Our lunch group enjoyed another great one in our designated Library Room at the Santa Barbara Club. The wine theme was Northern Rhone whites and reds with a mostly honoured vintage request for 2007 and older.
Lobster bisque with ahi tuna brûlée
Braised beef short ribs with truffle risotto
Duck Confit ravioli with huckleberry demi glaze
Wild mushroom brie, gorgonzola and smoked Gouda
Peach raspberry frangipane tart with cinnamon ice cream
NV MOUTARD BRUT ROSE- I had missed the last 4 lunches while doing an alcohol/ wine fast and felt compelled to bring a celebrative bubbly to get this one going; pretty much our house rose for the past few years, this shined as expected with brilliant fresh strawberry, raspberry and red cherry flavours with a touch of spice and clove; purposely chilled, it did a proper prep for our palates for all good things to come.
First Flight of 6 whites:
1996 DOMAINE GEORGES VERNAY LES CHAILLEES de L`ENFER CONDRIEU- honeyed stone fruit notes prevailed and was delivered in a medium textured body which extended the palate crossing to the back end; although there was no notation of residual sugar, it certainly seamed to have some; nonetheless, it was delightful.
2007 DOMAINE RENE ROSTAING LA BONNETTE CONDRIEU- the nose is redolent with sliced pineapple fruit; mineral infused pear comes in once tasted; it`s bright and refreshing with a touch of alcohol evidenced.
2005 E. GUIGAL CONDRIEU- floral and tropical fruit in the nose joined by mineral laced apples and pears in the taste; lush and creamy.
2003 E. GUIGAL HERMITAGE BLANC- Marsanne; this was tied for best of the whites IMHO along with the next wine; it was creamy rich with an abundance of enticing aromatics and seductive flavours; it checked all the boxes for a fine wine.
2003 M. CHAPOUTIER DE L`OREE ERMITAGE [Marsanne]- also fabulous, this had some petrol in the nose followed by pineapple notes being delivered in a creamy texture which thankfully prolonged the finish; it was in nice balance and although on the serious side, it had an elegance about it that stood out; tied for white WOTD.
2005 ETIENNE POCHON CROIZES-HERMITAGE BLANC- Marssanne, Rousanne blend; stone fruit with minerality along with good feel and length; opened up more in the glass with more peach and pear notes; easy on the palate and better with a good chill.
Second Flight of 5 reds:
1997 PAUL JABOULET LA CHAPELLE HERMITAGE- I`ve had many a bottle and this one was among the best; it had the requisite pepper and spice notes to accent the red, black and blue fruit; it had a nice soft texture and layers of depth; I double decanted it 2 hours before serving; my biased candidate for red WOTD.
2001 PAUL JABOULET LA CHAPELLE HERMITAGE- decanted prior to serving, this was a good bottle at first giving up inviting aromatics and dried fruit forward tastes and after only a few minutes in the glass it changed and got even more expressive; it had smoothness and only a touch of the pepper and spice I prefer and expect in this wine; I liked its balance and mouthfeel especially.
First of 2 bottles:
1994 DOMAINE JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE HERMITAGE- in every way, I got this to be a bit better than #2; it had nice mature red berry aromas followed by good blackberry and blueberry notes and only a hint of spice and pepper; it had more body and length; loved the smooth mouthfeel as well.
1994 DOMAINE JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE HERMITAGE- bottle #2 was shut down at first but then it gained momentum and ended up in a good place; it basically got close to where #1 was; it just took more time so really, not much of a bottle variation.
1999 TARDIEU-LAURENT HERMITAGE- this was pretty big and bold with concentrated black fruit which had a touch of spice. it was full bodied, deeply layered and long.
Third Flight of 5 reds:
2010 ALAIN VOGE LES VIELLES VIGNES CORNAS- the vibrant purple color announces serious endeavours forthcoming and it was certainly true; this was a huge wine with oak accented black currant and blackberry fruit most evident; it was full bodied and very complex; the flavours just kept on unfolding; a good 10+ years is needed for this to mature.
1998 E. GUIGAL BRUNE et BLONDE COTE ROTIE- nicely evolved fruity wine with an air of elegance and sophistication especially after the wine above; it had a medium body, good feel and an extended fruit laced finish.
2009 E. GUIGAL BRUNE et BLONDE COTE ROTIE- highly energetic, this expressed its youth and vitality and has some growing up to do over the next 10 years or so whereupon it should obtain nice balance; now, it`s fruit forward albeit with fresh, ripe red and black fruit and my palate kept trying to reign it in; decanting may have been helpful.
1997 PAUL JABOULET CORNAS DOMAINE SAINT PIERRE- the nose was somewhat subdued, but the taste profile made up for it; there was plenty of ripe black cherry/ berry fruit which expanded with time; it was medium to full bodied, had a soft texture and welcomed length.
1991 M. CHAPOUTIER la MORDOREE COTE ROTIE- another sensational bring; the nose had some mushroom, earthy character which did not effect the nice mature cranberry red cherry flavours which were accented with some clove and spice; it was full on, hefty and long.
Fourth Flight of 5 reds:
1997 DELAS les BESSARDS HERMITAGE- the nose had some wild, herbal, briery notes, then some nice ripe blue as in plum and black as in blackberry fruit take over and was delivered in a medium body with a soft feel.
2007 M. CHAPOUTIER SIZERANNE HERMITAGE- Another wine I`ve enjoyed over the years, but never from this young of a vintage; it showed beautifully although it needs some more time; it was complex with layered depth, had power yet was also graceful; the smooth texture was so pleasing; the primary fruit profile was of sweetened blueberries; loved it now and look forward to a re-visit in years later on.
2006 M. CHAPOUTIER L`ERMITTAGE ERMITAGE- another gem that even in its youth, shines ever so brightly; the nose was redolent with spicy pepper notes along with some cranberry and blueberry fruit; all continued on in perfect balance to the back end; it was a sensory treat.
2009 E. GUIGAL HERMITAGE- after an inviting nose full of fresh red cherries, the taste kept up the pace with a more profound flavour profile with added cranberry and red raspberry notes; the wine seemed to blossom in the glass and all the way thru until the fruit dried out at the end with tannins taking over; time should remedy this issue as the tannins integrate.
2007 DELAS les BESSARDS HERMITAGE- this came around 3 wines after the 97`, so taste and style comparisons were challenging; nonetheless, it showed really well and had what I call the requisite N. Rhone Syrah character of pepper and spice found in certain regions; it was fruit forward, with fresh red berries and the mouthfeel was silky soft and smooth; it was very pleasing with nice balance and one of my favs on the day.
1997 DOMAINE VOUVRAY HUET CUVEE CONSTANCE LOIRE- this sweetie, had honeyed and sugar coated raisin, red cherry and cranberry fruit sent along the palate in a thick, syrupy liquid substance; it was a full throttle, serious dessert wine.
As is the norm for our lunch group, everyone steps up and delivers with nice brings. The fellowship, special ambience of our Library room, the extra special attention we get from the servers and the kitchen makes this a consistently excellent event and one I`m grateful to be a part of.