Seven of us gathered for our monthly tipples. Food was excellent, but since I'm two weeks late posting these notes I can't remember in detail what we ate. Just remember that it was generally wine-friendly and that it matched pretty well. I'm just glad I managed not to lose my written wine notes over the course of a week of ski trip and a hellish catchup week at work.
Wines all came from a single private cellar with great storage conditions. Most (if not all) of the wines were acquired at release.
- N.V. Patrice Marc Champagne La Cuvée Noir et Blanc - France, Champagne
Deepish gold with a beautifully centered stream of medium bubbles. Taut nose needs time to unwind but shows rich yeast sweetness and tart apple fruit. On the palate, cold steel and more apple. Fresh and prickling on the front of palate – a bright knife edge of primary fruit. Fills out in mid-palate with fruit that is deeper and slightly darker but still a bit hard. Finish shows some more generous yeasty sweetness. Like a blanc de blancs but with a hint of darker fruit. First encounter with this producer, I will definitely revisit. Good today, suspect it would be much better with a little time.
- 1988 Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanee 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet
Depth of yellow/gold suggests a bit of honeyed age, but not to the extreme. Initially closed on nose but a little bit of volatility showing. Volatile character passes quickly to reveal a little early-stage oxidation – the slightest brown apple – that also blows right off. Finally, we get to light honey and apple and peach fruit. Aromatically, it is a bit tired. On the palate, there is great acid in the front of the palate that keeps the tree fruit fresh and white rather than browning. The mid-palate is really nicely full and shows a great big dose of mineral. On a nice and soft but lingering finish, the age shows again with a bit of brulée. At peak on the palate and a bit past it on the nose, this works for me but won’t for folks who are more youth/fruit-driven.
- 1971 Domaine Robert Arnoux Vosne-Romanée - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée
Brick-tinged and very light at the edge. Overall appearance is very much of its age. Nose shows sappy pine, deep healthy funk, smoke and plum. Nose says this is ripe, extracted and deep. There is more plum throughout the palate and a little aged wood tannin on the back of the palate. With a sweetish soy note on the finish, this seems to be just a little too deep and extracted. Then all of a sudden one becomes aware of a great streak of acid that brings balance. Finally, the palate picks up pine and spice, particularly on the finish. In a style that is a bit big and heavy/plummy for my taste, but in amazingly great shape for a village wine of its age. Surprisingly enough, this really needs time in the decanter and becomes more typically and recognizably Vosne as it opens up.
- 1979 Domaine Chevalier Père et Fils Corton-Rognet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Aloxe-Corton
A little darker and thicker and deeper looking than the Arnoux. Nose is more cedary than any other Burg I’ve ever tasted. Blind I would have been hard pressed not to guess claret at first sniff. Along with the cedar, there is some dark berry fruit and tar-like mineral. On the palate, very rich and ripe and echoing the flavors of the nose. There’s a bit of a rough and diffuse character to the finish, but – if one doesn’t care that Burgs taste like Burgs – this is a strong showing from a 27-year-old medium-weight vintage. Impressive in its way, but not well-suited to my palate and preferences.
- 1981 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
(From magnum) Lightening at the edges, but the core has a bright depth hinting at remaining youth. Plum and herb on the nose, with a higher-toned layer of currant and spice. Palate shows a growing amount of green, but in a completely good way. The green joins with iron-tin mineral, a streak of graphite, and good acid to make this extremely fresh and very well balanced. Light in texture without completely lacking concentration, this is an overwhelmingly food-oriented wine. Not a blockbuster or a wine that will ever get critical raves, this is the kind of claret I could drink on a daily basis. Amazingly fresh for age and vintage.
- 1964 Château Cheval Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
(Not chateau-bottled, but not merchant bottled either. Privately bottled by chateau owners.) Surprisingly bright appearance with some lightening and bricking at edges but a good degree of darker depth in the middle. (Simply the appearance – not to mention the nose and taste – of all of these wines is a testament to the quality of their storage. Kudos to our host!) The nose shows a tiny bit of raisin, but also a great smoothness and cinnamon-licorice spice and brown sugar. The palate is largely resolved and integrated without noticeable acidity and only the smoothest edge of tannin. The fruit here is some very dark berry and more black cherry, held up by a central spine of earthy mineral. Finish carries forward fruit and some of the spice from the nose but introduces a slightly muddy dustiness that worries me a bit. That bit of muddiness and a certain simplicity on the palate are its biggest faults, but I’m still thrilled to add this to the buy list of birthyear wines (as I’m a ’64).
- 1950 Château Le Gay - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
Mature reddish tending toward a bit of mahogany at edges and a slight bit of cloudiness throughout. Big volatile acidity on the nose. Will it blow off? It never does blow off, but one can still smell and taste through it. In fact, there are high-toned plum scents that are lifted up on the volatility and help to provide a lightening note to the deeper, sweeter, more toasted palate. Nose also shows an almost textural note of scraped velvet and moss. Palate shows Pomerol mature merlot notes of sweet roasted plum, brown sugar, and irony clay. Finish is fading fast, but echoes the evolution of the nose to a mixture of rich sweet soy and furniture polish. No structure left to hold this up for much longer, but it’s not hot or collapsing quite yet. A great vintage to take a punt on old Pomerol, this was worth the punt and fun for old-wine nuts like me but not for most other folks.
- 1966 Château Léoville Las Cases - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Still young looking with deepish plum and red colors. A little bit of green vine-leaf and nice dose of berry and plum fruit are immediately apparent on the nose. The green is never intrusive, merely interesting, and a little time lets the cedar and tobacco and currant fruit come out. This one clearly wants a few hours open, as the palate was still tight when we finished it. There is clear evidence of good dark fruit, a bit of wood spice, and some non-earth mineral but it is wrapped tightly enough in good acid and some fine remaining tannin that it is really only just peeking out. In a nicely lean and defined package, this is a wine that very much fits my style of claret. Just as we’re finishing the bottle, a bit of that sweet low library character that I like so much is starting to move to the fore.
Great company, wines in great condition for age, a chance to drink a few things I'm unlikely to see anywhere else. And our usual case of a surfeit of generosity that makes it difficult to bear one's own weight. Someone else is always taking the burden.
Thanks everyone. And sorry for my tardiness in getting these notes posted.
Posted from CellarTracker