This was a very interesting tasting. We started with great sushi catered by Umai Umai paired with the 96 Clos de Goisses (July disgorgement). Great pairing. The Clos de Goisses was very young and should develop well. We then had 4 blind flights of “like varietals.” In each one, there were surprises and disappointments and things rarely went as I had thought they would. Always fun when that happens. We had a nice array of wines from the price, standpoint, which always provides for interesting comparisons.
As I noted, this is young. Very pure and bright. Hold 'em if you’ve got 'em!
1996 Philipponnat Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses - France, Champagne
Young. Very young. Acidic. Crisp. Good fruit. Citrus, apple and some raspberry. A touch of yeast. Very good finish. This has 20+ years, easily. (93 pts.)
This was the most expensive flight (avg. price per bottle). We did this first because I forgot to chill one of the Sauvignon Blancs. Ooops. The Aubuert shocked me. I had it pegged as the Bouchard Chevalier-Montrachet. For an 07, wow. Definitely thought it had some age. By the same token, the Bouchard, at 11 years old, is still fresh and vibrant.
2007 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
This had everyone fooled. We thought it was the Bouchard La Cabotte 98. Seriously. The darker color was deceiving. Initial petrol blew off. Floral and herbaceous. A touch of butter, brown sugar, green apple, good tropical fruit and pineapple. Acidity provided the necessary backbone. Very good finish. This was a very big surprised when revealed. Wine of the Flight, slightly topping the 98 Bouchard La Cabotte. (94 pts.)
2006 Peter Michael Chardonnay Point Rouge - USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley
Disappointing. In the blind flight with the Aubert and Bouchard La Cabotte, this lagged behind. It exhibited the most oak. Buttery. Surprisingly plain on the palate. A good, building finish that really improved the overall score on this. A mild disappointment, all things considered (mainly that it was the most expensive wine in the flight). (90 pts.)
1998 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
Tremendous. Subtle oak. Very intense. Unbuttered popcorn. Good citrus and apple notes. Light and delicate. The subtlety was quite remarkable. This has time to go but is drinking very well right now. The elegance and class was very evident. Top notch. Finished inches behind the Aubert Chardonnay in a blind flight. The 11 year difference in age may have been the difference. (93 pts.)
Blind Sauvignon Blanc
Sancerre once again was a disappointment. At $35, way overpriced. Tough to consistently go back to this region when I consistently enjoy SB from other areas. The Corra was my favorite, but at $25, even it is on the higher end for SB, as the Kim Crawford showed very well.
2007 Corra Sauvignon Blanc - USA, California, Napa Valley
Easily the best of the flight. Rye and grass on the nose. The rye eventually blew off, giving way to grapefruit and yellow fruit with a touch of brown sugar. Good acidity. However, as I’ve noted in previous notes, the acidity needs to settle down a little bit. Still, this is one of the best SBs I’ve ever had and has a good finish. (91 pts.)
2007 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough - New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
Confirmed what a tremendous value this is during the blind tasting. Pungent nose. Herbal. Some stewed vegetables, maybe? Flatter palate at first. Good crisp acidity with tropical fruit. Nice citrus. This was impressive for what it is and stood up next to competition with better pedigrees. (88 pts.)
2007 Dominique Roger (Domaine du Carrou) Sancerre La Jouline - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre
Slightly disappointing, especially factoring in the $35 price point. Most expensive wine of the flight. Sweet nose. A lot of minerals. Lacks acidity and sweet spice. Rye on the nose. Flat palate. Not providing the complexity you’d expect from a wine with this pedigree. Tastes good, but for $35 I expected more. The finish was probably the best of the flight, but this was underwhelming. (87 pts.)
Blind Rhone Varietals
Controversial flight. I did not love the SQN and struggled to score it. I worked hard to find the merits to this and can “appreciate” what others liked about it, but I just did not like this. It was tired and lacking. The Hermit Crab was outclassed. The Clos des Papes was simply outstanding.
2000 Sine Qua Non The Boot - USA, California
The most disappointing SQN I’ve ever had. I was definitely the lone dissenter here, though. Slightly oxidized with that metallic and vinegary nose. Brown sugar, smoke and even some tobacco here. I thought the complexity on the nose was the best part. This fell way short on the palate for me, as nothing really developed. It just sort of ran in place. The finish was average at best. I want to reiterate that I was in the minority with my impression of this, but for what it is, and the price it goes for, this was a major disappointment. (86 pts.)
2007 d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
Unfortunately, this review and score are a product of this wine being paired against much classier competition. On its own, this is a good summer wine and offers good value. Tonight, it simply was lacking merit. Funky nose. Black licorice. Very overwhelming and off-putting. Good acidity and the tropical fruit palate brought this back from the brink. I’ll happily drink this again in a less formal setting. (83 pts.)
2006 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Outstanding. Wine of the flight and in the mix for WOTN. Floral, brown sugar, tropical fruit. This really had a beautiful nose. Complex and elegant palate. This was a beauty contest contestant. Really elegant. Really classy. But had density and complexity. This will age well for years, as the acidity was there but never was out of balance. Great finish. Very very impressive. (94 pts.)
Well done by the Herman Wiemer. This one had us fooled, as we confused it for the Hugel. Donnhoff was the wine of the flight.
2007 Hugel et Fils Riesling "Hugel" - France, Alsace, Alsace AOC
Sorry, Jean. On this night, the garden variety Hugel Rieslnig was third best in the blind flight. Petrol blew off leaving brown sugar, a little nuttiness. Very pale color. A touch of fruit, but this required a lot of coaxing. The palate was very subdued. Plain with good acidity. The finish was fine, but this could have been better. (86 pts.)
2004 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Nahe
Best wine of the Riesling flight. Sweet spice. Good acidic backbone. Spritz of CO2. Nice crisp fruit with a hint of sweetness. This was quite good and should drink well for a good long while. (92 pts.)
2006 Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling Dry Reserve - USA, New York, Finger Lakes
Very surprising when revealed in the blind Riesling flight as the Wiemer. We all figured the Wiemer would definitely finish behind the better pedigree wines, but this was very good. Fruity and crisp. Peach, pear and good balanced minerals and acidity. Best finish of the flight, as it even sweetened up a little bit. Very balanced. Very good. (90 pts.)
Non-blind "Mixed Bag"
I like Scholium wines, but this flight, as a whole, was not well regarded.
2007 Alban Vineyards Viognier - USA, California, Central Coast
Rather disappointing. Not nearly the elegance and finesse you’d see from a Rhone viognier. Funky on the nose. Dirty rotten grass. Grapefruit nose. Some complexity on the attack. Slightly sour on the palate. Needs a slight bit more acidity. A tad of citrus. Short plus finish. Overall, plain, without a lot of complexity. A perfectly fine wine but double the price it should be. (85 pts.)
2007 Scholium Project The Prince In His Caves Farina - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain
As I expected, this was controversial and ranked across the board. Tasted in the non-blind flight. Cloudy yellowish-orange color. Raisin, lychee, honey, rye, smoke and grass on the nose. Good orange peel note. Nice acidity. Palate of orange peel, smoke and citrus. Nice good finish. This is a very enjoyable wine and should pair well with food. I am continually impressed by the Scholium results, and even where I do not care for a wine, I appreciate the effort. My one nit with this wine is that it is probably a bit on the higher end of what it should be, price wise, but that is hard to evaluate with wines like this. (91 pts.)
1998 Roche aux Moines Savennières Roche aux Moines - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Savennières Roche aux Moines
I just was not a fan of this. I love the sweet Chenin, but I did not think the age added “good” depth and complexity to this. Very metallic tasting. Smoky apricot with some secondary caramel and brown sugar. But the metallic note dominated and I could not get by it. This was probably my least favorite wine of the night, and the irony is that it was followed by a sweet Chenin as the first wine in the next flight (the Chaume) – and that was one of my favorites of the night. I’ll give this (or a similar wine) another shot in the future. (82 pts.)
Non-blind Sweet Whites
Very enjoyable flight.
2006 Margan Sémillon Botrytis - Australia, New South Wales, Hunter Valley
A perfectly good sweet. Part of the non-blind dessert flights. Packs quite a wallop on the nose. Strong spice. Nutmeg, ginger, clove. Really spice driven. Concentrated. Good finish. Not an elegant wine, but a very enjoyable sweet. (87 pts.)
2002 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Quarts de Chaume
This is tremendous. I do not know how the 02 ranks alongside the 95 or 05 (which I have in the cellar) but this is just a delight. Not too heavy. Not too sweet. Great citrus, apricot, honeyed nuts. Maybe a tad bitter which is the only nit. Great concentration. The acidity and mineral notes melded beautifully. The finish was incredibly long. This is one of those wines that you taste for minutes and minutes after sipping and if there were not other wines to taste, you could still taste this for 10+ minutes. (95 pts.)
1999 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Eiswein - Germany, Nahe
A touch better than the 02 Quarts. Sweet concentration. This is pure sweet wine. Apple pie, nutty and smoky. Sweet apricot. The words that kept coming to mind are pure and concentrated, but at the same time this has some finesse. It is not an over the top in your face type sweet. The sweet concentrated finish keeps going and never relents. You just need to sit there and appreciate how long the finish is. Absolutely great. This is one of the best wines I’ve ever had and easily ranks at the top of all Eisweins I’ve ever had. (96 pts.)
Non-blind Fortified Whites
A notch below the “plain” sweets, but still good.
2005 J. Vidal-Fleury Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise
This was good. Nice blend of sweet spice and light fruit. Not a finesse wine. Some good power here. Nutty and honeyed. Not overly sweet and was well balanced. Moderate finish. (90 pts.)
N.V. Yalumba Muscat Museum Reserve - Australia, New South Wales
Wow. When I found out the price of this, I was very surprised. Quite a value. Nutty deeper darker color. Some darker sweet notes. Apricot, smoke, some brown sugar. Nutty palate. Very good plus finish. A tremendous value at under $20 for a split. Highly recommended. (91 pts.)
2005 Mas Amiel Muscat de Rivesaltes Alexandrie Passerille sur Schiste - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Muscat de Rivesaltes
Non-blind fortified white flight. Pale yellow color. Apricot, sweet fruit. A bit on the “too” sweet side. Not enough acidity for my taste, and not balanced enough, but it is enjoyable. Moderate finish. (87 pts.)
N.V. Rare Wine Company Heritage Madeira Boston Bual Special Reserve - Portugal, Madeira
Good dark color. Orange peel, mocha but some heat. A touch on the “too” sweet side. The heat never quite settled down for my tastes. I enjoyed the flavor profile, with the orange peel, mocha and a nip of caramel blending very well together. Good finish. (86 pts.)
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