A little while back, we had our regular poker game at Tom’s house, and as usual he put together a very nice line-up of wine served blind for us during the game. Of course, there were some starter and after-hours wines that were opened without being tasted in the blind format.
2011 Jean Reverdy et Fils Sancerre La Reine Blanche. This presents a crisp nose of green apple, seashells, grapefruit, chalk, green herbs and schist that turns a bit sour at times but stays fresh and taut. In the mouth, it’s got a sour twang of acidity running through it, along with a nice vein of minerality. It’s clean, precise and lifted, with an even, measured finish. It’s not profound or anything, but it does a lot right.
2010 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Villages Cuvée Willamette Valley. The nose here features strong scents of sassafras, birch, toasted stems and all kinds of wild brambly berries. In the mouth, it’s gently creamy, with nice bright berry fruit and citrus tang to go with toasty brown spices. Tannins are in there, but seem fairly unobtrusive at this point. It’s a generous but controlled pinot that’s not overly complex, but offers nice sipping pleasure already.
Main event (blind):
2000 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. This wine presents a distinctive nose of apple, pear, white flowers, peppery herbs, soft oak and faint hazelnut aromas that occasionally show glimpses of an extra gear or added dimension that I like a lot. There’s an interesting mint leaf note to go with a burst of citrus fruit flavors on the palate, with fine lacy top notes of apple and mineral. It finishes toothy and persistent, and I was actually guessing Fevre Chablis.
2006 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. This is dark yellow, almost amber in color. It displays resiny and moderately oxidized aromas of dried grapefruit and apricots, faint sherry and almond tones, and an unusual muscat-like flowery flourish. It’s a mixed bag on the palate, as well, where oxidized notes and sharp, uneven acidity war with finer elements of gently sweet yellow fruit, blood orange, pine resin and smoke flavors. It’s medium-weighted, with a fleshy mouthfeel, but lacks focus and overall cohesive balance—at least in the case of this bottle.
2000 Domaine Joseph Roty Gevrey-Chambertin Cuvée Brunelle. This wine presents a dark, meaty and smoky bouquet full of aromas of pan drippings, hardened bacon fat, peat, tree bark, wintergreen, pine sap and black raspberry fruit. In the mouth, it’s masculine, dark, smoky and fairly tannic. Cool and savory flavors of scorched earth, stones, sassafras, wintergreen, mushrooms and cranberry fruit are lithe and sinewed more than friendly or welcoming. It has good density and intensity, but I find it rather strident and aloof at this stage of its evolution. Those who like their pinot very dark and serious will like this now, but I’d much rather wait on it a while.
2000 Domaine Pierre Amiot et Fils Clos St. Denis Grand Cru. On the other hand, this is quite fine and classy all around, with a distinguished and gentlemanly bouquet of black raspberry, cranberry, coffee bean, horsehair, fir tree, suede leather, cigar wrapper and fine earth aromas that are full of character. It shows off soft earthy flavors on the palate, with a lot of class to the spicy pinot berry fruit. There’s a nice sense of lift despite the soft, rounded acidity. It’s a very tasty wine that’s easy to enjoy. My wine of the day.
2001 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia. Here one finds nice aromas of mixed currant fruit, black cherries, smoked meat, menthol and leather. It’s peppery in the mouth, with a nice core of plum and black cherry fruit, good overall balance and not too much tannin despite a tense structure. It’s very enjoyable.
2000 Château Fourcas Hosten Listrac. CORKED.
2000 Fleur de Rose Sainte-Croix Listrac. This is a major change of pace, starting with the dark, opaque purple color and the obvious glycerin coating the inside of the glass. The nose is totally saturating, with aromas of blackberry fruit, dark leather, mincemeat and dark-toasted bread. In the mouth, it’s slippery and slinky in texture, with bold purple fruit flavors that are dense and full-bodied. The sweet fruit and plump character are more internationally styled than anything served before it, and I was surprised at the reveal that it was from Bordeaux.
1999 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Éloge Napa Valley. I find a lot of oak and vanilla on the nose of this wine, to go along with aromas of boysenberry, sarsaparilla and toasted herbs. It’s large-styled, overt and a bit obvious to my way of thinking. In the mouth, it’s plush, velvety and rich--with a thick texture and plenty of concentrated modern fruit. I didn’t care all that much for it, and was really surprised when it was revealed, as I fully enjoyed a much more Bordeaux-styled 1998 of this just a few months earlier.
1999 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. I like the nose of this final wine in the line-up, as it shows off mildly exotic aromas of sandalwood, brown sugar, warm purple and blue fruit, and tanned leather. On the palate, it’s juicy and lifted, with big red berry fruit flavors and fine oak spices on a warm and easy-flowing frame. It’s a pretty big mouthful of wine, but it’s really friendly and giving and easy to like.
1989 Château Soucherie Coteaux du Layon Chaume. This wine sports heady aromas of sweet apples, candied lemon, peach preserves, toasty spices and quince paste. In the mouth, it’s a sexy and exotic mélange of persistent apple pie, brown spice, quince, litchi, apricot, clover honey and raw sugar flavors. It’s got a certain lightness to it that’s quite nice, and although it’s not especially expansive, I find it tasty and fun to drink.