TNs: Mostly Blind Tasting (nearly all France and Italy)

These notes are from a weekend with friends in wine country last month. Most of the wines we tasted from our own cellars over the weekend were served blind, which made for lots of fun and humble moments! I brought the Ilan, so it wasn’t blind for me — one of the other guys in attendance will have to chime-in to get first-hand blind tasting comments on that one. The following wines were the bottles we opened on Night #1, and - somewhat surprisingly - all of our selections (but for the opening Rochioli Chard.) were from France and Italy.

2011 J. Rochioli Chardonnay River Block - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (1/23/2015)
– popped and poured –
– tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 40 min. –

NOSE: oaky/sulphur; buttery; a touch grassy.

BODY: golden yellow color; medium to medium-full bodied.

TASTE: underbrushy; very ripe; strong mineral on the finish, which is of moderate intensity and medium-long length; 14.5% alc. not overtly noticeable; I continue to enjoy these Rochioli SVD Chards.

2000 Damilano Barolo Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (1/23/2015)
– decanted for approx. 1 hour before initial taste –
– tasted a couple pours blind over approx. 1 hr. –

NOSE: minty; fennel seed; aged red fruits.

BODY: dark rustic red color of medium-deep depth, with bricking throughout; [forgot to note weight]

TASTE: spicy/woodsy; hint of leather; tannic; aged purple fruits; h;igh acid; tastes aged — perhaps 20 yo; my gut instinct when I first smelled this wine was “Nebbiolo,” but I ultimately talked myself into guessing ’96 Brunello, as I thought the wine showed “darker” on the palate than a Nebbiolo should; given the reveal, I’d be willing to bet this wine saw some less-than-pristine storage conditions somewhere along the way, as I don’t think a Barolo Riserva from 2000 should be tasting this old right now. All that said, I enjoyed this a lot.

2010 Maison Ilan Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Les Chaffots - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru (1/23/2015)
– cork pulled approx. 1 hour before tasting –
– tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 1 hour –

NOSE: light cherry; dill; tight.

BODY: very light red color; light to medium-light bodied.

TASTE: medium oak; good acid; light red fruit flavors; solid, but not remarkable; blind tasters were somewhat confused by this — guesses ranged from New World pinot to villages-level Burg., and a couple tasters were put-off by a noticeable alcohol presence (not something I noted, fwiw). Overall, not a bad wine, but one could easily do a lot better for the price; hopefully some short-term cellaring will unlock some additional complexity and depth for this wine.

2001 Terralsole Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino (1/23/2015)
– cork pulled approx. 1 hour before tasting –
– tasted a single pour blind over approx. 45 minutes –

NOSE: smells young; black cherry licorice; a touch green.

APPEARANCE: superfine particulate matter present; murky; rustic garnet color of great depth.

TASTE: great acidity; some oak (chocolatey); 13.5% alc. a bit spiky on the palate; medium-long finish of medium-light to medium intensity; I guessed ’99 Brunello.

2006 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino (1/23/2015)
– tasted a couple pours blind over approx. 45 min. –

NOSE: violets and cherry Twizzlers licorice.

BODY: violet-black color of great depth; medium-full bodied.

TASTE: earthy; tannic; very alcoholic; ripe – very ripe – red fruits; I thought this was a young CdP from a big/hot/ripe vintage (i.e.: 2007 or 2009).

2006 Château Angélus - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru (1/23/2015)
– decanted for an hour or two before tasting –
– tasted a couple pours blind over approx. 1 hour –
– 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot –

NOSE: strong dill and some non-descript purple fruits.

BODY: dark violet color of great depth; medium-full bodied.

TASTE: soft mouthfeel; oaky; tannic; slightly bitter; tastes and looks young; has a very international/anonymous presentation; 14% alc. not particularly noticeable; slightly bitter; this could have been from just about anywhere, as far as I could guess, so I threw-out a guess of Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon; the reveal was simultaneously shocking and informative — I sincerely hope (and believe) this wine is simply way too young to be drinking right now, as it wasn’t particularly impressive for how it’s drinking today.

2004 Domaine de Beaurenard (Paul Coulon et Fils) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Boisrenard - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (1/23/2015)
– popped and poured –
– tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 30 minutes –

NOSE: muted/tight; hint of paste; faint ripe cherry; a bit medicinal (cherry drops; cherry candy); hints of root beer or sassafras and celery salt.

APPEARANCE: medium particulate matter present; garnet color of medium-deep to deep depth.

TASTE: alcohol very noticeable; non-descript red fruits; not impressed; overall, this was shockingly not good — not appreciably better than a quality Cotes du Rhone, and probably actually worse in some regards. I’m worried about my two remaining bottles — hopefully a little more cellar time will round things out some, although I won’t be holding my breath. There’s also a chance the lack of pre-tasting air exposure for this bottle was detrimental … maybe.

2007 Mongeard-Mugneret Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Petits Monts - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru (1/23/2015)
– popped and poured –
– tasted a couple pours blind over approx. 30 min. –

NOSE: smells like New World pinot to me; clean; elegant; red-fruited

BODY: light ruby color of medium-shallow depth; light bodied.

TASTE: very light red-fruited flavor; 13% alc. not noticeable; nice acidity; I enjoyed this, but was a bit surprised at the reveal, as I wouldn’t consider this a good QPR — I blame the ’07 Burg. vintage.

Thanks for this Brian. For all the sturm und drang about Maison Ilan, it’s interesting to read your tasting notes. I’ll be interested to hear what others have to say as well.