening I definitely had some palette fatigue, so I you were a participant in the dinner, please feel free to add on your tasting notes to this thread.

Pre-party Aperitif Wines

1992 Dopff au Moulin Gewurztraminer
Golden yellow, clear and bright. Intense with fragrant aromas revealing lychee and white flowers. Great acidity and relative freshness. Delicious.

1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Heimbourg Turckheim
No notes, flawed, spoiled.

2014 Weingut Emmerich Knoll Ried Pfaffenberg Riesling
Starbright and clear. Aromas of stone fruit and crushed rocks. Hints of white and yellow fruit on the nose. Refreshing and razor-sharp acidity, but well balanced. The perfect wine to start the night off.

Main Event – Every wine was double decanted for 4 hours prior to the dinner

Flight 1:

2020 Domaine de la Cote DDLC Estate Pinot Noir
Bright red fruit notes bursting from the glass. Aromas that immediately remind you of classic central coast California pinot noir. Fresh and vibrant with a hint of earthiness. On the palette, a deluge of strawberry, cherry, hints of rose petal, with a silky mouthfeel. Fine tannins and acidity in harmony. Excellent length. I am curious to see how this wine would age. I would like to try this again in 10 years’ time.

2020 Dominique Lafon Beaune 1er Cru “Eponettes”
Bright and high-toned fruit. Reminds me of red fruit skins, ripe strawberry, raspberry, and a pinch of sour cherry. Well balanced acidity and tannins with a medium to light weight mouthfeel. Exciting wine to revisit. WOTF

Flight 2:

2015 Domaine de la Cote Memorious
Lifted and stemmy, with aromas of wild strawberry, red licorice, cherry and a hint of earthiness. On the palette, I experienced intense red fruit, mineral, refined tannin, with balanced acidity. The length was a little shorter than I was expecting but nonetheless this was a delicious wine. This is the kind of California pinot I like to drink. WOTF

2018 Domaine de Villaine Rully 1er Cru Rouge “Les Champs Cloux”
Too young to fully enjoy. Even after 4 hours double decant, this wine felt closed off to me. Hints of velvety redcurrant and dark cherry. Structurally it was well balanced. The acid and tannins were in harmony. This wine should mature very well. I hope to have this in a few years to see how it develops and give it another try.

Flight 3: Up until this point, it was quite obvious which wines were the DDLC and which were the Burgundy. This flight was by far the most interesting and difficult.

2018 Domaine de la Cote La Cote
On the nose this wine had aromas of dark red fruit, red currants, strawberry, undergrowth, and a pinch of spice. The palette was rich and creamy with lush red fruit. By far the earthiest of all the DDLC wines we had this evening which made this wine difficult to decipher when sitting alongside the Burgundy listed below. A savoriness that was totally unexpected for such a young California pinot noir. Complex and interesting, by far the most exciting DDLC wine we had this evening.

2018 La Combe Grisard Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Champ Franc’
Easily the most complex and difficult wine featured in the blind tasting to figure out. I was sitting across from Dustin Wilson, so I told him I am stealing some of his tasting notes on this wine as he articulated it perfectly. Steak, savory, salt, and brine. This wine was bursting with mushroom and dark red fruit. Dried raspberry and red plum. This wine had a complexity that made it almost impossible to figure out. Bright and balanced acidity with tannins to match. This wine kept changing each time I smelt it, it was kaleidoscopic. WOTF and probably the most memorable wine of the evening.

Champagne Intermezzo – NV Bollinger, brut, special reserve
Refreshing and bright. Pear, ripe apple, and stone fruit. Zippy with a fun mouthfeel.

Flight 4:

2013 Domaine de la Cote Bloom’s Field
The 2014 vintage of this wine was the wine featured in the Somm 3 documentary that started the entire concept of this dinner. I was most excited to try this wine as I have a half case of the 2019 and the 2020 in my cellar, and this wine happens to be my wife’s favorite. Sweet fruit, bright and bursting with elegance. Strawberry, cherry, pinches of leather, spice, and dried flowers. High acid with gentle tannin. Broad on the palette with a richer mouthfeel than some of the other DDLC wines of the evening. Complex and nuanced. Very long finish. As enjoyable as this wine was, I was disappointed with the lack of uniqueness as it tasted so similar to the 2019 and 2020 vintage I have at home. I was hoping to experience something different. Nonetheless, this is still a delicious wine.

2020 Domaine Arlaud Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru ‘Aux Cheseaux’
Dark, deep, and brooding. This wine was by far the biggest of the night. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was hosting this evening, having this totally blind I am not sure I would’ve said this was pinot noir on first taste, especially considering the dark purple hue of this wine. Deep with lots of dark red and black fruit. Lifted and ripe with obvious use of oak. Tannins felt a bit intense and out of balance with the acidity for me. Despite a few of these flaws, I still felt like this wine was the WOTF because it was more interesting to me than the 2013 Bloom’s Field.

Flight 5:

2014 Domaine de la Cote Siren’s Call
Of all the DDLC wines, this was probably the most Burgundian in style. Bright red fruit, cherry and fresh green notes. Slightly stemmy. Herby and a pinch of spice. Raspberry, strawberry, violets and roses. Savory notes with silky tannins and bright acidity. At around $180 per bottle, this is the most expensive DDLC wine featured and its complexity confirms the price. Very atypical for a California pinot noir.

2020 Domaine de l’Arlot Nuits-St-Georges Rouge 1er Cru ‘Mont des Oiseaux’
Inky and dark with ripe red fruit. Cherry, cranberry, a pinch of spice and quite lifted. The structure of this wine was well balanced, but the fruit was a little overwhelming. This wine definitely needs a lot more time to fully enjoy. Excellent length. WOTF

Afterparty Wines

2009 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia
Full bodied, with dark fruit and cherry. Great acidity but the tannins were still a bit overwhelming. Lots of oak and spice.

2010 Coche-Dury Monthélie
Velvet is how I would describe this wine in a word. Smooth, crushed red fruit, earth, funk, and pinch of mushroom. Pure and elegant, a spectacular wine.

1986 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino
Dark fruit, raisen, leather, a bit of tar. Perfectly balanced. The fruit was still very much intact. I want to drink this again when my palette isn’t as fatigued.

2003 Chateau de Beaucastel
Lush and ripe fruit and tertiary notes starting to show. Hints of spice, liquorice, and sweaty leather.

2014 Château Carbonnieux
Red fruit, gravel and stone. Dark with intense fruit aromas and an herbaceous finish. Balanced and should age well.

2007 Los Aljibes Selectus Vino de la Tierra da Castilla
Excellent qpr once Joseph G told me the price. Tobacco, blackberry and dark fruit. Hints of oak, spice, and soil.

1985 Domaine Pierre Gelin Gevrey-Chambertin
No notes, flawed, spoiled

Wines of the Night (WOTN)

I had two wines as WOTN. I know that’s cheating, but I couldn’t pick just one because both were so exciting and enjoyable.

2017 Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Ruchottes
Andrew_K already wrote the perfect tasting notes for this, and I couldn’t agree more with his evaluation, so I am coping his notes here “Decanted for an hour. Absolutely stunning. Bursting from the glass with white fruit and a hint of mushroom. Perfectly balanced bright fruit and acid. Added even more weight and depth over time. Grand Cru weight and density and finish. Spectacular.” WOTN

1967 Antoniolo Gattinara
Aged perfectly. Despite the age, fruit was still very present. Rustic red fruit, leather, earth, and tar. Tannins were perfectly integrated. Very elegant and interesting. The wine begs to be drunk. WOTN

These are my notes, there were many more wines served that night, I hope other people have more notes for the wines I did not get to try.

Here are some photos.

The attendees + afterparty

Wine table, there were even more bottles on the dining tables!

Me and Dustin Wilson

11 Likes

Heck of a write-up. Thank you.

Out of interest, who selected the pairings, and how many bottles of each did you need?

First I’ve heard of La Combe Grisard. Looked it up and it’s made by a couple of American somm friends of Jeremy Seysses. Interesting!

For the most part, burgundy crushed it, eh?

1 Like

Pairings was a joint effect between myself and Dustin Wilsons team. We had 3 of each bottle for a total of 30.

Domaine de la Cote was absolutely delicious, but I think Burgundy won overall.

Wow!

Thank you for a fantastic tour of the tasting!

I like Domaine De la Cote wines, it was wonderful to see you stack them up against those other wines.

Superb, thanks again.

2 Likes

Cool tasting. Lots of nice wines in there.
Thanks for the notes!

thanks for typing up - was hoping to make the afterparty but couldn’t pull it off.

the WOTF votes are yours? Or group consensus?

These were mine, but generally most people preferred the burgs was the consensus I got. So I assume many had similar WOTF comments as I did.

1 Like

Great write up on what looks like a fantastic evening!

Quick question - what ‘attributes’ do you associate with ‘Central Coast’ Pinots and do you think these are consistent within the region? I guess this just goes against one of the claims of most with regards to DDLC - that they speak of a specific ‘place’ and not an entire region. And would you consider these attributes to be consistent in wines from the Sta Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley and even the Santa Lucia Highlands?

Cheers

1 Like

I have a bunch of DDLC at home, and this includes the DDLC estate pinot. In terms of terroir, I have always found it lacking compared to the other wines. It always tasted a little more “generic” to me, and specifically, to a myriad of different central coast pinots i’ve had which is why I associate with other central coast pinots that way. The other DDLC wines definitely do have a sense of place.

The warm, high toned sweet fruits with really strong strawberry and cherry notes I have always found common in sta rita hills, santa maria, and santa lucia. At least in the pinots I have tried from those areas. Which is why I gave it a more generic note of just “central coast.” Do you have a different experience?

For me and this goes for most cali pinot’s I get very bright fruit with less of a savory character. Also, for the DDLC wines that saw more whole cluster they were still easy enough to pick which was from where. I would say the 3rd flight was the most difficult to choose and out of all the DDLC wines La Cote was my favorite. I will say that for the price point DDLC is charging, they are entering into Burgundy territory so as a reference the DDLC La Cote WS was $125-$185

John has the write-up covered so I don’t feel a need to write up all of my notes, but I will offer some general thoughts. Overall I was impressed by DdlC. It was considerably better than most of the wine that I’ve had from Santa Rita Hills. Much more complex and less ripe than I’ve found from that area. To me, the unique note that I found on all of their wines was a salty, briny, sea air note on the nose. I grew up right on the ocean and that was reminiscent of the common morning marine layer. But there was also this Natty feel to the wine, that isn’t my cup of tea. So, I don’t find myself rushing out to buy any DdlC anytime soon.

4 Likes

I think that is a broad generalization that many who drink a lot of these pinots might not agree with. I guess to me it’s like saying that all Sonoma pinots taste similar - and we know that’s not the case as extreme Sonoma Coast have very different attributes than Russian River Valley than Anderson Valley . . .

And not picking on you - just trying to understand how some regions get ‘lumped together’ but others do not.

Cheers

I get it. Theres a lot of wine out there and I probably have not had enough central coast pinots to differentiate at that level yet. I mostly drink french and italian wines, but I have definitely had my fair share of California. So I wrote my notes based on my experience and what ive had.

Do you have some pinots from the central coast you can recommend so I can broaden my tasting palette for those areas? Wines that are distinctly different.

Curious whether you’ve had other similar experiences with Arlaud? I had a 2019 Aux Cheseaux last year with very similar notes, including not being certain whether I would blind it as pinot.

I’m sure there are others on here who will speak more expertly on this than I, but for starters, I would possibly choose the following (and hoping others join in)

Sta Rita Hills
‘Lighter Style’
Tyler
Sandhi
Chanin

‘Heavier Style’
Melville
Samsara
Crawford Family?

Bien Nacido Vyd / Santa Maria Valley
Lighter
ABC
Chanin
Presquile

Heavier
Bien Nacido
Sandler?
Many others

Cheers

2 Likes

Thanks for sharing a list of recommendations. I’ll try and get my hands on a few of each “Style.”

Oxidized would be my first guess. Cooked my second. Am I in the ballpark?

1 Like

Oxidized into another universe. It was so bad.

1 Like

I had a batch of half bottles from 1998-2000 that started off cooked and ended up in a similar universe. Full bottles of the same wines from the same acquisition fared a bit better, but overall it was just a lesson in secondary market gambling. It looks like the rest of the event more than made up for it.

Cheers,
fred

This was a great event; well orchestrated and many great wines. A few differences from John’s notes:

Flight 1 - I preferred the DDLC here. On the nose, I got notes of forest floor, smoke (in a good way) and some herbs. The palate had a nice earthy/forest floor note that I thought provided nice complexity. The Lafon was nice, though read to me as a bit thin.

Flight 3 - our bottle of Grisard had something odd going on. There was an overwhelming nose of caramel or even corn (?). Conversely, this was my favorite of the DDLC wines. I picked up some black pepper that was interesting, and overall the wine was lush and had a great mouth feel.

Something that was obvious to me was the terroir differences in the DDLC wines. The ambassador present talked through each wine and the impact of aspect and wind off the ocean. It was remarkable to taste through the differences (and this is helped by the cool map on the back of each bottle). DDLC is not in my ‘frequently drink’ price range but I’ll be picking up some here and there. Also will be ordering a bottle of the Grisard to get a clean, hopefully corn-free experience with that wine.

The 92 gewurtztraminer, 17 Ramonet and 67 Gattinara were also standouts for me. Missed tasting the Beaucastel, which was empty in what seemed like 10 minutes.

Awesome event, so good to meet everyone.

1 Like