Our dinner group convened recently on the outside patio of the stellar venue of the Plow & Angel restaurant located on the exquisite classy property of the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito.
On this occasion, we celebrated the one who has orchestrated all of our dinners since the group was formed in 1999. With relentless passion and commitment, he has set up our venue, arranged for special service, table set up and corkage considerations and coordinated the wine theme and email invites for all of these years. Having been in this position with other groups many times myself, I can especially appreciate all of the time, energy, effort and patience this requires.
Beyond that level of appreciation, I personally treasure this incredible opportunity to explore the vast world of wine that we do and share wines from my cellar with others who have similar mindset and passion. I have been exposed to so many more wonderful wines and in a lot of instances, wines I do not have and in many cases, have never been privileged to taste.
Since we all well know our honoree`s preferences for wine producers, varietals and styles, our theme was to bring wines that fell into those categories. Everyone did a great job in selecting just the right wine[s] and that was substantiated by the broad smile on his face, not to mention his constant ravings.
In fact, this was a really fun night; for some reason, more so that usual and that`s saying something extraordinary.
We each ordered individually off the 2 sets of menus available from the 2 restaurants on premises and as usual, did our own wine service and quality control for decanting and serving temperature. For a group of 12, we certainly had a fair share of wines. This was also the usual. I tasted from 17 bottles including the 1.5 and 3 liter bottles. Even one of the 3 dessert wines was in a 750 ml. bottle. There was at least one other wine I missed, but I did not feel left out. The wines:
MV KRUG GRANDE CUVEE BRUT- the deciphered ID code on the label told us this bottle received its cork in the summer of 2012, came from 134 wines from 12 different vintages ranging from 1990 to 2005 and was made from 44% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay and 19% Pinot Meunier; the latter % was a surprise to me; more importantly, this bottle shined with gifts of toasty brioche, fabulous fresh citrus notes including lemon-lime and had really bright acidity; it was rich, round, crisp and refreshing and expressed elegance and class; loved it as always.
NV BILLECART-SALMON BRUT- from a 3L bottle; amazing richness with a creamy full on vitality was immediately apparent and appreciated; it carried nice citrus, pear and apple notes all the way to the back end; simply remarkable and since it was in a large format bottle, we had enough to savor over the course of the entire evening; made of 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay.
2011 WEINGUT JOHANN PETER REINERT WILTINGER SCHLOSSBERG KABINETT FEINHERB SAAR RIESLING - 1.5L; we may have even stepped up a notch with this gem; it hit all of the right spots with sensory pleasure unfolding in layers upon layers; with a bit of RS, it had just enough sweetness to get one`s attention and accentuate the nice floral and citrus laden fruity essences, especially lemon and kiwi; in perfect balance, it just glided across the palate and held on for a long and welcomed finish; a few remarked later, this might be the WOTN; there were many other candidates.
2004 COCHE-DRURY MEURSAULT- this is one of our honoree`s favorite Burgundy producers and he lit up when he first evidenced this coming around; this big time treat made major statements with its mineral, graphite and charcoal infused green apple notes; an interesting by-play arrived at about mid palate where some toastiness appeared and danced back and forth with the minerality with no clear winner; it had really nice texture carrying the medium to full bodied liquid all the way through; I kept looking at the label to insure this was a village wine and sure enough it was which is testament to the incredibleness of “just” a village wine I am once again reminded of.
2006 VINCENT DAUVISSAT la FOREST CHABLIS 1er CRU- this showed quite well offering gifts of tropical floral aromas followed by some mild mineral and flint character that continued on while being joined by wet stone accented lemongrass; it was nicely balanced and paired perfectly with many of the appetizers.
2010 BRUNO COLIN MORGEOT CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- this was even and steady throughout with nice and mellow stated aromas of flowers and fruit which continued on; it was round, easy on the palate and pleasurable; the fruit profile consisted of mild spice and mineral infused stone and citrus fruit within its medium body; I have to think this will only evolve into more expression and depth with time and move into its fullest potential.
2010 DOMAINE de la ROMANEE CONTI ECHEZEAUX GRAND CRU- our dear friend who brought this usually prefers to brown bag his wines and give us the consummate learning experience; that would have been great here except for there is always that anticipation and satisfaction of visualizing a DRC in the mix on the night; this youngster had all of the requisite ingredients to receive high acclaim and the price tag that accompanies it; it was elegant and sophisticated giving up fresh, delightful red fruit notes with an emphasis on red cherry; hints of spice and pepper come into play, along with a touch of strawberry and raspberry and aid in the overall taste treat; it`s soft and easy on the palate, of medium weight and has the structure and acidity to help in the maturation process; tasted blind, I`d note that this was a very good young wine; seeing it`s DRC, I`d note it`s a very good young wine.
2003 DOMAINE ARMAND ROUSSEAU CLOS de la ROCHE GRAND CRU- this really shined and even though following a tough act, it held its own and offered a plenty of pleasure; this was beautifully balanced, rich and full with red and dark fruit which was more pronounced from the perfume on; adding to the tastiness from the first taste on is some milk chocolate and toasty accents plus a touch of cedar; this offers layers upon layers of complexity along with soft tannins and bright acidity; a winner.
1997 DOMAINE MEO-CAMUZET CLOS de VOUGEOT GRAND CRU- mentioning tough acts to follow, not many could do so well after DRC and Rousseau, but this did and did quite well; in fact, it was at the top of my list for WOTN; fresh and vibrant betraying its 18 year old age, it showed more like an 07` than a 97`; everything was just right; it had aromatics that encouraged great things to come and it delivered such with an amazing array of flavors with depth and complexity following all the way through to the long satisfying finish; I especially liked that it had some of the lighter fruit components I prefer in Pinots= strawberry and raspberry along with some black cherry and plum, the latter 2 of which fall more into the darker fruit component profile; this expressed the epitome of a balanced wine.
2010 FREDERIC ESMONIN LAVAUX SAINT JACQUES GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU- smoke prevailed in the early aromas, then vanilla and wood character came in and joined up with the red cherries, cranberries, blueberries and plum fruit; this was delightful and gained respect with time [between sips of the Billecart] suggesting a prior decant may have accelerated the expression earlier in the glass.
2007 KISTLER CUVEE ELIZABETH BODEGA HEADLANDS VINEYARDS SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR- here`s a well respected, high end CA Pinot that on any other day would have garnered a lot more acclaim than it received after the red Burg lineup that proceeded it; obviously not Burgundy, it got immediately downgraded by most and I admit, I had to go into a huddle and meditative state to give this its due; this is a serious, highly extracted and concentrated wine with the dark end of the Pinot profile covered in spades; there was major black cherry, plum, blueberry, blackberry and black currant all with a touch of sweetness and a bit more spice and sandalwood; it definitely needs time and evolution to balance out all of the nuances; this is a big boy approaching puberty and awaiting legal drinking age.
1997 PENFOLDS GRANGE SHIRAZ- adding to the perfect selections for our honoree and his preferences, this wine falls into a top end category as well as the Krug, Coche-Drury, DRC and Rousseau; there`s so much energy here; it`s vibrant, rich and full on pleasure giving; the fruit profile consists primarily of chocolate covered black currant, blackberry and plum with a slight hit of mint and vanilla; the silky, creamy mouthfeel is tantalizing, sensuous and captivative all unto itself and it is extended through the long welcomed finish; a super bottle; 96% Shiraz, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon.
2010 DOMAINE PATRICK JASMIN COTE ROTIE- 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier; I do not know about our honoree`s response to this wine, but for me it hit all of the right spots that I love about Northern Rhone Syrah; it had that requisite licorice, spice and pepper bacon flavor along with blackberry and plum concentrate; this is a full bodied beauty that pleases all the way to the back end and holds on for extended pleasure; I understand this is reasonably priced; therefore, it`s easy to conclude this is a great QPR.
2007 PAUL HOBBS BECKSTOFFER-TO-KALON VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON OAKVILLE NAPA- serious, expansive and concentrated, this big and bold Cab is really good and stands on its own to shine at a time when other big heavy hitter wines have already done so; some might use the term “heavy lumber”; whatever, there`s a big load here; there`s some sweet oaky licorice and chocolate laced black currant, cherry and berry notes abounding in this full bodied and nicely textured beauty that goes on forever and since this was our last wine of the night before 3 dessert wines, it could only be displaced by a lot of sweetness which is forthcoming.
The dessert wines:
2005 SINE QUA NON “MR K THE NOBLE MAN” ALBAN VINEYARD- 100% botrytized Chardonnay; powerful, super sweet, viscous and majorly fruity with vanilla flavored peach and apricot abound amidst a bracing acidic background; BEWARE- a little sip will last a long time and you`ll be thankful it was a little sip.
2001 SCHOFFIT CLOS SAINT THEOBALD GRAND CRU RANGEN PINOT GRIS ALSACE- a very mellow and easily quaffable sweetie that is gentle and subtle on the palate offering nice honeysuckle and stone fruit notes; a deviation from the intense, bold and sometimes overwhelming sticky sweet wines such as the one we just had.
1999 SUDIURAUT SAUTERNES- 750 ml.; thick and concentrated apricot nectar here with a viscosity of motor oil and enough acidity to keep this going for a century or two; another sipper before slipping out.
What a great night! It was a consummate celebration for one very deserving and gave a lot of us an opportunity to express our gratitude for organizing this special group of people who meet often to share many blissful moments together.
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