Four of us recently got together to play a round of golf on a gorgeous afternoon, followed by a very pleasant dinner at our host’s house with a few good bottles of wine. It was hard to beat, really!
2013 Paix Sur Terre Ugni Blanc Paso Robles. The nose here is crisp and pretty, with scents of meadow flowers, pea tendrils, chalk and light grapefruit. In the mouth, it’s got some heft and body to the crystalline flavors of lemon and clementine, but accented nicely by bits of straw, steel and herb. The finish shows a twinge of bitter mineral late, but the overall impression is of a nice and certainly interesting wine.
2012 Holdredge Pinot Noir Judgment Tree Russian River Valley. I was sort of mixed on this wine. The nose initially shows a fair bit of toasted stem, sassafras and herbal green overtones, but then also loads of sweet cherry and rhubarb elements that taken together seem like maybe they need some time to come together more harmoniously. I am a bit more positive on the palate impression it leaves, where flavors of sweet cherries, wild mixed berries, nutmeg and oak spices combine with tingly acidity and come into considerably better focus with food. It has good staying power and a fun face to it, but my overall feeling is it’s in a bit of an awkward place right now.
1975 Château Léoville Barton St. Julien. Unfortunately, the nose of this wine feels a bit cooked down, with aromas of decayed red flower petals, macerated cherries, cedar planks and some darker fruit elements sliding in late. It’s a bit narrow and pinched in the mouth, with a lot of aggressive acidity riding high throughout the palate journey. It’s tartly red-fruited, lighter-weighted, with thinned out body at this stage of the game. I do like the dark cherry/cranberry fruit and the earthy, ashy edgings it shows, along with the general lack of difficult tannins I sometimes associate with 1975s, but overall I’d have to say it’s a bumpy ride, to be honest.
2000 Château Malescot St. Exupéry Margaux. This is a very healthy dark ruby color, presenting a nice deep bouquet of pasty black raspberry, plum, menthol and cedar dust aromas that are still pretty dense and fudgy but very appealing nonetheless. It feels lithe and ropy on the palate, with pretty serious structure but also plenty of slinky black fruit flavors that have a certain sense of classicism to them. There’s nice cool acidity, dark earth tones, reasonable tannin levels, very good tension and drive, and plenty of life ahead for this. I really enjoy it, but I think it will be even better in another 3-5 years.
1998 Delas Frères Côte-Rôtie Seigneur de Maugiron. The aromatic profile here is just tremendous, coming on strong with all kinds of mincemeat, toasted spice, tapenade, salami, ground pepper, creamed cherry and sweet raspberry scents that play off very nicely against each other and offer many interesting facets each time the glass comes up to the nose. In the mouth, it’s still rather young and manly, with a tensile backbone and plenty of thick muscular tannins in play. There’s loads of life in the juicy dark flavors of black olive, white pepper, capicola and blackberry, and the acidity is nice and tangy with no hard edges. Still, for all that I really like about this wine, I feel it could benefit from a few more years in the cellar in the hopes of finding a bit more elegance down the road.
2009 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve Napa Valley. This young wine is a deep, opaque purple color. It’s really heady stuff on the nose, with yeasty brewery scents in support of plum, blackberry, blueberry, vanilla and pencil shaving aromas. In the mouth, it’s packed to the gills with big and incredibly concentrated flavors of mocha and fudge giving way to blueberry pie, blackberry paste and mixed baking spices. There’s so much density of flavor to this that it’s wild, really. The tannins and structure mostly stay out of the way at this point, and the wine just washes over you in spite of its volume and intensity. I can’t drink a whole lot of it just now, but I’m exceptionally curious to see what a wine like this will yield in 10-12 years.