Of all of the wine groups i`m involved with, the one that stands out above and beyond all others is my dinner group and that is really saying something as the others are very special.
Over many years, I have been blessed to be gifted with so many treasures of wines that I would never have tasted on my own had it not been for others reaching deep in their cellars and bringing stellar wines. In some instances, some have created the wine theme for our dinners and treated us with wines from their cellar for the entire evening.
As an example, just a few weeks ago, one brought 4 cases of Ridge wines that were released only to their wine club members starting in 1977. True to form, everyone else brought additional wines to support and balance out the pairings with food courses.
Also, at a recent dinner, our theme was blind red Burgundy vs. Pinot Noir and I seized upon the opportunity to take a 1997 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir. It received rave reviews and was so revered, I conceived the idea to do a WS retrospective of wines made by Burt from 1997 and earlier for our next dinner.
That dinner took place at La Cumbre Country Club where we dined in a private dinning room set up fore 13 of us. As usual, many brought wines to compliment the theme and food courses. The wines:
2003 MOET & CHANDON CUVEE DOM PERIGNON BRUT- somehow, I have missed this vintage for DP since release and not being that fond of 03`s, I was a bit skeptical when pouring this into my glass; surprise, surprise, it was wonderful; it had the typical spicy, toasty, ginger infused citrus notes along with bright acidity and was atypically powerful and highly energetic; once again, I marveled over the consistency of the Grand Marques to produce high quality cuvees and this one now is on my must have list.
2006 CLOS LARSEN BLANC de BLANC BRUT- with the DP still on my palate, the first sip of this made me take pause, clean my palate and start anew; some initial tartness dissipated and gave way to nice stone fruit notes with spritzy apricot flavors most evident; it was a complex, full bodied bubbly that expended in the glass; it would have shown even better having it prior to the DP in lieu of after.
NV LAURENT-PERRIER GRAND SIECLE GRAND CUVEE- a good friend brought this knowing my fondness for this bubby; we had a good bottle; it was complex, balanced, tasty with nutty and toasty brioche and fresh fruit while being creamy rich and yummy.
NV BILLECART-SALMON BRUT ROSE- another fav of mine, this bottle gave and gave as its treasures unfolded after a somewhat muted beginning; fresh strawberry and red raspberry fruit came in with a touch of spice and hint of clove in the background; I`ve found this to be a consistent light and elegant fruity taste treat.
2011 HENRI BOILLOT LES CHARMES MEURSAULT 1ER CRU- steely minerality in the nose with nice tangy apple and pear notes in the taste joined by more minerals; it had fine texture and a pleasing palate coating finish.
2013 PAUL PERNOT BATARD-MONTRACHET GRAND CRU COTE du BONNE- the aromatics were loaded with fresh, ripe grapefruit followed and joined by fresh pineapple and floral notes with a tinge of minerals; it was light and easy on the palate with less acidity; this was refreshing and elegant.
2008 BILLAUD-SIMON CHABLIS GRAND CRU LES CLOS- this was lean and clean giving nice green apple and lemon flavors with crisp and refreshing mouthfeel; the fruit profile kept on subtly expanding and resulted in a truly delicious wine.
2013 LATOUR-GERAUD LES NARVAUX MEURSAULT- some flint in the nose, then some flowers, citrus and minerals follow; the taste is more of blood orange and grapefruit; it`s very pleasant, has good acidity and length.
1992 WILLIAMS SELYEM RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- I`ve had a few of these in the last few years that were much less mature and was surprised to find this bottle with tertiary fruit notes of dried cranberry and red cherry/ berry; there was a streak of minerality and a silky texture; it actually seamed to get better with time and thankfully, I saved a portion and revisited it later on to discover the fruit was more fresh, youthful and lively; when one thinks of a 25 year old new world Pinot, this becomes even more special.
1995 WILLIAMS SELYEM RUSSIAN RIVER VLLEY PINOT NOIR- perfect bottle; spicy, delicious red cherry fruit is delivered in a silty texture all in good balance; it had elegance and finesse and pleased throughout; one of my favs on the night.
1995 WILLIAMS SELYEM SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR- Amazingly, I do not remember ever having a flawed bottle of WS Pinots over all of the decades; this one was severely oxidized.
1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM COASTLANDS VINEYARD PINOT NOIR- 15.2% abv.; a fav of mine over all of the vintages and especially 97`, this had delicious spicy red cherry served up in a medium body with a soft mouthfeel; showing beautifully now and with enough to go minimally for another few years.
1996 WILLIAMS SELYEM OLIVET LANE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR- 14.9% abv.; a friend added this from his cellar to the mix; it was very typically briary with earth tones and some black fruit to compliment a lesser amount of red fruit; there was a little heat in the nose at first; some dried cherry/ berry notes came in by mid palate and finished off the wine.
1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM SONOMA COUNTY PINOT NOIR- 13.3% abv.; the County wines have always been good as leftover fruit from some of the stellar vineyards were blended in; this one was exceptional; it had really tasty red fruit with a great soft texture which kept on unfolding and revealing more pleasurel the word elegance keeps coming up with the WS Pinots from this era.
1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM FERRINGTON VINEYARD PINOT NOIR- fabulous bottle with spicy red berry fruit, great mouthfeel and more of the elegance and finesse as experienced in the 95` RRV.
1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM ROCHIOLI RIVERBLOCK VINEYARD PINOT NOIR- I`ve had so many wonderful bottles of this wine and expected it to be a strong challenge to the 97` Rochioli I paired it with; it was not; although it improved a bit with time, this bottle had suppressed fruit notes and little of the spicy component that has embellished it in other tastings; the absence of the usual rich and vibrant fruit profile suggests to me it may have been corked, a VERY RARE experience with these wines.
1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM ROCHIOLI VINEYARD PINOT NOIR- I`ve had so many wonderful bottles of this wine both in magnum and 750 ml formats and thankfully, this shined as high and lustrous as those before it; with a deep dark purple color, the aromatics were replete with spicy red and more black fruit followed by a taste profile of black cherry, blackberry and blueberry; it was complex and had considerable depth and length; it was beautifully balanced and seemingly has the structure to go for another 10 years plus; amazingly a CA Pinot Noir and a grand one at that.
2011 PEDRO XIMENEZ ALVEAR de ANADA MONTILLA-MORILES- 375 ml; honeyed caramel apricot nectar served in a syrup texture perhaps also a candidate for Belgium waffles.
It feels so good to share with others. I left thinking what could I do next. I remain deeply grateful for the fellowship and sharing amongst the members of this group and the others with which I`m involved. It`s really all about this wonderful world of wine which is about enjoying and sharing the love.