As the winner of the previous month’s game, I hosted our regular poker tournament a little while back, supplying the wines for the game. As usual, all of the wines were served blind, so only I knew the wines and the serving order.
2007 J.L. Chave Sélection St. Joseph Blanc Céleste. There’s a pleasant bouquet to this wine, moving from lemonball, chalk and juniper to wax, wild meadow and soft wood aromas over time. In the mouth, it’s a bit fleshier in texture than the nose might suggest, but with very nice balance and a giving personality to the flavors of waxy lemon and spiced pear. It finishes with a gentle tang on the easy, even finish.
2002 Maurice Écard Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Peuillets. This is a bit reserved on the nose, but really quite appealing with its old-fashioned and savory-styled aromas of autumn spices, pressed red flowers, sour cherries, cranberries, leather and foresty undergrowth. In the mouth, it’s got a nice creamy, lactic texture but plenty of traditional earthy black cherry, dark earth and toasted herb flavors playing out over a light to medium-bodied framework. It’s got nice lift and freshness, too, and it ought to provide fine drinking for several more years to come.
1997 Maison Alex Gambal Beaune 1er Cru Grèves. This is plusher and more rounded on the nose, with forward aromas of cherry, raspberry and fine baking spices providing an inviting bouquet. In the mouth, it’s loaded with red fruit flavors that are bright and twangy, fanned out and fleshy. It’s got nice presence, and even though it’s not particularly complex it is fun and pleasant to drink right now.
1979 Château Beychevelle St. Julien. This gets better and better with air, becoming more aromatically effusive as it opens up to reveal wonderfully Old World aromas of rawhide leather, cigar wrapper, fireplace ash, iron ore, horsehide and earth. In the mouth, it’s cool and direct, with refined acidity but slightly brittle tannin at this stage of the game. Still, it’s complex and rewarding through the mid-palate, where it features fine flavors of dark berries, leather, tar and smoke before turning a bit more austere at the very end. Some thought it was showing a bit over the hill, but I like it and thought it gave a solid performance, though it’s certainly time to be drinking up.
1989 Château Lagrange St. Julien. I really like the nose here a lot, as it features strong yet svelte aromas of black currants, tar, black leather, grilled herbs, dark earth, charred wood and crushed rock that just have a lot of life and lift. In the mouth, it’s fully-loaded with creamy blackberry, black currant and dark earth flavors that marry together beautifully despite some still-strident structure. It’s extremely expressive, quietly powerful and just really tremendous right now. It was my very close runner-up for wine of the day.
1993 Pieve Santa Restituta (Gaja) Brunello di Montalcino Rennina. Both of the wines in this flight were rather browned and cloudy in appearance, which had me quite nervous as I was decanting them prior to the game. And indeed, I don’t think either wine was showing what it should, especially with this first wine in the flight. For me, this smells a bit roasty, with aromas of baked cherries, caramel, browned tobacco leaf and some stewy tomato paste bits in the background that I just don’t find appealing. In the mouth, though, it shows a lot less of that character. Indeed, the texture is gorgeously rich and beautifully polished, just sliding effortlessly across the palate. I don’t love the baked cherry, licorice, caramel and dusty dry earth flavors but I certainly appreciate the beauty and grace of the wine’s structure and cashmere feel. It’s too bad that this bottle just wasn’t in the best of shape to bring it all together.
1993 Pieve Santa Restituta (Gaja) Brunello di Montalcino Sugarille. This wine feels like the more serious of the two—showing off complex aromas of cherry, raspberry, mushroom, suede leather and dried sweat with just a hint of that roastiness around the edges. In the mouth, it is super-smooth, luxuriant and plush—with full-bodied and pasty flavors of red currant, cherry, licorice rope and subtle caramel undertones. It’s long, lasting and classy, but again just a bit roasty now and again. I like a lot of its facets, but it should have been better.
1989 M. Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne. This wine simply does it for me, starting with the delightfully fresh and generous nose of dark-roasted coffee, blackberries, ink, singed iron, graphite, cracked pepper and black olive aromas that are alive with dark and savory goodness. And it’s delicious to drink, as well, with wonderful drive to the flavors of blackberries, blueberries, sweaty funk and fine earth. It’s not at all austere or overly-muscled, just right in the zone and drinking beautifully. It’s really hard not to like, and was my choice for wine of the day.
1990 M. Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne. This is more exotic on the nose, showing plusher aromas of hazelnut, dark chocolate, cocoa and chestnut to go along with leather and dirtpile scents in the background. It’s lush and luxuriant in the mouth, with a more modern style to the warm red fruit. It’s surely lovely, but I prefer the more lifted and energetic ’89.
Last edited by Michael Malinoski
on Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.