Our fine wine dinner group recently shared another extremely enjoyable evening, this time at Sly`s Restaurant in neighboring city, Carpinteria.
Eleven of us were seated in a semi private dining room in the back of the restaurant and professionally served by competent wait staff that provided proper Bordeaux stemware, dump and ice buckets. As usual, we do our own wine service.
On this occasion, our wine theme was good Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux and CA. All of these wines were brown bagged after having been individually prepared by the one who brought it. Some were just opened, some were decanted and some were left to be popped and poured at the table.
So our challenge was to ID the place of origin and go further if possible with producer, vintage, vineyard source and beyond.
The widely popular delicious and expertly prepared options afforded each of us to select our own entrée after many appetizers were ordered and shared while we integrated all of the wines below.
2008 LOUISE BRISON BRUT- I`ve reported on this bubbly recently and my notes on this night were consistent with those previously; nice acidity, plentiful citrus with especially lemon flavors abound; palate cleansing and pleasant and a great QPR recommended by K&L who hits the mark on many champagne discoveries including this one.
2009 DOMAINE JEAN-MARC MOREY LES CAILLERETS CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- fabulous white Burg here; light yellow color; this constantly changed in the glass starting out real good and getting even better; the initial nose had some mild flint and lead pencil aromas along with some minerality; although sulfur was mentioned, I did not get the matchstick, mothball character usually associated with sulfur; the wine had bright acidity along with rich, full on, fresh citrus with an emphasis on lemon notes; it was so soft and smooth and had a long finish.
2011 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LES CHAMPS GAINS PULIGNY MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- another white Burg winner; light yellow color; this also went though some changes in the glass, in this case for the better, starting out with aromatics with a heavy dose of flint and petrol notes which completely dissipated and gave way to some very pleasant citrus and green apple which continued on with mostly fresh lemon-lime flavors; it had just noticeable acidity; this also had wonderful texture and length.
2000 “Y” LUR SALUCES BLANC- from d`Yquem, this 50% Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon blend has always shown quite well and many of us in this group have shared it together previously; this bottle was the best one yet; in fact, it was superb and everyone acknowledged that immediately; it was so flavorful with somewhat sweet minty lemon zest and overall fresh and crisp citrus notes; it had a great mouthfeel and was in perfect balance along with righteous acidity.
We are already considering whether to include white wines in our vote for WOTN; all 3 could be candidates.
Before 2 dessert wines, we tasted 11 red wines blind, most fell within the Cabernet theme. The first 9 were tasted in 3s before the last 2.
2003 CHATEAU QUINAULT L`ENCLOS ST. EMILLION GRAND CRU- compared to the next 2, this was the lightest in color, but not from an aging standpoint; the nose was nice and fruity as was the taste profile; the red and black fruit notes were embellished with a hit of milk chocolate, toast and leather; It was soft and silky; some got VA, I did not and liked it enough to have more than one sip; I did not ID the place of origin as it was more like Merlot than Cabernet and I have to think that`s what dominated this wine from both the color and taste; this was confirmed after it was revealed.
2004 BRESSLER CABERNET SAUVIGNON SAINT HELENA NAPA- I got a lot of Isobutylmethoxpyrazine in the nose with significant bell pepper notes which did not dissipate and was joined by a bacon accent almost mindful of some Syrah; this was a big and full bodied wine with some black and blue fruitiness creeping in, but not overriding the bell pepper.
2002 STAGLIN 20TH ANNIVERSARY CABERNET SAUVIGNON RUTHERFORD NAPA- hands down, the star of this 3 wine flight and when it was all over, one of my favs and an easy pick for being CA/ Napa; deep, dark rich purple color; the nose was so inviting with expansive fruitiness, the taste carried this further with loads of black cherry; seemingly youthful with an abundance of vibrant energy; a big statement and at the same time with corresponding finesse.
2000 REGUSCI WINERY CABERNET SAUVIGNON STAGS LEAP DISTRICT NAPA- 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot; this bottle had a very weird nose followed by a taste of dried, concentrated black currant with some pretty stiff tannins; it finished very dry.
2002 CHATEAU BARON PHILIPPE MOUTON ROTHSCHILD PAULLIAC- now, I`m getting some VA plus a lot of earthiness with a limited amount of fruit showing up initially; a return showed some enhanced qualities and made for a more decent experience; after revealing, I`m wondering how this would have been judged by me as well as others; this bottle definitely illustrated why it is good to taste blind.
1990 CHATEAU GRUAUD LAROSE SAINT JULIAN- the first in the 3rd flight of 3; the nose was so inviting and suggesting something delicious to come; after a medium rich purple color, the taste had wonderful and youthful vibrant black cherry, red cherry and more; it was not real big, but substantial and fulfilling on all levels; this now joins the 3rd wine [Staglin] in my category of favs of the night.
2005 HOURGLASS CABERNET SAUVIGNON SAINT HELENA NAPA- 100% estate fruit; a Robert Foley made wine from a winery owned by a really nice guy, Jeff Smith who has graced our dinner group with his presence in the past; this shined brightly as I expected it to do, but in a different way than anticipated and I did not pick it out after having a few bottles in the past 3-5 years and bringing it based upon those experiences; balance and fresh fruit forwardness are hallmarks; however, the fruit profile expressed a myriad of flavors with no one fruit type standing out; in fact, I got jujube fruit which does not mean much to most others; the finish went on and had a hit of talc; opened 2 hours prior and double decanted after 1 hour.
2013 STAR LANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON HAPPY CANYON SANTA BARBARA COUNTY- I got this as Bordeaux; surprise, surprise and it`s not even from Napa; it had youthful exuberance from the color and throughout; the fruit is very expressive and has a lot of flavors going for it including cedar, spice, chocolate, anise integrated with serious black fruit; this is pretty intense wine with some very stiff tannins and if they soften up, they will support a more pleasant mouthfeel; once revealed, the one who brought commented he did so full well knowing of it power, local appeal and most significantly its shocking $12 price tag.
Now for the 4th blind flight, in this case of 2:
2009 DOMINUS NAPA- 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot; absolutely stunning; definitely youthful, this bottle was vibrant, rich and full on bliss with seriousness and intensity yet with finesse and a silky mouthfeel; I got some licorice, cinnamon and spice rack fresh black currant and blackberry fruit that had layers of depth and complexity; it displays a tannic backbone to substantiate longevity and the wine held on for a long finish; CA, but what? I`m thinking Harlan or Screagle; another major surprise.
2003 CHATEAU MONTROSE SAINT ESTEPHE- 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot; 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot; fabulous from the aromatics all the way through; is it the predecessor that set up my palate for this treat or is it shining on its own; that decision was easy; this is clearly fantastic and offers all of the characteristics I want; the color was a vibrant youthful dark deep purple; the nose was redolent of complex fruit and spices, the taste went much further offering a bounty of milk chocolate laden black raspberry, cherry, currant, blueberry and plum with a light hit of saddle leather and earth; by mid palate, all came together in perfect balance and carried on for a long and welcomed finish; I forgot to mention the texture; it was silk on silk; this is an iron fist in a velvet glove analogy and all of a sudden, my WOTN. Having stated that, I`d take the Dominus in a heart beat [and a few others].
2001 J.J. PRUM WEHLENER SONNENUER AUSLESE RIESLING- yellow gold color; steely quasi nutty sherry like flavors join in with sweet apricot and peach notes with a somewhat mustiness appearing at the finish.
2008 RIEUSSEC SAUTERNES- made from Semillon, this sweetie helped to consummate a grand evening; it gave up nice kiwi, mineral, graphite and honeyed infused notes that were joined later on at mid palate with some mintiness; there was a bit of tartness, but the creamy rich texture and overall pleasing sweetness served to complete the deal.
Please excuse typos and unintended auto-corrects
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