TNs--"Last of the Finest" Dinner--70 LLC, 79 Calera, 83 La Chappelle, Musars, others

Good friend and boardmember Brian Pattrick has decided he needs to cull his cellar a bit. I was a fortunate invitee to dinner, together with Brian’s friend Bryce and boardmember Chris McCart. I haven’t been to a smaller dinner in a while and I really enjoyed the opportunity to have some extensive conversations with all 3. We had a relaxed and wonderful time, and I discovered Cumbrae meats—the lamb was oh-so-delish.

The title comes from the fact that Brian’s choices here were his last bottles of each of these.

1990 Stoney Ridge Lenko Estates

This is somewhat evolved, but still quite interesting. There’s a kind of loaminess, earthiness and truffle quality on the schnozz, also a little lactic going on–maybe yeasty? Hard to place it as a chard, it reminds me more of a Roussanne, but it has some minerality still and floats nicely across the tongue. The fruit is mostly gone, but there are nips of herbs and more of the sort of thing that reminds me of fresh-rained meadow. Regardless, this has held–and does so for another hour or so, which for a 21-year old Ontario Chardonnay is saying quite something.

1991 Kalin Livermore Valley Chardonnay

I know it’s not everybody’s thing, but I like Kalin stuff. This is still quite vibrant aromatically, with oak, hazelnut, pear and some sour cream. Soft and very surprisingly sweet to taste, has a sort of creme de menthe lift at the back. Zip of banana at the side with a coconut oil ending. I want more vivacity in my white wine, but this is again an interesting beast.

1995 Chateau Musar White

This is my first Musar white. There are tinges of ginger and cardamom, but honey and 'shrooms are also showing up. Brian is right–this has the texture and even some taste of dry sherry, but also a lemon counterpoint. It is “savoury” in texture and zings around the mouth. Later, a bit of sweet lemon pie crust emerges, more expressive. This is very good, actually.

1979 Calera Selleck Vineyard Pinot Noir

Brian cottoned onto Calera pretty early. This is, he says, either the first or second vintage and we theorize that it must be one of the last bottles in existence. A very great honour to try. And…it’s quite alive, people, plums and dark cherry and lots of baking spices present themselves. Le gout, it’s only a little stripped of fruit, there are still raspberries and wild strawberry to find. A sweet finish and lots of acidity still, plenty of carry. And about an hour in, a tremendous aromatic and even tasting hit of sandalwood. We were all astonished at not only how well this showed, but how well it held. A unique and memorable experience.

1970 Chateau Leoville Las Cases

Classic and classy, green peppercorns, blackberry, roasted thyme and rosemary and lots of pipe smoke make up a lovely bouquet. Palate has some grip and also some subtlety and levels–this is relatively quiet with currant and some meat. I think this still has plenty of time to go, but nice smoothness now.

1980 Chateau Musar

Brian invited us in part because he feels we’re open-minded about our wines [snort.gif] At any rate, this was the first of two Musars (I had tried, thanks to Brian’s generosity, a 1981 quite a number of years ago). Lots of leather and lots of cumin in the sniffer. My goodness–remarkably round and very, very sweet. Bunches of cherry, very sweet plum some milk chocolate I think. Just so sweet as it continues in the glass, plum and cherry cordial and strawberry too. Very different from any Musar I’ve ever had.

1986 Chateau Musar

I think there’s some VA here, maybe just funkiness, but it works. There is also a bit of anise and sweet basil. This is more classic for me dans la bouche. Plenty of brambles and berries and herbs and also a little smoked leaves here. More lively than the 1980, lots more. Coffee grounds become much more prevalent later.

1983 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chappelle

Chris and Brian talk about their variable luck with this wine. Well, this is a brilliant example on the nose, with scads of mocha, coffee crisp, dark, dark plum, roast meat and chestnuts. So complete on the palate, a great minty/spearmint accent right through rich blackberry and plum. Did I say it’s very, very complete? A terrifically balanced wine with blueberry accents at the end, outstanding stuff it is consensus WOTN.

2002 De Bortoli Noble One botrytis Semillon

I was happy to see this, as I still have one bottle of my own resting for future consumption. Just so much aromatically—botrytis, but also lots of flowers, lots of vanilla and touches of apricot and fig. Some spicy on tongue, quite a bit actually, some apricot, but “unripe” if I use that descriptor. I’m surprised at the lemoncurd and acidity which is plenty lively at 9 years of age. This is a fine example of this Aussie sweetie with room to further improve. Very glad to try—the 2002 might’ve been their best effort.

Again, huge thanks to Brian for sharing and for letting me be a part of a special evening.

kwa heri,


Great Notes!

Impressive wines, and a tremendous experience. Very kind of Brian to share such rarely tasted wines.

yes, it was. And yes, that was 8.5 wines for 4 people. I stayed overnight.

Nice job Mike.

Great report… and small dinners like this, where one can linger over and revisit the wines at will are really the best… especially with a line-up like this… and good friends…

Good notes Mike. It was a fun and enlightening night. Yes, Cumbraes boneless Dorset/ Textel lamb loins are “da bomb”.
As you saw, I’m taking a note hiatus lately so my impressions are from memory. I enjoyed the Stoney Ridge a fair bit and found perhaps a bit more minerally chard characteristics than your note implies. Really interesting that it was so fresh at 21.
Agreed with you on the other two whites. Both were fun to taste.
I enjoyed all the reds. The '86 Musar more so than the '80, the LLC was the perfect age for drinking and was great with the lamb. I think I liked the Calera best when initially poured. That Sandalwood aspect that reminds me of Tempranillo sort of distracted me away from pure pinot goodness with time in the glass. Certainly wasn’t suffering from old age though.

I’ve been lucky enough to have several experiences with the '83 La Chapelle. My very first La Chapelle was the '83, 10 years ago and was revelatory and sent me on the road to actively collecting La Chapelle. Every time since it’s been variable (meaning everything from great to merely pretty good) while generally having much more consistent experiences with both the '82 & '85 in the past 5 or so years. This bottle (As Brian will attest) I believe bought on release and kept passively since, was simply brilliant. A complex and gorgeous concoction of dark berry, bramble & plum with that delicate texture that just screams Jaboulet. What always separates La Chapelle for me is the texture. I love the way these turn into something burg-like in texture and mouthfeel with age, but keeping that panoply of Hermitage flavours and aromas. The Vosne of the Rhone. Truly the best (IMHO) expression of Syrah. I have just two left (from auction) and will hope mine are at least close qualitatively to this bottle. The variability of the '83 keeps my from looking for more.
What a great bottle.
I have had a few of the DeBortoli Noble One’s including the 1998, 99, 00 and 2003. This may have been the first 2002 I’ve tried. Pretty sure I still have 1 or 2 vintages in the cellar. I admit it is impressive, but I think it takes on too much honey and treacle to my tastes. A really enjoyable glass, but needs just a bit more lift to keep it fresh. I think this is why I haven’t bought these in a while. I can see others loving this a good deal more than me. My palate was also pretty bushed by this point as Bryce wasn’t drinking nearly as much as we were, yet the bottles disappeared… Not sure he’ll post here but Brian is a very generous friend & host and has one of the most dynamic and well thought out cellars I’ve had the pleasure of sharing in.


Always love to read Musar notes. Always fun to blind taste in a Bordeaux tasting.

Great counterpoint notes, Chris—really well done from memory. I do hope Brian will post his impressions here. It was a great evening. While I still have affinity for La-Las in the good years, the La Chappelle was very memorable and it’s not the first one to be so.

Thanks Mike and Chris for your observations. I have been culling the cellar especially last bottles, and like to have small gatherings of adventurous tasters for this purpose. We all get decent pours, and have quality conversations. Thanks to Chris for his excellent BBQ skills with the lamb. He took over main chef duties while I was babying the bottles and coaxing the corks out. The lamb (and we) benefitted from this outcome.

I was pleasantly surprised that there were no corked or otherwise spoiled bottles, given the age of the wines. With the exception of the Kalin, they were my last bottles of each.
I did take brief notes (but for some reason had trouble reading my own writing on these). Consequently, they are a bit sketchy. [oops.gif]

'90 Stoney Ridge Lenko Chard; I obtained this at a winery sale of library wines 8-10 years ago. Lenko has the oldest Chard vines in 0ntario planted in the sixties. As the Lenkos have their own winery, Stoney Ridge no longer gets Lenko fruit. This improved a few minutes after opening, giving me pear, honey, toast; it did hold fairly well for an hour or so. I recall the bottle opened 5 years ago to be a little better, so it appears to be in gentle decline.

'91 Kalin Chard- I bought this at an on-line auction earlier this year. Toasty, nutty pear/apple; soft but still very much alive and tasty. In my experience Kalin Chards and Pinots age very well. I have 2 left of this.

'95 Musar Blanc- Acquired through Vintages a year ago. Very mature colour, Apple, honey, ginger, dry sherry; similar to very old Rioja.

'79 Calera Selleck- Again acquired at auction earlier this year. Sweet cherry/strawberry fruit, sandalwood, spice; still compelling after 32 years. Started to dry out a bit after 3 hours in the glass. I also think Calera Pinots benefit from far more ageing than most Pinots.

'70 Las Cases- Purchased in Rochester 25 years ago. Surprisingly dark for its age. Pretty blackberry, rosemary, cigar box; still had grip; classically mature St. Julien.

80 Musar-I acquired several bottles of this and the 86 , 22 years ago; spicy cherry, leather, a hint of v.a. While different than some Musars, it shared characterisitcs of some older vintages, such as the `66. I find Musar defies easy classification, as vintages can show significant differences.

86 Musar- Spicy ripe fruit,fresher and more lively than the 80, but a little more funk. While I dont mind funkiness, I slightly preferred the 80.

83 Hermitage La Chappelle- Acquired 25 years blackberry, chocolate, licorice; rich mouthfeel, long finish. WOTN. As Chris indicates, Ive had a number of bottles of this and there has been some variation. This is perhaps the best Ive tasted.`

`02 De Bortoli Semillon Noble Rot- Surprised at how fresh this still was.

For me, a great night with good friends; the hours flew by.

Love that '83 La Chappelle…haven’t had bad bottles, I guess…it has taken a full 25 to get really good, I think.

Thanks for the notes, guys. I was just wondering about the '80 Musar a few days ago! [cheers.gif]