I hooked up with 2 good friends at the local Tavern recently to celebrate their birthdays, eat some great food, and drink some fun wines.
1999 Pierre Péters Champagne Cuvée Spéciale Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru. There are lovely aromatics in play with this fine Champagne, including chalk, oyster shell, verbena tea, apple and perfumed white flower scents that are pretty and inviting. It’s quite creamy in texture on the palate, with a generous and plump mid-palate weight, and a long languid finish that features lovely flavors of apple and citrus accented by peppery spice. It’s not the most chiseled or structured wine, but it’s rather giving and finely-flavored.
2005 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. This wine features aromas of apples, pears, meadow flowers, crushed seashells and a surprising little twist of crushed hazelnut. I like the profile, but I do have to mention that compared to a bottle we tasted together 2 years back, this is showing considerable advancement toward the nutty side of things. In the mouth, it’s layered and decidedly fleshy, with sexy nutmeg spice and hazelnut flavors to go along with spiced pear, apple, lemon, grapefruit, chalk and herb elements that are more generous and less puckeringly sour than the bottle from 2 years back. It’s definitely fun to drink now, but I worry a bit about how quickly it may be evolving.
2002 Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling Graacher Himmelreich Spätlese Mosel Saar Ruwer. This pours with a fair bit of spritz, but the aromas are absolutely pure and intense right from the first moment—focused around beautiful but nervy notes of jellied lemon candies, peach preserves, petroleum jelly, kerosene, slate and flowers. In the mouth, it’s equally lovely, if a tad more controlled and refined. Flavors of rich apricot, peach, candied lemon, litchi, slate and intense minerality flow effortlessly across the palate from start to finish. It’s drinking very well right now.
1983 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde. This is seriously old-fashioned, with a nose that smells of rusted nail, dried blood, black pepper, ancient leather, olive brine, animal fur and barnyard scrabble atop a quiet core of crushed raspberry and fresh blackberry fruit. In the mouth, there are flavors like peat and charcoal at first, followed by black olives, beef blood, blackberry and black raspberry. It’s savory and briny, with austere edgings throughout, but also nice shots of fruit hiding here and there. It’s tangy and tingly on the chicory-accented finish, and in general it’s just an interesting example of traditional old Syrah. Although I didn’t get as much pure pleasure from this bottle as others I’ve had in the past few years, it was still a great treat.
1989 Château Montrose St. Estephe. Even though this wasn’t quite as mind-blowing as the last time I had it, I can still say without hesitation that I love this wine. It opens with an absolutely compelling bouquet that’s dark, smoky, rich and manly—featuring layers of black currant, blackberry, black leather jacket, bacon fat, peppercorn and iron ore aromas that are like biker bar meets blacksmith meets upscale butler or something. In the mouth, it shows off great black fruit flavors that have background sweetness that really works with the creamy and wonderfully cohesive mouthfeel. It manages to be rich without weight and to be dense but also lithe. It gets earthier and a bit chewier and more savory-tinged late in the evening, but it’s a wonderful wine all around no matter how you slice it.
2009 Coup de Foudre Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. I was really surprised by how herbal the nose is on this wine—showing off a lot of green tobacco leaf, whole stems and menthol aromas to go along with some charred wood, black cherry, black raspberry and plum fruit notes. It has a certain headiness to it, but also a bit of a raw and underdeveloped sense that I find off-putting. In the mouth, it’s much warmer, with a hearty, full-bodied presence loaded with mocha and very ripe berry fruit flavors riding a creamy, plush texture trying to hide some alcoholic heat in the background. It’s not especially tannic, but the finish is a bit raw and pasty, suggesting this definitely needs some time to settle down. I can’t say I really like it very much, though.
1995 Château Tirecul La Gravière Monbazillac Cuvée Madame. This is wildly pungent, with an exotic bouquet that’s loaded with aromas of botrytis spices, apricot jam, nectarine, crème brulee, lavender and coffee that just get more and more funky and intense the longer you sniff it. In the mouth, it has a dark orange fruit core that I like a lot. It’s unctuous and juicy, with great length and fine vigor. Flavors of baked apricot, iced tea, nectarine and sweet apple pectin are full and sweet, but not at all overdone or sugary. It actually finishes a bit tauter than I expected, and overall it’s quite impressive and delicious, but still just a baby, really.