Friends served these two wines side by side last week with a fabulous dinner of home-smoked Chinese duck.
1997 Girardin (Vincent) Pommard Chaponnieres, 1er Cru
Warm and elegant. Mature color, and all about mature secondary nuances on the nose and palate with caramel tones on soft fruit compote and that wet dog fur kind of aroma that I just love. Lasted well in the glass and should hold well here for some time, but it won't improve. A very very good comparison, then, for a California wine made with Burgundian ambitions:
1999 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California
Not only is this Wes' first vintage, I think it was from the year prior to their going commercial: this bottle was unlabeled. Wes recently sprung it from his library and wrote the particulars on the bottle with a marking pen. The wine's holding up remarkably well. Was much redder than the Pommard with primary fruit still in evidence. There's some fade from time, of course, and it lacked some complexity, but the fruit's still sweet and there's an interesting if unusual celery note adding something different and interesting to the finish. One would never mistake it for a Burgundy especially alongside the real deal, but at the same time it's admirably youthful and restrained for a California pinot noir, and it was both pleasure and privilege to share a rare example of Wes' early work.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov