Our dinner group held it`s once a year Winner Gets Dinner event at bouchon, the restaurant where we typically do our Millennium dinner in December. Instead of being located in the separate, private and most appropriately wine related ambience Cork Room, we were set up on the outside enclosed patio taking full advantage of the overhead heaters on a COLD evening.
The theme is about whoever brings the WOTN gets treated to dinner by all others. All but dessert wines are eligible and this time, we had 5 whites and 1 champagne and 7 reds with all but the champagne poured blind. We first picked the winner of the whites and secondly, the reds and then the best of the 2.
Our dinner menu:
Baked brie `en croute` with lemon dressed wild arugula, balsamic pickled dates, Marcona almond `snow`
Dungeness crab cake, with crimson beet puree, citrus aioli, pink lady golden beet relish
Steak tartare, American Wagyu, black truffle vinaigrette, cold poached quail, egg crostini
Butternut squash puree, crispy ginger, EVOO
Heirloom baby carrots & herbed burrata with slivered radishes, spicy greens, grain mustard vinaigrette
Tom Shepard Farms organic mixed greens with herbed chèvre, Marcona almonds, citrus supremes, blood orange vinaigrette
Seared sea scallops with favs bean & heirloom baby carrot risotto, Dijon emulsion, wilted pea tendrils
Crispy local fresh sea bass with fingerling potatoes, dandelion greens, hazelnut Romesco, tomatoes buerre blanc
Pan roasted salmon with warm German potato salad, asparagus spears, thyme burr blanc
Black garlic braised Kurobuta pork shank with house made pappardelle, baby chanterelles, braised fennel, faves, garlic pan sauce
Grilled Snake River Farms Waygu centre cut ribeye with celeriac, bacon lardon & shiitake hash, red wine mushroom veal demi
Forest mushroom ragout with roasted tomatoes, baby spinach, truffled panino, K & C garden watercress, pan jus
The first wine we had we had was the champagne [not served blind] followed by 5 whites, all served blind:
2006 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- although champagne has never won this event, I just had to bring one and I thought this had a chance since it had been revered so many times previously; it got 1 vote in the white round and guess who casted it? And, I did so honesty believing it was the best of all the whites as this bottle was as brilliant as any of the 06` CdCs of the many I’ve had; the nose was so inviting with toasted brioche, saline, smoke, spice, citrus and stone fruit notes and a bit of mineralality in the background as well as a first time appearance of white pepper; it had bright acidity, was full bodied and completely sensorially satisfying; there was only a touch of sweetness which is another thing I love about this wine in that the dosage has been touted to be in the 9 gm/l area, but it is not cloyingly sweet.
2010 LOUIS LATOUR CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU- with a yellow gold color, the nose had mild notes of minerals, flint, apple and citrus which continued on in harmony through the taste profile with match stick flint more pronounced at the end; it had ideal balance and mouthfeel; I liked all but the matchstick part which remind me way too much of SO2, if it was in fact not the case.
2010 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY VIDES BOURSES CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET 1er Cru- there was a bit more flint in the nose, but less thereafter, plus it had a streak of minerals along with a similar fruit profile as the previous wine and I` m thinking there’s no doubt both are white Burgundy and perhaps from the same producer snd/or commune or both; wrong; I found this wine to be just a little more expressive and complex and liked and rated it over the CC.
2012 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LES CAILLERETES CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET 1er Cru- this was really good starting out with pleasant aromatics leading into a nice, fresh fruit profile delivered in an elegant manner to the back end and staying true to its entry notes all the way through; spicy green apples and lemon-lime was most prevalent; although not seriously complex, it was delightful.
2013 ETIENNE SAUZET la GARENNE PULIGNY-MONTRACHET 1er Cru the first nose was of distinct minerality along with citrus notes, on the palate came more mineral dominated citrus along with a hint of peach and nuttiness way in the background; it was medium bodied and had bright acidity.
2000 LUR SALUCES “Y” YGRET BORDEAUX SUPERIEUR- from Chateau d`Yquem; 80% this is a blend of dry Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc; although I had just tasted this [not blind], I did not recognize it, but sure loved it; it had incredible balance and elegance with a so pleasing mouthfeel; tropical fruit joins honeysuckle and hints of ginger to compliment the fresh lemon zest that pervades all the way through; this got my vote for the best of the true whites, but the champagne has my heart and won it over again.
I was in rare air here as the Latour CC was the winner of the whites.
We moved into the 7 reds tasted blind. When it came to pouring, it was tricky because I took both Burgundy and Bordeaux stems and not knowing which was which, I ended up with most of the wines in the wrong glass until recognising that and re-pouring.
2014 DOMAINE des LAMBRAYS CLOS des LAMBRAYS MOREY ST. DENIS GRAND CRU- poured in to a Bordeaux stem, I immediately recognised the lighter red color and after getting the nose, re- poured it into the Burg stem; I know, I could have detected it from feeling the bottle shape, but at this point, I did not think to do so and learned a lesson for the rest of the flight; it started out somewhat muted and tight, but after 10-15 minutes it opened up and kept opening and landed in a great place; rich and luscious spicy blue, black and red fruit expanded more in the taste profile and it was the fresh blueberry that got my attention; there was definitely some non integrated oak, but its not overbearing and after seeing the vintage, its easy to assume the wine will balance out; this could have benefitted from being decanted for a few hours. After all of that, it was my fav of the flight.
2004 PRIDE MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS PETITE SIRAH NAPA- this was definitely not compatible with the red Burg it followed, but at least this time I poured it into a Bordeaux stem; I got it as PS and thought it was the one I took only to discover it was not once revealed; the color was an inky black purple; the nose was intense requiring some distance and less of an inhale; it was a hugely extracted black beauty with loads of layered complexity and unfolding nuances; a foundation of stiff tannins provided substantial structure; blackberry and then blueberry fruit prevailed; there was a touch of pepper; this was just too big, intense and out of balance to get any vote regardless of thinking I thought I brought it.
1999 DOMAINE DUJAC CHARMES-CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU- this showed really well with impeccable balance, charm, grace and elegance all wrapped up and delivered in a smooth and silky texture; now I had a challenge to my preference for the first red Burg as they both were screaming royalty and class; the younger wine won out, but this is clearly a big time winner wine.
1995 DOMAINE PONSOT CLOS de la ROCHE CUVEE VIELLES VIGNES GRAND CRU- the nose was redolent of Brettanomyces, the 4-ethylphenol:, band-aids, barnyard, horse stable and antiseptic type and just about all of those descriptors fit. There was some redeeming qualities with decent spicy fruit scattered throughout the barnyard; Interestingly to me, it tied for the best of the reds with the Lambrays and I gave it no consideration due to the flaws.
2004 SWITCHBACK RIDGE PETERSON FAMILY VINEYARD PETITE SIRAH NAPA- I won this event a few years back with this wine and thought I`d give it another go, but as some of the troops stated, “we`ve moved on from the blockbuster Petites”; I got faked out thinking the Pride PS was my bottle and actually liked this one much better as it had decent balance and less seriously, extracted intensity, but still on the intense side of things; it did have inky black purple color and it was big and bold, but comparatively easier on the palate; the nose and taste had eucalyptus and mint accented sweet black cherry/ berry fruit which lasted forever on the finish. My teeth now are in dire need of a whitener, but wait, it isn’t over.
2014 SIN QUA NON CAPO dei PUTTI ELEVEN CONFESSION VINEYARD SYRAH- 16.2% abv; oak seemed to dominate this early on and all the way through; sweet black cherry and blackberry jam was most prevalent throughout with a wood spice accent; it was a teeth staining, full throttle, majorly extracted, reduced and in your face confrontation. My palate has been challenged and now in addition to a whitener, I need a mouthwash.
2002 GREENOCK CREEK VINEYARD & CELLARS ROENNFELDT ROAD BAROSSA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON- 15.5% abc; the loong necked bottle was looming out of the brown bag and it was loong on the oak and dark fruit profile; it was full bodied, had layered complexity and seemingly not yet fully integrated and yes, it was loong on the finish and shoort on the vote getting.
After initially bagging, the wines had been stored under the table by the bagger and he discovered 2 remaining bottles after we had completed the voting process for the reds. It made no difference after once poured and tasted as the winner was clearly preferred over all others including these.
2009 PRATS & SYMINGTON “P + S” CHRYSEIA DUORO- 70% Touriga Nacional and 30% Touriga Franca from Prats and Symington's own prime vineyards of Quinta de Roriz and Quinta de Perdiz, fruit from Quinta de Vila Velha, a privately owned vineyard of the Symington family also was included, as it has been in every vintage of the 'Chryseia'; not to sound too redundant, but this had a dark almost inky color, was big and oaky and full bodied and hugely extracted; blueberry and blackberry are most prevalent along with wood spices, chocolate, vanilla and coffee; this wine needs a lot of time to evolve, say 15-20+ years.
2003 ROBERT FOLEY VINEYARDS CLARET NAPA- obviously a Bordeaux blend, but I heard it was mostly Cabernet Sauvignon; this is pretty intense strong with its dark red ruby color; the aromatics are redolent of dried black currents and dried blackberry with lots of wood spices; on the palate, the fruit becomes a bit more sweet than dried or raisiny, but still so; I got milk chocolate, dried plums and fig notes as well; its full bodied with super ripe tannins, some power and some finesse.
I’m really not all that much into dessert wines, at least in so far as drinking more than a sip is concerned, but these next 2 were as good as it gets and I had a 2nd sip of each.
Neither were eligible for the vote, but welcomed for their amazing sweet and savoury flavors and creamy, thick textures.
2002 DONNHOFF OBERHAUSER BRUCKE RIESLING EISWEIN NAHE- this was brilliant with honeyed, spicy peach and apricot nectar delivered in a syrupy thick substance that carries everything to the back end for a long palate coating, sealing anything else off for minutes to come, finish.
2002 KRACHER SCHEUREBE TROCKENBEEREN AUSLESE NUMMER 10- this had a similar honeyed, spicy peach and apricot nectar profile, but it was even a darker gold and richer, creamier and sweeter than the Donnhoff plus there was a distinct raisiny character blending in.
There are many lessons to be learned from an evening with this theme of Winner Gets Dinner and doing it blind. From the selections that most of us brought, it appears that the thinking was to overwhelm with big, robust, attention getting brutes which has been the case a few years ago, but times, palates and all change and I’m happy to see we selected a beautiful red Burg that had more overall appeal.
in the past 7-10 years, I recognise that my palate is leaning way more toward wines of elegance, balance and finesse and am buying and drinking more that fit that genre and leaving many wines on their sides or giving them out as gifts [or bringing to themes of this nature which will change]. Nonetheless, we had some really great wines and it took some very generous folks to break them out from their cellars in the sharing mode I’ve come to know and appreciate from this illustrious group.
Oh, BTWl the winner of the white flight was the 2010 LOUIS LATOUR CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE and the tie off winner of the reds was the 2014 DOMAINE des LAMBRAYS CLOS des LAMBRAYS and the winner of the whole deal was the, drum role please,……. LATOUR CC.