Kathleen and Simon Inman from the Inman Family winery were in Boston on October 14th for Boston University’s Parents’ Weekend and had just enough time to squeeze in a wine tasting with some of us at the Hotel Commonwealth, with food from Great Bay restaurant downstairs. The themes were “come and try Inman Family wines” and “bring Burgundy”. On the whole, I thought we succeeded very well on both accounts! And we managed to squeeze a few Oregon pinots in there, as well.
Simon and Kathleen are just great folks with a great story who happen to be making great wine. It was a pleasure to spend an evening talking, eating and drinking with them. We hope to have the pleasure of their company again next year.
Here are my notes from the wines.
2004 Inman Family Pinot Gris Russian River Valley. Both the 2004 and the 2005 exhibit a lovely minerality on the nose, with this 2004 also showing white flowers, chalk, faint grapefruit and a dash of white pepper. In the mouth, it has a rounded texture on a medium-weight frame, with bright acids lending very nice balance. The flavor profile includes grapefruit, white peaches and nice minerality. The finish is dry and clean. Hands-down the best domestic Pinot Gris I have ever tasted.
2005 Inman Family Pinot Gris Russian River Valley. The 2005 smells a bit rounder and richer, with strong aromas of fresh peaches and citrus zest, along with wet stones and minerals. In the end, this may possess more raw materials than the 2004, but right now it is a bit more linear and not as precocious as the 2004, but with a similar flavor profile. I would not be surprised, though, if in one year, it shows even better than the ’04 does today.
2002 J.M. Boillot Rully. (I think there may have been a vineyard designation to this wine that I missed. If anyone knows, please let me know.) There is soft chalk and plenty of citrus on the nose and on the palate with this wine. It has decent weight and structure, with tangy lemon and green fruit flavors and a zippy, fresh finish. Clean and refreshing.
2003 Joseph Drouhin Montagny. I admit that I barely spent any time with this wine—I guess I was itching to get to the reds. So very peremptory notes, I’m afraid. Nose of seashells, limestone and lemon/lime citrus. Decent palate presence and not overly complicated.
2003 Inman Family Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Olivet Grange Vineyard. There were many people at the table who preferred this 2003 (the inaugural release, I believe) to the 2004, but my tastes were more for the 2004. Still, this is a very nice, elegantly-styled Pinot, with a nose of ripe red cherry, purple flowers, cola, herbs, and a hint of cocoa and mocha. It features a grippy, fine-grained texture, medium-weight, and flavors of mixed berries and minerals. The finish does not exhibit quite the length and persistence of the 2004, but is a nice wine to drink right now, especially for those looking for a versatile food-friendly pinot or wanting to avoid the much bigger-styled pinot noirs out there.
2004 Inman Family Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Olivet Grange Vineyard. This wine is clear bright ruby in color. The nose is a lot of fun, with rose petals, cinnamon red hots, lavender and soft red cherry fruit on top and just a hint of sous bois earthiness underneath that comes out with a bit of time in the glass. It is young and fresh and elegant in the mouth, with tart cherries, rhubarb, cola and dark spice flavors. It has a beautifully silky feminine feel and a persistent finish featuring cranberry and more spices. We ordered some on the spot.
1997 Domaine de L'Arlot Vosne Romanee Les Suchots. This wine is very pale rose colored. It features soft, feminine aromas of dried cherries, dried rose petals, dried dirt and a touch of tobacco. Its tangy red fruits are juicy and elegant, high-toned and lively, but there is not a lot of body and it does dry out a bit on the finish, which could use more length. I’d be inclined to say “drink up now”.
1998 Domaine A-F Gros Savigny-les-Beaunes Clos des Guetts. This has a smoky ruby color to it. On the nose, one finds a bit of a candied profile, featuring caramel, sweet cherry, mineral and ash. The flavor profile is similar, with caramel and cherry. The tannins are fine, but the overall feel is less elegant than most this night, with less integration overall, a bit of a hollow spot in the mid-palate and a drying finish that turns a bit vinegary with extended time in the glass. Also, we took what was left in the bottle home and it fell apart completely after a night in the refrigerator.
1999 Domaine Virely-Rougeot Pommard Clos des Arvelets. Sadly, this bottle was corked.
1999 Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune Greves Vigne de L'Enfant Jesus. Medium ruby color, with aromas of earth, black cherries and autumn spices. This is velvety-textured in the mouth with a solid mid-palate of darker red fruits, with some drying tannins on the finish. It is obviously young, but I think it will be solid if tried again in 5 years.
2000 Domaine Robert Groffier Gevrey-Chambertin. I drank this and the Magnien below side-by-side. Compared to the Magnien, this is much meatier on the nose, with rhubarb, dark cherry, smoke, earth and autumn leaves. It is creamy-textured, on the big-boned side, with a fine-grained mouthfeel. Meaty dark fruits and some spices are balanced with a squirt of fresh acidity on the finish, which pulls through a lot of spices.
2002 Frederic Magnien Gevrey-Chambertin Clos de la Justice Vielles Vignes. This was my wine of the night. Opening with a very pleasing nose of earthy undergrowth, dark cherry, red berries, violets and complex spices, it later adds in a hint of tobacco, too. In the mouth, it displays excellent persistence, richness of texture and elegance of body and balance. It is spicy throughout and folds in layers of cherry and wood. It fans out on the finish and leaves a solid impression. Very nice.
2003 Jean-Claude Belland Corton Greves. This has a light ruby color. The nose shows some savory balsamic notes, anise, white pepper and some caramel. In the mouth, it has cherry and caramel flavors and an overall higher-toned profile than most of the other wines at the table. There is sharp acidity and abundant tannins to consider, and a decent mocha and cherry-tinged finish. But it is very young and primary, as one might expect. Hold.
2003 Cristom Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Mt. Jefferson Cuvee. I held off on sampling the Oregon wines until the end, so my palate was probably somewhat fatigued at this point. But here were my impressions, anyway: Nose of white pepper, anise, cinnamon cherry, and some forest floor. In the mouth, there are sweet sappy red fruits and blueberries exhibiting good intensity and a nice, spice-tinged finish. Clearly the more engaging and enjoyable of the two Oregon pinots.
2004 Shea Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Shea Vineyard. Word was this had just been rated 95 points by Wine Spectator, so what the heck; let’s see what she’s got. The answer appears to be “a lot less than 95 points”. This sports tire rubber, white pepper, dark berry fruits and bitter chocolate and wood on the nose, which is a bit acerbic in its youthfulness. It is better on the palate, with some sweet black cherry and wild berry fruit, spices and minerals. The acidity pokes out sharply in places and the wine is simply too disjointed at this young age. No matter what, though, it won’t ever come close to being 95 points, in my opinion. I rated it 87 points in my notebook.
2005 Inman Family Late Harvest Pinot Gris Russian River Valley "Blonde". This is a very pretty, not too sweet, highly elegant late harvest wine. It is very pale, almost dull silver colored. The nose is of soft crystallized sugar, plantain and passion fruit. It has an elegant, lacy feel in the mouth and it has an airiness to its moderate sweetness. It has fabulous balance and a fine overall feel. And we found it to pair well the following evening with some home-made foie gras shu-mai. It is not just for dessert!
Thanks again to Kathleen and Simon, and all the folks who came out to join us for this fun evening.