When the email invite came out for our next dinner group event, I was immediately elated to see that one of our members was treating us to 2 different Guigal La Las from 3 different vintages. Little did I know that we would have 6 stellar tete de cuvee champagnes, 3 grand cru white Burgs and 3 other great white wines before we even got to the stars of the show. In fact, I scanned the table at that point and sensed a similar vibe that I was feeling that we could just call it a day and do the La Las another time. Well, sort of.
To add to the magic of this evening, our venue was the Tydes Restaurant in the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, a private membership club, situated atop Butterfly Beach at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. We sat at our preferred upper deck outside patio oceanfront location with the rhythmic breaking of the surf`s waves just below us and the magnificent panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and outlying channel islands in the background while the sun was moving through its phases of pre and post setting.
Fourteen of us had cheek to cheek smily faces and vapour trails around our heads and gratefulness in our hearts throughout the entire evening as we sipped our way through 3 hours of pure pleasure.
The wines in order of pouring started with the first flight of 6 champagnes:
2004 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- I had taken the 06` and 05` to 2 other recent dinners with many of the same people in attendance, so this allowed for some of us to get a vertical comparison; I love the toasty brioche and power of the 06` and really like the elegance and charm of the 05`, but this 04` was in a such a great place with perfect balance, bright acidity, a rich and full body and a lush and creamy mouthfeel; as with all of the CdCs, it`s made from grand cru vineyards; this has a dosage of 9 g/l.
MV KRUG BRUT GRAND CUVEE 162 eme EDITION in magnum- just seeing the large bottle format was orgasmic; the ID code was 313054 which tells us this is a blend of 142 wines with the oldest coming from 1990 and the youngest from 2006 spanning reserve wines from 11 different vintages; it received its cork in the summer of 2013; its a blend of 44% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 21% Meunier; this had an abundance of flavors including honeysuckle, toasted brioche, caramel, almond butter, citrus, apples and pears; it was rich and full bodied, opulent and a classy edition for MV Krug.
2007 PHILIPPONNAT CLOS des GOISSES BRUT- I had just taken a bottle of this to our dinner 2 weeks ago and this one came from another fortunate source; I loved it then and now as it had consistent notes which I quote in part from before: 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay; as indicated on the back label, it was bottled in June 2008 and disgorged in September 2016 at 4.5% g/pl; it is absolutely fabulous; fresh citrus dominates the aromatics and continues on in the taste profile along with spice, ginger, saline and more specifically, lemon zest; it had a medium full body, a creamy mousse and all of the treasures staying the course through the finish; I liked that it was not sweet, but not dry; it`s nicely acidic which should allow for ageing and an even more lovely mature expression; from a supposedly “off” vintage, this has to be one of the best from 07`.
1996 KRUG BRUT- I bought 2 6 packs of this gem a long time ago and am now down to conserving 3 bottles so I was happy another brought this one to get a read on where it might be; it comes from the highly touted 96` vintage which since release, has been subjected to many claims, some as recent as last month, of being too young and not ready, to over the hill and tough luck buddy; I tend to err on the side of drinking wines “younger” especially champagnes as I`ve had too many that were oxidized and basically expensive sherry; our bottle was somewhat advanced which was first noticed from its yellow gold color; fortunately, it had not gone into the almond nutty stage and had some nice honeysuckle, ginger and butterscotch infused pear, lemon and orange notes; with time, it gave even more pleasure as well as having a firm texture and intriguing and unfolding layers for more exploration; a very good mature bottle IMHO.
2006 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- I did not bring this one either as some thought; it was as delicious and wondrous as all those before it; it had that cherished and distinguishing toasty brioche character throughout along with amazing acidity as well as its additional hallmarks of a creamy mousse, layered depth and complexity; consistently wondrous champagne.
2004 MOET et CHANDON DOM PERIGNON BRUT- 52% pinot noir and 48% chardonnay; this had firm acidity with fresh, ripe and spicy citrus fruit, especially lemon and lime with a touch of saline; a good Dom that was just another great champagne on this night.
Second flight of 3 grand cru white Burgs:
2005 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY CHEVALIER-MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- this is a wondrous wine which checks all of the boxes for being such; the nose suggests something extra special and that is an understatement as this rocks on; concentrated lemon rind comes in first, then a streak of minerals follows; a little sweetness along with spice and chalky notes adds to the profile; the oak is already nicely integrated; the creamy texture aides even more to the joyous dance on the palate and extends the finish.
2013 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY BATARD-MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- this wine took it to another level after the 05` Chev; even in its youth, it showed beautifully; from the nose through the tail, honeysuckle, minerals and herbs provided accents to the abundance of citrus flavors with lime the most prominent; a trace of pine sort of drifted in and out; it had a rich. oily texture and was in perfect balance; after 6 marvellous champagnes and the above wine, can I stand any more decadence?
After I took a big breath, the answer is unequivocally YES!
2011 JOSEPH DROUHIN MARQUIS de LAGUICHE MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- this is just loaded with robust flavors which on the palate translated into mineral, vanilla and spice laden pear, apple and citrus fruit with lemon and orange peel most prominent; this had high acid levels with a streak of mineraltiy from the nose on; all the goodies were delivered in a viscous texture; it had serious depth and complexity and was so rich and fulfilling.
Third flight of 3 superb whites. I`m thinking this flight should have preceded the Grand Cru white Burgs, but it worked out beautifully as these wines held their own:
2015 ROTAM & MOUNIR SAOUMA [AKA LUCIEN le MOINE] MAGIS CHATEAUNEUF de PAPE BLANC- 75% Grenache Blanc, 10% Clairette, 10% Roussane and 5% Bourboulenc; lots of petrol in the nose then minerals take over before the palate is dosed with sublime spicy orange, lime and lemon peel notes; it had a fabulous mouthfeel, was rich and full bodied and exuded class with eye opening, unexpected power and finesse.
2011 DOMAINE GEORGES VERNAY LES CHAILLEES de l`ENFER CONDRIEU- 100% Voignier; this rich and viscous beauty had so much going for it with a nose of tropical fruit and gardena aromatics followed by mineral infused and honeyed lemon zest notes; some ginger and honeysuckle come in late; the oily texture carries everything to the back end and then just hangs around; delicious, palate coating and highly appealing.
2004 TRIMBACH CLOS Ste. HUNE RIESLING ALSACE- the vineyard source comes from Trimbach`s most famous 1.67-hectare vineyard which is a south-facing limestone enclave that sits snugly inside Grand Cru Rosacker with vines averaging 50 years old; the nose greets us with dominating steely, mineral and petrol laden notes accenting the honeyed lemon, orange peel and butterscotch that prevails throughout; it`s dense, full bodied and looong.
It`s time to prepare the glasses by either drinking up or dumping Krug and Dom and Batard and Montrachet. I chose to drink up.
Drum roll. The stars of the show just arrived in the form of Guigal`s La Landonne and La Turque from 97`. 99` and 03` vintages, but poured in a different order:
1997 E. GUIGAL LA LANDONNE COTE-ROTIE- 100% Syrah; the initial nose had some Brett character in the form of 4-ethylphenol horse leather, band-aid and barnyard and it never really blew off; additionally, some tar and earthy and tobacco laden dried red currant and dried blackberry came in and held on to the end; it had an inky dark color and was full bodied in weight and texture.
1997 E. GUIGAL LA TURGUE COTE-ROTIE- one of the most profound wines I’ve ever tasted was the 85` La Turque, so I’m always excited to taste others; as usual, some Viognier is blended in to this wine, in this case 7%; this was absolutely fabulous; the cold was a deep, dark, rich purple with no signs of ageing; the nose had an alluring spiciness with ripe cranberry, red cherry, blueberry and blackberry fruit; hints of licorice and bacon add to the amazing taste profile; its soft and silky smooth and actually grew on the palate over time; it was certainly one of my favs of the night.
2003 E. GUIGAL LA LANDONNE COTE-ROTIE- a bit of VA in the nose, but nice notes take over and please with coffee, mocha and dark chocolate accented blackberry and black currant fruit prevailing; it was full bodied, had soft tannins and a long, sustained finish.
2003 E. GUIGAL LA TURQUE COTE-ROTIE- with a youthful vibrant dark purple color, this had more youth expressed in the nose and taste with fresh and ripe concentrated blackberry and black currant fruit with accents of cedar, spice and licorice; it was full on, weighty, long and structured for the long run; its no where near maturity, but what a journey it shall be to track its progression.
1999 E. GUIGAL LA LANDONNE COTE-ROTIE- from an amazing vintage, this and the next one shined ever so brightly, illuminating over and above the 4 before them; this was rich and lush, concentrated and layered, had super ripe fruit with lots of embellishments and great mouthfeel; leather, earth, licorice and black pepper join the sweet and luscious black cherry fruit with a touch of blackberry also showing up; it was full bodied, seamless, complex and had great, welcomed length; another fav on the night.
1999 E. GUIGAL LA L TURQUE COTE-ROTIE- as if I can stand another big time wine, this nails it out of the gate; the nose is redolent of spicy dark fruit with hints of leather, smoke, licorice and bacon which lend perfect accents to the fresh and rich blackberry, blueberry, plum and black cherry fruit; it had a silky smooth texture, incredible depth and seemed to expand and grow in the glass; is this the WOTN? It was mine.
We wrap up this fantastic night with 3 dessert wines:
1988 CHATEAU SUDUIRAUT SAUTERNES- 750 ml; Semillon, Sauvignon
Blanc blend; if opulent is the operative word for this evening, it has to apply to this sweetie too; following its yellow, faded red and gold color comes honeyed dried pineapple/ apple nectar; as expected, the goodies travel along in a syrupy thick texture and then just hang on until dental floss removal.
2009 EIFEL-PFEIFER HEINZ EIFEL BEERENAUSLESE LATE HARVEST RHEINHESSEN- 375ml; Sylvaner; thick, honeyed texture and sweetened apricot nectar.
1998 M. CHAPOUTIER VIN de PAILLE HERMITAGE- 375 ml; 100% Marsanne; it is aged for 2 months on straw mats prior to pressing and ageing in new oak; this is liquid gold considering the price tag and bottle size although I could say that about numerous wines on this night; it is serious and yet not intense; this is such a treat with sweet, but not too sweet honeyed and mint flavored peach and apricot; it had power, but was not over powering; it had a medium + body and long lasting, palate coating finish.
I am so blessed to be a part of something that is so much bigger than the whole. To be able to drink many wines that I otherwise would not have drunk is part of the blessing as well as being associated with such giving, passionate, fun loving folks. I’ve used many superlatives in this write-up and am searching for more now, but I`ll just leave it that this was a superlative evening.
Oh, BTW, the vote for WOTN ended up in a tie with 6 votes going to the 99` La Landonne and 6 votes going to the 99` La Turque. Just about every wine could qualify for the prize on another night.