Mark Golodetz hosted last night's meeting of SOBER (Several Oenophiles Becoming Extremely Rambunctious) and put on a superb night of food and wine. A great lineup:
1988 Lanson "Noble Cuvee" ChampagneFresh baked bread, apple pie. Good acidity, good length. I don't tend to drink much aged Champagne, but liked this a lot in a very brief taste. B+
Mark had a nice assortment of paté, meats, and cheeses out. The first flight was blind:
Wine #1 : Ripe, meaty nose. Some stones and smoke on palate. Sweet pure dark berry fruit, good acidic balance, resolved tannins. John pretty quickly says Northern Rhone, chooses Hermitage over Côte-Rôtie, and he's right, the 1983 Delas Freres "Marquise de la Tourette" Hermitage
Wine #2: Very ripe, kirschy, full, a little hint of barnyard. Seems shorter and drier on finish than other two. Some olives and mushrooms with time.
With the hint of knowing wine #1 a couple people quickly identify the 1983 Jabloulet "La Chapelle" Hermitage. B
Wine #3. Somewhat lifted nose. Rather deep fruit, a meaty note like #1, fully mature. It's the 1983 Chave Hermitage. John says this bottle is a bit advanced, but I like, although a tad less than #1. B+/A-
Next flight was served with a delicious lamb stew (with a hint of lemon) and pureed parsnips. Not blind.
1996 Pape-Clement (Pessac-Leognan)
Earthy, mineral, with redcurrant fruit. Some tobacco and pencil shavings with time. My favorite for drinking today, though it certainly has plenty of life ahead of it. A-
1996 Pontet-Canet (Pauillac)
Ripest and most modern of the bunch (our leading oneo-Ludditte John has a good time riffing on its faults), but I like (as I have in the past). Cassis and sweet oak, nice texture, nice finish. Outclassed a bit, but a nice wine for me. B+
1996 Leoville-Barton (St. Julien)
I find this beautiful, rich and structured with deep deep dark fruit and long finish. Not as ready as the Pape-Clement, A-
Mark brought out another blind wine. He asked me what I thought, I found it rather oaky/modern, pretty sure it was Cabernet/Merlot. Guesses around the table included young Spanish. Oops, the 1996 Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan). Not exactly posterchild for modern in Bdx, but you can't take your guess back. After a bit it opens somewhat, but to me it's still rather oaky and monolithic. Powerful wine. I'm sure that the oak will integrate, but B+ for now.
Next flight (not blind) was accompanied by the cheeses (nice assortment especially a Tallegio).
1996 Sandrone "Cannubi Boschis" Barolo
High acidity, good red fruit, a bit of cedar but dominated by flowers and a little tar. Not as tannic as many 1996 Barolos, but does need some time. I liked a lot. A-/B+
1997 Sandrone "Cannubi Boschis" Barolo
Not surprisingly the ripest of three. Low acid, soft, ripe round fruit. Doesn't seem as deep as the '96, but would be ok as a restaurant wine. B/B+
1998 Sandrone "Cannubi Boschis" Barolo
Quite thin compared to the other two, wood sticks out more. Maybe a little green. Mark felt it was much better with the cheese than alone. I think better with food, but still my least favorite wine of night. But if I got in a restaurant I'd shrug and make do. B-
Another blind wine, this time I refrained from guessing as I overheard Mark say what it was. But I don't think I would have been close. The 1971 Haut-Brion was so fresh and young I would have never have guessed its age. Pure clean fruit, earth and ferric minerals, beautiful and my WOTN. A
We finished with the 1965 Delaforce Colheita. Very caramelly, with a little marmalade and mocha. Sweet, clean, easy. B+
Nice night with a nice group and a generous host.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.