TN: Labor Day weekend chez Brad: Chave, Huet, Dehlinger, L'A

I ended up staying in the city this Labor Day weekend. Hit the Union Square farmers market on Saturday and checked to see who was around and free on Sunday for some food and vino at my place. Christine Huang, Sarah Kirschbaum, Jay Miller, Christy Canterbury, Meredith Cleland, Chris Wilford and Chris Kravitz heeded the call and at 6:00 pm, we feasted.

I’ve been keeping things healthier these days, so the menu was salad friendly. I made Buffalo Mozzarella with tomatoes and basil, corn salad, mixed beet salad with fennel, orange, feta, hazelnuts, mint with an orange vinaigrette and broiled, spiced chicken thighs. Christine made a delicious Israeli cous cous dish, Jay made a scrumptious fig tart and Meredith made some sinful brownies.

To match we had an eclectic group of wines that for the most part, all showed quite well. Good friends, good food and good wine. Not a bad way to spend a night.



2002 Huet- Vouvray, Petillant Brut
I’m not a big fan of Champagne and, in general, sparkling wines, but I do like sparkling Vouvray and Huet is the head of the class. I’ve had this wine eight or more times now and it never fails to impress. It’s got tremendous depth and length while staying taut, racy and precise. Dry, with apple and slightly briny mineral flavors dominating, though yellow fruit and flowers join in the chorus. Just an invigorating petillant and my favorite after the '95. Solid A-.

2007 Abbazia di Novacella- Kerner, Stiftskellerei Neustift, Trentino-Alto Adige
Now there’s a mouthful. The wine as well as the name. Pretty intriguing stuff here. It’s quite floral and intensely citrusy with a little lime and lemon grass showing on the nose and palate. There’s a nice gingery spicy note with hints of cinnamon which combine with the citrus to give it almost a Pine Sol note, though in a good way. Medium-bodied with weight across the palate and solid acidity. There is a bit of heat on the finish which is somewhat distracting, though. Solid B+.

2006 Domaine Christophe Curtat- St. Joseph Blanc, Sous L’Amandier
Another type of wine I’m generally not a fan of are Rhone whites because I tend to find them fat, ponderous, over oaked, frequently oxidative and usually in need of some serious acidity. Some of those characteristics doom this wine for me. The Skurnik website says this is Roussanne. Not sure if it’s 100%, or just the dominate grape. What I do know is that it’s a bit blowsy and its alcohol is sticking out a bit too much for my tastes and it’s a pity because there’s really some beautiful fruit underneath it all, along with a touch of spice. Just not a style of wine I like that much. B-.

1997 M. Chapoutier- Ermitage Blanc "De L’Orée"
Whoah! This is just nasty. Oxidative with tons of oak and a searing blast of alcohol. If you want to take the time, I guess if you plumbed the depths you might find some grilled pineapple, but this wine is so not for me. DNPIM (Do Not Put In Mouth.)

1989 Huet- Vouvray Demi-Sec, Le Haut-Lieu
Now this is more like it and after the Chapoutier, like a nice yogurt shake to extinguish an especially fiery curry. Starts off with a somewhat typical older Chenin funkiness of mushrooms with wet wool. This really should’ve been decanted hours beforehand. With some air the funkiness blew off and the wine took on orange citrus and stone fruit aromas with earthy mineral. Usually the mineral note manifests itself more chalky, or white gravelly, but this had a darker note to it. Like flavors at first and initially the wine had somewhat of an oily texture and was maybe a little loose upfront. As usual, with extended airing there was a dramatic transformation. The wine seemed to get younger before our eyes as the fruit turned a more youthful yellow and the mineral also became purer. The wine filled in and grew in length and shows brilliant structure and length. Just glorious stuff. One of my favorite Demi-Secs. Solid A.

2001 Boxler- Riesling, Brand (L32)
For the past few years I’ve been opening up the '01 Brand over the '01 Sommerberg because the Brand has always been much more approachable and full of upfront fruit. Not this bottle. This is as closed a bottle of this wine that I’ve ever had. Really tight-fisted at the moment with plenty of extract and seemingly tannic with its powerful structure. The wine seems drier than all the other bottles I’ve had, though shows just a hint of sweetness. This bottle is also showing much more of a grapefruit and pure yellow fruit character. Other bottles I’ve had have also shown that, as well as a nice stone fruit streak. With air the wine did loosen up a bit, but this is wonderfully powerful stuff. I guess I’ll hold my remaining bottles a little longer. Solid A-.

2000 Domaine de L’Arlot- Nuits Saint Georges "Clos de L’Arlot"
From the first whiff I really dug this wine. Just a lot of good things going on in the nose. There’s plenty of cherry, beet juice, slight animal funk and sous bois, a little bit of spice and stinging nettles. Every time I breathed in I got something new. On the palate it’s nicely integrated and really showing well. Like flavors as aromas with plenty of fruit, but the fruit isn’t one-dimensional and it picks up a cola note on the finish. Really enjoyable. A-.

1999 Dehlinger- Pinot Noir, “Octagon,” Russian River Valley
Wow! This is just downright tasty. It’s not a fruit bomb even though the black cherry is lavish, rich and deep. There’s enough acidity to keep it from being too jammy or top heavy, but boy, is that fruit something. Completely integrated and showing everything it’s got. This is just pure hedonistic pleasure. It’s not pushing any intellectual buttons, but it’s got all the yummy levers in the “on” position. Just real fun to drink. A-.

1988 J.L. Chave- Hermitage
This has consistently been one of my favorite Chaves and I was thrilled to see that Chris brought it as I have one bottle left, haven’t tried the wine in a few years and was wondering about its development. It’s doing just fine. Better than fine, actually. It’s beautifully integrated and though it’s too loaded with goodness for it to have what I would call a silky texture, there’s a wonderful elegance about it. Beautiful black raspberries, cassis, meat and iron flavors and aromas with just a hint of herb and black olive. Just lovely purity with nice acid levels. Yes, I do believe I’ll have another pour. A.

1996 Clos Du Val- Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Seems pretty honest and straightforward if a bit past prime and fading a bit. There’s pleasant upfront cherry, spicy cedar and a touch of herb. The finish is drying out and the flavors tend to fade. I’ll always link this wine to a funny scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall where they go through many bottles of this. Drink up. B/B-.

2001 Pierre Usseglio & Fils- Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Classic, textbook, entry-level CDP. Plenty of briary fruit, lots of spice and lavender and a bit of leather. Still a little on the big side, though drinking well now. The flavors are true, though the wine seems to lack a bit of excitement. The finish is a little chunky and could be better integrated. With some lamb this would be just fine. B+.

Some pics from the evening:

The group.

The Lineup I.

The Lineup II.

Good eats.

Chris K enjoys a glass.

Chris W is all smiles.

Did I catch Christine in mid-chew?

Jay & Meredith.

Jay analyzes his first bite.

Meredith on my balcony and on the phone, with flair.

Christy strikes a pose.

Sarah and Christine say “cheese!”

Jay shows off his delicious fig tart.

The 2002 Huet is the first release, correct?

Yes. I don’t think the longer lees one has been released yet.

Great tasting and party…love to see your pictures and put more faces on the New York crowd.
Excellent notes as well as I am thinking of opening an '88 Chave at a dinner tomorrow.

Marshall [wink.gif]

What time should I come over, Marshall? [cheers.gif]

Yep. I’ve been opening about 1 every 9 months. It continues to develop, albeit slowly.

One of my only 2 ever case purchases and unlike the first one that I don’t anticipate regretting.

Brad, thanks for the great notes and photos. I had several bottles of the '07 Kerner from Abbazia di Novacella last summer, and I really enjoyed that citrus blossom nose and solid acidity you cited every time. No alcohol poking out at that time, so perhaps this is one to really drink in its infancy?

And thanks for the '96 Clos du Val note–it reminds me that I need to drink up my 1992 and 1995…


Question unrelated to the thread.
Not a troll.
Asked in all innocence: why do some of the guys on this forum have pictues of women as their avatars?

Alex R.

Maybe women kindah look nice?