Below are some notes on wines drunk over two consecutive evenings with two different pairs of friends.
N.V. Krug Champagne Brut. This was served from a 375 ml bottle purchased in 2006. It has a nicely aged sensibility to it on the nose, with aromas of baked apples, dark honey, nuts, lemon peel, and brown spices leading the way. In the mouth, it is completely smooth and just perfectly balanced for drinking right now. The mouthfeel is beautifully rounded and there’s pitch-perfect acidity to complement the flavor layers of baked apples, honey, ginger, caramel, copper, nuts and toasted spices. This is in a great drinking zone and is a perfect way to kick off the evening.
1997 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année. This is kind of dark and spicy on the very engaging nose—showing lovely and enticing aromas of baking spices, light caramel, browned apple, ginger and a bit of anise. In the mouth, it’s rich with flavors of golden apples, nutmeg, gingerbread and toffee but also has a nice crisp acidity underlying it all. It is fairly full, round and broad on the tongue, but there’s fine balance and quiet drive to it. For me, it is right in the zone where I like it—mellowing and complex but not too nutty or sherried at all.
1983 Kirchmayr Grüner Veltliner Stangl Solist. I really like the subtle, complex and elegant nose of this wine, which features aromatic layerings of lanolin, white peach, alpine meadow and star fruit. In the mouth, it’s flinty and crisp on the attack, with a slightly lean mid-palate but more rounded bottom notes on the impressively long and fresh finish. It isn’t real deep, but I enjoy the seamless and sort of waxy texture and the tart and refreshing acidity it features. This is a rewarding and thoughtfully-made wine that I enjoy a good deal.
2005 Domaine Henri Rebourseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Fonteny. This wine features a really up-front, bold and fruity aromatic profile that is still showing pretty obvious influences of oak but is enjoyably sexy and giving otherwise. Exuberant notes of chocolate covered cherries, crushed raspberries, burnt embers and baking spices are open and fun but perhaps a bit obvious at times. In the mouth, it seems a tad disjointed here and there and is definitely still quite youthful. The texture is kind of thick and grippy and there’s plenty of red-fruited body to it, but the acidity and smoke tones are somewhat bitter-tinged just now. The smooth cherry and red berry fruit is really pure and nicely-focused but needs to become better integrated with the charred oak, sharp acidity and fine-grained tannin elements over the next few years.
1984 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Stag's Leap Vineyards. Although this is just popped and poured, it’s absolutely singing right from the very first moment it’s poured into the glass. It greets you immediately with gorgeous layers of cassis, crushed raspberries, suede leather, sweet creosote, cedar shavings, animal pelt, graphite and limestone. It is delightfully aged but still loaded with goodness, showing very little fade but lots of wonderful fruit and earth tone maturity It’s just fantastic all around. In the mouth, I’m glad to say that it is similarly pleasing right from the first sip—featuring warm but well-structured flavors of dark cherry, black raspberry, cassis and mixed currant fruit to go along with mellow earth tones. It’s smooth and creamy, with melted tannins and a finely-gauged flow that just provides a wonderful drinking experience right now.
1994 Paoletti Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. This is really fun on the nose, pumping out sweet and sexy aromas of sweet kirsch, dried sweat, vanilla paste, eucalyptus, creosote, roasted nuts and light caramel. In the mouth, it is certainly resolved of tannins but there is somewhat elevated acidity and a sense that the wine might be attenuating just a bit. While I suspect we are catching this on the downswing, I still really like the zesty red cherry and black raspberry fruit, the fun spice rack seasonings and the clean mouthfeel. It’s time to drink up.
1990 La Dame de Montrose St.-Estephe. This wine is slinky, sinewy and smoky on the nose, with fine aromas of charred leather, cedar shavings, menthol, grilled herbs, baked cherries, persimmon and dark earth. It still seems on the young side in the mouth, with a good gripping backbone around which one finds smooth and classy flavors of menthol, black currant and dark plums. There’s a big pinch of tannin that grows with time, but this is a rewarding wine for drinking now or holding another 10 years.
2002 Dyer Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain District Napa Valley. I don’t think the 3 hour decant we gave this was nearly enough. Although the mountain fruit itself smells restrained and not at all briery or sweet, the nose is still big, robust and voluminous with aromas of blackberries, black raspberries, black currants and dark earth. It seems about 10 years away from really letting the aromas blossom fully. In the mouth, it is the coolest-fruited wine on the table, with tons of pure blackberry fruit showing a rugged classicism. The tannins are definitely sticky at this stage and would seem to require about 5 years more in the cellar to resolve, in my opinion. Otherwise, this is just dark, rich, packed in tight and waiting to unfold.
1997 Clarendon Hills Shiraz Piggott Range Vineyard Clarendon. There are some interesting notes to this wine on the nose, as I pick up some unusual scents like denim, pen ink, loose change and raw leather in support of the core bits of sweet blueberries, cool smoke and cracked pepper. In the mouth, it is too cotton candy sweet for me on first taste, but it mellows and seems to find more solid footing as the evening wears on. It stays on the sweet side, but it is actually pretty medium-bodied and not all that thickly-textured, with decent acidity under it all. I don’t know if I’ll ever much like the flavor profile, but I’d be curious to revisit in 3-5 years or so.
2004 Selbach-Oster Riesling Auslese Zeltinger Schlossberg ‘Schmitt’. This wine (from a 375 ml bottle) offers immediately enticing aromas of crabapples, peaches, blue slate, kerosene and a little whiff of sulfur. In the mouth, I like the plump sweet fruit that marries well to the lively burst of acidic energy. Dense flavors of peaches and tropical fruits flow along nicely, accented by suggestions of petrol and flinty minerals, and while it is still young and grippingly sappy, it has come a long way since my first bottle tasted 5 years ago. Although I see this continuing to improve and lengthen out over time, I really enjoy the sweet ripe fruit and refreshing lift it offers to cap off the evening.