Our fine wine dinner group met at one of our Santa Barbara favs, Petit Valentien to dine and enjoy a wine theme of champagne, white Burgundy and world`s best Merlot.
Eight of us were seated at an outside table on a comfortable Santa Barbara evening. We had a side table for our wines and ice buckets and as always, did our own wine service with many bringing their own stemware. We drank well:
2000 CHAMPAGNE LANSON NOBLE CUVEE BRUT- the typical blend is about 2/3 Chardonnay and 1/3 Pinot Noir; a recent acquisition to my champagne stash, this was my first venture into this release and it was a good one that was confirmed repeatedly throughout the evening as we re-visited it; the hallmark was its bright acidity; it gave generous amounts of ripe citrus fruit with accents of ginger, spice and toasted brioche; it was full bodied and mouth filing and yet had finesse and charm; it was so refreshing and beautiful balanced; great bubbly.
The first flight of 5 white Burgundy:
2014 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY les NARVAUX MEURSAULT- this has been known to have firm reduction causing muted aromas, but we gave this over an hour to evolve in the glass and it went from being mostly flint and minerals to giving really nice fresh white flowers, pear, apple and now integrated mineralality; it had a medium+ body with just enough weight which added to its allure.
As an aside, Pierre Yves Colin was the winemaker for his father's Domaine Marc Colin until 2005. He began his own domaine, first as a micro-négociant operation, focusing on tiny quantities of the finest wines that he could buy. Now he has grown his domaine with the help of family holdings to 70% plots that he owns and 30% grapes he purchases. His holdings are mostly in Chassagne-Montrachet (where the domaine is located) but he also produces multiple bottlings of Meursault, St. Aubin, and Puligny-Montrachet. He has rapidly become a star in Cote de Beaune and is now considered one of the pre-eminent young producers of white Burgundy. His choice to use larger demi-muid barrels and eschew the use of battonnage, makes each one of his bottlings a clear expression of its terroir and a study in mineral-driven Chardonnay.
2011 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY EN REMILLY CUVEE NICOLAS et MATHIS SAINT AUBIN 1er Cru- I`ve had quite a few of this gem and this bottle held up to the high standard of those before it; the peach, pear, apple and citrus fruit was delivered in a creamy texture all the way to the back end; a common thread of minerals was sustained throughout; the combination of inviting aromas, fresh ripe fruit, great mouthfeel and a long finish make this a complete winner.
Nicholas et Mathis is a special cuvée sourced from the very best part of Remilly, a plot perfectly positioned on the mid-slope of the vineyard, very near the Grand Cru site of Chevalier-Montrachet, which produces some of the most rare and expensive white wine in the world. Nicholas et Mathis is much rarer than Colin-Morey’s basic En Remilly.
2002 LOUIS JADOT CHABLIS FOURCHAUME 1er Cru- this juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks (50%) and in wooden barrels as are all of their Grands Crus from the Côte d'Or area; the wine is then aged in barrels during 15-18 months before bottling (usually about 30% new oak); our bottle was really good; it offered nice expressions of mineral infused lime and kiwi notes; it was medium bodied, light and easy on the palate and left a refreshing after taste.
2015 DOMAINE PAUL PERNOT BOURGOGNE BLANC- this was served blind by the one who brought it to prove a point of a good QPR Chardonnay coming from Burgundy; our bottle was pleasant and quite approachable with fresh citrus, especially lemon, pear and melon fruit with a touch of oak delivered in a medium texture; I’m thinking this is more of a food friendly wine than a stand alone quaffer.
In the case of Domaine Paul Pernot, the vigneron tradition runs back about 200 years; although Paul Pernot founded the domaine in 1959, the family had been growing and making wine long before that—mostly for the Drouhin family; now the third generation of Pauls is learning the classic, careful farming and winemaking that makes this domaine such a success.
2007 DOMAINE BOUCHARD PERE et FILS CHEVALIER-MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- I was so looking forward to tasting this and once I saw the dark gold colour, I exhaled and looked for what was coming up next; the oxidative notes were sadly overwhelming. And this bring came from one who brought the Masseto and dessert wine which more than made up for the loss here.
The second flight of 3 Merlot:
1998 CHATEAU MOULIN SAINT GEORGES SAINT EMILION- at first, some heat wafted out of the glass, but soon it dissipated and gave way to earth, leather and tertiary dried black currant, blackberry and plum fruit; it was medium bodied at best and finish a bit dry.
1994 BERINGER ESTATE BANCROFT RANCH HOWELL MOUNTAIN MERLOT- the typical blend is 90% Merlot and equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; for me, this was an old friend from the days of drinking both the Merlot and Cabernet from this producer in the 70s-90s; our bottle was amazing in that the colour and everything that followed were exuding youth and vitality and not anywhere close to representing a 24 yer old wine; the nose and taste profile included fresh, ripe, distinctive slightly sweetened black cherry; it was full bodied, rich, tasty, highly energetic and long; marvellous.
1988 LEONETTI CELLAR WALLA WALLA MERLOT- I recently bought this wine having faith in the producer`s track record for producing fabulous Cabs and Merlots and trusting this to follow suit; well, after tasting, I’m thinking this was a skeleton of itself, but having some good bones; the colour was a presumably faded transparent medium red, the nose and taste was replete with sweet and spicy red cherry/ berry fruit; it was medium bodied at best and finished with more fruit forward red cherry notes.
The 3rd flight of 4 Merlot:
2009 CHATEAU BELLEVUE-MONDOTTE SAINT EMILION- this had an inky dark purple colour denoting and confirming its youthfulness; the nose was redolent of ripe dark fruit which translated into blackberry, black cherry, black currant and blueberry with accents of liquorice and cedar on the palate; it was full throttled, layered with depth and complexity and somewhat oaky; this is a majorly extracted big boy that has a lot of power and energy, it will take decades for it to simmer down and gain a bit of finesse to balanced it out; this was the WOTN for the group.
2001 CHATEAU LA CLUSIERE SAINT EMILION- this was the final vintage of this release as owner Gerard Perse decided to blend La Clusiere into Château Pavie in 02`; the estate was purchased by Perse in 1997 from Jean Paul Valette, the owner of Chateau Pavie, which Perse purchased as well; Chateau La Clusiere is a small 2.5 hectare Saint Emilion vineyard set between Pavie Decesse to the north and Pavie to the west and south, planted with 100% old vine, Merlot; I know the property well as 9 of us dined at the Valette home with Jean Paul and his wife in 1992 after touring the vineyards; we had magnums of older wines; on this night, our bottle was stupendous; it had the whole enchilada from the nose through the tail with inviting aromatics of coffee and dark chocolate laden blackberry fruit; the taste profile had black raspberry, blueberry and blackberry as well as the aforementioned seasonings; it was full bodied, complex and surprisingly in some semblance of balance; it had power AND finesse which is why I called it my fav on the night over the other 2 in this flight.
2004 TENUTA dell`ORNELLAIA MASSETO TOSCANA- this was absolutely special; it had all of the hallmarks for great Masseto with its trademark silky smooth, velvety texture and it so pleasing aromatics and taste; this bottle showed its youthfulness and plea for maturation; I noticed my last notes for this vintage was in late 2012 and I made similar comments then; it had milk chocolate, vanilla and spicy fresh, ripe blueberry notes with additional hints of blackberry and red currant; in 2012, I stated it needs at least 10 more years and now in 2018 I can safely say it needs 10 more years at least.
2016 ONCE & FUTURE SANGIACOMO VINEYARD MERLOT CARNEROUS SONOMA COUNTY- this comes from Joel Peterson of Ravenswood renown which he sold in 01`, but remained as the winemaker to date; it was very fruit forward with ripe red and black fruit dominating from the nose on; unintegrated oak influence also was prevalent; I’m thinking this wine needs a lot of time to evolve and come together; it certainly has the structure, bright acidity and an abundance of ripe fruit for it to happen.
Our dessert wine:
1998 ALOIS KRACHKER NUMBER 11 WELSCHRIESLING TBA- 375 ml; 7.5% abv; this was honeyed strawberry, red cherry nectar served up in a syrupy thick substance that coated my palate until the next morning.
Another great night with the gang and due to our smaller numbers, it allowed for enlightening entire table conversations. This was also one of the few nights where I actually received every wine that was on the table. What a concept!