Our dinner group met at one of our member`s restaurant, The China Pavilion, to enjoy a specially prepared meal in a private dining room ambience.
The wine theme was white Burgundy vs domestic Chards, and red Burgundy vs domestic Pinot Noirs. All of these wines were tasted blind and interesting discoveries and revelations occurred throughout the evening.
Our starter bubbly was:
NV BOLLINGER BRUT ROSE- magnum; this was the best showing for the Bollie Rose I`ve had in a while; it had inviting aromatics, a perfectly balanced red fruit profile and a tactile sensory pleasing mousse; this made a statement of elegance and charm.
We then proceeded to pass around the brown bagged Chardonnays in groups of 3s or 4s. There were 15 wines in all with a Pinot Grigio and a LH white Rhone blend included.
2015 DOMAINE FONTAINE GAGNARD VIEILLES VIGNES CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET- mineral driven, lemon-lime all the way through, full bodied, rich and luscious.
2014 HANZELL VINEYARDS SONOMA VALLEY CHARDONNAY- comes from the de Brye, Zellerbach, Day and Ambassador’s 1953 Vineyards; very tasty with tactile joy from a liquid buttery texture and taste complementing the citrus notes with lemon most prevalent.
2005 MARCASSIN ESTATE SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY- corked
2015 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LA COMME 1er Cru SANTENAY- a strong hit of flint and minerals in the nose followed by an unexpected mouthful of lemon zest before the flint and minerals take over from mid palate on.
2014 WHITCRAFT WINERY PENCE RANCH VINEYARD SANTA YNEZ VALLEY CHARDONNAY- muted nose with a taste profile of fresh citrus especially lemon plus a hit of minerality; easy and graceful.
2006 WILLIAM FEVRE BOUGROS GRAND CRU CHABLIS- after seeing the gold colour, the nose is redolent of caramel and butterscotch suggesting oxidation effects which was confirmed in the taste and a minute or 2 in the glass when it all expanded.
2013 DOMAINE du CLOS des QUARTS "CLOS des QUARTS" POUILLY FUISSE- made by Olivier Merlin and Dominique Lafon, this had a bright yellow gold colour with mildly expressed notes, just enough to offer some pleasure; there was some citrus and grapefruit, a bit of minerality and hint of honey.
2011 LUCIEN Le MOINE CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- the nose suggested a lot forthcoming which happened to the tune of serious depth and complexity highlighted by burnt toast laden apple and pear notes with an underlying mustiness.
2005 DOMAINE GIRARDIN BATARD MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- this was full bodied, layered and long; it had wonderful mouthfeel and lots of fresh, minty apple, pear and kiwi.
2016 MEROI PINOT GRIGIO FRIULI COLLI ORIENTALI- green gold colour; musty lemon zest with a hit of chalk carried in a smooth texture to the back end; a sneaky blind tasting entry.
2010 MOUNT EDEN ESTATE SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY- toasty vanilla laden lemon and honeysuckle with a buttery note and texture danced all over the palate.
2011 MORLET FAMILY VINEYARDS BILLET DOUX LATE HARVEST SEMILLON- 750 ml.; this late harvest "love note" is blended with 9% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Muscadelle; honeyed apricots, roasted pears and a tinge of pineapple are delivered in a thick, viscous liquid form; perfectly paired with foie gras.
2007 HENRI BOILLOT CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- oxidised to the extent of deviating severely from the expected profile.
2001 DOMAINE LEFALIVE LES PUCELLES PULIGNY-MONTRACHET- this 1er Cru vineyard that puts out consistent Grand Cru quality fruit shined ever so brightly; along with nice acidity, it had rich, spicy honeysuckle and mineral laden notes delivered in a viscous texture that carried all of the treasures to the back end; one of my fave on the night.
2014 RIDGE VINEYARDS ESTATE SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY- showing really fine, this had it from the nose through the tail; there`s some integrated oak spice along with honeysuckle, pear, apple and lemon fruit enhanced by a touch of ginger.
We now moved in to the 12 reds also circulated around the table in groups of 3-4:
2012 TYLER BENT ROCK VINEYARD SANTA RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- elegant, balanced, tasty and fruity, full bodied and complex with some power but more finesse.
2015 SANAN REDMOND SANTA RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- new producer to me even though locally made; this was a big boy with more than generous amounts of everything from its chocolate accented black cherry, oaky notes of talc and sandalwood and almost purple black inky Syrah like colour; it was served very warm and I have to think some of the intensity would have been somewhat subdued with a proper minimal chill; I heard this goes for $100; could not find any info on line.
2002 CALERA JENSEN VINEYARD MT. HARLAN PINOT NOIR- it started out like a light weight and morphed into a heavy weight in its expression and body; the fruit profile was so different from what I expect in a Pinot Noir with rustic cranberry dominating the red cherry.
2010 BREWER CLIFTON MT. CARMEL VINEYARD SANTA RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- immediate oak hit in the nose followed by rich, dark fruit; the taste added some spice and confirmed a pretty extracted wine; it balanced out in the glass gaining finesse and toning down the blast delivered earlier on in the aromatics; 14.9% ABV.
2007 DOMAINE PAVELOT LES VERGELESSES PERNARD-VERGELESSES 1ER CRU- wonderful, inviting aromatics introduce the fresh, lightly spiced red raspberry flavour that prevails throughout; it has grace and elegance and holds a steady course to make a profound statement for balance; one of my favs on the night.
2013 CLENDENEN FAMILY VINEYARDS LE BON CLIMAT VINEYARD PINOT NOIR- very nice nose suggestive of ripe red fruit which comes on with the first taste; it is easy on the palate, has a degree of elegance and exudes fruity red cherry with a hint of cranberry through the finish; liked this one a lot.
2001 AU BON CLIMAT 20th HARVEST LARME de GRAPPES SANTA RITAS HILLS PINOT NOIR- the glass bottle was so heavy, I changed it out in favour of a lighter weight bottle since I assumed the weight would be a dead giveaway for a domestic wine; I was shocked when the bad was removed because I`ve had many a bottle of this wondrous wine and this bottles was a serious deviation from the norm; this had a major blast of alcohol in the nose and later on at the finish; in between was an overripe fruit profile that did not come close approaching the concentrated fresh black cherry I`ve known this to have; Larme de Grappes means tears of the whole clusters and I almost cried at the showing of this bottle; the wine comes from fruit picked at a higher SRH altitude and is fermented with whole clusters with stems that are completely lignified; 13.5%
2003 DOMINIQUE LAURENT LES VAUCRAINS NUITS-ST.-GEORGES 1ER CRU- woody, oaky red and black fruit dominated this from the outset; for whatever reason, it seemed to mellow out with time in the glass and was much more approachable after about 10 minutes; decanting seems imperative.
2006 MARCASSIN BLUE SLIDE RIDGE VINEYARDS SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR- this had an amazing nose that begged exploring; generous amounts of red, blue and black fruit exploded out of the glass as well as on the palate; even with its massive fruit profile, it had some semblance of balance; it was full bodied, layered and long; received many votes for WOTN even from some long time Marcassin desenters; one of the values of blind tasting; 15.6% abv.
2014 GRACE + VINE RESERVE SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PINOT NOIR- this is the 2nd time this wine has been introduced to our group as one of our members is involved with the principals; on both occasions it has shown well; it has lots of grace from the vine giving fresh red fruit notes, having a soft and smooth texture and an element of elegance that gives it more charm.
2011 PAUL LATO ALEGRIA BRUCE HILLIARD VINEYARD SANTA RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- very nice wine here with fresh fruit forward aromas with strawberry and red cherry most prominent; it`s full bodied, rich and luscious; after the wine was revealed, I have to admit this was the most elegant Pinot Noirs Paul has made.
2002 LOUIS JADOT BONNES-MARES GRAND CRU COTE de NUITS- deep dark Burgundy colour, generous amounts of red and black fruit delivered in a soft and smooth texture and most especially balanced; another fav on the night.
Our lone dessert wine:
2005 CHATEAU SUDUIRAUT CASTELNAU de SUDUIRAUT SAUTERNES- apricot and honeysuckle served up in a honey thick like texture; Ch. Suduiraut`s 2nd label.
We had another great evening with great wines, exceptional personally prepared food, the loving fellowship of our group and the benefit of a consummate learning experience by doing a blind tasting.
Please excuse typos and unintended auto-corrects