Recently, our wine dinner group held its annual magnum dinner. Since it was in the month of May, I could affectionally call this May Magnum Madness. And that would be appropriate as we definitely had an absurd amount of magnums for 14 folks.
The venue for this dinner was the Wine Cask Restaurant, an old haunt over decades and one that I still hold in high esteem and with fond memories. Adding to the quality of the dinner was one of Santa Barbara’s best wine savvy waiters who has worked at just about every fine restaurant in the area and previously here as well.
With great friends, suberb service, fine cuisine and a classy dining room ambience, we drank well, often and a lot.
NV FRANCK BONVILLE BRUT ROSE- Magnum; I`ve been a fan of this producer for many years, thanks to K&L`s Gary Westby who turned my on to them; I have particularly enjoyed the rose and in a magnum format, it is even a notch better; since they only grow Grand Cru Chardonnay, the Pinot Noir was sourced via a trade from Paul Dethune and blended into 92% Chardonnay; it had a light pink/red colour; the fruit profile is made up of red and black cherry and red raspberry along with a mild spicy component; its elegant, light and creamy on the palate, has nice acidity with all in perfect balance.
NV GONET-MEDEVILLE BLANC de NOIRS BRUT- Magnum; 1er Cru; 100% Pinot Noir fermented in stainless steel and small used barriques with the fruit coming from the 2011 vintage; pale salmon yellow colour; the first sip revealed a somewhat dry and tart bubbly with cherry and lemon curd most pronounced; in time, the profile changed to include spice and mineral infused orange and red raspberry along with a toasty element.
NV LAURENT-PERRIER BRUT- Magnum; this had clean, yellow colour as well as a clean, refreshing on the palate mouthfeel; it was slightly sweet with mostly citrus laden fruit, it had bright acidity and a nice degree of elegance; this was very easy to drink.
2015 HARTFORD COURT FAR COAST VINEYARD SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY- Magnum; tasted blind; the one who brought it purchased it for its recent high scoring Parker hype; this is very cool climate Chardonnay located on the coast; 14.7% abv; 100% French Oak with 37% new, aged for 16 months; it had a light yellow colour, fresh floral and citrus fruit aromas, lemon zest, pineapple and kiwi fruit with noticeable oak influence; later, I got some pine and vanilla notes as well.
2014 DOMAINE SAINT PREFERT CIUVEE SPECIALE VIEILLES CLAIRETTES CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE BLANC- Magnum; very rare, 1 of 600 magnums, the only format this was released in; 100% Clairette, 80-100-years-old vines, 15 hl/ha, fermented in one new demi-muid plus one new barrique and then aged for 24 months; it had a cloudy yellow gold; it seemed very advanced almost mindful of a cognac or sherry without evidence of high alcohol; it had honeyed grapefruit, mature peach and apricot notes with a bit of nuttiness.
2013 BONNEAU du MARTRAY CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- Magnum; from a severely reduced crop due to hail damage, this wine was made using their traditional 33% amount of new oak, but it was fairly well integrated and not evident on the palate; what was evident was a generous amount of matchstick flintiness, wet stone, lead pencil and minerals; it had a viscous texture which seemed to soften the steeliness just a bit.
2011 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- Magnum; this needed some time as the initial nose and sip was somewhat muted; later on, distinct, pleasant notes came forth including honeyed apple, pear, lemon, flint, honeysuckle and minerals; I expected it to be bigger and bolder, but it was medium bodied and expressed at best; I’m wondering if it was corked in the fashion of the bell curve analogy where the wet cardboard is not yet in play, but the wine is sapped of tis energy and the fruit is significantly less concentrated?
2011 DONNHOFF HERMANNSHOHLE GROSSES GEWAECHS RIESLING- Magnum; this was spectacular and maybe my WOTN, if not the magnum bottle shape of the night; someone made the comment, “top producer, top vineyard” and that pretty well sums it up; I got mild petrol, minerals and citrus in the nose followed by more distinct grapefruit notes that dominated gracefully to the back end; it had bright acidity and an oily texture to add to the sensory pleasures.
2014 FRANCOIS RAVENEAU PETIT CHABLIS- Magnum, which I believe was the only format used for this bottling; pale yellow green colour; the Donnhoff may have been overshadowed by this lovely wine; it was just the epitome of fine Chablis; I got nice mineral laden citrus notes with lemon most prominent from the nose through the tail; the mouthfeel was the bomb and overall, this just sang out a beautiful tune.
1998 CHATEAU de BEAUCASTEL CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE- Magnum; well, I`m called the Donnhoff the WOTN and then comes 2 more that shine equally as brightly; this had my favourite taste profile for a N. Rhone, lots of pepper and spice, in fact so much so, I would not have got this to be CdP in a blind tasting; even the nose had more of a Syrah like aroma and this is a Grenache dominated wine which some of the spiciness [and a little of the pepper] could be attributed to; additionally, there’s some earthy red cherry/ berry fruit delivered in a silky soft texture which enhances the sensory experience; this wine is ready now seemingly fully matured which also may be due to the major portion of Grenache which, as I understand it, is prone to oxidation.
2013 CEDRIC PARPETTE MONTMAIN COTE-ROTIE- Magnum; Cedric Parpette is a younger vintner who took over duties from his father in law, Rene Fernandez, in the early 2000s. "Le Montmains" comes from old vines in the Côte Brune area; what I loved about the CdP was the pepper and spice accents which I rarely find to the extent in that region, but usually find and prefer in Cote-Rotie and Hermitage where more cool climate Syrah exists; this had what I wanted in spades; mucho pepper and spice to compliment the violets aromas and plum, blackberry and blueberry flavours with everything being in nice balance; another winner and my previously chosen WOTN just took another hit.
2008 PLUMPJACK CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE NAPA- Magnum; as far as I can remember, I’ve never had a PJ reserve cab and this was a good one to start with; young and vibrant, yet mellow and approachable, this had lovely fresh blackberry and black currant fruit with spice and milk chocolate accents; it was full bodied, had a silky smooth mouthfeel aided by the soft tannins and held on for a welcomed long finish.
2000 FONTODI VIGNA del SORBO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA- Magnum; this was severely flawed with both Brett and VA character immediately apparent and table confirmed.
1983 GOULD CAMPBELL VINTGE PORT- 750 ml; the immediate hit on this wine was of intense alcohol, almost overbearing; I swirled repeatedly and waited and finally came back to approach this with a little less energy; now it brings on some fine cranberry/ black cherry fruit along with dark chocolate; its full bodied providing a mouthful of fortified fruit throughout.
A little about the winery: It was founded in 1797 by Garret Gould and was acquired by the Symington family in 1970 but is still run as a private family business today; its located in the Alto Douro area, where grapes produce Ports with great complexity and depth, Gould Campbell uses traditional methods and still tread their grapes by foot in the lagares.
So, as to my WOTN, I’m still waffling as I write up my notes. OK, its the Donnhoff.