TN: SQN, 2 Burgs, 2 Barolos, 2 Sauvignon Blancs

Last night we had two other couples over. We sat on the back patio until the bugs chased us inside. Foods included pizza, lasagna, cookies and strawberries. All wines consumed non-blind over four hours.

2005 Michel Redde Majorum Pouily Fume
Slivery green gold in color. The nose is minerals with a slight smoky note to it. Crisp and clean. Mostly minerals on the palate with a bit of lemons. Nice finish. My first time with this wine, but at this age it is still showing well if lacking much fruit. Very nice. 50+4+12+16+7=89

2008 Grey Stack Sauvignon Blanc Rosemary’s Block
My second time with this wine. Light golden in color, clear and bright. The nose is fruit driven with white grapefruit. On the palate, this is slightly sweet compared to the Pouilly, but I am told that this was fermented bone dry. An interesting contrast between the youth and the terroir, this is a much different animal. The first few sips seemed off but then my palate adjusted. Lots of white grapefruits notes with a tangy finish. 50+3+13+17+7=90

1996 Coron Pere & Fuls Echezeaux
Ruby in color, mostly clear and bright. The nose had lots of bottle funk which blew away quickly. Tart cherries, mushrooms, and hints of merde on the nose. Medium bodied. On the palate, this is tart with cherries. Seems lacking some stuffing though. I know lots of people think the 96 Grand Crus will come around but I don’t think this is one of them. Certainly drinkable but there were other bottles. 50+3+11+16+5=85

1998 Elio Altare Barolo
This bottle was singing. Regular bottling. With eleven years since the 98 vintage, this bottle was in a great place. Ruby in color with just a twinge of orange. The nose is cherries, tar and roses. Complex and enticing. Medium to full bodied. On the palate, this is layered cherries, dried cherries, and some tar. Great balance with just enough acidity to work with the food. Long finish. Tom noted that we had this about 5 years ago at an offline and I loved it. Even better tonight. 50+4+14+18+8=94

2005 Sine Qua Non Atlantis Fe2O3-2C Grenache
Purple/ruby in color, mostly opaque and bright. The nose is deep with cherries, raspberries, smoke and leather. Full bodied. On the palate, a ton of cherries and dark cherries. Nice complexity. There is some heat and I could feel the alcohol in the texture. It was a bit distracting but it smoothed out (or I did) during the evening. 50+4+14+18+7=93

1998 Parusso Barolo Bussia Vigna Rocche
Ruby red in color with some purple swirls. The nose is nice with cherries, roses and some tar. Medium bodied. On the palate, this is correct but lacks the complexity of the Altare. Cherries and earthiness. Actually tastes a bit tighter and in need of perhaps more time. There was some left, so it will be interesting to see what Day 2 brings for this. Very good right now though. 50+4+12+17+7=90

1990 Bouchard Aine & Fils Echezeaux Grand Cru
It was probably late to be opening this but it was so. Ruby in color, clear and bright. The nose is tight with cherries. Simple. On the palate, this is nice cherry juice but not showing much else. Little complexity here. Perhaps a bit young but I am not sure this will ever see any great heights. 50+4+11+15+5=85

All these good reviews on the '98 Barolo really have me itching to open my long '98 up. I’ve got a buddy with a birthday dinner coming up, and he’s going to open a birth year bottle, so I’m bringing a backup. Perhaps this would be a good option, my bottle of '98 Cavallotto Barolo Bricco Boschis

I went through probably 7-8 bottles of Redde’s 2002 Cuvée Majorum in 2008. I recall one of them tasted tired and rather lean, but all the others were in fine form especially after around 15-20 minutes decanter time (the decanter kept chilled) which let the fruit emerge/open. Ripe guava, lemon, minor grapefruit, faint gooseberry) with notable depth in its fruit. Good push on the palate, well balanced, brightened by its white minerality and acidity. Clean, crisp, good focus.

A different sort of Pouilly-Fumé to me, but quite nice indeed. Seemed to me it was made/meant to spend around 5-6 years in bottle before being enjoyed.

Loren – I liked the Altare, too, when I had it in October, though the oak was pretty conspicuous still. I gave it 90+.

Todd – The 98s are among the most approachable Baroli of the last two decades for current drinking. But I would guess that the Cavallotto might be a bit less approachable than the Altare and Parusso because it’s made in much more traditional style than the latter two, and Altare’s vineyards are in La Morra, which tends to produce softer, earlier-drinking Barolo.

Greg dal Piaz organized a horizontal of 98s in October that was terrific. The standouts for me were the Mascarello Monprivato, the Brovia Rocche, the E. Pira Cannubi and the Bartolo Mascarello, each of which I scored 92+. All of those except for the Bartolo Mascarello were relatively drinkable, though they would be better with time. A few others, like the Giacomo Conterno Casina Francia, needed substantially more time.