Our fine wine dinner group enjoyed a fabulous evening in a private dining room at La Cumbre Country Club on a day when the Club was closed other than for our party.
Fourteen of us were attentively served and catered to with class and commitment. As usual and preferred, we did our own wine service and on this occasion relative to a wine theme of world class Merlot tasted blind along with before and after helpers.
Some of the before helpers included:
2002 GOSSET CELEBRIS EXTRA BRUT- this was absolutely fantastic bubbly; it had everything going for it with enticing aromatics, full bodied expansive flavors, great mouthfeel and a long welcomed, palate cleansing finish; it was in perfect balance and had bright acidity to accompany the fresh citrus, pear and apple notes; it was so good, it even got mentioned for WOTN when we usually do not include champagne when it`s not the central theme.
NV BILECART-SALMON BRUT ROSE- 1.5L; what better than to follow up a stunning champagne with a long time favorite rose that offers consistently good mild flavors of strawberry, raspberry and red cherry with a pleasing light spiciness; it was the perfect start to satiate our palates and prepare us for the next 17 wines.
2007 BONNEAU du MARTRAY CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- lots of flinty, steely Chablis like character from the nose on joined by nice apple pear notes with a pleasant mouthfeel and good length; it got better and better with time in the glass.
2014 GRIMM`S BLUFF RESERVE HAPPY CANYON SAUVIGNON BLANC- served in a brown bag; this is really good local Sauvignon Blanc made by our friend, Paul Lato, in a warmer AVA located in the east end of the Santa Ynez Valley; this offered quite pleasing and concentrated flavors of herbs, floral and tropical fruit notes typical of more warm climate SB; there was some grapefruit and pear coming in as well along with a soft texture; enjoyed it.
2012 CHATEAU des QUARTS CLOS des QUARTS POUILLY-FUISSE- light is the descriptor all the way through this wine; light in color, aromatics, taste, weight, feel and finish; the fruit was more of citrus especially lemon; some might refer to this as wimpy; in boxing, it would be classified as a featherweight and there are champions at this weight class.
We moved on with the first of 4 blind flights of 3 wines each with the ID coming after each 3 were tasted. We voted after tasting all 12 for the WOTN.
2006 CONN VALLEY VINEYARDS ELOGE MERLOT NAPA- light red purple color; great enticing nose and taste with a scent of cigar box and blueberry and blackberry fruit coming in layers after layers; it finished on the dry side however it was a decent wine overall.
2010 LE CARRE SAINT EMILLION- 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc; after these 1st 3 wines were tasted, this was by far the standout which was shocking given the pedigree of the next wine; this was on the big side but with grace and class and was loaded with plenty of chocolate black cherry, enough so that I pegged it for a Redigaffi [not yet knowing, but happy to discover we had 2 in bags]- wrong.
2004 TENUTA dell`ORNELLAIA MASSETO TOSCANA- one of my favorite wines on the planet and had I seen the label prior to tasting it, my subjectivism would have no doubt prevailed; as it was, this bottle did not show all that well; it was big and tannic with wild dark fruit and the more I went back to it, the more big and tannic it became; the dark fruit was on the wild side and it never tamed down during the time it stayed in the glass.
2nd flight of 3 blind:
2004 TUA RITA REDIGAFFI TOSCANA- some hints of leather and cedar in the nose carrying on and joined by wonderful perfectly expressed dark fruit notes in a medium body with a silky smooth texture and extended finish; elegant and classy Merlot at its best; love it and noted it for consideration for WOTN.
2010 CLOS du CLOCHER POMEROL- the nose on this bottle suggested strange and weird things to come and that happened although with time, it became much more drinkable; it had some chalkiness that also somewhat dissipated and was replaced by nice milk chocolate infused black fruit notes.
2008 ROBERT FOLEY VINEYARDS MERLOT NAPA- this made a profound statement at the outset and held ground through the long finish; it had talc, sandalwood, chocolate black cherry notes with a nice mouthfeel and good length; I liked it even with a wood influence, but for me, not to a fault; everything is all in balance; I did get this to be CA sourced.
3RD flight of 3 blind:
1996 BERINGER BANCROFT RANCH VINEYARD MERLOT NAPA- mint, chlorophyll and alcohol on the nose with mild black and blue fruit notes served up in a mild to medium body; strange and somehow overall it came together and worked enough to have a second taste; this was a tough call for Merlot as the varietal.
1998 CLOS de l`ORATOIRE SAINT EMILLION- isobutuylmethoxpyrazine defined at its best= bell peppers; I`m not a fan of this in wine although I know some are and when I think about it, often it`s the winemakers who are; this bottle also had other veggie notes which held on throughout the entire experience; soup additive?
2010 TUA RITA REDIGAFFI TOSCANA- the color was a rich deep dark purple suggesting the obvious, this is very youthful; it was big and vibrant and certainly a full on serious wine; it had really good blue and black fruit, decent feel and length; structured for longevity and something I`d want in my cellar; upon revelation, I`m happy it`s there and shall wait many moons before venturing into another bottle again.
4th flight of 3 blind:
1999 PAHLMEYER MERLOT NAPA- I found some more ingredients to add to the soup; laden with bell peppers and very mild tertiary dried fruit flavors, I have to think this bottle had seen much better days, it was very astringent with an abrupt finish.
2011 TWOMEY CELLARS SIVLER OAK MERLOT NAPA- great flavors are immediately apparent and welcomed with milk chocolate accented cherry and black currant with a touch of blueberry; it had a hint of talc and a soft mouthfeel; medium body and on the verge of real good.
1999 VERITE LA MUSE PROPRIETARY BLEND- 89% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon; 84% from Sonoma and 16% from Napa; this bottle had noticeable Bretty barnyard notes; there also was some tertiary dried dark fruit and a touch of clove; it kept evolving and never did land on its feet by the time I was ready to move on.
Our dinner was consummated by a delicious chocolate strawberry dessert course and these 2 after helper wines:
2007 CHATEAU de MYRAT SAUTERNES- creamy rich honeyed apricot nectar.
2007 JJ PRUM WEHLENER SONNENUHR AUSLESE RIESLING- straw, hay, herbaceous notes in the nose continuing on along with some lightly honeyed citrus and pear.
Another in a lineage of wonderful dinners every 2 weeks for over a couple of decades and the next dinner is our Millennium dinner which tops all others during each year. Life is good.
Oh, the WOTN? 2010 Redigaffi. [I liked the 04` even better and the Gosset got a lot of votes]
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