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Great wines with new friends in Orange County

Posted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:30 am
by Blake Brown
How many times do we get to blindly meet and at least have a cursory knowledge about other people, but have not met them in person and at the same time knowing it would be a good thing? It happens to me a lot and especially in conjunction with those in the wine community.

Years ago, I left the on line Robert Parker board in favour of moving on to WineBerserker which has many forums, some not even related to wine in any way. In fact, it was the Asylum forum that got my attention with a lot of sports coverage.

After initiating and posting replies and input to many of the threads in many of the forums, especially those related to wine, I got a good idea who some of the people are not only by what they said, but how they said it. It`s an energy thing.

There`s a group of guys in Orange County who resonated that good vibe. One offered to taste me through his collection of a specific kind of wine he knew I had not experienced [Musar]. After a few months went by, I kept thinking on this and realising there`s about a 3 hour time distance, I thought I`d just put it out that I`d be willing to drive down to OC and stay over if a dinner could be put together featuring any wines everyone desired to drink.

It happened! Thanks to Chris Seiber, he arranged the restaurant, Broadway By Amor Santana in Laguna Beech and gathered up some troops, I got a neat one night local stay near the beach and the restaurant and we partied in fine form.

Prior to arriving in Laguna Beach, I stopped off to meet the folks at Envoyer in nearby Irvine, just 25 minutes up the hill in Laguna Canyon. The angel from heaven who`s name actually is Heaven Rodriguez was the first to greet me and immediately acknowledge our many cheerful phone conversations.

Then Greg Koslosky introduced himself and the next hour or so was spent with 2 wine passionate guys, geeking out on all of the wines and people we shared in common including Greg`s time at The Wine Club in Santa Ana where years ago I purchased a considerable amount of wine for many years. I vaguely remembered him although we had never really formerly met. We did this time and I`ve got another friend who checks off on all of the boxes on the friendship chart.

Eight of us had a fabulous night and the restaurant took righteous care of us plus we were seated at a round table giving us the maximum opportunity to have a table conversation. Chris even printed up tasting note forms for all with the pre-advised wines listed AND a Kansas Jayhawk logo at the top of the page. How cool was that?

As expected, we ate and drank well.

2006 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE- I`ve had many a bottle of this fabulous bubbly and just received another 6 pack a few days back; I believe I must have pulled one of those which may have been effected by travel shock in that this bottle, although very good, was different and less than expected; it seemed like a spry, energetic youngster wanting to play a game with my palate; it had an unexpected tanginess and bracing acidity unlike any I`d had before; it did have that wonderful toasty brioche, spicy lemon-lime fruit and a touch of saline; a different version of something really good.

2008 PIERRE GIMONNET CUVEE OENOPHILE NON DOSE EXTRA BRUT 1ER CRU- from the special vintage of 08`, this pleased with gifts of mineral infused, peppery mild citrus flavours with some honeyed mild peach notes coming in late; it had bright acidity, was nicely balanced and a great mouthfeel with a creamy mousse.

2007 RENE et VINCENT DAUVISSAT-CAMUS les PRESUS GRAND CRU CHABLIS- this had a very interesting nose of expansive spearmint, minerals, flint and pear/ apple fruit which continued on as delivered in an oily viscous texture; it was full on, complex and long; loved it.

2014 DOMAINE LOUIS MICHEL & FILS VAUDESIR GRAND CRU CHABLIS- 13% abv; this was so different from the Dauvissat and so good; it had perfect balance, lots of finesse and elegance; with a slight hit of spice, the ripe stone fruit and citrus was just right; it had crisp acidity and a silky touch; loved this one too although there was no similarity between the 2 Chablis.

1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM FERRINGTON VINEYARD ANDERSON VALLEY PINOT NOIR- notes from K&L: “the 70 acre vineyard is located in the valley floor of Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. It was planted with clones brought back from Burgundy. Five clones including Pommard (UCD4), 115, 777, and 667 of Pinot Noir comprise about 27 acres of this vineyard. This Pinot, from one of California's most legendary vintages in recent years, is weighty and powerful and very very impressive.”

Amen brother! Right on! Yes, it had some weight and power, but for me it was just overwhelmingly impressive; the nose had everything I`d ever received from this wine which translate into cinnamon, spice and the light fruit profile for Pinot Noir and typical for this wine, red raspberry, red cherry and strawberry; a bit of smoke came in late as did a hit of plum; the mouthfeel exuded elegance and everything held on to provide a grand crescendo at the very end; I brought this after reading a thread in which Brig, Frank and another raved about the 2015 WS Ferrington and thought it might be a good representative of what Burt did with this fruit with some age on it.

2006 ARCADIAN SLEEPY HOLLOW VINEYARD SANTA LUCIA PINOT NOIR- at first, it seemed flawed or at lest cooked having a stewed veggie component; I almost gave up and tossed it, but remembering a recent experience with another wine that had similar, off-putting notes and later on discovering it morphed into an at least drinkable wine, I held on to re-taste it and sure enough, it changed for the better and gave up some redeeming qualities albeit different from past samplings; I got smoky burnt toast and expansive dark fruit that actually had some finesse and charm.

1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM ROCHIOLI VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- I brought this as a backup, but just had to open it as this is considered by Burt to be one of the best wines he ever made and besides, I knew it would be appreciated; Burt laughed when I told him it was a backup; it had never before ever been treated as such, in fact, it had usually been a headliner; I`ve had many a bottle and all have been stellar; this had all of the expected character with one exception, there was a streak of a metallic thread that pervaded from the nose though the tail; also, Rochioli, to be distinguished from the Ferrington as example, showcases the dark fruit profile with predominant black cherry notes.

1986 CHATEAU RAYAS CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE RESERVE- this was saturated with VA and I moved on. A great bring, but not so good of a bottle.

Chris did a great thing. He blinded us on the next 2 wines and challenged us for the ID and particulars. I failed sadly on the first one.

1995 MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS OLD VINE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON- man, I`m getting Sangiovese out of this; it had that medium body, red fruity profile that included sour red cherries and cranberry with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes as well as medium-plus tannins and high acidity; whatever it is , I`m liking it; yikes, it a Cab and from of my favourite producers. I love blind tastings.

1995 PONTET CANET- badly corked; great thought to bring it and compare it to the MEV Cab blindly. Chris gets an A for intent. The wine gets an F for performance.

2004 ARCADIAN HOMMAGE a MAX SANTA YNEZ VALLEY CENTRAL COAST SYRAH- a touch of Brett, but not to a fault; I got bacon and leather accented blueberry and black fruit with black currant most prevalent; i liked its balance and elegance; a rare treat for local Santa Barbara County Syrah for me.

2008 ARCADIAN HOMMAGE a MAX SANT YNEZ VALLEY CENTRAL COAST SYRAH- this was nicely spiced, earthy and fruity with fresh blueberry, plum and blackberry; it was youthfully exuberant and highly charged; the 08` kind of trumped the 04` on this night IMHO.

I`ve probably already glamourised enough in the beginning of these notes, but I think you get the idea. This was a night of shared passion among fellow brothers. We started with hugs and ended with hugs and there will be more down the line with a glass of wine or 3.