I am starting to get caught up on some tasting notes from the past month or so. These are notes from a post-election day get-together with no organized theme whatsoever.
Some whites to start:
2000 Albert Mann Riesling Alsace Schlossberg. This Riesling has an enjoyable bouquet, showing a range of orange blossom, peach skin, citrus and poached apple aromas. In the mouth, it has a thick texture and solid minerality running through it, providing plenty of structure for some additional aging. The acidity picks up considerably on the prickly finish. A really nice wine with which to start the evening.
1995 Domaine Valette Pouilly-Vinzelles Vielles Vignes. On the other hand, I have no idea what to make of this wine. It is a really strange one. At first, there are some sweet aromas on the nose, like mango. And then some rotting compost aromas seem to come in to assault the nostrils. In the mouth, it tastes both like there is some residual sugar in it and it is also oxidized. It is just not anything like what you expect from Chardonnay. Yet, for all that, it is oddly intriguing, as it has a certain elegance married to the sweetness and richness. Weird.
2003 Cave de Turkheim Pinot Gris Alsace Herrenweg. This is showing a bit brassy in color, with a nose of pit fruits and grass. It is a touch plump in the mouth, with flavors of baked apple and brown spices. There’s decent length on the finish.
1995 Château de Pibarnon Bandol. A pleasant dark nose of baked earth, tobacco, pepper, blackberry and a faint meatiness leads to a palate of various dark fruits and some bitter chocolate. It is medium-bodied in the mouth, with fine tannins present throughout and a good squirt of acidity. It seems to fade a touch at the back of the palate before kicking back with a decent-length finish tinged with ground coffee flavors.
2000 Philippe Charlopin-Parizot Gevrey-Chambertin Cuvee Vielles Vignes. Light ruby in color. The nose has sandalwood and smoke notes up front, with something like powdered chocolate underneath, before some classic dark cherry aromas take over. It has a soft creamy texture and fills out nicely in the dense, rounded mid-palate. The tannins are very light and it ends with a finish featuring both sweeter darker fruits and a decidedly oak-tinged spiciness.
1996 R. Lopez de Heredia Rioja Reserva Vina Bosconia. Light ruby color, with a nice bright sheen. When you bring this up to your nose, you’re greeted by a soaring and elegantly perfumed nose of mixed red berries, caramel, tar and leather. Very nice. In the mouth, it is bright and tangy with fresh red fruits and a nice earthy quality underneath. It is very well-balanced and shows both excellent cut and good length. It turns more structured toward the end and finishes with a clean, pretty finish. This is a very nice traditionally-made Rioja. I found myself going back to this bottle more than any other during the course of the evening to go with the food.
2000 Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape Chaupin. Dark ruby-colored. The nose displays soft red fruits, herbs, black licorice, coffee grounds and sweet caramel. In the mouth, it is tight and showing abundant chalky tannins, with some spicy oak poking through, as well. However, there is notable intensity here to the warm kirsch, herbs and sweet caramel. The finish is spicy and a bit grainy right now, so I would give this several more years to bring it all together.
1998 Clape Cornas. This young Cornas really impressed me with its very engaging aromatics of crushed raspberries, raw leather, earth, licorice and minerals. And it has a huge full-bodied palate presence to go with this outstanding nose. There are plenty of lush tannins for sure, but the whole package on this night seemed much more about the velvety texture, great purity and concentration of flavor. It veers toward flavors of darker, almost raisined berries and abundant minerality, and becomes chewy and even richer on the very long finish. While most would probably want to wait on this, I’d happily drink it again at this point in its evolution.
2000 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Sant’Antimo Fabius. I had no idea what this was, but my guess was there was some Syrah in the mix, and indeed it is 100% Syrah. The nose shows white pepper, oak accents, black cherries and blueberries primarily, but there is also a weedy, stemmy, earthy element that I didn’t especially care for. I enjoyed it in the mouth much more, where it exhibits copious amounts of lush cool fruit, a rounded profile and ample body. The finish is plush and coffee-tinged.
1997 Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo. This has black cherry and a certain woodsy essence on the nose. On the palate, there is a dark berry and tobacco profile with some layering beginning to show. It feels big-boned to me, but holds a moderately elegant line. The finish has sweet fruit tinged by mint and wood. It should continue to develop nicely for another 5 years at least. This particular bottle probably would have showed better with significantly more air time.
2005 Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer. This was said to have been decanted for a full 24 hours before we sampled it. Didn’t seem to matter. The color is inky inky dark. Rich dark plums and roasted fruits introduce the nose, but there are also creosote and eucalyptus-like accents. It is monstrously big and extracted in the mouth, with a big bruising presence that seemed to burn an impression on my tongue. I can see people being excited by this kind of wine, and it was fun to try something this overtly flamboyant, but to be honest I found little pleasure in it, even though I am not normally all that averse to big Aussie Shirazes. Glad I waited until the final wine of the evening to sample this one.
1997 Foreau Vouvray Moelleux Clos Naudin. Burnished gold color. The nose is somewhat shy, with citrus skins, stones, and yellow apples. It is clean and gently sweet in the mouth, with caramel, quince, fresh fig and pie crust flavors. It has a reserved feel to it, but exhibits fine balance and a solid finish where the interesting yin-yang of sweet pit fruits and the bitter pits themselves fight it out. Overall, it is a refreshing, bright style of dessert wine that suited me just fine after the Mollydooker.
1982 Borges Porto. My notes on this wine are rather incomplete. They say “soft, mature, sweet, good QPR” and I can’t remember much else at this point to fill in the details. I can say that several people at the table were looking to buy some, so it was probably finer than my notes convey.
NV Kirkland 10-Year Tawny Port. I ran out of steam. Not tasted. I was told just this past weekend that it was pretty good.