TN: Impromptu Calera (plus Rhys, Aubert, Fevre and Girardin)


Siggy and Chris were available Sunday night and we took advantage of some sunny weather to taste through a bunch of Calera. I threw out a theme of white and red Burgundy with an option for California “equivalents.” We ended up with a slew of California equivelants – mostly Calera.

The whites were consumed in the new garden/gazebo area and then with an appetizer of sea scallops with beat essences, sauted leeks and potato crisps ( a modified French Laundry recipe).
I miscalculated on the number of scallops to buy but the pairing seemed to work best with the Aubert.

  • 2002 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
    Deep gold color. Clean and expressive nose of honeyed white fruit, butterscotch and mineral. Full-bodied on the palate, but with good balance and good flavor intensity. The oak seems to be integrating nicely which should bode well for future bottles. Acidity really comes on strong at mid-palate ensuring the overall experience culminates with a long, satisfying finish. Among the better Girardin wines I’ve had but not really a style I love. (92 pts.)
  • 2004 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Cote de Bouguerots - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
    Almost clear yellow color a slight green hues. Awesome nose with a lovely melange of citrus/grapefruit, freshly cut grass and mineral. Medium weight on the palate with flavors that build from the attack through the finish. Great acidity and a mineral-driven taste profile. Zingy acidity makes the finish particularly enjoyable as the acidity hangs on well after the taste sensations have faded. Even better on day two! While young this is most enjoyable and I’d be inclined to drink sooner rather than later due to the risk of premox. (93 pts.)
  • 2004 Aubert Chardonnay Quarry Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County
    No notes taken as I was working on dinner. Popped and poured at the last minute. Pure gold color. Awesome nose dominated by honeyed lemon aromas. Full-bodied in the mouth and feels a bit fatter than even the Girardin. Great flavor intensity, excellent balance and surprising complexity. An excellent bottle of wine, and the only one finished the first evening (so no retaste on Monday). (92 pts.)

The reds were consumed with a grilled pork tenderloin with a red wine/star anise sauce and quinoa. It was really fun to taste through a number of different years of Calera.

  • 1999 Calera Pinot Noir Selleck - USA, California, Central Coast, Mount Harlan
    Dark ruby-red color with some bricking. Expressive, somewhat rustic nose featuring black fruit, spice, smoke and mineral. Barely mid-weight on the palate with a lean personality but good flavor intensity. Flavors are dominated by dark fruit and mineral Perfect balance. Tannins are fully resolved. The finish is very long and very satisfying. Based on this bottle I would say drink up; it may continue to drink well for many years, but I doubt it’s going to improve much. (92 pts.)
  • 2000 Calera Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Mount Harlan
    Popped and poured at cellar temperature; wow was this great from the moment poured. Enticing nose of red cherry, mineral, earth and a stemmy character reminiscent of a good CSD Dujac. On the palate this is mid-weight with great flavors of fruit and mineral. Perfect balance. Fully resolved tannin. Great length on the finish. Re-tasted on day two and if anything even better. This is really in a great place right now. (93 pts.)
  • 2001 Calera Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Mount Harlan
    Ruby red color. Muted nose. With coaxing gives some iron/mineral and spice. On the palate seems bigger with mainly red fruit. Very structured. Tannins build to a drying finish. Seems to be built properly, but not really showing a lot tonight. Day two this is much better with a more expressive nose and less obvious tannin. I’d hold these for a few years in hopes that the tannin fades and enough fruit remains to make this even better. (91 pts.)
  • 2004 Calera Pinot Noir Selleck - USA, California, Central Coast, Mount Harlan
    From 375. Popped and poured. Dark ruby red color. The nose smells very primary and effusive, featuring red fruit and earth. In the mouth this is a beautiful mid-weight wine with expansive flavors of red fruit and mineral. Perfect balance and sneaky complexity for such a young wine. Still fairly tannic and drying but the finish is excellent. Tasted even better on day two. This is too young for me to appreciate fully, but I am thrilled to have many more bottles to test over the next 10+ years. (93 pts.)
  • 2006 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Opaque red color. Huge, primary nose dominated by raspberry, earth, caramel and oak. Rather generic; not much in the way of nuance at this point. More of the same on the palate with ripe fruit and oak obscuring any other tastes. Expansive flavors, but almost fat at this point with very little structure discernible. Finish falls flat. I’m a fan of Rhys and expect this to develop nicely, but I’ve got to say this was a little disappointing. My recommendation is to cellar these at this point.

Dessert was a mascarpone, cream cheese and chocolate swirl cheesecake Desiree made for us.

Another great night with Chris and Siggy. Hard to pick a wine of the night, but I’d opt for either the 2000 Calera or the 2004 Fevre.
Posted from CellarTracker

Wow. That’s a great night. The Fevre sounds fantastic as expected.

This is the 2nd odd note we’ve seen on the Rhys Alpine Pinot recently. I wonder if they are shutting down in some way.

Great to see a bunch of notes on Caleras, especially several that I’ve tasted and am still cellaring! Very interesting that you found the tannins in the 2000 Jensen to be fully resolved, as the last bottle I opened (~1 year ago) showed substantial structure. Your bottle sounds lovely though.

A disappointing note on the Rhys, although I also found this bottling to be extremely primary and not very nuanced when I last tasted it. I did think that it had the material to develop into a graceful wine, but it needs considerable time before it gets to that stage, in my opinion.

Thanks for the notes on the Caleras. I guess I need to start opening the 99s and 00s.

Jeff – How far back to you go with Calera? I’m a huge fan, but my purchases are much more recent (say 2003 on). I’ve been eyeing auction bottles from the 90s from time-to-time but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

Jamie – Thanks for your thoughts. Hopefully Chris Larson (who supplied most of the Calera) and Siggy will add their thoughts on maturity of the Caleras. As we tasted the Rhys we commented that we probably be opening an '06 Burg at this time. Hopefully time in the cellar will make the difference.