TNs: Billiot, 88 Veuve Vintage Rare, 02 Dom P, 96 P. Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz, 02 Dead Arm

Andy and Lisa were very kind to host a few of us at their place about a month back. As always, we ate extremely well. And we drank some very nice wines to go with each course. We kept things pretty mellow and it was an enjoyable and relaxing vibe.

Flight 1: Champagnes

N.V. H. Billiot Champagne Brut Reserve. It was really interesting to taste these three Champagnes side by side, as they each represent very different styles and expressions. The NV Billiot (disgorged November 2009) offers up a bouquet full of biscuit, yeast, lime rind, chalk and ginger aromas in a fresh and expansive package that at once seems big and fleshy yet also classy and finely-honed. In the mouth, it is very lively and tangy—expanding through the juicy mid-palate and showing very nice overall mouthfeel. Flavors of biscuits, ginger, lime, pear and light smoke are supported and balanced by fine acidity, and the citrus and cherry-tinged finish is long and lasting. This was my first experience with this producer, and it was just excellent.

1988 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Vintage Rare. Although the bubbles die down pretty quickly with this sparkler, the aromatics suffer no such fate—jumping out and delivering lovely aged scents of peach pit, dark honey, smoke and copper penny. It feels fleshy and relatively full-bodied on the palate, where honey, ginger, black bread, botanical herb, citrus, smoke and mineral flavors combine in an interesting melange of fruit and secondary characteristics. It feels vinous and tense, complex and provocative–and at the end of the day, tasty and quite enjoyable.

2002 Moet & Chandon Champagne Cuvee Dom Perignon Andy Warhol Label. Right out of the gate, this wine hits the nostrils with a big blast of struck match and flint aromas, settling down to a more pointed, controlled and very classy profile of white flowers, citrus and creamy chalk. It comes across as very young, very tight and really just showing a hint of its future glories. The same is true on the palate, where it feels iron-wrought, exceedingly structured and tongue-achingly bracing. There is a burgeoning power allied to a certain finery in the focused flavors of citrus, spices, chalk, light honey and powdered minerality that suggest this will be outstanding many years from now.

Flight 2: Pinot Noirs

2007 Shea Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley. The nose here is bright and sharp, with some astingency from toasty grape stem, chicory and black pepper aromas fighting with brambly berry and smoked cherry fruit notes. In the mouth, it is bold and direct but sort of monolithic and broad-shouldered—blasting the taster with a thick wall of blue fruit, rhubarb and creamy cherry notes framed by chalky tannins, tea leaves, a bit of smoke and a good dose of toasted oak. It is not real elegant or nuanced in my opinion, but is mildly enjoyable at this early stage of the game.

2002 Louis Jadot Chambolle Musigny. The bouquet of this wine is prettier-- featuring feminine and alluring aromas of soft spices, sweet cream, cherries and raspberries galore, and a bit of leafy forest notes lingering far in the background. It is bright and red-fruited in the mouth, with a lighter to medium-bodied frame, a nice acidic twang and a taut mineral crunchiness all the way through that leads to a tangy fresh finish that is chiseled and clean. It is a nice food wine that ought to improve with another 3-4 years in the bottle.

Flight 3: Australian Shiraz

1996 Peter Lehmann Shiraz Stonewell Barossa Valley. This wine presents a lovely and fascinating bouquet of cedar shingles, eucalyptus, peppermint dust and maybe some dry dill surrounding a core of cool and deep blue fruit. It feels young and exuberant, but with a controlled and fine-tuned sensibility. In the mouth, it is extremely creamy-textured, with a fair bit of glycerin and a languid mouthfeel. It is lusciously-fruited and chock full of sweet blue and purple fruit, showing a fine smooth character from start to finish. It has a low-acid profile, but a nice juicy finish showing a ton of life and excellent length. For my tastes, it is drinking great right now, but will age for a decade pretty easily given the abundance of fruit and pliant tannin present. I really like this and wish I had more.

2002 d’Arenberg Shiraz The Dead Arm McLaren Vale. The nose here initially feels pretty thick and rich with aromas of creamed cherries, black raspberries, tar, iron, moss and coffee. Over time, it starts to fold in more exotic notes of incense and allspice, as it keeps on improving in the glass over the course of the meal. The wine is very creamy and smooth in the mouth, full of juicy red cherry and raspberry fruit. It feels fairly young and is definitely impressively endowed, yet I find it very drinkable now. The tannins do cinch up a bit and take on a tougher outer coating with time, though, so maybe give this one just a bit more rest.


Welcome to the party, Michael!

Glad you can see why I have promoted this little house as my avatar for 5 years now. [cheers.gif]

Yes, indeed!

I’ve “been around” it several times, but always seem to miss tasting it. I think a bottle at your house was dusted by the assembled mob before I arrived. And I remember a bottle up at Zach’s being dusted off with brunch while I slept (and snored, by all accounts). So, I went out and actually bought some myself!! [berserker.gif] I’ll be buying more.


Can’t believe they chose Thiese over you!

It was already a Theise product the day I tried it circa 2002 or 2003. I wish I could sell it as I know I would be very convincing!

Oh, and nice notes, Michael. Now back to our regularly scheduled thread on Malinoski’s tasting notes…