TN: Little Mixed Bag

DINNER WITH JAMES MEAD - New Ubin Seafood (25/6/2014)

James was in town to visit again - a great opportunity for a catch up over a little blind BYO dinner with HM, PF and Cindy. Quite serendipitously, it turned out to be a night of nicely matured wine, where each bottle was drinking at peak of thereabouts. Most unusual!

  • NV André Clouet Champagne 1911 (95/96/97) - France, Champagne, Bouzy, Champagne
    A blend made from the 1995, ’96 and ’97 vintages and disgorged in 2009, this had a good bit of age on it and drank very nicely on the night. The nose showed matured notes of bread and yeast, some funky earthy tones and a touch of fragrant spice and stony mineral, all floating around a sweet core of apples and peach aromas almost shading into tropical notes. There was a rich, round feel to the palate, with quite a bit of flesh on its white fruited flavours, but these were knit together on a frame of fine mousse and quite stirring acidity, with plenty of lemony juiciness driving the wine into a rather smoky, mineral end. Nothing truly spectacular, but this was a very enjoyable bottle of bubbles. (92 pts.)
  • 1997 Diebolt-Vallois Champagne Blanc de Blancs Millésimé - France, Champagne, Cramant, Champagne
    I always enjoy Diebolt-Valois Champagnes, even if they rarely rock my world. This was no exception to the rule. It had a neat little nose of cream and sweet apples and white melons touched with a bit of spice and mineral and a little musky sweetness. There was a lovely balance to the palate. It was full and round, opening with a blush of ripe, fleshy apple notes laced backed up by a good spine of lemony acidity and a nice seam of minerality that kept the wine it focused and balanced. The mousse had mellowed into a soft caress on the backpalate, but there was still a nice, grippy feel to the wine all the way into a long, minerally finish. Pretty good – this seems to be drinking near its peak. (91 pts.)
  • 2003 Domaine Dujac Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Monts-Luisants - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru
    An unusual example of this wine – this was very much a child of its vintage in its ripe, sweet fruitiness. A whiff of funky white cheese notes aside, the nose showed expressive notes of pineapples and green mangoes, all sweetly tropical tones, along with earth and chalk and whiffs of what still seemed to be a good bit of oak in the background. Much as one would expect after that nose, the palate has a rich, creamy texture, with sweet yellow-fruited notes, almost pungently reminiscent of jackfruit and ripest melons peppered with some popcorny oak. Not something I normally look for in my white Burgundies, but I must say that this somehow managed to seem neat and balanced enough in spite of its ripeness. It was only a blush of alcoholic warmth alongside the sweet fruit on the finish that threw it off a bit. Otherwise, this was actually a decent wine, albeit one that drank a bit more like a good new world Chardonnay than a Mon Luisant. (90 pts.)
  • 1992 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    Another nicely matured bottle – this was very enjoyable without quite being a great wine. The nose seemed to straddle the old and new worlds at first, with leather and tobacco and cool, very restrained cassias aromas - very Bordeaux-like, with just that bit of leafy peppermintiness at the edge of the bouquet hinting at its Aussie and Margaret River origins. It was only with time and air that more typical sweet notes of ripe blueberries and red cherry compote started drifting out. It was all really attractive though. The palate again started out in remarkably restrained fashion. It was round and mellow, with chewy acidity and a fine dusting of completely resolved tannins nestling amidst gently sweet, juicy flavours of sweet blueberries and cherries, and a little darker shade of cassis leading off into a leafy, slightly minty finish. Very pretty and really enjoyable if just lacking a touch of depth. (92 pts.)
  • 1988 Château La Lagune - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
    Nice. A completely different animal from the Aussie Bordeaux-blend that preceded it, this was clearly back in old world territory. Yet it too had a ripe sweetness to it, starting with the nose with its sweet cherry scents laced with smoke and earth and mineral and fragrant whiffs of tobacco. The palate was not the most substantial, more mid-weight than anything, but there was nevertheless a pleasing depth to its sweet cassis and black cherry flavours lined with more of those tobacco and metallic mineral notes picked up on the nose. There was just enough nuance on this to keep it interesting, without quite being as complex as one would hope for in a wine of this age. Decent finish too, with a nice 1988 juiciness showing amidst more dark fruited notes. The tannins have already softened very substantially on this, and it was drinking nicely. However, while I do not see this improving all that much from here on, it should at least hold at this level for a long time yet. (92 pts.)
  • 1998 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Cadettes - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Yummy. This was such a pleasant surprise. It had a charming little nose of dark cherries and blackberries packed together with lifted aromas of wild brush and garrigue, smoky hints of cigarette ash and burnt rubber and a nice earthiness behind. The palate was very complete. It had good depth and a nice soft balance, with sweet dark cherries and blackberries seasoned with dusty notes of earth, dried herbs and spice. The finish ended with a drift of smoky cigarette notes and a little kiss of fine tannins. Nice and mature stuff, this was really a pleasure to drink. Very yummy indeed. (93 pts.)
  • 2001 Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer Furstentum Vieilles Vignes - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
    A pleasant enough end to the dinner, but there was a disappointing sense of flatness for something that sprung from as strong a vintage as 2001. The nose had a rich sweetness to it, with ripe, tropical aromas of lychees and jackfruit laced with lots of Gewurztraminer spice. The palate had a thick, almost waxy texture to it, with more yellow-fruited, tropical notes – mangoes this time, and more lychees, and a layer of some marmalade, all twisted around a core of spice that stretched in to the finish. Unfortunately, while the flavours had a certain unctuous deliciousness to it, I felt the wine was rather dragged back by its lowish acidity, coming across a bit fat and flat at points on the midpalate. Overall, decent enough, but not something I would seek out on purpose. It may get better in time as the sweetness mellows, but I am not sure the wine has the freshness or structure to go on for much all that much longer - it seems to have lost some energy and verve since I last had it 4-5 years back. (90 pts.)

    Posted from CellarTracker

Interesting group of wines. I’m particularly grateful for the note on the Clouet; I have one bottle and wasn’t quite sure what to make of it