My wife and I had a fun night a little while back at Kitchen on Common in Belmont with two other couples from our regular tasting group. We encamped at a back table in the tiny dining room for a good chunk of the night and took our time over some nice wines. We had no formal theme to the selections and none of the wines were served blind.
2006 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay Estate Bottled Santa Cruz Mountains. This wine displays beautiful and layered aromatics of yellow apples, apricots, honey, butterscotch, lavender, smoke, wet wood, beer nuts, copper and accents of nutmeg that are leesy, fun and sort of sexy at times. In the mouth, it is toothsome and almost squeaky in texture, with good grip and a leesy, rich core of apple, pear and tropical fruit flavors that show excellent push. There are toasty barrel spices galore showing up on the fanned out and weighty mid-palate, as well, but everything seems to work together in very nice harmony here.
2004 Azienda Agricola Montevertine Toscana IGT. I love the bouquet of this wine, with all of its beautifully floral and red-fruited aromas of wilted rose petals, lilac bushes, baked cherries, dusty dirt road, autumn leaves, birch bark, leather and tar gently lifting up and out of the glass. In the mouth, it’s quite nice, too, but it shows much younger--with up-front tannins and a quietly-muscled power to the nicely layered flavors of sour cherry, darker fruits and iron ore. There’s also solid lift and a fine tang to the finishing notes, but I’m inclined to wait on it for several more years before opening another.
2000 Paolo Scavino Barolo. Although it’s not terribly obvious at all times, this wine is CORKED, with the tell-tale musty qualities poking out through the aromas of baked cherries, chocolate powder, tobacco leaf, white pepper and 5-spice powder. In the mouth, the texture is kind of tough and papery, and the fruit is a bit too attenuated to give much pleasure, which is too bad.
2000 Azienda Bricco Rocche (Ceretto) Barolo Brunate. This is quite pretty, elegant and nascently complex on the nose—with fine aromas of dried cherries, cinnamon stick, red flowers and sandalwood that are rather appealing to me. In the mouth, it’s definitely loaded with tannin, but it’s also a fun, juicy mouthful of tangy cherry and mineral flavors. This is real nice, but I would recommend another 3-4 years in the cellar for it.
1999 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato. This wine has a broader-framed bouquet to it—with aromas of baked cherries, raspberries, limestone, menthol and slight hints of balsamic that are still holding back a fair bit in reserve. There are tannins on the palate here, as well, but they generally wait until the finish to show themselves. In the smooth yet lithe mid-palate, the wine shows off lovely sweet black cherry flavors and classy earth notes supported by generally rounded acidity that has a nice balancing effect. I like this one, too, but again I think it will be better in 5+ years.
1991 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley. This wine features gorgeous aromatics that are plush, sweet and sort of sexy—featuring a lot of black currant, black licorice, mushroom, dark earth, hard leather, creosote, ground beef, black pepper, cigar and pencil shaving scents that combine beautifully together. In the mouth, it’s finely-structured, classy and balanced, but still full of bold blue and black fruit flavors supported by a mellow earthen character. The acidity is solid, the tannins are fine-grained and gentle, and the wine is just classically done and very tasty.
2007 Copain Syrah Hawks Butte Vineyard Yorkville Highlands. It’s a difficult transition to this wine from the previous set, as this is just really aggressive and very darkly-fruited on the nose—with the aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate and white pepper coming across as decidedly forward in this company. On the palate, it’s the same story, with dark, full and bold flavors of fudge and blackberry pushing forward on a slightly chewy-textured frame. Still, I have to say it has a certain cool demeanor to it and never seems overdone or particularly alcoholic or anything. It’s actually well-balanced and expressive, even if it’s not what I’m in the mood for, really.