Shared a very nice lineup of wines with a friend plus a new wine-loving acquaintance last night, which gave me several first-time experiences with some big names.
First up, one of my contributions, as I thought it would be a good starter white, and a unique experience. They loved it, and I thought a step up from the bottle I reported on a few weeks ago. Fantastic cheese wine.
Ste. Chapelle, Riesling, Snake River Valley 2008
Very good nose of flowers and mineral. On the palate, apple cider, pineapple, apricot, lychee, some nectar/honey, and a hint of mace on the finish. Rich fruit with great acidity, and nice minerality. Medium-sweet and perfectly balanced, with full, excellent body. Wonderful white flower notes emerge as it opens. Substantially better than a bottle from just a few weeks ago, this is a truly excellent Riesling. 5 to 10 years ahead. 3 Stars
We tried the Pichon, and discovered it needed some serious time to open, so my friend generously pulled out quite the nice transition wine.
Justin, Justification, Paso Robles 2010
64% Cab Franc, 36% Merlot. Delicious, juicy black raspberry, roses, tobacco leaf/pleasant greeness, wood, granite/gravel, and allspice. Almost like a Pomerol, but juicier and with less earthy depth, and a bit too much sweetness on the finish holding it back. Nonetheless, I love its aromatics and earthy notes. No need to wait on this thoroughly delicious wine. 3.5 Stars
We then spent quite a while with the Pichon. Not having had Pichon-Baron or 1989 before, this strikes me as quite modern, and I wouldn't mind more Pauillac typicite, but then it is still showing rather young.
Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac 1989
Medium-deep ruby/garnet, showing some yellowing but quite respectable for a 23 year old. Initially showing rather primary and needing time to open, but oh my lord, the density and richness are captivating, with excellent depth. After opening in the glass for a couple of hours, it reveals dried blackberry, pencil lead, leather, tobacco leaf, chalky tannin, and mineral, all with impressive density. Still showing some primary fruit, though less exuberant than when first opened, but interestingly also showing some tertiary glycerin and other signs of maturity. Overall, it feels as if this is holding back and still has great potential to grow. To my tastes, I would give it another 5 - 10 years so it can achieve full maturity. Nonetheless, it is offering a lot of pleasure now. 4 Stars.
Next, an odd but delicious Hermitage.
Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Chapelle, Hermitage 1998
Excellent nose of smoked meat, citrus rind, roses, and red fruit. Similar on the palate, with dried cherry, very prominent notes of blood orange, currants, and forest floor. Nice sweet and aromatic fruit. Tart and yet full bodied and earthy. Fascinating. Totally different than what I was expecting. 5 years ahead of it for sure, and might achieve an interesting maturity in 10. 3.5 Stars
Finally, topped off the evening with my other contribution. Perfect ending. Wish it had not been so late, or I would have taken my sweet time with this.
Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes 2003
From half bottle. Golden, with some burnish starting to show. The nose is an explosion of hazelnut, with apricot, barley sugar notes; abundant floral notes emerge with air. Similar on the palate, with loads of honeyed apricot; as it opens, caramel and lots of burnt sugar/toffee notes. A very rich, burnished style but with a prominent, driving vein of tangerine-like acidity keeping everything in good balance. Sadly little to no botrytis influence apparent, but this is warm and rich (probably the hot vintage showing), and my lord is it dense and intense. It seems to me that it is at a transition point, with the primary fruit beginning to pull back, but maturity only just being hinted at, and I think another 10 years would benefit it greatly. This could live a long time I think, perhaps another 30 years. 4 Stars.
Had we not gone so late, he might very well have opened a Macallan 18 for me as well - next time perhaps . . . . no regrets with this lineup though.
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
(avatar: me next to the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory)