An extra special dinner was put together to welcome the return of a friend of the vine who hails from Sweden. Hosted by one of our dinner group members, we were treated to a grand dinner prepared by his extremely competent wife who some claim is one of best chefs in the area including those in restaurants and now I agree wholeheartedly after my first experience.
To satiate the big wine appetite of our friend, the wine theme was just that plus the fill ins which everyone stepped up to magnificently.
This was a BIG BOY night with lots of heavy hitters. We began with some graceful and relatively light weight stuff before getting into the heart of the lineup where every wine went for the long ball. Some did knock it out of the park.
The first flight of 3 champagnes:
2005 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- some of the same people and I just had the 06` a few days ago, so I chose this for an update for me and as a comparison for the others as Its been quite a few months since I tasted the last 05`; it was as I remembered it to be, really elegant with bright acidity and fresh, tangy citrus notes; its really the inferior sister to the 06`, but that’s not a negative; the biggest difference as I see it is the 06` has a much fuller and richer body and the signature notes of toasty brioche.
NV DUVAL-LEROY CUVEE DESIGN PARIS BRUT in magnum- its been years since I had this, and although very good bubbly, I was attracted to it first because of the amazing design on the bottle and this one was in magnum, so all the graphics were brilliantly enhanced [see photo]; the one who brought it stated this had some age on it and we concluded it may have a base of 06` or earlier; the nose had some herbal and grassy notes initially that gave way to citrus and apple with a bit of ginger; nice lemon-lime notes came in to join the fun by mid palate; this had some body to it with an oily like texture that served to carry all the goodies to the back end with some gusto.
Founded in 1859 and located in Vertus, this house is one of the few remaining 100% family-owned Champagne firms and is ranked in the 15 top Champagne houses.
NV BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVEE BRUT in magnum- another treat that has frequented our dinners in the last few months in the same magnum bottle format; this joyful bubbly is redolent of nice citrus notes in the nose which translated into lemon, grapefruit, apple and pear on the palate; it had a light frothy mousse and refreshing after taste.
Second flight of 2 Rieslings:
2011 DONNHOFF HERMANNSHOHLE RIESLING- petrol and minerals dominated the nose, then came lemon, guava, melon and more minerality on the palate; it had good mouthfeel and along with the next wine, a cleansing effect to prepare us properly for the many wines to come.
2002 MAX FERD RICHTER BRAUNEBERGER JUFFER SONNENUHR AUSLESE RIESLING- lots of petrol in the nose here along with a streak of minerals that runs all the way through; it gave sweet lemon zest, grassy and fresh cut straw like notes mindful of Sauvignon Blanc and was served up in an oily substance that provided pure pleasure for the feel and length.
Third flight of a white Burg:
2014 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY LES NARVAUX MEURSAULT- intense aromas of lemon zest wafts out of the glass and continues on in the form of lemon oil joined by minerals, spearmint, ginger and flint; this has an acceptable sweetness to it which is more evident past mid palate.
Fourth flight of 2 Syrah:
2002 SHAFER RELENTLESS SYRAH NAPA- 81% Syrah and 19% Petite Syrah; this is a hugely extracted, hedonistic wine that has everything loaded up and ready to explode on the palate; it gave e warning signs early on by its intense inky vibrant purple colour, the nose and taste is redolent of oaky cedar, chocolate and leather infused blackberry jam with a hint of blueberry jam coming in late; also late to arrive and dominating the finish was a big dollop of heat; upon learning of the PS inclusion, I was surprised to not find any peppery notes, but not surprised to see a highly probable understated 15.8% abv.
2006 SAXUM BROKEN STONES JAMES BERRY VINEYARDS PASO ROBLES SYRAH- 45% Syrah, 38% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre; maybe just a tick less intense than the Shafer Relentless, this had the same inky dark purple colour and young, vibrant dark fruit in the form of super ripe black cherry and blackberry almost to the state of being jammy; spice and herbal notes provide nice accents, but the sweet oak component is not yet integrated; it needs and begs for a lot of time.
Fifth flight of 2 sinful SQNs:
2014 SINE QUA NON SHAKTI CALIFORNIA GRENACHE- 88% Grenache, 6% Mourvèdre, 4% Petite Sirah and 2% Touriga Nacional; 15.9% abv; made from using 42% whole cluster and aged for around 21 months in French oak, 6% new; bottled June 21, 2017; keeping pace with the 2 intense wines above, this blasted the palate with overly generous amounts of sweet and oaky jammy blueberry and blackberry fruit as expected by seeing its seriously dark, inky purple color and the baby vintage; my immediate thought that I voiced was that in a blind tasting, I`d never get this to be mostly Grenache.
2011 SINE QUA NON DARK BLOSSOM CALIFORNIA SYRAH- 84% Syrah, 8% Grenache, 4% Petite Sirah and 4% Roussanne and Petite Manseng; 15.5% abv; another palate blast with hedonistic flavours of highly accented peppered, spicy and liquorice infused blueberry, blackberry and plum; it`s full bodied, intensely complex and last forever on the palate; made using 17% whole clusters and aged in equal parts new and used French oak and is packaged with a tooth brush and teeth whitener.
Sixth flight of 3 Napa Cabs:
1992 DUNN HOWELL MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- great expectations were anticipated by all here and this sadly just had too much Brett; I tried to get past it, but to no avail even after 45 minutes or so.
2004 DIAMOND CREEK GRAVELLY MEADOW CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- it is named after the brown, stony, gravelly soils of this 5-acre vineyard; now were talking relatively so anyway; this is something I do not have to grit my teeth over and can actually sip it without worry of burning the roof of my mouth and throat; although still very youthful, it gave nice treasures of sweetened and cedar laced black currant and blackberry fruit with noticeable oak influence trying to integrate; its full bodied, had layered complexity and a long finish. 8.5% abv. NOT.
2004 BRYANT FAMILY VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- the nose and taste profile had some redeeming qualities to offset the VA that prevailed throughout; it gave earthy and spicy, cedar accents to the super ripe and high toned black currant and blackberry fruit; I could sense the power, but feel the finesse; the VA was experienced in the form of ethyl acetate with a hit of glue like aromas as well as in the fruit; shameful.
Seventh flight of 2 Napa Cabs:
2005 SWITCHBACK RIDGE PETERSON FAMILY VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- i decanted this 6 hours prior to serving with a few interim swirls; it had a dark purple color and concentrated aromas of dark fruit and milk chocolate that jumped out of the glass on the first nose; next came liquorice and mint chocolate accented black currant and blackberry fruit on the palate; it was full bodied, had layered complexity and a smooth texture; there’s a little evidence of the oak influence moving toward integration; lots of power here and many years to go before maturation.
2005 SCHRADER CELLARS OLD SPARKY BECKSTOFFER TO KALON VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA in magnum- 14.8% abv; this is the top of the line for Schrader and is a blend of the best barrels made from Clone 6, with small amounts of Clones 4 and 337 and only made in magnum format; it had a young, inky purple color; the nose had more confirmation of youth with concentrated aromas of super ripe black cherry with some talc and sandalwood; the taste profile had more of the same plus some additional accents from leather, cedar and licorice; this is a very rich and serious wine and for those who want to enjoy its full merits sooner than later, it wold be wise to decant it into 2 750 ml bottles at least.
The final round of 3:
2015 SCHAFER-FROHLICH BOCKENAUER FELSENECK GROSSES GEWAECHS RIESLING NAHE- 750ml; 9.5% abv; petrol dominates the nose with hints of peach, apple and pear, but on the palate, there’s more expressive fruit which come in as honeyed, in terms of sweetness and texture, lemon meringue and apricot nectar; its rich and creamy texture carries all of the goodies to the back end and then just hangs for added pleasure.
2012 KELLER NIERSTEIN PETTENTHAL RIESLING AUSLESE RHEINHESSEN- 750 ml; Petrol and citrus notes are prevalent in the nose, but the taste was more of rich and honeyed peach, apricot, apple, grapefruit and pear; it was served up in a viscous texture and as with the above wine, hung on for a loooong finish. I need my toothbrush again.
2000 DOMAINE WEINBACH TOKAY PINOT GRIS ALTENBERG CUVEE ALSACE- this has brown sugar and honeyed sweet apricot and peach nectar delivered in a thick and almost chewy substance which coated the palate until the next morning when I brushed my teeth for the umpteenth time.
Perhaps I should have used all caps in the writeup to place greater emphasis on the type of wines we had; nonetheless, it was truly a fun, delightful evening with outstanding homemade food prepared with the best of intent as well as an evening of great fellowship.