Last night was my turn to host a local wine group. Host chooses theme, I chose Cab Franc. I had discussed theme with a couple of people, but for most people it was double blind to start.
While we gathered, we had some wild boar proscuitto with figs and parmesan, and the 1999 Pierre Matrot "Les Combettes" Puligny-Montrachet 1er. Rather rich and tropical, more lush than the minerally wine that I remembered, but still quite attractive. B+
Then to the reds:
Flight One (served with some smoked duck breast & assorted cheeses).
1989 Catherine et Pierre Breton "GrandMont" Bourgueil
Black raspberry fruit with a strong (but to me attractive) streak of green pepper. Young, firm tannins and acidity, with some coffee and licorice aromas. I liked more than table in general. B+
1989 Olga Raffault "Les Picasses" Chinon
I expected to prefer this to the Breton, as this bottling is usually my favorite Loire red, but this didn't sing to me. Tannins seemed rougher than the Breton, and at same time it is surprisingly low-acid. Someone mentions a mediocre St. Emilion and it does remind me of that a bit. B-.
2001 Havens Bourriquot
This is about 2/3s CF and 1/3 Merlot, it is intended as the winemaker's tribute to Cheval Blanc. I liked more than table in general, finding it to be a pretty decent example of mid-sized California wine. Plenty of spicy/toasty oak, both red and black currant fruit, smooth texture and good finish. B+
(note: one of my fellow tasters is more brett-averse than I, so I was curious as to how he would respond to this Laube 67 pointer. No one at table found it bretty)
1998 Le Petit Cheval (St. Emilion)
This was rather disappointing - had quite liked the 2000 recently. At least as Californian as the CA wine. Oak, round fruit, plush, a little empty. B-
At this point we revealed the previous 4 bottles, from now on everyone knew that Cab Franc was theme, but bottles were still blind
Flight Three (served with cold roast lamb -which I had overcooked-, potato salad, and beans)
1981 Ch.Cheval Blanc (St. Emilion)
Mature and maybe just a tad tired, but rather elegant with red fruit edged with earth and cigarbox. Some cedary elements get more pronounced in the glass. Overshadowed by its flightmate, but really a nice bottle of mature Bordeaux. B+/A-
1983 Ch.Cheval Blanc (St. Emilion )
I had chosen the Cab Franc theme as an excuse to get this bottle, which had stunned me previously. That's a recipe for disappointment, but not this time. Rich, vibrant, and young, with powerful blackberry and black cherry fruit, some light mocha notes, and a clean long finish. The nose becomes more exotic as it sits in glass, with coffee and sandalwood curling around the solid fruit base. Great wine for my tastes. A
2000 Ch. Le Dome (St. Emilion)
Mark had known the theme, and suggested this 70% CF garagiste. This had hours in the decanter, but still was a bit of a beast. Hulking extracted wine, black fruit battling with heavy oak for supremacy. This isn't my style of wine,but it does have some interest. Just not $225 worth ($25, maybe). B/B-
2001 Pride Mountain Cabernet Franc ( Sonoma)
A few years ago I liked a La Jota CF. A semi- local store listed an older bottle that in their inventory, but they couldn't find when I was in neighborhood. When I told them it was for a Cab Franc tasting, they convinced me to take the Pride (I think I had also read Parker commenting la Jota and Pride were best examples of CF in CA). Salesguy said "I guarantee this will win its flight." Nope. This is another hulking extracted wine, this time with blueberries battling the oak. But here the oak just kicked the fruit's ass. I got tweezers to remove the oak from my mouth. Disjointed, awkward wine. Not sure I've ever had a non-damaged $99 bottle I disliked as much. A retaste hours later was no improvement. I'm debating whether to even add this to my vinegar crock. C
We finished with an off-theme dessert wine (budget didn't extend to Quintarelli Alzero), the 1985 Moulin Touchais (Coteaux du Layon). Candied fruit, a little caramel, somewhat unevolved. Good acidity. This isn't great sweet Chenin, but it's a fun way to end evening. B+/B
Nice group, fun evening (especially since I didn't need to drive).
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.