Our fine wine dinner group held its 2nd special Christmas dinner in the private home of one of our members. He decorates his place unlike any other home I`ve ever seen with a multitude of Christmas related ornaments, trinkets, candles, flashing lights and paraphernalia in every room, from floor to ceiling and beyond. It`s the epitome display of the Christmas spirit.
Our sit down dinner was expertly prepared on premises buy one of Santa Barbara`s best caterers who was capably assisted by 2 servers who coordinated the flow. 13 of us enjoyed wonderful course after course along with our open wine theme which had a focus on top tier Tete de Cuvee Champagne, Grand Cru red and white Burgs, First Growth Bordeaux, and the like. Our group righteously obliged with generous gifts from everyone.
Actually, our primo dinner of the year is the ”Millennium” dinner usually held on the 2nd Saturday of December, but this year, it got moved to the 3rd Saturday which happens to be during a time when I and a few others are away. So, we brought some wines that we would have taken to that dinner; in this case for me, it was the 06` Dom and the 09` Cristal [bottle #2].
2006 MOET & CHANDON DOM PERIGNON BRUT- I`ve had only a couple of this release and was impressed enough to buy some; after the first nose and taste of this bottle, I`m thinking to get more; it was simply fabulous; yes, it`s young and highly energetic and perhaps overly exuberant at this stage, but it has so much going for it now; it had bright acidity, a bounty of ripe citrus notes with lemon-lime most prevalent, full on body and zest on the palate and a long aftertaste; a wowzer.
2009 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT- [bottle #1] brought by another person; with only a slight chill, this bottle was definitively more distinctive in every way than the second one; the citrus notes were more of orange zest and the acidity factor was even more apparent; it was more balanced and complex and had greater length; there`s no question, the lesser chill allowed for more aromas and tastes to be experienced; also no question, this is another stellar Cristal and yes, it requires some cellar time.
2009 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT- [bottle #2] we drank #1 first along with the other champagnes; this bottle was saved until the end to pair it with the last course; sitting in an ice water bath for well over 2 hours, it came out quite chilled and therefore the aromatics and taste profile were very muted; after 10-15 minutes, it opened up and gave some of the treasures we knew it could do after having the first bottle; the still somewhat muted notes included some mild citrus flavours with more lemon, lime and kiwi coming in; It was not as rich nor as full bodied as #1; it did have nice acidity which served to cleanse the palate at the end; I`ll wait a few years before opening another one; the 09` needs time as it should be expected to. Thinking back to the 02`, 04` and 05, they were much more expressive in their early stages [and still are evolving beautifully].
NV GOSSET GRANDE RESERVE BRUT- magnum; 43% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier; this had some unexpected notes from my last venture with this bottling; there was a lot of Sauvignon Blanc like character such as straw, herbal and grass, first in the nose and later on past mid palate; in between, came some sour, bitter lemon; I`m thinking this just needs some time to open up and take a breath, but with so many wines forthcoming, I did not give it the chance to evolve until much later on and it certainly did change for the better with nice stone fruit and citrus fruit buoyed by bracing acidity; there was a hit of ginger and some toast to add more delight; my, what 30 minutes will do for an open bottle of wine.
2005 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- this bottle showed as well as any I`ve had and all have been over the top; it had elegance and charm along with beautiful balance; the texture was just creamy enough and the taste had more spicy, ginger infused rich citrus, apple, pear and a hint of almond butter; this is so different from earlier CdCs in that it`s less full bodied and does not have that pronounced toasty brioche that I associate with older vintages; nonetheless, I love this style and this 05` is fabulous.
2007 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT- 57% Pinot Noir, 43% Chardonnay; this bottle had bracing acidity almost overwhelmingly so; the nose gave up some mild citrus, most especially lemon; when I tasted it, it reminded me of Cream Soda pop from childhood days with its sweet lemon taste; additionally, some minerals and spicy mild cherry also join in as well as a hit of saline; this had great mouthfeel after getting acclimated to the initial hit of acidity.
NV CHAMPAGNE LAHERTE FRERES EXTRA BRUT ROSE de MUNIER- 100% Pinot Meunier; dark red salmon colour; I got rose petal with some butterscotch in the nose, maraschino cherry and cranberry in the taste; it was as rich as its colour, had a medium body + and overall was an interesting bubbly to look at and explore with this rose different profile.
The good ole cliche applies here: “You can never have too much champagne” [and we still have another Cristal saved for later]
2013 MARC COLIN BATARD-MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- the wowzer of the night AKA wine of the night arrived early on; this was also brought by one who will miss the Millennium dinner on the 16th; this incredibly rich and luscious wine had it all; after catching the aromatics, I looked up and saw smiles all around the table; that and the death silence suggested there was unanimity in appreciation which was verified later on when we voted for the WOTN; intense spicy lemon-lime, peach and pear was carried in a light creamy like texture to the back end; it was beautifully in balance, had layers of depth and a long satisfying finish. Yes!
2010 WILLIAM FEVRE VALMUR CHABLIS GRAND CRU- this wine is a frequent visitor to our dinner group and thankfully so; it`s genuine Chablis with lots of grace and charm; the minerality and texture was reminiscent of childhood cod liver oil, in a good sense although the application as a child was not perceived so positively by me; it had classic oyster shell, flint and minerals complimenting the nice citrus flavours.
2008 BOUCHARD CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- the initial nose had what I announced as a sweat sock odour; fortunately that dissipated and in came some, out of the locker room, good stuff; there was ginger, honeyed, baking spiced accented pear, apple and peach; it had some power and some elegance; fine wine.
2002 VINCENT MONGEARD GRANDS-ECHEZEAUX GRAND CRU- the nose was extremely funky at first and it took a while for it to “blow off” at least in part; what followed was some decent clove and smoke laden red and black cherry which was accented by wood oak.
2002 LUCIEN LE MONDE BONNES-MARES GRAND CRU- a real nice taste treat with cranberry/ cherry first up then spicy strawberry finished off the deal; it had a medium + body, was easy on the palate and very pleasing.
2012 FAIVELEY CORTON CLOS des CORTON FAIVELEY GRAND CRU- big time winner here; it had a medium red colour which belied the depth and intensity of the wine; I got toasty, spicy red cherry in the nose which was followed by more spice and earthy black cherry on the palate; this was elegant to the max; really good mouthfeel and outstanding from the nose through the tail.
To accommodate a foie gras course contributed to by our gracious host, he also brought out the nest wine:
1995 CHATEAU RIEUSSEC SAUTERNES- 750 ml; 95% Sémillon, 2% Muscadelle and 3% Sauvignon; it had an explosive nose followed by honeyed concentrated caramel, butterscotch and roasted peaches with a nice spicy edge; it took 3 rinses to get the sticky stuff out of the wine glass and I excused myself to go wash off my hands.
2005 DOMAINE PAUL AUTARD CUVEE la COTE RONDE CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE- indicative blend is 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache; a first time for me with this wine and it was really good and it was really plentiful as it came in a magnum; it had pepper and spice accents to the red and black cherry and blackberry fruit along with a touch of liquorice; it was big and rich and yet had finesse and charm; the Syrah and Grenache components seem to be fighting for dominance and in the end, they both won.
1988 CHATEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC- label by Keith Haring; I was happy to see this bottle as I have one left and have been curious as to when to open it; our bottle was hopefully a variation from the norm as it had some Brett early on and throughout, but not to detract from the redeeming qualities of righteous milk chocolate laced blackberry/ black cherry fruit.
As an add on and a point of interest, this comes from the Mouton website: “On Baron Philippe’s death in 1988, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (1933-2014), his child, inherits not only a treasure, shared with her three children Camille, Philippe and Julien, but also a heavy responsibility. A well-known actress, she has no hesitation in deciding to end her stage career in order to continue her father’s work. She becomes Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the family company, Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA.”
1987 CHATEAU TALBOT ST. JULIEN- magnum; the blend is generally 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot; the Brett factor rises again here and is prominent in the nose although there were some decent notes intermixed throughout; I got some leather and earthy black currant notes early on, but surprisingly all faded past mid palate pretty quickly.
1989 CHATEAU de BEAUCASTEL CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE- I`ve had many bottles of this wine and initially I accepted the Brett as being a favourable component and actually embraced it; my palate has been much more discerning in the past couple of decades, less tolerable to flaws whether intestinal or not and I am no longer fond of it especially when it dominates; this was our 3rd wine in a row where Brett was the #1 aromatic and taste perception and I`m talking the 4-ethylphenol type with its barnyard, horse stable type notes; underlying was some licorice, earth, and leather laced black cherry, cranberry and black currant fruit; the indicative blend includes varying percentages around 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 10% Counoise, 10% Syrah, 5% Cinsault and I assume some inclusion of Vaccarese and Muscardin.
1990 HENSCHKE HILL OF GRACE SHIRAZ EDEN VALLEY- from the esteemed vineyard planted in 1958, this big dude blasted the palate with some heat and expansive notes of pepper, spicy, rich and super ripe blackberry fruit with Port like intensity even with some degree of sweetness; in fact, in a blind tasting, I call this a Port.
When researching this extremely pricy wine, I found this: “Hill of Grace: this surely is one of the most evocative phrases in the world of wine. It is a translation from the German 'Gnadenberg', a region in Silesia, and the name given to the lovely Lutheran Church across the road.”
2014 JJ PRUM WEHLENER SONNENUHR SPATLESE MOSEL RIESLING- 750 ml; another childhood flashback here with the Squirt or Sprite soda like notes; sweet [as in honeyed] lemonade with a twist of lime and a wedge of grapefruit; it`s full bodied, rich and luscious.
2006 SINE QUA NON MR K THE NOBLE MAN EDNA VALLEY CHARDONNAY- 375 ml; from 100% botrytised Chardonnay, this sweetie had an amazing depth of flavours which included honeyed and spicy peach, nectarine, apricot and creme brûlée; it was thick and almost chewy just short of requiring a knife.
This was not “just another dinner” for our group; it was a one of a kind evening made possible by our gracious host and his coordination for maximum success for a complete wine and dining experience. Bravo!