Notes on a northern Rhone blind tasting dinner.
Rene Collard Brut Champagne Carte d’Or – a non vintage wine although made from 1992 fruit, all old vines Pinot Meunier, aged on the lees for 10 years, with no dosage when bottled. Showing some colour, and an interesting mushroomy nose, ends very dry and with medium length. Nice way to start.
2000 Patrick Lesec Cornas ‘Le Vignon’ – this was perhaps the most Cote Rotie like Cornas I have tasted. Some violets and garrigue in the nose, soft juicy and borderline elegant in the mouth with soft tannins and medium length. Kept improving in the glass.
1999 Jean Luc Colombo Cornas Les Mejeans – a rubbery syrah nose, more lush fruit than the previous wine and slightly better length. Surprisingly forward, but with good backbone.
1999 Tardieu Laurent St. Joseph – sorry, I didn’t see if this was the regular bottling or Roches Vieilles. Notable black pepper nose, lots of fruit and some perfume, but over all the wood was more evident in this than in any of the other wines. Tannins starting to soften. A tad ungenerous?
1991 Jean Luc Colombo Cornas ‘Les Ruchets’ – a single vineyard wine that I’ve watched since release. Tar and gravel nose with good fruit underneath, and excellent fruit on palate with good flavour integration, long and sweet. This is now at peak.
1985 August Clape Cornas – corked, sadly, although it did show pretty good fruit and a good whack of tannin. Should have been very good. I’d pondered bringing a 96.
1995 Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne – I thought this wine was showing exceptionally well. Roast meat bacon fat nose with some tar, still pretty firm, but drinking well now, smooth and long. This maker continues to perplex me with this wine. The 1990 and 1993 showed well young, but don’t seem to have lived up to their promise, while this one may be the best of the three. I have some 90 lurking in the cellar that I should revisit.
1983 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle – I tasted this early on and bought the 1982 instead, which I slightly preferred but this bottle was showing very well with a deep anise and mint nose, good rather ripe fruit with a hint of orange in the finish. It did dry out with time in the glass, a sign of advancing age (why is it that old wines dry out while old winos do the opposite…?)
1991 Guigal Hermitage – this was a tight wine, not giving much up in the nose and had a hint of TCA at the beginning. On the lean side in terms of fruit, this is not going to improve from here.
1997 Guigal Cote Rotie Cote Brune et Blonde – quite ripe fruit in the nose and a tad of stinkiness, along with some pepper. The tannins are now soft, and the only jarring note in this wine was the high terminal acidity that was a bit obtrusive even with the cheese.
The excellent meal to accompany these wines consisted of a cured pork belly and lentils with mustard sauce (pork and beans?), a venison and quail tart with port sauce (chicken pot pie?) and a beef shortrib a la Provencale that was really memorable. All of the courses matched the wines very well. Congratulations to the organiser and the restaurant are in order. With the exception of one corked wine, all were good and the company, food and evening were a real pleasure.