Our dinner group enjoyed another fine evening this time at one of our local favourites, Holdren`s Steak and Seafood. Our wine theme was champagne, white Burgs, and the Cabernets from Dunn, Spottswoode and Phelps Insignia.
Eleven of us enjoyed numerous appetisers along with individually ordered entrees, most getting some form of meat which paired beautifully with the Cabs. We drank well as usual:
2006 MOET & CHANDON VINTAGE BRUT ROSE- fresh red cherries are the hallmark of this fine rose; and there`s no sugar rush here as it is not too sweet with a seemingly low dosage; there`s a toasty accent to compliment the fruit adding to it`s tangy, tasty, pleasantness.
NV VOUETTE & SORBEE BLANC d`ARGILE BRUT NATURE- bracing acidity here with a strong suggestion occurring about 8 inches away from the wine glass; I approached with more care and sure enough, this is an acid bomb; even the taste required a delicate sip as the wine bit back with a sharp hit; amidst of all of this was some serious citrus notes of lemon, lime and grapefruit.
2015 CRISTOPHE et FILS MONT de MILLEU 1ER CRU CHABLIS- the nose was redolent with flint and minerals followed by a taste of dried lemon rind and a hit of saline; it had very bright acidity and served to be a palate cleanser which I accepted and moved on with a refreshed palate.
2010 HUBERT LAMY EN REMILLY 1ER CRU SAINT-AUBIN- the first hit was of must, minerals and herbal notes which gave way for the most part to fresh, ripe citrus fruit; the hallmark was the mouthfeel as this had an oily, viscous texture which allowed for a long, satisfying finish; well liked by all.
2015 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LA COMME 1ER CRU SANTENAY- our group has a fond appreciation for this producer and most of us are drinking a lot of the wines in their youth as they are showing beautifully [and perhaps a fear of pre-mox from any white Burg]; this bottle fell in line with so many others before it; fresh lemon lime jumps out of the glass and is joined by a nice dollop of spice on the palate; it`s rich and luscious, creamy and long; this bottle was as good as any I`ve had.
2014 LUCIEN LE MOINE LES TERRES BLANCHES 1ER CRU NIUTS ST. GEORGES- never had a white NSG and I`m happy to have had the first one as this one was really good with fresh lemon flavours delivered in a creamy like texture; it hit all of the sensory receptors in the right way and was a complete, satisfying experience.
2012 COMTESSE BERNARD de CHERISEY LA GENELOTTE 1ER CRU MEURSAULT-BLAGNY- [Kermit Lynch] I only know about this wine as the photos of all the wines taken by another included this one which I missed in the onslaught of bottles going back and forth and across. I hope it was good.
1989 SPOTTSWOODE NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- the first nose was strongly suggestive of this bottle being maderised; it was not deceiving as it definitely had that nutty, Sherry like taste as well; additionally, lots of bell pepper also showed up to make this really distasteful for me as that`s my least favourite note found in many Cabs; I put my glass aside and much later returned to surprisingly find an entirely different profile; it was actually decent and drinkable with only a slight hit of the maderisation notes; I`m baffled and confused. A cooked wine is a cooked wine, it doesn’t just blow off. Almost everyone chucked their pour soon after the initial announcement and agreement. There`s so much more to learn and I need some eduction here.
2001 SPOTTSWOODE ESTATE 20TH ANNIVERSARY NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- beautifully balanced, this rocked from the nose through the tail; at age 16, the red and black fruit profile was young and vibrant accented with a mild hit of sandalwood and cedar; one of my favs of the night and as I recall, very typical of fine Spottswoode`s Cabs from earlier on times.
1997 ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY RESERVE NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- an interesting bring given the 3 choices asked for; from a good vintage and with a price tag of $45 in place on a new age type lip on the bottle, this was really good offering black currant and blackberry fruit joined by a thread of saddle leather and dark chocolate.
1997 JOSEPH PHELPS INSIGNIA NAPA PROPRIETARY RED WINE- Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Petit Verdot; still having a very youthful dark purple colour, this was a big wine generously offering lots of goodness starting with a spicy, cedar laden black currant and blackberry fruity nose; some liquorice and plum joined the fun early on in the taste; it was full bodied with a silky texture which helped to hit all of the sensory receptors in the right place for a perfect experience; one of my candidates for WOTNs.
2012 JOSEPH PHELPS INSIGNIA NAPA PROPRIETARY RED WINE- 14.5% abv; 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot with the rest being Malbec and Cabernet Franc; inky purple in colour, this powerhouse was fully loaded and even though so youthful, it had many treasures to give; lots of oak seemed to be close to integrating with the spicy, mint chocolate accented blackberry and black currant fruit; it was beyond full bodied, had layers of depth and complexity and just kept going with no end in sight; great now, but wait if you can. Needs 15-25 years plus a long decant. For some of us, that should serve as a life extension motivator.
1996 DUNN VINEYARDS NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- surprisingly to me, this was more medium bodied with lesser intensity than expected as well as a moderate fruit profile; nonetheless, it was an outstanding drink offering tasty cedar, mint, spicy black currant, plum and blackberry, again, all in mild expressions; it had finesse, charm and grace and was delivered in a smooth, soft texture; elegant wine.
1987 DUNN VINEYARDS HOWELL MOUNTAIN NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- the first hit was of 4-ethylphenol Bretanomyces with its bandaid, barnyard, horse stable character; fortunately, it was mild enough to allow for some of the redeeming qualities to be enjoyed which included spice, milk chocolate and liquorice laden black currant.
2002 DUNN VINEYARDS HOWELL MOUNTAIN NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- this was a fabulous bottle giving so much joy and tactile pleasure; it had much more finesse than power which gave it a nice degree of elegance; I got minty blackberry fruit with additional accents of cedar, cigar box and liquorice; the tannins were firm but easy on the palate; another candidate for WOTN.
2006 DUNN VINEYARDS HOWELL MOUNTAIN NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- I brought this full well knowing it was probably going to be the youngest of all of the Cab brings, but the 2012 Insignia took that honour; I was happy to discover this bottle was ready to perform and although youthful, it had an incredible balance and a great fresh ripe dark fruit profile; I got generous amounts of liquorice, cedar, smoke and vanilla laden blackberry; there`s an obvious underlying tannic structure that supports longevity, but it`s in no way astringent; the mouthfeel is a hallmark with a silky, smooth texture; my bias probably led to the conclusion of calling this the WOTN when there were 5 or 6 candidates, in fact, there were 4 wines that got 2 votes and 3 that got singular votes.
1982 LAMBERT BRIDGE WINERY DRY CREEK VALLEY SONOMA COUNTY CABERNET SAUVIGNON- another mysterious bring; it certainly was varietally correct albeit that it has moved into its tertiary stage and beyond with a light sprinkling of dried black currant notes; it was so far past its prime, it brought up thoughts about what had this been at its peak? It was pleasant enough for those who like “aged” wines that are a shell of their golden years.
1999 DR. LOOSEN ERDENER PRALAT RIESLING AUSLESE- 375 ml; honyeyed, chewy apricot nectar.
2016 OJAI VINEYARDS KICK ON RANCH SANTA BARBRA COUNTY RIESLING DESERT WINE- I yield to the review of this wine by my friend, winemaker Adam Tolmach, who states “ice wine grapes are picked, driven to a commercial freezer, and then brought to the winery a few days later for pressing. By pressing grapes while still frozen, ice crystals are left behind, and only concentrated grape juice is recovered. The juice is drained into older barrels for fermentation and aging and then bottled into half bottles in the spring. Orchard fruit, sweet floral notes and mint add brightness and aromatic lift. The 250 grams of residual sugar are not especially evident.”
You know you`ve had a good night when 7 out of 19 wines get a vote for WOTN. And, some of those who did not get a vote were pretty fantastic as well. Such a life.