TNs: Hosting poker

It was my turn to host poker, and I tried to put together some interesting flights for the guys that could make it. As usual, all of the wines were served blind, with the exception of the after-hours bottle. I cooked up some steaks, the game was competitive and I think a good time was generally had by all.

Introductory white:

1991 Weingut Knoll Chardonnay Smaragd Loibner Wachau. This is a mellow wine on the nose, but at the same time rather attention-grabbing with its extremely interesting aromas of honey, lanolin, wool, resin, petrol, apple, pear and floral honeysuckle. Medium-weighted in the mouth, it features a slinky, oily consistency with fine grip and distinctive flavors of pear, spice, petrol and kiwi that finish long and easy with a pleasing tangy persistence. This is loaded with unique character and is just really enjoyable all around. It’s safe to say nobody really came close to guessing the variety or origin, which added even more fun to the experience. Thanks to Karl for bringing this along.

Flight one:

2003 Louis Jadot Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru La Dominode. This is quite pretty and joyously-fruited on the nose, offering up sunny and expressive aromas of mixed berry fruit, tobacco leaf, foresty undergrowth, sassafras, cocoa powder and lively spices. On the palate, it veers from medium to full-bodied, with plenty of smooth, creamy, full-bore berry fruit flavors to go along with brown spices and stemmy earth-tones. The long-lasting, even-keeled finish pulls in some subtle tannins but otherwise this is a giving and deliciously warm-fruited wine that’s in a good spot right now, at least for me.

2005 Louis Jadot Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru La Dominode. The nose here takes much longer to open up, but it gets better and better throughout the day, coming on strong with aromas of cherries, raspberries, cranberries, rose hips and baking spice. In the mouth, it is more rigid in structure than its flight-mate, with a cooler fruit personality and a more subtle inner mouth perfume. It’s lithe and free-flowing, gently tannic at times, but on the whole very well made and quite enjoyable at this early stage of its drinking window.

Flight two:

1990 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva. This gorgeous and sexy-smelling wine just keeps drawing one back for more, delivering beautiful aromas of eucalyptus, wild herbs, baked cherries, raspberries, baking spices, stripped pine and dusty dirt road that meld together in lovely layers. In the mouth, it’s absolutely delicious, tasting of spiced plums, blueberries, chocolate and menthol. There are no hard edges anywhere to be found, and it all goes down easy and generous, with spicy edgings. It finishes mellow, long and lasting, with ideal weight and fine resolution.

1995 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva. Although this is slightly tauter in tone than the 1990, it is similarly delightful to sit and sniff, with all of its swirling aromas of wild blueberries, plums, black cherries, menthol leaf and spice cabinet to consider. In the mouth, it is full and round, with a great sweet-fruited core of creamed blueberries and raspberries accented by an inner mouth perfume of tar, roses and tobacco. It has a nice balsamic twist to it now and again, with a woodsy underbelly becoming more apparent as the day goes on. It’s a fantastic wine in a really impressive and rewarding flight.

Flight three:

1988 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac. Aromatically, this is a Pauillac that’s right in my favored wheelhouse, showing off earthy, cool and reserved aromas of black currants, black plums, black leather, dried earth, warm bricks, green pepper and tobacco leaf. It’s quite smooth-flowing at this point on the palate, with dark and tasty fruit that maybe turns just a bit tough at the very end but is nonetheless delicious through and through. There are some fine savory undertones to it, and the balance overall is really pleasing. I wouldn’t push the aging curve on this a whole lot more, but I think it delivers quite nice drinking at the moment.

1988 Château Duhart-Milon Pauillac. The nose here is rather vibrant and healthy, with strong aromas of black cherries, mixed currants, game meats, cedar shingles and grilled herbs. In the mouth, it’s smooth and creamy in texture, loaded with black currant and black cherry fruit. It’s more robust and full-throated than the previous wine but also a bit grainier in texture. The fruit is delicious and nicely accented by earth tones, and on the whole it’s a wine drinking nicely right now. Again, though, I would be inclined to suggest drinking up in the not too distant future.

Flight four:

1985 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses. I really dig the nose here, with its aromas of funky tobacco, jalapeno pepper, subtle green pepper, menthol and cooled bacon fat, with light and gentle bits of dried red fruit in the background. In the mouth, it’s full of tobacco and menthol notes surrounding a core of darker berry fruit. Although it’s herbal-tinged all the way through, it’s nice and juicy, with good length and delineation. It finishes dry and controlled, with a lot of lasting character. I really enjoy this.

1989 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses. There’s a lot more tar and ash notes on the nose of this wine, but otherwise it features similarly engaging scents of jalapeno pepper, dried dirt, suede leather and wild blueberry and blackberry fruit aromas. In the mouth, it’s deliciously savory, with bacon, tobacco, menthol, black cherry and blueberry flavors riding atop a grippy and gently tannic texture. This has plenty of structure and should deliver the goods for quite some time to come. What a nice pairing these two wines turned out to be.

After hours:

2007 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes. This is vibrant and lively on the nose, with generous aromas of apricots, baked peaches, flan and chalk in a creamy but fresh and lifted profile. On the palate, it’s lovely, rich and exotic but full of life and lift, with youthful but even-keeled flavors of apricot, sugar strands, crème brulee, frozen persimmon, smoke and spice. Sure, it’s still young, but it’s fun and tasty to drink now, for sure.


I definitely play poker with the wrong group!

Nice notes!