Hail, hail, the gang's all here, or a lot of 'em are, anyway. The annual MoCool hordes began gathering Friday afternoon - I got in to the Ann Arbor Hawthorn Suites around 3:30 p.m., with John Fiola (who met me at the airport), and it wasn't long before we found our way to an in-room tasting with Julia B., Bob H., two of the three Noland brothers, Jim Grow and ... I'm probably missing someone, but anyway ... there was wine all over the place, JB lent me a Riedel O glass, which suited me just fine, and we tasted a few wines:
<B>Rex Hill 2004 Oregon Pinot Noir</B> - Clear light garnet. Light, red berry and truffle, a bit herbaceous. My kind of Pinot.
<B>Hart's Wine Cellars 2005 Gamay</B> - Howie's home wine, made from grapes he brought home from Niagara-on-the-Lake. I had tasted it earlier this summer at NiagaraCool, and was blown away. It's just as good now: Cherries and strawberries, mouth-watering and fresh. Great home wine, a potential prize-winner.
<B>Peninsula Cellars 2005 Old Mission Peninsula Manigold Vineyard Gewürztraminer</B> - Pale gold. Very floral, 3g/l. RS presents as bone-dry; 14.5% alcohol perceptible as body and warmth. Peach pit/bitter almond in the finish. Interesting, a bit awkward.
<B>Peninsula Cellars 2005 Old Mission Peninsula Gewürztraminer</B> - Very pale gold. Perfumed, floral, orange blossom and a whiff of wool. Both of these Gewurzes are considered among Michigan's strongest efforts. They're idiosyncratic to my taste buds and not really strong on varietal character. I don't think anyone would mistake them for Alsatian Gewurz. Still, they're impressive, and I like them both.
<B>Hart's Wine Cellars 2004 Blanc de Noir</B> - Another of Howie's home wines, made from Pinot purchased locally in Niagara Falls. Clear gold, nice bubble stream. Yeasty, crisp, good fruit. Good effort.
Dinner at Joel and Sally's
Friday evening, many of the out-of-town visitors gathered for more wines and a beef-on-the-grill dinner at Joel and Sally Goldberg's. A fine group of people, wine friends who mostly meet just once a year at MoCool, gathered for fine fare and a remarkable collection of wines that all the participants had pulled from their cellars and generously shared. I'm sure I only caught a fraction of them, and didn't even try to cram into the traditional "cellar stuffing" downstairs, but I scribbled brief notes on quite a few:
<B>Ch. Chantal 2005 Old Mission Peninsula Krupka Vineyard Cabernet Franc</B> - Clear cherry red. Good red berries and herbs, Chinon style, crisp and acidic.
<B>Laurel Glen 1987 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon</B> - Sweet red fruit, a lot of barnyard. Mature or maybe a bit more than mature, but still going strong.
<B>Carlisle 2000 Russian River Valley Two Acre Red Wine</B> - Bright red berries, fruit-forward but nicely balanced. A bit New World and oaky for me, but well-made from a curious batch of grapes: Mourvèdre, Petite Syrah, Valdepeñas and Alicante Bouschet.
<B>Cuvaison 2003 Carneros Estate Pinot Noir</B> - Clear bright ruby. Lovely, forward and complex, spicy black and red cherries. All on the palate plus cocoa and warm cherry cordial. New world style, but very fine; several tasters concur that it shows unusual depth and complexity for a big California Pinot. One of my contributions, a California Wine Club Connoisseurs' Series wine selected by Charlie Olken.
<B>Storybook Mountain Vineyards 2002 Estate Reserve Napa Valley Zinfandel</B> - Very dark reddish-purple, bright garnet edge. Deep bramble fruit, intense, a touch of cherry cordial. Long and deep, a wine that will benefit from a few years in the cellar. Another CWC Connoisseurs' Series wine from my stash.
<B>Domaine des Brureaux 1997 Chénas</B> - Ruby, light. Stony, mineral, light red fruit, funky; on first tasting it seems past peak but alive, but Mike Conner, who brought it, speaks more highly of it, so I return to it after an hour open and find much of the funk has blown off to reveal startling minerality and still-vibrant fruit.
<B>Brun 2000 Terres Dorees L'Ancien Beaujolais</B> - Strawberries and earth, beautiful balance. Give me more!
<B>René Michel 1995 Macon Clessé</B> - Clear light gold. Mature but beautifully alive, pineapple and butterscotch.
<B>Franck Peillot 2000 "Altesse" Roussette de Bougey Montagnieu</B> - Pale straw. Whoa! Apples and in-your-face oxidative and resiny notes. It's good, though. No, really!
<B>J.L. Chave 1997 Hermitage</B> - Red fruit, subtle nutlike oxidative aromas, full-on acidity. Maybe my palate's tiring or I'm missing something here, but I'm not getting much out of this.
<B>Flor de Pingus 2001 Ribera del Duero</B> - Black. Plums and earth and oaky vanilla. Parkerized but promising, needs time.
<B>Edmunds St. John 1997 Story Vineyard Amador County Zinfandel</B> - Showing a little oxidation, but mostly dark chocolate and lovely old-red claret-like sweet red fruit. Remarkably good mature-red, although I don't know that I'd have picked it as Zin in a blind tasting.
<B>Williams-Selyem 2001 Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir</B> - Big, forward, oaky, a little hot and monolithic. Tasted alongside the Cuvaison reserve, this one's just not a hit for me.
<B>Williams-Selyem 2001 Anderson Valley Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir</B> - This is a little more like it. Still big and brawny and not overly complex, at least at this point in its evolution, but there's some complexity and Pinot character here, and it gets better still with a bite of rare grilled beef.
<B>Montes Alpha 1998 M Chilean Red Wine</B> - Classic Bordeaux blend, complex and balanced, cassis and subtle earth. Thanks to Bob H. for cellaring and sharing this treat.
<B>Schweiger Vineyards 2000 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon</B> - Big and bold, cassis and eucalyptus and dark chocolate, classic Napa Cabernet. I don't hear much chatter about this wine, but to me it's one of the wines of the night albeit fiercely immature; promising, but needs cellar time.
<B>Kosta Browne 2004 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir</B> - Perfumed red fruit, big and bold, one-dimensional. This goes a step beyond the Williams Selyems down the wrong branch of the Pinot road for me.
<B>Hendry 2003 Hendry-Block 7 Napa Valley Zinfandel</B> - Cherry cordial, big and smooth as velvet. One of the best Zins of my recollection; I liked the Storybook Mountain well enough, but this one passes it in the stretch and wins by several lengths.
<B>Domaine La Combe Blanche 1999 La Dessous de L'Enfer Vin de Pays des Cotes de Brian</B> - Dark, ripe plums and cherries, balanced and intense. Tempranillo from France! I hear a lot of excitement about it, and it is impressive, but a little too "international" to be Wine of The Night for me.
<B>Darioush 1999 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon</B> - Forward black cherry and overt oak, firm acidity and loads of tannin. Ehhh ... not my style, give me some more of that Schweiger instead. Might gain from cellaring, though.
<B>Quilceda Creek 2003 Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon</B> - Fruit bomb! Lots of oak and tannin, too. Drinks well, and it's fun to encounter a Washtington classic, but ... Someone said it's a 100-pointer. Hmm.
<B>Ch. Haut-Bages-Liberal 1986 Pauillac</B> - Cassis, tarragon, balanced and intense. Drinking well, but it's still got plenty of life yet.
<B>Mike's mystery red</B> - Served from a brown bag, it'sd dark, earthy, sweet red fruit, reminds me very much of some fine, well-cellared old California Cabernets, including a couple of wonderful Louis Martini Cabs from the '60s drunk 30 years later. Turns out I'm way off in the wrong direction, though (although at least I got the variety right) ... it's <b>1970 Chateau Palmer</b>. Durn!
<B>Ch. Leoville-Barton 1986</B> - This one's served in the open, so I have no problem discerning that it's Bordeaux. [wink] Black cherries, toast and leather. Mature, balanced, another great wine.
<B>Moulin Touchais 1979 Anjou</B> - Pale straw. Luscious and rich, strawberries and cream, incredibly youthful. A Loire classic.
<B>1975 Vouvray</B> - Amber. Stone fruit, butterscotch, creme brulee. Tasted from another reveler's glass, I was never able to track down the bottle for the details.
<B>Ch. Leoville Las Cases 1967 St.-Julien</B> - Cassis and leather, fully mature but very much alive. Amazing. Caps off the night; after the Moulin Touchais and this, a quiet cup of coffee is all I want or need ... no point in tasting anything else to follow this.
We've got a tasting of Chateau Musar whites (and a few other good things) coming up in the hotel in just a few, followed by the picnic (under the threat of stormy skies) this afternoon. More to come!
Last edited by Robin Garr
on Sun Aug 27, 2006 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.