Weekend at Berto's 2018--day 2--Krug, PYCM, Heitz, Chave, Rockpile, others

Day 2 saw us united with our very good friend, Nick Christie from Raleigh-Durham, who had driven up and arrived late the previous night. Today was a day of lively and lovely conversation around a very hearty communal lunch (Japanese kale, avocado, cucumber, pumpkin seed and sesame salad from Tran, mole-chipotle chicken from me, beans and rice from Berto)—there need to be more days like this!

I’ll first comment on some retastes from yesterday. The 94 and 97 German Rieslings hadn’t moved, which is to say that the 94 has its very definite ceiling and the 97 is fine and probably a bit better with more time. The 07 Karl Lawrence was about the same. The real change was in the Quilceda Creek which had now taken on a huge creosote and burnt leaves aspect to the aroma. Not flawed, I don’t think, but a startling transformation overnight.

Otherwise, I need to learn to save my notes when I do 'em rather than hoping my netbook doesn’t shut down and restart leaving me to work from memory. Grrr!


Krug 164

Thrilling wine. Lemon, a touch of salt and lots of fresh-washed stones waft up the glass. When you put it in your mouth, this stuff has laser precision and intensity from the front of the palate to the back. I usually like a bit of “cushioning” in my Champagnes, but this is arresting and dazzling stuff to drink. Fine now and fine in 20-30 years too. 92

2007 Hourglass Cab Franc

Berto pulled this to have some fun after Tran indicated that CF was not his favourite grape. And truly, there is no sign of any green pepper on the bouquet or palate of this wine. Instead, a nose of blackberry and cassis leads to a surprisingly fresh entry given the 15.6%, and dominant notes of olive tapenade. Interesting and I really liked it.

1997 Pierre Damoy Chambertin Clos de Beze

This smelled like Chambertin and tasted like a 97. Dark cocoa/mocha, earth/dust, delicate berries…it’s hard to put into words what Chambertin is to me, but this is it. The palate has refinement, but is fairly quiet and fluid rather than persistent. It’s drinking right in its window now, I think. Certainly happy to have the chance to taste this.

2008 Bouchard Meursault Genevrieres
One of mine that I’d left here. The last one of these I opened with Nick and my friend Dave was flat and uninteresting. This was back on form, with lemonseed, almond and ginger bouquet and a superbly balanced 08 on the tongue with some replays and bits of pear sneaking in. When it sings like this, I’m always glad to drink this wine.

2011 SQN Dark Blossom Syrah
We were looking for a wine to match with the food. This sure as chivalry did. Stands very well on its own—power is there but it’s unusually restrained for a young SQN. Nevertheless, red and black plum and berry are at the core of things. But the food electrifies this wine, adding a ton of verve to the front and back. I vary in my enjoyment of SQN, but this is on the highly enjoyable side and might have been my 3rd favourite today.

2012 Rockpile Cemetery Zin
We tried this one too, one I picked up in Buffalo and wanted to open here. I was surprised at how shy and retiring this was—showing brambles and herbs around boysenberry fruit and almost suave tannins and feel in the mouth. The food sort of overwhelmed this wine, but that is probably its youth as it started to show more expressiveness and flamboyancy later that night.

2010 Passadouro Vinho Tinto
A bring from Jay, this also worked quite well with the food. Very shapely and composed wine with redcurrant and dark raspberry and touches of earth here and there. It reminded me a little bit of a medium-weight Bordeaux and that is no bad comparison.

2012 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Puligny Montrachet Les Trezins
First taste. Laughed. Said to Berto “this will be ready on Tuesday”. We jammed it into a decanter for a few hours before taking it with us for the evening. Gunflint shows itself in the sniffer, with lemon-lime. The very pure lime continues on the palate with deeply-buried minerality and a fleur-de-sel aspect as well. I do actually think this has a ceiling in terms of vivacity, but I would have to wait until Tuesday to ascertain that. Leave yours for 3-5 years at least.

2007 Chateau Rieussec
This was from full and had been open before we arrived. I will only comment that, although somewhat tired now, this also shows a wine where the botrytis has been fully integrated and it does have the acidity of other 07s.

2008 Chave Hermitage Blanc
This was an ask of mine when I saw it that Berto generously let us open. It is stunning right from the get-go. Honey and flowers and latent vanilla bean all with this just-exotic tinge in the bouquet. On the tongue, the texture is simply divine, warms and caresses your mouth as it makes its way through, hinting at all sorts of unripe tropical fruit on the way. A sublime triumph, I was actually amazed it had this much to give so young. Berto told me that he has never had this wine where it was any less than excellently approachable. WOTD and 94, good chance this will show up in the WOTY list as well.

2009 Nicholas Joly Coulee de Serrant
So this, on the heels of the incredible 01 we had on Wednesday, was a great study. It finds itself sitting in my mouth for a long time as I assess it. We do realize it’s quite younger so we let it slow-ox for a day and a half. That said, this is certainly on the idiosyncratic side of how he makes wine. Sort of a bitter buttered pear thread if that makes any sense, along with some lanolin, this just doesn’t knit together. Nick put it best, perhaps—recognizing the quality, he finds it hard to enjoy the wine. I would need to agree.

1987 Heitz Napa Cab
No problem enjoying this. This was great. A promising aromatic profile of rhubarb, currant and some wood resolves into a sturdy red-fruit-based wine that elegantly dances its way down your throat. Old-style Cali, this is the sort of stuff that gave the Bordelais fits and is at least on a par with the 87 Dunn I had a few years ago. If I can find stuff at right prices, a vintage for me to seek out. #4 today.

1975 Chateau Suduiraut
Berto opened this with much hope, but for me it was a “representative” 75—it’s clean and clear in presentation, but there’s little complexity or force. By no means downhill in any way, it just has been a static vintage for me, with Rieussec and D’Yquem also among my experiences.

Ferreira 10 year White Port
A bring from Tran, this is fairly uncomplicated with light touches of white grape around a ripe melon-infused quaff. Some raisins and perhaps even buttertart nuance their way across the palate. Enjoyed this.

Mahalo Nui Loa


Krug 149?

Krug 164. Blame dyslexic scribe

Fun read and some fine wines, many Im familiar with Mike. A big fan of the 164, have many Hourglass Cabs, a few Merlot and a couple of CFs, all have been good to really good. You can pick one when you visit if desired. Love the Chave Hermitage Blanc and 87Heitz. Got those too. Also, I have many PYCMs, not the 12Les Trezins. So keep in mind and lets do a cellar raid in July.

I won’t be shy! :slight_smile:

and I won`t wall off my cellar like what was done in France when it was being invaded.

Just saw that Heitz has been bought.

I eagerly await Tran’s “correcting” notes. Tran? :slight_smile: A little of the leftover Chave still stopped me in my tracks.

An amazing weekend of good wine, great food and a ton of laughs as usual. Here Mike, you have to hit the Tran button for him to show up :wink:
The Hourglass was the 07 :slight_smile:
It tastes nothing like CF much like the Cava de Oro tastes nothing like tequila but they are both tasty. Ive yet to have a white Chave that dissapointed. Ive had that 08 from mag a few times and it was still great to my taste. I think I might loose a bottle or two of that Krug in the cellar because I bought a case and a half thinking thats enough, right? Wrong, more than half is gone. The Salon is definitely advanced and yet, a great drink. The marsala that Tran tasted on day one was sitting on the counter because I made a tiramisu two weeks ago. Glad you didnt hate it brother. Lol. Always have Fiorio on hand for tiramisu. SQN was more restrained than usual in a good way. There really were no bad wines in the bunch save for maybe the 94 riesling which is on its lags legs. That Donnhoff is still tight today and the white PYCM wont make it till Tuesday :wink:
Thank you for the visit, my friends. Glad ypu enjoyed the show!

Ask and ye shall receive. As for the button, see my new sig! Thanks for that one, Michael! [highfive.gif]

Day 2 began with a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs on brioche with pesto and cheese made by moi as a prelude to even more beautiful wine beginning with:

KRUG GRANDE CUVEE 164EME EDITION – Aw yeah! Generous open of Berto’s, this is what we were expecting the Salon to be. Clean as a whistle. Crystalline and dry lemon-lime flavors meld perfectly with some yeasty brioche accents and a slight touch of phenolic bitterness. Superb champagne that we finished very quickly with joy. Oka, I just might have to reconsider my whole “There’s Cristal and everything else is a pretender” stance. This was awesome.
CHATEAU RIEUSSEC 2007 SAUTERNES – I’ve got a half-bottle of this that is way darker in color, the full bottle makes a difference. Not sure why Crazy Man didn’t like this, it was still rather lively despite being opened before. The most striking aspect is plenty of botrytis glycerin tingle integrated perfectly with lemon creme brulée flavors and the high acidity he pointed out. Extremely high quality Sauternes. The only thing better than Champagne for breakfast… well nothing is, really, but this is awful close.
MARCASSIN 2006 THREE SISTERS VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR – First of only two Pinots we had the entire weekend, a high heat on the nose led me to believe this would be typical Cali big and sweet. Instead, sour cherry flavors and high acidity dominate. The body’s a little bigger than Burgundy which gives it away slightly, but not by very much. Ripeness comes out for little peaks and then goes right back down. It was really close to Burgundian, in fact. Impressive accomplishment.

KARL HAUBS-BARZAN 1997 RIESLING SPATLESE – More on the ball than the Auslese we had previously. A touch corky, but nice and soft lemon-lime flavors with pleasant sweetness and a little touch of phenolic bitters. While much more open than the Auslese, I feel both were overshadowed by the far superior Muller-Catotoir.
JEFFERSON’S GRAND SELECTION SUDUIRAUT CASK FINISH – A short spirit break due a small argument over whether or not I had previously tasted this. This bourbon is smooth and has a sweet caramel finish but I personally don’t find it as rich or nuanced as the Jefferson’s 18 of Michael’s I previously tasted. I really can’t help but feel the casking is a gimmick that is covering something up, most notably a lack of age, yet still allowing a premium price to be charged. Berto believes it has 12 years of age, Jay and Mike loved it, but I was not enamored and remain deeply suspicious of the stuff. I even tried it next to the open bottle of Barterhouse 20 year old bourbon Berto had on the shelf and while I readily agree the Jefferson’s tastes a lot better, that could be due to the added sweetness. All I can do is reiterate a sentiment from my thread on closing my spirit collection: I’m really glad I got out of Scotch whisky and Bourbon when I did because fans are just getting ripped off.
SQN 2011 DARK BLOSSOM SYRAH – This might be an odd compliment, but the most impressive aspect of this wine is just how restrained it is. Of course if you’ve ever had SQN before you know why this is an achievement! Bold but not over the top red fruit flavor spiced with tannin and a little black pepper. I would be very interested to see how this ages over the longer term.

PASSADOUR 2010 VINHO TINTO – Surprisingly Pinot like to me with loads of sour cherry and raspberry flavors and high acidity.

ROCKPILE 2012 ROCKPILE ZINFANDEL – A delicious fruit forward Zin. Lots of blackberry and boysenberry flavor with smooth tannin. Another one I’d like to see age over the long term. Probably the red I enjoyed the most the entire weekend.

Ach—I hate declining memory! 07 Hourglass—duly fixed.

A bit off-topic on the Jefferson’s and I certainly respect Tran’s palate, but we couldn’t be farther apart on that bourbon. Absolutely fantastic stuff, hiding nothing and only really good bottles of Pappy’s are suitable contenders. Since Berto and our friend Heather are in full agreement with me, I call “crazy man” on Tran here.

But great counterpoint notes and pictures, my friend!


HOURGLASS 2007 CABERNET FRANC – Remember my rant against Cab Franc and how Berto vowed to open one I would like? The man is true to his word. This is nothing like any Cab Franc I’ve ever had. Light bodied strawberries with no annoying green pepper, smoked meat or even tannic aromas and flavors. Really just pure clean fruit. It was like a Pinot Noir made with Cab Franc grapes instead. I can still barely believe it. Why isn’t all Cab Franc like this? Delicious. While I enjoyed the Zin more, this stunned me more as a wine.
PIERRE DAMON 1997 CHAMBERTIN CLOS DE BEZE GRAND CRU – Oops, my bad, we did have a third Pinot and a beauty this was. Loads of raspberries, a little salami, spicy tannin that gave it a bit of a mocha chocolate flavor and high acidity. Complex in its contrast of light berry flavor and dark earthy chocolate. AFWE, you win again.
FERREIRA 10 ANOS PORTO BRANCO – Caramel nose. Thick unctuous mouthfeel. A little heat on the palate accents creamy butterscotch, white grape and muscat flavors.

And finally it was off for some delicious steak dinners and dessert at Cannon’s (formerly Montana’s) Chophouse where Humberto and Nick have become good friends with the family that owns the restaurant and are helping them put together their wine list. Their 12 year old daughter Avery told me that the restaurant was renamed after her aunt who passed on 12 years ago.

The dinner was also a celebratory cast reception dinner as well for some of the Little Mermaid cast and crew. I also got the opportunity at the end of the dinner to complement the lead actress of the play, Madison, who is also friends with Humberto and Eden (she babysits occasionally for Eden) and stunned me when she informed me that she has had ZERO arts training at her school and has had put in four years of hard work and dedication on her own time to finally achieve leading lady status after years of hard work and plugging away in ensemble parts. She has ambitions to go to New York for musical theater which I have no doubts she’ll achieve.

For the last wines of the weekend we opened the following treats:

JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE 2008 HERMITAGE – Whoa. This is 80-85% Marsanne and then Roussanne and is considered one of the, if not the, greatest white Rhone wines of all and you can easily taste why. A crisp body contrasts with creamy melon flavors, salinity, and phenolic bitterness on the finish. Fruit gets more intense as you drink and a super long finish. Superb wine. The others were going gaga over this. Rightly so.

PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY 2012 PULIGNY MONTRACHET LE TREZIN – Mike kept joking that this wine wouldn’t be ready until Tuesday at the earliest. I don’t think I’d go that far. Montrachet is a powerful wine and this is no exception. Flintlock gunpowder nose, very intense green apple and lime fruit, a little salinity. Clean and strong. I’m sure it can age well and add some creaminess but this was great with our fried green tomato appetizer.

HEITZ CELLARS 1987 CABERNET SAUVIGNON – So not Cali Cab it’s ridiculous. A medium-light body (!) holds still very fresh strawberry rhubarb and black currant fruit flavors with high acidity and no sweetness at all. I don’t know how big this was in its youth but at just over 30 years it’s one fine adult wine. Pretty much Burgundy if it was made with California grapes. Wow.
NICOLAS JOLY 2009 COULEE DE SERRANT – This was a very far cry from the 2001 we had at Le Notre Bistro. That was perfectly aged and had a complex mix of Sherry and Burgundy like characteristics. This had absolutely none of that. It hadn’t aged long enough to get the Sherry characteristics and was too tightly wound and acidic. I could tell the guys didn’t enjoy it and to be honest I couldn’t either in its present state. The base was there, we should have waited a couple of more years to open it or at least done the full days decant that Joly himself recommends.

RHYS 14 PINOT NOIR – Oops, yet another Pinot I didn’t realize we had. Up that count to 4. Beautiful dark ruby purple color. Big raspberry fruit flavors along with pencil lead and earth. A more typical Cali Pinot. Bigger but not out of control. Tannins are undetectable. Very enjoyable.
CHATEAU SUDUIRAUT 1975 SAUTERNES – Dark burnished gold caramel color. Roasted pineapple and dried mango mix with toffee flavors and extremely high acidity for Sauternes making for a wonderfully complex sweet wine. We had this with creme brulées for dessert which brought out the acidity even more, almost at Riesling like levels. Fascinating and tasty pairing.

And that covers it for this astonishing weekend of friendship, food, fun, laughter, wine, performing arts and inspirational higher dreams and aspirations. It was joyful and at times a touch bittersweet but it was good to connect with the performing arts and the performers themselves again even if it was only for a little while. Thanks to Humberto and Eden for hosting us again. We hope to see them in Toronto soon.

BTW Mike, the Hourglass CF is from their other vineyard, Blueline, not to be confused with the Hourglass Vineyard. Perhaps the uniqueness of this fruit is more a byproduct of its terroir. This is a special site with a thermal dynamic influence resulting from 2 canyons rising up near the vineyards as well as soils rich in minerals from the ancient fractured bedrock layered out by 2 streams [Blue-Lines] framing the vineyard. The replanted vines have been sourced since 2012.

Hey Beto, let me know when you are drinking the next time! I will pull out some '99 Chave and we can really compare notes…

You, sir, are officially invited :wink:
Only Eden is in Gypsy so if they come down for that, we can really go to town on some libations :slight_smile:

I will be there