One of our most recent poker games was held at Tom’s clubhouse, with wines supplied by the previous month’s winner, Karl. As usual, all wines (except the after-hours selections) were served blind.
1993 Schwaab-Kiebel Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese Fuder #10 Mosel Saar Ruwer. This is quite pretty on the nose, leading right out with full aromas of dried grapefruit, peach juice and plantain, supported very nicely by intriguing scents of kerosene and funky musk tones. In the mouth, it has a squeaky texture, fine cohesion, and finely-resolved flavors of rich yellow fruits and funky musk. It’s pretty sweet for a starter wine, but that’s totally in keeping with the wine’s overall personality, weight and fruit profile. This was well-liked by both me and the group as a whole.
1996 Domaine Joseph Roty Marsannay Ouzeloy. I like the dark, cool, earthy aromas of this wine, which stay strong and persistent all day long, delivering a mix of worn rawhide leather, autumn leaves, mushrooms, carob nut, sour cherry and black raspberry scents in fine proportions. In the mouth, it’s dark and savory, but with lively acidity and some spiky tannins. Flavors of black cherry, dark soil and toasted spices are tangy and refined, with a refreshing finish.
1996 Domaine Michel Gaunoux Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens. This is similarly cool and earthy on the nose, with solid depth to the aromas of black cherry, fireplace ash, worn leather, black tea leaves and notions of sweeter fruit down deep. It’s taut and lithe on the palate, showing medium weight and a bit more leanness than the nose might suggest. It’s earthy and a bit rustic all the way through, showing flavors of black cherry, smoke, mineral and black tea. It’s a little tougher-edged than the previous wine, but it’s pretty nice nonetheless.
N.V. Frank Cornelissen Contadino 9 Rosso IGT Sicilia. Wow, this wine was despised by many in the room, and barely tolerated by the rest of us. It’s all white pepper, raspberry seltzer, pomegranate, red candy and green vine aromas on the nose. In the mouth, it’s an unusual blend of sweet but spritzy raspberry candy, with some weird rubber and gunflint bits thrown in. It’s dry, taut and bitter-finishing, but with that cloying candy fruit hanging around, too. It just never comes together into anything remotely enjoyable.
1995 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva. This was rather enjoyable, starting with the fun nose of dusty dirt road, dry cedar shingle, cocoa powder, warm cherry liqueur, baked clay and lead pencil. In the mouth, it’s nice and smooth, with moderately full-bodied flavors of sour cherry and raspberry fruit that feel sort of gently sun-kissed. It has nice depth, yielding structure and a nice twang on the slightly more tannic finish. This can be enjoyed now or held.
1995 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904. This is loaded with fun American oak scents (dill, balsa wood) to go along with really nice sweet cherry fruit and funky earth aromas on the nose. In the mouth, it’s extremely smooth-textured and chuggable, with bright acidity and nice sweet cherry and raspberry fruit flavors to go along with hints of eucalyptus and toasty oak spices all the way down the spine. It has an outgoing personality, but also plenty of Old World charm, and loads of life left for further cellaring for those who’d like a bit more wood integration.
1996 Fratelli Alessandria Barolo. This is a decidedly strident, strapping wine that’s simply not ready to drink right now, in my opinion. First off, it’s deadly-serious on the deep, dark nose of smoked cherry, grilled herbs, black tea leaves and charred earth. In the mouth, it’s pasty with flavors of black cherry and black raspberry, bitter smoke and toasted herbal bits. There are lots and lots of tannins that build and build and frankly are too much for me to handle in the end. Try to wait this one out.
1997 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva. This wine gave a very good showing of itself, delivering luscious and very pretty aromas of raspberry and dark cherry paste, cocoa and fine leather, followed by an expansive and pleasingly mouth-filling experience of fine sour cherry, licorice rope and citrus-tinged flavor. It’s got a refined texture to it, with a sort of gentlemanly personality all around. It’s drinking very nicely today and ought to age without any problem, either. This was a winner.
2007 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cépages Sonoma County. Served from 375 ml bottle. We changed course much later in the evening, checking in on a couple of young half-bottles of California Cabernet. This first wine really clings to the inside of the glass, offering up rather warmly inviting aromas of blueberries, plums, cocoa, oak shavings and graphite. In the mouth, it’s not super-complex, but it’s got lots of easy-going and tangy dark berry fruit flavors that are quite luscious and tasty at this young stage of its life.
2009 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. Also served from 375 ml bottle. This also invites the taster right in, showing off aromas of cocoa, mocha, blueberry, violets, menthol, charred wood and spicy oak. On the palate, it’s bold and spicy, with loads of blue baby fat fruit stuffing. It’s real smooth and lush, with no real tannin concerns, suprisingly. The alcohol is just a bit elevated and heady from time to time, but it’s so fun and easy to drink already that I’m confident it will integrate nicely with a bit of cellar time.