Our lunch group had an extra special wine theme of “Dig Deep” and it turned out to be one of our finest as many did dig deeply.
As usual, we enjoyed the distinguished ambience of the library room in the Santa Barbara Club and the wonderful cuisine of Chef Humberto as well as the dedicated expertise of our server, Tina.
Eighteen of us were gifted with the following menu especially coordinated with a list of the wines submitted in advance:
Seafood cocktail platter: lobster shooter, oysters, black mussels a la cholaca, shrimp salad with firecracker dressing
Pan seared foie gras with Peruvian tacu-tacu, lentil ragout and secret sauce
Quail stuffed with rabbit served with parsnip puree
Rack of lamb, butternut squash causa with duo of sauces
Gruyere, extra aged Gouda, Pitting four years Gouda
Chocolate cream de pot
The wines were served in the following order and flights:
1990 KRUG- magnum, a fabulous bring and champagne I`ve thoroughly enjoyed over many years although all in a 750 formats; I got the immediate wet cardboard nose and sank; it was corked with a small semblance of the pearls this once possessed; there was a touch of butterscotch, caramel and peach.
1996 SALON- another generous bring; having had another bottle of this just 3 days before at a wine dinner, I was really anticipating what this one would bring and especially after learning on this day it came from the same shipment as the previous bottle which was the most evolved and best bottle I`ve ever had out of about 10 to date; this however showed as all others before with all of the great potential, acidity, complexity and spicy, toasty citrus notes to get to that sweet spot and this bottle was still not there; looks like we were blessed with an anomaly at our dinner.
1992 DOMAINE GUY AMIOT et FILS LE MONTRACHET CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- magnum; from an obscure producer to me, this bottle had lots going on, starting with its cloudy gold color and aromas and tastes of minerals, flint, chalk, a touch of toast with lemon lime fruit coming in and holding on for the duration; it had decent mouthfeel and enough pizzazz to please most palates including mine.
1990 MOUNT EDEN ESTATE CHARDONNAY- I`ve been a long time fan of this producer and love that they can make great an usual mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir AND Cabernet Sauvignon all in the same locale; this bottle had a color of cloudy gold and aromatics of musty, dusty, flint and minerals followed by a taste profile which included mature fruit resulting in honeysuckle and caramel covered apples.
Third flight served blind;
2001 CHATEAU d`YQUEM SAUTERNES- 750 ml; 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc; this was an easy blind pick for me as I`ve had many 01` d`Yquems and our bottle carried on almost exactly as those before it; of the 2, this was much lighter in color giving off a light yellow gold hue; it had the so inviting aromatics of floral and tropical notes along with a suggestion of some honeyed stone fruit; true to the nose, the taste profile is loaded and layered with pleasurable vanilla and honeyed pineapple, lemon zest, peach and apricot; a hallmark is its bright acidity and creamy rich full bodied texture; only when compared to the Rieussec could this be considered elegant.
2001 CHATEAU RIEUSSEC SAUTERNES- 750 ml; Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc blend; this had a much darker medium gold hue; intense aromatics of honeysuckle, butterscotch and apricot followed by tastes of crème brulee and the classic, oft mentioned Grand Mariner flavor along with sweetened stone fruit and caramel notes; the acidity is quite evident almost bracing and the texture is motor oil thick; this is as big as a dessert wine can get and has all that`s needed to go for decades on and be a consistent treat.
1990 DOMAINE FAIVELEY CORTON-CLOS des CORTONS FAIVELEY GRAND CRU- my 2nd of 2 bottles, the first one being superlative a year ago; although I pulled the cork in advance on this one and did not pick up any flaw from it, it was clearly corked and easily within the parameters of my olfactory ppm perception; some did not get TCA and I`m happy for them that their experience was different and not jaded; beyond the corkiness, was at least some of the redeeming qualities that I remember from before; it had some black spicy fruit with cherry and blackberry most evident; with this bottle, the little fruit it did have dissipated somewhat quickly by mid palate.
1990 DOMAINE COMTES GEORGES de VOGUE CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY- my other half got this bottle in a bet about who co-stared with Richard Burton in The Night of the Iguana. The popular answer is Elizabeth Taylor. Ava Gardner is usually not considered, but she knew and once the bet was made, this was the reward; being her very first time at our luncheon and having the person who lost the bet in attendance even made it more perfect for him to share in the wine; this bottle showed extremely well; having a still youthful medium red color, it exuded elegance and balance; it gave up delicious bright spicy red fruit in a medium body and was as good as any village Burgundy I`ve had; it had grace and charm and was totally delightful from the nose through the tail.
2003 DOMAINE de la ROMANEE-CONTI GRANDS-ECHEZEAUX GRAND CRU- speaking of great brings, here`s a big winner from a very gracious collector; this was in such a great place and IMHO was perfect; beyond its youthful color, the aromatics were so inviting with floral and mild spicy red and black fruit; the taste profile was a beautiful blend of milk chocolate laced black raspberry and black cherry, the mouthfeel was velvet on velvet; it was round, seamless and in perfect balance, the tannins were soft and integrated and the finish just kept going on ever so mildly with strong remembrances of what just transpired; my WOTD.
1999 PETER MICHAEL “les PAVOTS” KNIGHT`S VALLEY BORDEAUX BLEND- the pre-announced bring was 1996 Prince Florent de Merode Corton Clos du Roi and that was appropriately pre-assigned for this flight; when this bottle appeared and there was already 6 wines in the flight it would best be suited for, it got placed at the end of this one; I poured it and then saved it to for the next flight; 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc; our bottle had obvious oaky notes of vanilla, talc and sandalwood along with blueberry and black currant fruit with a touch of mild chocolate coming in late; it was easy on the palate and had good length.
1982 CHATEAU GRUAUD LAROSE SAINT JULIEN- 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc; I`ve had a few all good bottles of this wine over the years and this bottle was an aberration; the nose on this one had a Bretty, earth character that never did dissipate even on the palate although with 5 wines in this flight, I did not have time to allow for many re-tastes until the end; there was some red and black fruit with black currant most prevalent; from mid palate on, the aromatic Brett and earth pick up dominated and finished it off.
1990 CHATEAU MONTROSE SAINT ESTEPHE- decanted for 2 hours; it`s always a treat to re-visit wines I`ve enjoyed over the years and still have in the cellar especially when they are showing well; this bottle shined brightly; the color was a youthful deep Burgundy and the nose had some intriguing character that suggested goodness, but I am struggling to find the right descriptors; most profound was the very tasty blue and black fruit that was embellished by a dollop of earth, leather and tobacco notes; black currant was the most prevalent as was the smooth texture made possible by the soft tannins.
1982 CHATEAU HAUT-BRION PESSAC-LEOGNAN- lots happening in the aromatics suggestive of serious pleasure forthcoming; loaded with earth and truffle accented dried black cherry and black currant, all continued on and was joined by cedar and spiced dried blackberry; the texture is silky smooth and it is long and fulfilling leaving one with the conclusion, more is better, but with 18 pours from this bottle, a very little more was better.
1989 CHATEAU MARGAUX, MARGAUX- this was probably the best bottle I`ve had of this vintage for Margaux; ideally balanced, it had lots going for it including cedar and leather spiced black currant and an oh so soft and smooth mouthfeel; this hit my palate continuously with pleasurable sensory inputs and I kept sipping for more extended joy; unlike many other vintages of Margaux, this wine is more under control and elegant as opposed to being full on power and energetic; one of my favs of the day.
1982 MAYACAMAS VINEYARDS MT. VEEDER NAPA- brought to compare against the big boys, this held its own and shined right along side, in fact, in a blind tasting, I might get this as Bordeaux; I loved the engaging nose and taste profile which was replete with leather, cedar and licorice black currant and dried plum; there was a touch of bricking suggestive of drinking this sooner than later over the next few years; it was soft and easy on the palate, full bodied and long; splendid.
1988 E. GUIGAL LA TURQUE COTE-ROTI- typically, 93% Syrah, 7% Viognier; another fab bring and one I`ve had a few of and immensely enjoyed every time, this bottle possessed some of the classic La Turque notes with lots of bacon, spice and violets which contribute to the tasty blue and black fruitiness that pervades throughout; it was full bodied, had a velvety texture and never wanted to cease giving and I was a humbled receiver; strongly considered for my WOTD, but the DRC won out.
1991 M. CHAPOUTIER la MORDEREE COTE ROTIE- another generous bring and should we have had the La Mouline, it would have been a brother sun, sister moon anology; although the color was still a deep dark purple, this bottle was showing a bit of age evident by the dried tertiary fruit character; nonetheless, it had a lot of redeeming qualities such as pleasant spicy, bacon and licorice dried cranberry, cherry notes which were made even more pleasant by the soft and silky texture that extended into the long finish.
1994 ZIND-HUMBRECHT CLOS JEBSAL [vineyard] TURCKHEIM SELECTION de GRAINS NOBLES [SGN] TRIE SPECIALE PINOT GRIS ALSACE- 375 ml; medium brown amber color; delicious and savory sweetened apricot, burnt orange and peach flavored syrup with a hint of caramel and butterscotch coming in; it poured like maple syrup and could be a good substitute if one deviated from their usual toppings for pancakes; Grand Cru quality without the designation; 540 grams of residual sugar per liter.
1983 FONSECA VINTAGE PORT- 750 ml; light medium brown color; serious aromatics jump out of the glass prior to even getting the stem close up; forewarned, I still didn’t take heed and took a regular nose and experienced a very intense olfactory blast of heat along with spicy brown sugar which eventually was overwhelmed by a heavy hit of maple syrup in the taste; this is definitely a wine to be sipped and if another wine is to follow, use a tongue scraper to scrape off your palate.
1977 GRAHAM`S VINTAGE PORT- 750 ml; devoid of a tongue scraper, I dived in to this one; medium red brown color; intense nose and taste with concentrated flavors aided by a hit of talc, spice, vanilla and cigar notes encompassing the big layers of black fruit; although sweet, it`s not overwhelmingly so; it had a medium to full body and a long finish to complete the deal.
Palate fatigue almost set in, but not quite. The joy of such a stellar event placated any intensity of these final dessert wines along with a large glass of water or three.
I was able to go back and re-taste a few saved pours. The Faiveley was still corky. The DRC was still #1. Life is still good and getting better by the lunch. Thanks to all who did dig deep.