TNs--Mike on Tour--November 6--Dinner at ****** in Boston

The cure for what ailed me, after a very wet and rainy visit to Newport (I’ll have to come back when the sun is shining) and some crazy traffic that makes even this Torontonian sit up and take notice, awaited in Boston at *******. Angelo Manioudakis, who I last saw at a dinner party at my place over a year ago, was legion to organize everything and is now the proud owner of the commemorative T-shirt. We were joined by Trung, Steve Steinbergher, Jamie Manley, Michael Malinoski and Albert Bass. Fantastic and convivial group. The food and service at ******** were both excellent, and I see why this is a regular haunt for this crew.

La Closerie Extra Brut Champagne

As I continue my evolution from prehistoric man, I continue to find interest in Champagne. This is almost all Pinot Meunier and lemon bread is definitely the signature in the sniffer. Snappy as anything–Muscadet-like clarity, but with very fresh apple. This is good.

2007 Chateau Smith-Haut Lafitte Blanc

What we originally planned as a flight of Bordeaux blanc became a party of one :slight_smile: But quite a party. I brought this and am glad I have a couple more. Everyone was taken with the nose, though we got different things. For me, a super lilac element, truffle oil nudge, touch of smoke and plenty of apple core. At first on the tongue, this is quite precise and tasty, lemon-lime and a kind of sweet pine tar note in the back. But it’s clear that this has a long way to go and as it stays in the glass, a dried mustard component shows up in bouquet and on palate, and the palate becomes more linear. I didn’t like it as much for palate by the end of the night, but the nose was stellar and I’m sure it’ll come around #3 tonight.

2008 Domaine de Vieux Telegraphe Blanc

To some chuckles, Albert bemoaned that he’d picked the wrong year, intending to tote along a 1998. No matter, I still enjoyed trying this. Aroma is filled with yummy honey scents and it settles into some beeswax for me that I’d more think of with northern rhone. Dans la bouche, slight nuttiness and somewhat buttery, hints at future niceness, but a lot hidden right now.

Angelo then served us a mystery red. It was a lightish red in colour, nose of dried berries, not very much earth, tiny touch of herbs. Palate was framed almost-tart berries but without the structure that would lead me to, e.g., northern Rhone, which was a lot of people’s guess. Blind is a deadly thing to do and I quite hesitantly guessed a Barbera of all things from 1988. Angelo had a big grin on his face as we floundered around. We ended up being served a 1971 Gaja Barbera Sori Vagnona. This has plenty of life left and belies the thought that Barbera can’t age. Maybe I don’t suck at this after all. [grin.gif]

2004 Montevetrano Colli di Salerno

Roses with a little tar waft up the glass. Palate is certainly gripping full of wood and nuts and dark blackberries. It’s a tad foursquare for me and stays almost burly over time. If you have one, leave it for a number of years yet.

2001 Tua Rita Giusto di Nostre

Angelo brought this and he lamented that it was much too soon. Indeed. A bouquet that I want to describe as “jammy”—but not oversweet. To taste, plenty of stuff, plum, black cherry, some cocoa interweaving, but it’s asleep and stays very tight throughout the night. Lots of elements for a fine wine, but this needs at least a decade.

1995 Flaccianello della Piave

Seductive nuzzie, just-right herbs, berry fruit, plum and cocoa. And this is smooth like silk. Very expressive with red licorice and bright red fruit. It is king with my Peking Duck and as sexy as it gets in a sophisticated way. WOTN and probably a 92 for me.

1997 Castello di Rampola Sammarco

This was no weak sister to the Flaccianello. More dark chocolate here and a very certain chocolate mint/after eight side to the aromatics. Le gout, this is also very, very nice, with gentle waves of mid-dark fruit sliding down the throat. Outshone, but only a little, by the Flacc.

2001 Chateau Coutet Barsac

I really did have to bring this, from half, since Angelo helped me connect with Aline Baly and I visited there back in the spring. This is the last of my futures set of these that I bought way back when. And the elegance is back after a long sleep. The botrytis is in a beautiful place and the floral side has come out to play. Oh my. This is goo-oood. Length and that terrific citrus-lime cordial thing that the Coutets I like will always have. Also has tremendous length. It’s never going to be super-tops, but great? Absolutely. It’s really, really good. #2

1990 Chateau Rieussec Sauternes

Jamie very generously offered a full of this. Nose is rich, I was a bit worried about corked but it’s not. Palate is very sweet—orange with figs and sugar crystals and maple syrup in the background. I do think it is right at the crest of the hill, so I’d drink up if you have them. I have more or less decided that I’m not a 1990 Sauternes fan, of those 3 vintages (88, 89, 90). It led to a discussion of Bordeaux in general and Jamie and I sort of concurred on our looking at 2009 and 2010 in red Bordeaux in particular as the 1989-1990 discussion.

That was just one of several great discussions on a night where I made many new friends. It will have to be a lot sooner than 33 years that I revisit Boston and I need to stay for a bit longer next time.

Many thanks to everyone. NYC is next!



What’s the deal with corkage there?

I’m sure Mike meant to type that they bought every one of those wines of the list at Troquet since BYOB is technically illegal in Boston. I bet Troquet bought all those wines some time ago and just happened to have the exact wines Mike’s party was looking to drink that night. What luck!

[drinkers.gif] [highfive.gif] [thumbs-up.gif]

Hmm? I wonder what the tour will look like in NYC?

HAHA yes what will NYC be like? good one Eric :slight_smile:

Darn it, yes I forgot about that. Original post edited and if Peter and Ron can edit theirs? I don’t want to get anyone in trouble.

Sorry I missed you on this round, Ron.

Count—looking forward to…um…later today. Lots of fun…um…last night at Tolani. Notes coming.

Mike, I’ve been drinking through a case of the '90 Rieussec in 375 that I was lucky to buy on release - it certainly displays that dark color and caramelized richness you can get in mature Sauternes, but at least IMO, I think the wine will be on that plateau of maturity for quite some time, even in the smaller format.

Maybe, Bob, or there might be a bit of bottle variation. I ended up looking up some notes from 3 years ago, also from a full, ironically from Philly OL:

"1990 Chateau Rieussec

Dave K. kindly contributed this, as we had the foie dish in the middle of our meal. I got some curious looks and honks of incredulity as I proclaimed my disavowal for having ever had the revelicious experience with foie and Sauternes. And nothing different this time. That said, this is a brilliant bottle of wine. From a full, amazing scents of buttertart and apricot. And to taste, it is complete and multidimensional, with a real spice and almost hot and sour mini-kick at the back, while giving so much at the front and midpalate. It may hold, but I don’t think it’ll be any better than it is tonight, with pure and fresh apricot and pear. It is easily the brightest 1990 I’ve had and tremendously enjoyable. WOTN."

So, I am ridiculously, embarrassingly late to the party with my typed up notes from this night! A temporarily lost notebook didn’t help, but I’d probably be just as late in posting these either way. :slight_smile:

Mike, it was great to meet you. By this time, you’re hopefully already planning your next trip south. Hope to have a chance to dine and drink with you again!


NV Jérôme Prévost Champagne La Closerie Extra Brut Les Beguines. According to the label, this is from the 2011 vintage. It’s taut but yielding on the nose, with appealing aromas of lemon rind, apple, pear, chalk dust, dark yeast and toasted herbs. It’s very dry, crisp and crunchy on the palate, with razor-sharp acidity giving it a racy, structured, minerally feel. At the same time, it foams up nicely in the mid-palate to reveal red berry, apple, smoke and citrus flavors that linger persistently onto the finely-controlled finish. Although a bit bracing, it’s drinking quite enjoyably for my tastes right now.

2007 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc Pessac-Léognan. Others seemed much more enamored with the nose of this wine than I was. For me, it’s rather skunky with sulfur and struck match off the top, taking its time to reveal modestly more pleasing scents of graphite, green melon, apple and grapefruit rind. In the mouth, it has a rounded mouthfeel, with some cantaloupe, dried citrus, yellow apple, vanilla, smoke and crushed shell elements combining nicely. It has excellent body, good concentration of fruit, a nice languid flow, giving flavors and plenty of life left to give.

2008 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc La Crau. This wine delivers fine, woolly aromas of beeswax, pear skin, honey, grapefruit, fresh herbs and gravel, with some interesting piquant overtones. In the mouth, it’s plump and generous, with soft acidity and pliant layers of citrus and tree fruit flavors surrounded by soft wood notes. It’s still youthful, but certainly enjoyable.

Red wines:

1971 Gaja Barbera d’Alba Sori Vagnona. This was served blind, and looks rather healthy despite obvious paling at the rim. It delivers a truly lovely Old World bouquet of dried red flowers, sweet baked cherries, gentle red berries, soft baking spices, pot pourri and dusty old library. Over time, it also begins to take on wonderful notes of menthol and smoky bacon, pulling the taster back into the glass even more frequently. It’s a treat on the palate, as well, with lighter to medium-weighted flavors of red cherries, raspberries, brown spices and dusty dry earth lifted up by tangy acidity. It’s not super-expansive or deeply-fruited, just delightfully balanced, resolved, and well-packaged all around. This was a great treat.

2004 Azienda Agricola Montevetrano Montevetrano Colli di Salerno IGT. As usual with Montevetrano, I really enjoy the aromatic profile of this wine, which is loaded with scents of leather, horsehide, green pepper, cocoa, dried cherries, black raspberries, menthol and ash. It stays strong all night long, with the green pepper notes growing a bit strong for some, but just adding to the complexity in my mind. In the mouth, it’s youthfully dense and structured, but with wonderfully caressing texture, excellent length and a dark mysterious underbelly to the blackberry, plum, dark chocolate and mineral-tinged flavors. The tannins are strong but classy, and the finish is still a bit chalky, but this shows great class and excellent aging potential.

2001 Tua Rita Giusto di Notri Toscana IGT. The nose here is outgoing and attractive, with jammy aromas of blackberry, blueberry, dried plum, charred earth and stone. In the mouth, it’s plush, thick and gently chewy. It’s maybe just a smidge more elevated in alcohol than I’d like, but I enjoy the delicious and sappy blackberry and black cherry fruit it has to offer, even if it’s still a bit big and ropy all around. I’d hold off a little while yet on this blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.

1995 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT. This is just top-notch on the nose, with wonderful aromas of blue and purple berries, worn saddle leather, clean horse barn, tobacco leaf, tomato vine, purple flowers and cooled bacon fat. There’s a great density of flavor and tremendous fruit concentration on the palate, as it delivers layer after layer of lush and languid, fine-flowing flavors of plum and blackberry fruit. There are sneaky tannins late and a tensile backbone all the way through, with fine lift and solid length. The final factor in this winning wine is a delightful little inner mouth perfume of lilac and lavender to add pretty accents to the core of delicious fruit flavors. This was very well-liked all around the table.

1997 Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco Toscana IGT. This wine is ripe, sexy and lavish on the nose, with sweet-toned aromas of cocoa powder, mocha paste, roasted coffee bean, cherries and raspberry jam. In the mouth, though, I find this one of the tougher wines to drink, as the tannins clamp down from the outset and really coat the tongue beneath pasty rich fruit. It has a sunny streak of acidic lift at the back end, but otherwise it’s about fudgy sweet fruit galore that just needs a bit more time, in my opinion.

Sweet wines:

2004 Paul Cluver Riesling Weisser Noble Late Harvest Elgin South Africa. CORKED.

2001 Château Coutet Barsac. Served from 375 ml bottle. This is just gorgeous on the nose, where it’s bright and burnished yet fabulously deep and sexy in its aromas of dried pineapple, botrytis cream, rock sugar, baking spices and light caramel strands. In the mouth, it is perfectly-balanced—wonderfully sweet yet sharply cut. It has funky spices and dark tropical fruit flavors that are delightfully plush but still classy and directed. This is in the zone right now, but can also go a good long while. It’s a delicious treat all around.

1990 Château Rieussec Sauternes. This is a much, much darker gold in color. It’s unctuous, plush and languid on the nose, with darkly-toasted tropical fruit aromas to go with some Christmas ribbon candy, botrytis spice, yellow raisin, fig and quince paste scents. In the mouth, it features dark, smoky, burnished flavors of baked apricots, nectarines, baking spices, vanilla bean and dark peaches that are giving, fun, rounded and nicely-aged. It can feel a bit fat at times, but it’s hard to resist when all is said and done.


Me too. [whistle.gif]

Late certainly better than never when the notes are of this quality, Michael. Glad you were able to rescue that lost notebook!

I am planning my next trip south—but on the other coast :slight_smile: May 8-24, watch for the notes!