This past weekend our wine club met for a Winter meeting. The theme being Rhone varietals, which provided some interesting drinking. The food went quite well with the wine. We had an assortment of cheeses and bread, the brie went especially well with the Roussanne, duck confit, lamb chops and pasta in a pancetta cream sauce. The heavier dishes went really well with the fuller bodied Rhone varietals.
France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
This first wine threw me for a little bit because I initially thought it might have been older than it was. Got a lot of raspberry, bacon fat, smoke, pepper and a lot of earth. To me it screamed Syrah or at least a blend with predominantly Syrah. I could not find an exact blend on line but what I did find said it was predominantly Grenache and Syrah in the blend. This had flavors of cherry, raspberry, leather, smoke and earth. Ended with a decent finish. Enjoyed the smokiness.
France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse
Interesting wine, especially given its age. Got some beeswax, flowers, mineral and stone on the nose. More beeswax, slate peach and a flintiness on the palate. Very nice acidity. Went very well with the brie cheese. Tasted very fresh for a 2008. I really didn’t think it was that old when tasting it blind.
France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
This had a very pleasant nose of plum, violets and cherry. Had a little age on it in the color but thought this was probably younger than the previous Chateauneuf we had. Got some nice flavors of plum, blackberry, cherry and ended with an iron note on the long finish. It was amazing how different the two Chateauneuf’s were. I thought this might have been more Grenache based and turns out I was right. Unfortunately missed the country. Really enjoyed this wine.
USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
This wine was probably the heaviest of the night. Aromas of cherry, raspberry, bacon fat, violets and other flowers came from the glass. Very interesting nose and actually resembled a SQN I had back in the Fall, although it was not quite at that level. Got some nice cherry, plum, iron, blackberry and mineral. You could tell this had a higher alcohol content but was not out of balance at all. Ended with a very long finish on this impressive wine from Carlisle. This won Wine of the Night.
All in all, a very pleasurable meeting.
I have gotten friendly with a group of guys from the wine boards and a couple times a year we get together for dinner and wine. Being that these are all people just as obsessed with wine as I am, the dinners usually feature some of the best wine out there. This one was no different, featuring some of the best Cabs I have ever had, not to mention a fabulous Chardonnay and Champagne. A nice exercise when you work with wine to see what the top of the food chain has to offer. Also lets you appreciate those special value finds, some of which you’ll find in the shop.
- 2005 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge – USA, California, Napa Valley
Super excited to try this for the first time and it did not disappoint. Awesome nose of ripe peach, orange marmalade, tropical fruit, stone and mineral. The wine was a full bodied Chardonnay but not too heavy or over-extracted in any way. This delivered flavors of butterscotch, marshmallow, tropical fruits with a touch of mineral on the long finish. Great acidity. One of the best Chardonnay’s I have ever had. (97 pts.)
- NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut V.O. – France, Champagne
My first time trying this wine as well. Totally blew me away. Unbelievable Champagne! Aroma of toast, lemon, slate and mineral. Nose was really just awesome with a depth I have not seen in many Champagnes. The palate revealed flavors of toast, cream, and mineral that was just extremely complex and ended with a long finish. All I have to say is wow and one of the best, if not the best Champagne I have ever had. Liked this better than the Krug NV. (95 pts.)
- 2000 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietor Grown – USA, California, Napa Valley
My first time trying Bryant Family. Basically a pop and pour. I was a little worried when I first smelled this because I got the smell of cork and funk but it blew off with some swirling. The nose revealed dried cherry, currant and blackberry along with some earth that remained after the swirling. The palate revealed a full bodied wine with some more dried cherry, smoke, black currant and blackberry. The one was so full and rick that I figured it must have been over 15% alcohol but the label said it was 14.5%. A glorified success for the vintage and fantastic wine. (95 pts.)
- 1997 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select – USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
Was very excited to try this and it did not disappoint. Aromas of dried cherry, dusty berry, clove and blackberry on the nose. As the wine sat in the glass the nose continued to evolve. The palate revealed flavors of blackberry, red currant, dried cherry, touch of pepper, earth and mineral. Did not taste like a 17 year old wine because it was still very fresh and must have been impeccably stored. This wine had no hard edges, was incredibly balanced and had a finish that approached a minute. Simply an unbelievable wine. (100 pts.)
- 2006 Ghost Horse Cabernet Sauvignon Shadow – USA, California, Napa Valley
Probably the most confusing wine of the night. Wine was decanted 30-45 minutes before serving. The nose on this was very sweet, candied even, with aromas of cherry, licorice and rose. For all the nose had to offer, it was like the complete opposite on the palate. Got some sour cherry, plum, rhubarb and blackberry. The wine was very balanced though with was the perplexing thing. The nose led you to believe it might have been a fruit bomb but it wasn’t. Nevertheless, a very enjoyable wine. (94 pts.)
- 2006 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon RBS Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
My first time having a Schrader. Decanted 3 hours before drinking. Tasted a little out of the decanter and I was a little worried. Tasted a tad harsh to me. It smoothed out with some time though. Big nose of black currant, blackberry, pepper, vanilla and black cherry. Very big full bodied wine with flavors of vanilla, blackberry, currant and smoke. Got better as the night went on. Finish just sailed on and on for at least 50 seconds. Simply excellent. (98 pts.)
- 2008 Kapcsandy Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (Grand Vin) State Lane Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville
From what I remember, for close in style to the 2007, which was a monumental wine! Got that similar nose of creme de cassis, vanilla, blackberry and cherry. Nose really just jumps out of the glass. The palate revealed silky tannins with flavors of blackberry, cherry, currant, iron and mineral. Finish sails on for at least a minute. Tasted this side by side with the 2009 and it was splitting hairs choosing a favorite. This winery is really just at the top of their game. (100 pts.)
- 2009 Kapcsandy Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (Grand Vin) State Lane Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville
Tasted this side by side with the 2008 and really it might just be a preference in style. Got a very similar nose on both but I would say this one had French vanilla, cherry and blackberry. The palate revealed some dark berry flavors, vanilla, blackberry and a touch of earth. For everything the 2008 was, I felt this was just a little behind, with the greater nose on the 2008 and a slightly longer finish. The table was pretty divided between the two wines which tells you how close it was. (98 pts.)
- 1963 Warre Porto Vintage – Portugal, Douro, Porto
Was really looking forward to this because the oldest Port I have had to this point was a 1970. Really enjoyed this with a big nose of dried cherry, nut, fig and raisin. Got a lot of heat on the nose, which is understandable since it is fortified but it just stood out to me. The palate revealed flavors of fig, candied cherry, raspberry and a hint of mocha. This tasted very young and fresh with a long life ahead of it. Excellent! (95 pts.)
- 1990 Dominus Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley
This was the last wine tasted on the night so my palate was getting pretty fatigued by that point. This was just a dead ringer for a Bordeaux. Big nose of leather, earth, mineral and mushroom. Palate revealed more of the same. A very mature wine that to be honest probably would have fit in better before the Bryant and Shafer not after a bunch of high end, supercharged California Cabs. Wish I could have had a little more of this to see how it evolved. (92 pts.)