Apologies for my long absence (or for my return, depending on your perspective). This is the first set of a big batch of long overdue notes. I've managed to lose many of my various scraps of paper over the summer, but there are enough left for me to begin to burden all of you again. I've hardly even looked in all summer. It's nice to return.
Todd Hamina was coming to town to show his wines commercially and he was kind enough to reach out for a tasting night. A bunch of us gathered and brought along our normal semi-random batch of wines.
Bubbles to Start (as always!)
- 1996 Egly-Ouriet Champagne Grand Cru Brut Millésimé - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
Deepish color with a fine mousse of less than expected volume. Nose first shows rich and deep white plum and apple with a serious dose of the sweet (almost cloying) autolyzed character that shows up in so many younger large-scaled pinot-driven Champagnes. Finally, a little bit of light honey comes out on what is a big but pretty closed nose. Palate tells a similar story with big pinot body and hints of cherry fruit. A bit of toasted nut comes out on the sweetish finish. Give it time!
- 2005 Maysara Winery Pinot Gris - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Bottled 3/10/06. Straw yellow and clear. Comes out perfumey, floral and a bit high-toned. Is there sassafrass there? With time, there is a bit of granite stoniness on the nose and some aromatic lemon zest as well. On the palate, nice acid and sweetish tropical fruit. Needs to settle, but has good stuffing and tightens up (in a good way) with time. On the finish the wine has a big nasal impact. It’s not VA, but the aromas strike me as “volatile”. Needs fairly big food and puts me in mind of ZH style.
- 2000 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain - France, Alsace, Thann, Alsace Grand Cru AOC
Deep gold upon pouring makes one worry a bit. Initially pretty petrolly, then a mix of sweet lime over brown apple. Palate features big doses of mineral and petrol along with very ripe peach and brown apple. Early oxidative notes fade and wine freshens up into a nice minerally finish, though it still lacks a bit of acid. Lingering nasal component to finish of woody apple. Overall rich character, not quite VT but close like many ZH wines. This wine was clearly not at its best, but interesting nonetheless.
- 2004 Maysara Winery Pinot Noir Jamsheed - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, McMinnville
Medium deep color and very clear. Nose screams with cola and cinnamon and a little cherry fruit. In a lot of ways, initial nose reminds me of modern Barolo. On the palate, there is some oak sweetness, good acid, and tiny bits of already supple tannin toward the front of the mouth. Juicy cherry dominates mid-palate, now seeming a bit like lightly oak-aged sangiovese. Finish is a little sweet. Still very young. Clearly well made and probably typical of its origin (a good thing), but the modern Barolo notes do bother me.
- 2002 Maysara Winery Pinot Noir Estate - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Very slightly deeper in color than the Jamsheed. A wee bit of barnyard on the nose along with initially bright red fruit. Appealing. Palate has some oak but more acid and a nice spiciness (not wood spice, but fruit spice). Has a sort of Vosne character to it, but with lighter fruit. Lacks a wee bit of concentration, but very pleasing nonetheless. Becomes a bit tired aromatically, though the spice holds up on the finish. I liked the profile a lot and would be raving if it were a bit more concentrated and persistent on the nose. However, I’ll definitely buy it if I ever see it, as I suspect it had suffered a bit from its travels.
- 2004 Maysara Winery Pinot Noir Estate Delara - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Spicy cola and oak on nose, but best acid of the three on the palate. The cola and oak blows off quickly to reveal cherryish and berryish fruit on the nose. Palate is straight down the middle with similar flavors and is still extremely primary. A bit of sweetish oak residue on the finish. Though clearly of the new world (but hey, that's where the fruit is from!), I like all of the Maysara wines and I’d enjoy trying this one with a little maturity on it.
- 2002 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir The Upper Terrace - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Deepish color. Very closed on the nose. With time, shows plenty of oak and some plummy Brunello-like okay fruit. Palate is absolutely full on from beginning. There is a nice lingering sweetness to the appealing berry and ripe plum fruit. Alcohol shows up hard on the finish. A bit unfair to opine now as this needs time, but there is nothing shy or timid about this. Concentrated with nice berry fruit, but a bit much in terms of plum and oak and alcohol. Well made, but not why I drink pinot.
- 2000 Domaine Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Lighter in color, but not at all weak or watery. Great elegance on the nose with very fresh cherry. Somehow meaty and thin on the palate at the same time. While it has that meaty-soy note that often comes with age but is already showing up in a fair number of ‘00 wines, it is lacking in concentration the way Ponsot sometimes can. Absolutely delicious but small. A reasonable effort for the vintage and not an off year in the way Ponsot can have, shows the laciness and cherry one hopes for but just needs a bit more oomph throughout.
- 1998 Claude Dugat Gevrey-Chambertin Lavaux St. Jacques 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Clean clear color between the Ponsot and the Beaux Frères. Oak on the nose in the form of spice and cola. In fact, more spice than fruit on nose. With time, settles down enough to show some Gevrey strawberry on the nose. In time the oak components fade from the nose almost entirely. Palate is balanced and clean and earth and fruit driven and completely happy. Tannin is still evident, but not obtrusive at all. The only issue is some remaining oak that shows up only on the finish. I didn’t really want to like this, but I couldn’t help it. Nicely typical after the oak faded.
- 1998 Rockford Shiraz Basket Press - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
Deepish purple color. Strong chocolate character from the first splash hitting the glass. Rich, round, and sweet. Complex and with just about perfect texture for a shiraz. Great berry-cherry fruit on the palate. Super persistence on the finish, even for a palate that is starting to tire. Same concentration as other Barossa shiraz, but not at all over-the-top. I’ve not traditionally been a Barossa shiraz fan but this is one I’d buy. Beats a lot of its much more expensive brethren hands down.
- 2003 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Has a hugely viscous appearance. Smaller and perhaps a bit simpler than the last time I had it (nine months or so before). I criticized it then for size and overripeness, but it still showed Châteauneuf character then. Again, despite the bit of brown sugar and some surprising green leafiness, this is still very much CdP, just at a high-decibel level.
- 2000 Domaine Pierre Usseglio Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve des Deux Freres - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Strong cheese and game on the nose. Don't know how much is in the cuvée, but Mourvèdre seems to be very much present on the nose and the palate. Great balance. Terrific black fruit depth on palate and in back of throat, but the real charm and character is on the nose. Big finish without ever tipping into heaviness or heat. This is what I like from the southern Rhone.
- 1995 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5° - Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero
Corked, damnit! Liked the palate that came through despite the TCA – lots of leather, cassis, cherry. Great structure and balance. Now I’ve got to go buy one so I can see what it should have been. NR (flawed)
- 1967 Château d'Yquem - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
Deep, deep viscous old gold. Nose was slightly reticent but opened up nicely with air to show honey, pollen, botrytis, dried peaches and a shifting array of sweet citrus. On the palate, just an amazing degree of perfectly integrated acid that balanced the dried and candied fruit richness and the sweet botrytis syrup. Imagine putting a 10lb dumbbell inside a small helium balloon and then actually seeing it float up into the air. That’s how incongruous it was to feel the acid lift the sweetness up and make it dance. Needless to say, the finish was intense and long. A rare pleasure this was.
A number of us just couldn't do without a little more and headed to La Fève, a wine bar in teh Azabu (Mita?, what is the address) area. Always offers great food and an interesting list.
- 1988 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
Attractive rust color. Nose shows forest floor, a wee bit of game, dried cherry fruit and little leather. Palate is largely gentle and resolved with more cherry, some lean plum, and just a touch of spice. Finish is of decent length and reintroduces the leather and forest. Blind, a large group of us all guessed Burg. I attribute this partially to the fact that we’d been drinking a lot of pinot that night and partially to the way the nose played out. Told it was Rhone, I guessed Jaboulet Thalabert. Close, but no cigar. So much for my street cred as a Burg guy. Good wine, but I wouldn’t necessarily chase it hard.
- 1985 Château La Mission Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Still a fair bit of violet but moving well toward mature at the rim. Nose showed cassis and plum fruit, a small degree of gaminess and leather, the tiniest touch of green tobacco. On the palate, rich on entry with a clay-like texture and savour that (combined with a slightly drying character to the finish) led me to guess St. Estephe. With development in the glass (and the benefit of seeing the label), a great warm stony mineral character came out. Rich and full – and pretty fully developed – the main negative is that the finish remained a bit rough and drying. I liked this more than most of our crowd. The bottle may have been a bit too developed, given the finish, but I’d be very happy to drink it again.
- 1989 Château Trotanoy - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
Kudos to the owner of the wine bar, La Fève. I thought the first bottle was ever so slightly corked. One person agreed with me and several disagreed. Without prompting, the owner came from across the room (where she couldn’t have overheard our conversation) and commented that she thought it was a bit bouchonée and insisted that she replace the bottle. Second bottle was not flawed, but wasn’t great either. But that’s not her fault. In the manly vein of Pomerol, the nose showed plum and cassis fruit but without the sumptuousness for which I would hope. There was a bit of sun-dusty clay and some vanilla sweetness as well. Palate moderately full and showed more of the same fruit, but without the velvet that marks the best Pomerol. Decent but not exciting finish. Good wine, but a bit ho-hum for the price and the expectations.
Really nice food. Great company. A new winery for which I'll look out. I really liked Todd's wines. He's only been there for a while and you can see the progress in the few wines we tasted.
Great company, as always.
Posted from CellarTracker