TN: Thunder Mountain

DINNER AT SUN WAH - Sun Wah BBQ - Chicago, IL (11/12/2012)

Jeremy Kane was in town from DC and he was gracious enough to open up a nice selection of Thunder Mountain wines. With that being the centerpiece of the dinner, we descended on Sun Wah for their magnificent duck. A fun group got together and we had a great time.

  • NV Domaine Tissot (André & Mireille now Stéphane) Crémant du Jura Extra Brut - France, Jura, Crémant du Jura
    Good firm orchard fruit with subtle oxidative notes that make it really feel Jura in nature. The palate was rich with good mousse and crushed stones. Really nice. (89 pts.)
  • 2000 J. Lassalle Champagne Cuvée Angeline - France, Champagne
    Lots and lots of apples…both on the palate and the nose. Thought the palate was a touch round but at the end of the day this had enough acid to taste fresh. (89 pts.)
  • 2004 Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Les Clos - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Saumur
    Thought this was slightly corked. NR (flawed)
  • 2000 Domaine de la Bongran (Thevenet) Mâcon-Villages Cuvée tradition Quintaine - France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Mâcon-Villages
    Boy oh boy was this tropical. I’m thinking that this would have been an interesting additional to a blind riesling tasting since it had those vivid notes of peach, pineapple and mango. The palate was plush but I enjoyed it a lot. The fruit was just as effusive on the palate as the nose would have suggested, and this combined nicely with a lingering acidity on the finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Maybe it needed more air, but this was really oaky to me. Usually these Rhys chardonnay’s have a real elegance to them, but this was more brawny…more typical California chardonnay to me. The palate smoothed out over time and ended up pretty nice, but this was just a step down compared to some of the others I’ve tried. (88 pts.)
  • 1998 Château de Pibarnon Bandol - France, Provence, Bandol
    Lots of dried fruit, tobacco and dark fruit on the nose. The palate still had some smooth tannins, nice cherry compote, and dried tobacco leaf. Seems to be drinking well right now with a good deal of life left. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Pierre Gonon St. Joseph - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph
    Still drinking very nicely. Raw and exotic on the nose with lots of dark fruit, meats and charcoal. The palate was lithe, but powerful with big dense fruit, lots of blood and iron, and floral notes. I’m bullish on this wine’s future. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Rhys Syrah Skyline Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Very young, but showing some really nice signs of future greatness. Compared to the 2009 Gonon SJ which was drank alongside, this was a bit more muted but still showed some nice meaty notes with dried violets, dark fruit and spices. The palate was firm, but had elegant fruit and spice with blood and iron on the finish. This should age nicely. (91 pts.)
  • 2000 Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Nice and dusty on the nose with dark fruit, some earth and dried tobacco elements. The palate was firm but, with air, opened up a bit. Nice mix of dark fruit, earth and floral notes. Pretty darn good stuff. (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Domaine de la Rochette Touraine Prestige du Vigneron - France, Loire Valley, Touraine
    No formal notes, but this was a pretty nice cabernet franc. Good leafy notes and nice red fruit.
  • 2002 Domaine du Closel-Château des Vaults Savennières Clos du Papillon - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Savennières
    Nice peach, hay, and spice notes on the nose with a lithe and nicely fruited palate.

Thunder Mountain Flight

  • 1995 Thunder Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Bates Ranch - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Loved the nose of dried cherries, eucalyptus, and earth on the nose. The palate was beautifully mature with dark fruit, spice and earth. Loved its elegance and poise. (92 pts.)
  • 1996 Thunder Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Bates Ranch - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Beautiful cabernet. Mature and minty with a great dark fruit profile. Has this rustic edge to it that I’m just infatuated with - lots of iron, spice and dried fruits. Great stuff. (92 pts.)
  • 1997 Thunder Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Beauregard Ranch - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    A great year in California adds a bit of depth and volume to this wine. Compared to the 1995 & 1996, this was a bit darker and denser. Still had that great minty, earthy, dark fruit profile that reminds me a lot of aged Montelena’s. (93 pts.)
  • 1998 Thunder Mountain Star Ruby Bates Ranch - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    While this showed well, it had an odd, subtle rubbery note on the finish. Its mid-palate was fine and mature with great dark fruit, earth notes and blood. For me, this was the weakest Thunder Mountain of the night. (89 pts.)
  • 1999 Thunder Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Bates Ranch - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Beautiful and dark. Had a meaty edge to it that was a bit unique compared to the other Thunder Mountain’s at dinner. In addition to the meat, this also had that lovely dried dark fruit, earth and mint notes that are signatures of Thunder Mountain cabernets. (92 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Greatest label ever???

Hopefully Milan’s daughter Kiran and son-in-law Jon Cook will see this.

Wow…quite a lineup there, Matt. I’m glad to see the ThunderMtn Cabs are holding up so well.
Milan was one of a kind…they don’t make 'em like that guy anymore.

Matt- My September note on the '97 Bates Ranch is similar, if less eloquent:

“9/4/2012 This has hardly aged at all. Color is still classic Cab, nose is deep, and on the palate it is still vibrant.” Five more to go, so I am happy. [cheers.gif]

I recall when Milan once posted a…uh…“marketing” post on the main wine notes board at Robin Garr’s WLDG site, noting a sale of some library wines. Well, this enraged some of the purists who felt personally raped (if not betrayed) by such crass commercialism. I seem to recall there was no Commerce Corner option available…but ol’ Milan took it in the shorts over that.

My response to such angst was to take Milan up on the post and order a couple of cases. hitsfan [smileyvault-ban.gif]

Thanks for the post, Matt.

Thanks, Matt. I have some late 90s Bates and Miller (Doc’s). It’s nice to know there’s no hurry to consume them.

That '95 Bates was my first and favorite of the Thunder Mountain wines. Still have a couple bottles of some Cienega Valley wines from 2000 that were part of the fire sale at the end. Good memories and I can’t mention Milan without remembering his ho-made (sorry Tom) Santa Rosa plum wine. Memorable and delicious stuff.

Man, you are waaaaay too young to remember him! Now who are you and what did you do with young Vincent??? [snort.gif]

Ha! I was a 20-something whipper snapper (again, apologies TomHill!) when I met Milan at my first offline back in '98. But heck, that’s a lot of years now. I still feel young though. Sometimes. But not my back.

Milan made some excellent wines. I am a big fan of his Chardonnay, too, which was similar to Mount Eden, to my tastes.

In late spring 2002 I flew out to SF to link up with Florida Jim for our second (of three in 2001 through 2003) Jim/Bob tour (we had met an incredible number of folks online on WCWN board and traveled all over the country back then visiting and partying with them). I stayed with Rob Adler for the first few nights waiting for Jim to finish up some debauchery at Russell Bevan’s up in Windsor. One night Rob and I joined a few folks at a nice little restaurant in town. The real treat was that Milan and his wife joined us. What a character! The food was very good, the wine superb, but it was the company that still stays in my mind. He was someone who the words “larger than life” perfectly fit. Thanks for taking me back to such a good memory. Cheers, Bob

Was the source of those wines Bates Ranch?

My only Thunder Mtn. experience was a '96 Bates cab that showed pretty poorly two years ago. I suspect it was a storage issue, given how well yours seems to have shown, Matt. Glad yours were delivering the goods.


Bob, was that meal at Chapeau!? If so, I was there. I remember Milan pouring a '99 Chardonnay (can’t recall the vineyard). Some of Milan’s whites were what one might call “science experiments” (a quote from Jon Cook). Rob and I couldn’t believe 1) how good it was and 2) that we actually poured a second glass for ourselves.

The last bottle of TM from my cellar was '95 Bates Cab. It was terrific. I also took advantage of the sale. Picked up that, '96 Star Ruby and '96 Bates. Trader Joe’s was selling a couple of '00 reds for $8. Drank a bunch of that, too.

At my very first offline, Milan brought a 3L of '94 Dusi Zin (not a TM wine). Still his Plum Wine was the best thing he ever made.