Our fine wine dinner group enjoyed a first time meal at a more recently opened restaurant, Somerset. The restaurant has established themselves as being a HJIGH END dinning experience with menu and wine list pricing at the more serious LA scene level. To date, this approach has not worked in Santa Barbara.
After this meal, I`m very impressed and believe they can make it. The service was excellent, the outdoor, back patio ambience was special and the tastiness of every dish served was as good as it gets. And yes, it is expensive, as much or more than any other restaurant in the SB area. The corkage fee of $40 per 750 with a 2 bottle limit is definitely the highest in town. [We were graced with no corkage fee on this night]
Our wine them was top tier champagne, white Burgundy and global red wines. The 9 members of our group convened and exceeded that request.
2006 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- the last bottle of a 6 pack I purchased and the best of all; it seems each one has been better than the last and they were all really good; this bottle gave wondrous aromatics of fresh citrus fruit and the taste profile identified more specifically the lightly sweetened lemon and lime notes along with a spicy saline accent; it had bright acidity and nice mouthfeel carrying the full bodied contents to the back end; it got better in the glass and the last sip was nirvana.
2006 VEUVE CLICQUOT LA GRANDE DAME BRUT- I was the only one to get this as being oxidised and after repeated tastes, I was even more convinced; nonetheless, there were some redeeming qualities including it richness, being full bodied, having an underlying foundation of acidity and many various fruit characteristics; I got generous amounts of citrus, apple, caramel, butterscotch and honeysuckle notes; made of 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay.
NV LAURENT-PERRIER MAISON FONDEE 1812 BRUT- on the heels of the CdC, this could not hold up to that level, but it did please and earn some respect for being tasty, crisp, refreshing and having nice acidity; there was bright citrus, pear and apple flavours carried in a medium to full body.
NV LANSON IVORY LABEL DEMI-SEC- badly corked
3 white Burgundy:
2006 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LES PERRIERES MEURSAULT 1ER CRU- this was an amazing wine which kept on unfolding over time and reaching a grand climax after it had already satisfied greatly; initially, there was a strong hit of spearmint in the nose; there was also fresh spicy lemon zest with traces of lime and green apple with an underlying honeyed tone along with the bright acidity,; it was full bodied and had a viscous texture which served to extend and expand upon the finish, coating the palate with all of its goodness.
2011 DOMAINE HENRI BOILLOT CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- another winner here with gracious gifts of mineral infused citrus, white peach and apple fruit enhanced by the fine acidity; it was beautifully balanced, had a lovely mouthfeel and a long satisfying finish; it just kept on expanding getting better and better in the glass.
2015 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LA COMME SANTENAY 1ER CRU- marvellous balance for this youngster showcasing its early on out of the gate treasures; it had very fine acidity, a light creamy texture and lemon, lime, apple and pear fruit notes; as with the 2 before it, it grew in the glass and just kept on unfolding with new discoveries from each layer.
2 California Cabs:
1979 SIMI CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE ALEXANDER VALLEY- I got lots of pleasure from this wine with its tasty black currant fruit accented with leather, earth, cedar, coffee and dark chocolate; it was full bodied, had an amazing still youthful colour and held on for a long sustained finish; the winery was established in 1876 after brothers Giuseppe and Pietro Simi left Tuscany to pan for gold in California. Within 20 years they were making wine in Healdsburg. Today the winery is owned by Constellation Brands.
1984 MERRYVALE NAPA RED TABLE WINE- this came from one of the first wineries built in Napa after Prohibition ended, and its long history includes stints as a production facility and a co-op. The winery has also been the workplace and training ground of some legendary Napa figures including Cesare Mondavi and his two sons, Peter and Robert; our bottle was young and vibrant and so giving; there was red and black cherry, black raspberry and blackberry with help from some interweaving mild dark chocolate; it was medium to full bodied with the wonderful fruit flavours standing out above and beyond all other notes; very enjoyable.
1 red Burgundy:
2005 DOMAINE MARQUIS d`ANGERVILLE COMBES-DESSUS POMMARD 1ER CRU- our only bottle of red Burgundy and it was sooo good; the hallmark was its elegance and ever evolving nuances; in the nose, it had brilliant fresh tasty red cherry with underlying spice and cinnamon with all continuing on to the back end; it was in perfect balance, had a silky smooth texture and that state of elegance that stood out from the nose through the tail; a strong candidate for WOTN. I love Burgundy.
2 Chateauneuf du Pape:
2004 CRISTIA VIEILLES VIGNES CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE- this was drinking so well out of the gate; it had a myriad of flavours including wild and fresh red and black fruit with red cherry most evident; accents of cinnamon, spice, cardamon and clove embellished the fruit profile; this wine was so steady and even and held its course throughout.
1991 DOMAINE du VIEUX TELEGRAPHE CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE- this was perfectly balanced and so giving; still youthful, vibrant and expressive, it had wondrous wild red cherry/ berry with hints of cranberry, blueberry and plum; the texture was soft and velvety, it had a medium body and everything came together for a grand climax just past mid palate; immensely pleasing.
3 miscellaneous reds including the WOTN:
2009 BODEGAS y VINEDOS MAURODOS SAN ROMAN TORO- this Bodega was founded in 1997 by former Vega Sicilia winemaker Mariano Garcia Fernandez; made from 100% Tempranillo; this producer used an enormous amount of oak in this bottling; the nose was redolent of toast, wood and vanilla and the taste profile was even more oaky and blended in with nice blueberry, black cherry and black raspberry; it had a silky texture, was full bodied and held on for a nice long finish.
2001 ARAUJO EISELE VINEYARD NAPA SYRAH-made with 4% Viognier; I`ve had this before and was surprised how good it was since I`ve been more of a fan of their Cabernets and even the Sauvignon Blancs from the beginning; this shined as I remembered it with generous amounts of blueberry, blackberry, violets and plum topped off with a mild spice and hit of bacon fat; full bodied, balanced and long; in a great place now.
1997 RAMONO DAL FORNO SUPERIORE VALPOLICELLA- a Corvina blend; always a treat, this fine bottling hit all of the sensory receptors in the right spot at the right time; the aromatics were full of inviting nuances including pepper, spice, liquorice, earth, leather and smoke along with rich black fruit; in the taste I got generous amounts of more defined black cherry and black currant; the mild pepper trail continued on throughout as a nice surprise; it was full bodied, had layers of depth and complexity and kept on unfolding, getting better and better with time; when we voted for WOTN, I had this, the red Burg and the Taittinger CdC in a tie; I did not get which was the winner.
1 dessert wine:
2006 ALBAN ROTTEN LUCK VIOGNIER TBA EDNA VALLEY- this late harvest Viognier is intense, highly concentrated and a perfect replica of maple syrup that looks like a wine since it comes in a wine bottle with a label on it.
Many of our "regulars" were not present for this dinner and they were missed until it came time to pour. The 9 of us had more than enough to get a decent taste from each bottle and a few were drained.
Please excuse typos and unintended auto-corrects