An extraordinary fine wine dining event was created to welcome the return to Santa Barbara of a friend, Mike Grammer, who I met through the wine forums on Wine Berserkers over the past few years. He had visited Santa Barbara a few years ago so we had some face with a name history. He had already started his West Coast tour having spent 4 days out of a total of 17 in the Orange County area.
To do this righteously, I chose the Belmond El Encanto, one of the 4 top resort restaurants in our area. They are situated high up in the Santa Barbara Riviera and have amazing views that look down and out over the city, harbor, Pacific and channel islands.
I rounded up a few folks who co-participate in some of the various wine groups here. Everyone contributed with great brings.
Our weather has been super hot and when we arrived at the resort, they offered to locate us in their temperature controlled wine cellar dining room and I went for it. We had privacy that allowed for a table conversation and a perfect ambience in a cellar like setting. Also, our wines were not subjected to the elements and could be drunk at our preferred temperatures. The restaurant provided a friend and dedicated server who I had requested while dining a couple of weeks ago and she delivered in spades. We did our own wine service as is our preference.
2006 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- I`ve had many bottles of this wonderful bubbly and it seems that in recalling the past, each one gets better than those before it; that was certainly the case as this one shined the brightest; it had the cherished toasty brioche character throughout along with amazing acidity as well as its hallmark creamy mousse, depth and complexity; all in all, this champagne reaches to the height of the top tete de cuvee champagnes.
2008 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT- I just picked up some bottles locally although I had ordered ordered some on a pre-arrival basis and had to include it in this lineup. No doubt, the vintage and critical acclaim have suggested this is nothing short of spectacular; well, I believe it will get there, but on this occasion, it fell really short probably due to its youthfulness and perhaps some travel shock and also on the heals of the superb CdC.
My notes: 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir; at first, this was pretty subdued, tight and ungiving; with time it started to open up a little, much like the petals of a flower going from being fully enclosed to slightly open; I had to search for some of the goodies, but sure enough, some depth and complexity became apparent and all was well albeit suggestive of giving this a lot of time before revisiting [ha, ha. I don’t seem to be able to keep my hands off these youngsters]; the color was a very pale yellow; the nose had mild citrus notes which translated into lemon, lime and green apple on the palate; there’s a bit of saline and hint of spice; although it never reached a place of full on giving, it was clearly evident that this has the richness and power to provide the class and royalty expected and acclaimed.
2016 DONNHOFF NIEDERHAUSER HERMANNSHOHLE RIESLING SPATLESE- what a great Riesling this is; some of us have had it a few times of late and it consistently gives joyous pleasure starting with the aromatics of grapefruit, citrus and melon and a hit of toast; next comes honeyed herb and mineral infused lemon lime on the palate while being delivered in a creamy, viscous texture which carries all of the now integrated pearls to the back end.
2004 BOUCHARD PERE et FILS CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- a distinctive attractive minty perfume wafts out of the glass and begs for more discovery; I oblige and find wondrous minerality and spicy citrus notes with lemon zest most evident; it had a welcomed long lingering finish with all of the treasures coming together for the grand finale.
2001 MARQUIS de LANGUICHE [JOSEPH DROUHIN] MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- there’s a lot going on here with mint and lemon notes on the nose followed by minerals, spice, saline, white pepper, honey and vanilla laden citrus on the palate, it had an oily texture which enhanced the sensory experience and served to lengthen the finish.
2005 DOMAINE SAINT-MARTIN BONNES-MARES GRAND CRU- the color and nose suggest a serious wine here and it was true to form; mindful of childhood days, I got jujube fruit somewhere in the mix of oak influenced burnt toasty red cherry; it was young and vibrant, full bodied and long.
Many at the table like me were not familiar with this producer. One remarked that they only existed for a few vintages. I did not find any information to elaborate or confirm.
1989 DOMAINE ROBERT GROFFIER BONNES-MARES GRAND CRU- this was a splendid red Burg with lots of virtues; it was very rich and full bodied and loaded with ripe red and black fruit with red and black cherry most prominent; it exuded class with its layered complexity and tantalising mouthfeel; perhaps its hallmark was its incredible balance from the nose through the tail; at the end of the night after all wines were reviewed, it contentedly got WOTN.
2011 MAISON ILAN AUX CHARMES HAUT CHARMES-CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU- this was really pleasing with nice spicy fruitiness and although young and not yet evolved, it had all of the structure, acidity and ripe fruit to support putting this away and re-visit a decade or 2 later; I loved the spicy red cherry and red raspberry that prevailed from the nose on and it had some weight that added nice mouthfeel.
2005 DOMAINE JACQUES PRIEUR MUSIGNY GRAND CRU- I thought the Groffier was the best up until tasting this and had to reassess my vote; this had youthful, vibrant dark fruit all the way through with accents of spice and violets; fresh and ripe blackberry and black cherry prevailed in this full bodied, layered beauty; it hit all of the olfactory, taste and tactile sensory receptors in the right spot. Great wine.
1997 E. GUIGAL LA MOULINE COTR-ROTIE- with a lot of “Grand” wines on the night, a La La just has to be in the mix and this one was a good one; the color was dark purple; I got mint, eucalyptus, liquorice and bacon in the nose followed by more of the same plus blueberry and blackberry fruit with some red cherry and jujube coming in late past mid palate; it had a fantastic mouthfeel, immense depth and length; now I`m rethinking my WOTN again as this has to be in the conversation.
2013 SIN QUA NON MALE CALIFORNIA SYRAH- 15.5 % abv; 80% Syrah, 7% Petite Sirah, 6% Mourvèdre, 3.5% Touriga Nacional and 3.5% Viognier, done with 28% whole clusters and aged 25 months in 65% new French oak; this a big boy in diapers just waiting to explode on the scene at the high school level without even going through puberty; it had an inky black color denoting the seriousness of this bottle labeled as a Syrah, but it looked like black strap molasses; on the nose and palate came more than generous amounts of vanilla, talc, mild chocolate and sweet dark fruit with blackberry jam most prominent; it had massive weight and body and did not want to let go at the end; I did a glassware and mouth wash afterwards to avoid any carry over into another wine.
1989 CHATEAU MONTROSE SAINT-ESTEPHE- 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc; this was what we needed after we got cranked up by Krankl, some semblance of order and a rest for the palate; it had a really youthful color and presence about it, drinking really well; it was in perfect balance which may be the hallmark of this wondrous wine; I loved its rich and spicy, earthy black currant and blackberry fruit along with its silky smooth texture; it had power and finesse and is a great example for the analogy of an iron fist and a velvet glove. On most nights, this would be the top wine, but I could stay that about almost every wine on the table.
1983 OPUS ONE NAPA- 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot; I`m thinking this had more Rothschild than Mondavi or maybe it was just the bottle was turned a bit to the Baron`s side; one knows immediately upon getting into the perfume that this is a treat as it gave enticing liquorice infused plum, blackberry and black currant notes;
it was beautifully elegant with its soft, smooth texture and great taste; it had impeccable balance to top it off; a touch of leather and tobacco come in late; a great Opus.
1986 CHATEAU HAUT BRION PESSAC-LEOGNAN- I`m getting a funk in the nose and having trouble identifying it and here I am, the Ghost Buster`s version of the Flaw Buster; of course it was Brett, thanks to my table mate next to me and it was the 4-ethylphenol type that gives that barnyard, bandaid aroma; some redeeming qualities remained in the form of saddle leather, tobacco ad cigar box laden black currant and black cherry; the Brett factor was just a bit too much for me, being a purest and all. [tongue in cheek]
2001 CHATEAU d`YQUEM SAUTERNES- 375 ml; amber color; I`ve been blessed to have had quite a few of this gem and this bottle was the best of all; it was rich with honeyed apricot, peach and orange peel which were delivered in a creamy, viscous texture all the way to the back end; creme brûlée, almond paste and dried pineapple also show up; it has very bright acidity and promises to be around for the long run even in a small bottle format.
1993 CHATEAU PAJZOS TOKAJI ESSENCIA HUNGARY- 500 ml; 7% abv; this thick, syrupy sweetie had light maple syrup color and sweet, honeyed, and clove laden citrus, peach and pear fruit; past mid palate, more lime and lemon notes showed up; this was absolutely fabulous and can hang with the d`Yquems easily IMHO. How rare and special to get them on the same night.
2002 DANIEL LENKO ESTATE WINERY VIOGNIER ICE WINE NIAGARA PENNISULA- 375 ml; 10% abv; research states that more ice wine is made on the Niagara Peninsula than anywhere else on Earth; as mentioned at the table, this is a rare and treasured wine with little if any remaining available; sadly, it was corked, but I did detect some nice minty, apricot and peach notes.
1998 KRACHER # 4 WELSCHRIESLING ZWISCHEN den SEEN TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE- 375 ml; fabulous with nutty, caramel and apricot nectar served up in a syrupy substance; its lingering taste and film may still be on my palate now 2 days later.
This was an absolutely great evening and one that was perfect for the Mike Grammer West Coast tour. Yes, we had numerous over the top wines all in one sitting, but we all deserve it every once in a while, right?
Life is really good,