All the reds were brought out of the cellar and Audouzed for eight hours. The whites were Audouzed in the cellar for about 5 hours. The sparklers were popped and poured.
There were five flights: sparklers, whites, and three red flights. All were served blind with no clues to grape or region.
These were paired with various cheeses and charcuterie, and nice seared duck breast with mixed berry sauce, and other ala carte dishes.
- 2011 Eric Bordelet Poiré Granit - France, Normandy
Great way to start the night. Everyone eventually arrived at cider, all guessed apple. Sweet fruit, mostly apple but pear arrives especially once the bag was removed from the bottle. Very solid cider; my favorite in this category. Mid-90's for a cider; solid 87 for this tasting.
- 2002 Huët Vouvray Pétillant Réserve Brut - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray Pétillant
Fun bottle. I don't believe anyone guessed Chenin Blanc. Some honeyed lemon fruit, lots of minerality, quinine. Very nice. (91 pts.)
- 1996 René-Henri Coutier Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Vintage - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
Jenise nailed it as a Blanc de Blancs with some age. Not nearly as nice as the bottle I opened six months ago (that one led me to buy some of the '04). Still very nice, not too oxidative, apples, brioche. Gentler mousse than my last bottle. Solid wine, but a disappointment for me after my last '96 Coutier. (88 pts.)
- 2004 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne Quintessence - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Nice start to the second flight. Everyone liked it, but it was not without controversy. Many guessed California. Everything is big in this wine; fruit, acidity, alcohol and oak. I think the latter two detract. However, it it still very enjoyable, with dense lemon and other citrus notes, apple, vanilla oak. This wine has many years ahead, and will be much better in 5 or 10, but premox fears may keep me from ever having one at peak (not nearly there yet...) (91 pts.)
- 2008 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
This followed the brutish but good Girardin. Many in the room toyed with France as origin. Beautiful lemon, white flowers, good minerals, saline and butterscotch. Due to the saline and minerality, there was speculation from at least one experienced palate that it could be an oaked GC Chablis such as Fevre (never noticed that resemblance or salinity in previous bottles of Rhys). (91 pts.)
- 2010 Ceritas Chardonnay Porter-Bass Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
This bottle wowed by its purity and balance. Less oak the the previous two in the flight. White fruit and sweet citrus, young, long, restrained and clean. (93 pts.)
- 1995 Tyrrell's Sémillon Reserve HVD - Australia, New South Wales, Hunter Valley
Jenise brought this. Blind, took a long time for anyone to guess the grape, and I don't think anyone came close to guessing the location (although I believe Patricia may have said NZ at one point). Golden yellow, smoky white fruited nose, lots of life left and very enjoyable, this made me confront my prejudice against Aussie wines. (90+ pts.)
Red Flight #1
- 1993 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Les Perrières - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil
Nice start to the third flight. Weird cork; the top 80% was black and perhaps dried, but the portion in contact with the wine was sound. Smoke bomb, sweet pipe tobacco, raspberry. Not nearly as nice as the older bottle, and Jenise felt this was good but slightly flawed. I couldn't identify a specific flaw, and may have rated it higher were it not for the performance of the subsequent bottle in the flight. (90 pts.)
- 1985 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Les Perrières - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil
My (and many of the group's) WOTN. Dusty stones, raspberry, truffle. Nice purity, amazing wine. Why don't I buy this more often to bury in my cellar? (93 pts.)
- 2002 Andrew Will Cabernet Franc - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
This wine suffered by following the aged Cab Francs by Breton from Bourgueil. Came off as hot and extracted, with chocolate and blackberry. Would have done well on its own with a steak or BBQ, or in a Napa or Washington wine tasting. Out of place for this tasting. (87 pts.)
Red Flight #2
- 1998 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
An old and still current favorite (along with the '01 Charvin which followed). Elegant mature CDP. Fruit giving way to secondary elements on the nose and palate, with dark berries framed by iodine, garrigue, moist earth. A little Southern Rhone funk. Perfect balance of generous fruit and acidity. Still tannic; improved in the glass through the night. (92 pts.)
- 2001 Domaine Charvin Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Seemed decades younger than the '98 VT that preceded. Another favorite of mine, enjoyed by all. A very polished CdP. Sweet dusty nose with cherry and strawberry, moist autumn leaves, garrigue, soy sauce, lavender, iron-laced minerals. No hint of barnyard. Balance and poised (92 pts.)
Red Flight #3
- 2006 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Black raspberries and some herbal and floral notes. Still very young. Great balance and cut; well liked by the group, including the avowed europhiles. (90+ pts.)
- 2007 Rhys Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, San Mateo County
Clearly needs more time to strut its stuff. Raspberry and strawberry, brown spice and mushroom. Once again, good acidity and fine tannins. Enjoyed by the group, but could have used a formal decant rather than Audouze method. (90+ pts.)
We ended with a nice 1996 Château de Fargues Sauternes, which we paired with seared foie gras with fig jam. When I woke this morning, my kitchen was severely hung over, but fortunately I was not.