Our fine wine dinner group had another super evening, this time celebrating a member`s birthday in grand style by having a creative theme of wines from 1966 [birth year], 1976, 1986, 1996 and 2006. We had many extra special wines and it was interesting to take a final vote on WOTN that resulted in a 3 way tie [See the concluding remarks].
The restaurant of choice was Pane e Vino, one of the first and consistently among the best Italian restaurants in the Santa Barbara area.
Twelve of us enjoyed numerous tasty appetizers and individually ordered entrees with the following 17 wines:
2006 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANCS- young and loaded with future pleasure once evolved, this had a backbone of nice acidity and an abundance of fresh citrus flavors with a hit of spice and saline notes; it had good mouthfeel and was devoid of the toasty brioche notes this quality bubbly has featured prior to the 2000s.
1996 SALON LE MESNIL BLANC de BLANCS- absolutely fabulous and a real surprise given that all of the bottles I`ve had before were so young and still not mature enough to consider opening another bottle for a few years; this was a gem; it had it all going for it including complexity, layered depth, bright acidity, expressive spice, light toast, fresh citrus flavors and a creamy mousse; the complete package; I know my lunch group, comprised of many of the same people, but not the one who bought this one, is having a bottle of this coming 3 days after this dinner; If it`s anything close to this bottle, I`ll have a happy face.
1996 HENRIOT CUVEE ENCHANTELEURS BRUT- although this was stated to be less than good by one who sampled it prior to my pour, I found it to be quite drinkable, but on the heels of the CDC and Salon, it might have been better accepted to have been the first of these 3; it had some bracing acidity and an abundance of citrus, apple, pear and stone fruit notes with a nice spicy accent; it was full bodied, rich and bountiful.
2006 LEFLAIVE CLAVOILLON PULIGNY MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- from the nose through the tail, this is wonderful juice; with inviting aromatics of floral, orchard fruit and lemon lime notes, it delivers with much of the same plus honeysuckle and a touch of ginger in the taste; it`s so soft and creamy on the palate and has extended length due to the texture.
2006 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LES CHENEVOTTES CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- another PYCM winner, this is loaded with grapefruit and dominant citrus notes that explode out of the glass and on the palate and are softened and eased with a creamy texture which helps to perpetuate the finish; it had bright acidity and beautiful balance and just exuded class and sophnistication.
1966 CHATEAU VIEUX CERTAN POMEROL- 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; simply amazing mature wine showing as good as anyone who loves wines at this stage would want; the color revealed a slight amount of bricking; it had tertiary fruitiness with some spice, cola, smoke, tar, licorice, black currant and a bit of blackberry fruit in a medium body with a slight amount of astringency at the end; it was popped and poured and actually improved in the glass over time.
1986 CHATEAU PICHON LONGUEVILLE COMTESSE de LALANDE PAUILLAC- I`ve been a long time fan of this Chateau and enjoyed many a bottle in the past including this vintage, unfortunately this bottle was corked.
1996 CHATEAU MONBOUSQUET SAINT EMILION- super ripe dark fruit jumps out of the glass as well as coating the palate with big servings of chocolate and coffee laced black fruit; this bottle is full bodied, big and bold and more fruit dominated.
1986 CHATEAU GRUAUD LAROSE SAINT JULIEN- 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc; very Bretty in the nose, but fortunately not dominate enough to interfere with some of the pleasing attributes provided by the spicy black currant, black cherry and blackberry fruit which is seasoned with a dab of cedar, cigar box and licorice.
1996 ARAUJO EISELE VINEYARD SYRAH- good stuff; full bodied, intense, concentrated pure Syrah with a big dollop of blueberry, plum and violets and enough spice to embellish the entire experience; in perfect condition and exemplifies a 20 year old, varietally correct new world Syrah.
2006 CASANOVA di NERI TENUTA NUOVA BRUNELLO di MONTALCINO- fresh and vibrant Sangiovese the way I want it to be; fruity good and yet in balance and possessing the structure and acidity to go for a long sensory pleasing journey; the fruit was a bit on the sweet side, but not cloying or disruptive to the delicious fresh blackberry, cherry notes; in a good place now and worthy of many years of cellaring.
2006 MYRIAD CELLARS SPRING MOUNTAIN NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- this is a serious and yet somewhat easy on the palate Cab perhaps the epitome of an iron fist in a velvet glove analogy; there is some sweetness in the nose along with fresh floral and dark fruit notes followed by a taste profile of black cherry, plum, blackberry and black currant; it`s exotic and yet refined; it`s big and somewhat bold and yet has a degree of elegance; a wine to follow for years down the line.
2010 PAOLO SCAVINO CAROBRIC BAROLO- not sure why this vintage came in to being selected given the parameters of the theme, but I enjoyed the wine; there`s up front sweet black cherry in the nose and taste that is carried in a medium plus body all the way to the back end; the tannins are still a bit firm and yet to be integrated, but it does suggest the backbone for longevity; this is an interesting and pleasing blend from 3 vineyards planted to Nebbiolo, Canubbi, Rocche di Castiglione and Bric del Flasc.
2006 MR. RIGGS McLAREN VALE SHIRAZ- this is super concentrated inky black juice that will appeal to those who love in your face, big and full on energetic wines; small sips are in order to avoid palate shock and ease the pain of intensity; it had a medicinal character along with nice blue and black fruit especially blueberry; it should be quite drinkable in about 50 years; did Sparky Marquis make this?
2006 MUGA PRADO ENEA GRAN RESERVA RIOJA- 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 10% Mazuelo and Graciano; I`m a fan of Muga and this release especially and this bottle was as pleasing as those I`ve had previously; fortunately, I have a few bottles in the cellar so this served to give me a readout for future openings; the aromatics contained vanilla and clove spiced blueberry and cranberry fruit; the taste profile had some delicious blue and black fruit with an added spiciness; the mouthfeel was soft and smooth and compliments the sensory pleasures as all is enjoyed for a longer time with an extended finish.
1996 COUTET BARSAC- 750 ml; a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon; gold color emulates the gold leaf label and the thick and creamy, lush texture accentuates the stone fruitiness with apricot especially coming in; it`s full on, long and delicious.
1996 TAYLOR FLADGATE VINTAGE PORT- significant alcohol [heat] is evident from the nose on; however, the strength and appeal lies in the cinnamon apple cherry flavors and knowing this is one of the consummate Port houses offering from a stellar vintage; I found it to be more enjoyable with tiny sips.
This was another great dinner with extraordinary wines from extraordinary people who share the passion of all things fine wine and added to my experience that “Life is good”.
Oh, BTW, the WOTN turned out to be a 3 way tie= 96` Salon, 66` Vieux Certan and the 06` PYCM. I had it as a 2 way tie with the first 2 being my choices and when asked to pick one, the Salon got my vote.