Once more unto the breach with 10 dear friends at China King for Peking ducks and tons of side dishes to go with an enormous assortment of wines…
2010 François Chidaine Vouvray Pétillant. This is very crisp and crunchy on the nose—showing fresh and tingly aromas of struck match, quinine, green apple and pear flesh. It’s frothy and fresh on the palate, with slightly austere acidity and tight flavors of green apple, mineral, chalk, herb and oyster brine. It’s a real palate-cleanser.
2000 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Jadis. There’s a bright, punchy nose here--delivering lots of tangy lemon zest, mineral, gooseberry and fresh herb aromas showing many different shiny facets. In the mouth, it’s not as nervy or as exciting, but it’s still quite pleasing--with mellowed acidity and a good push of yellow citrus, pithy apple and pear fruit flavors. The finish is a bit dulled, but the wine is still healthy and quite tasty.
2000 Domaine de la Pépière (Marc Ollivier) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Vieilles Vignes Clos des Briords. This is quite pleasing on the nose, with pristine aromas of pear, apple, wax, citrus peel, chalk and river stones. In the mouth, there’s an initial bitter prickle of minerality and tingly acids, but that’s followed by fine flavors of lemon zest, mineral and refreshing salinity that have easy flow, solid mid-weight structure and sneaky length. It seems to be drinking quite well.
1996 Domaine du Closel-Château des Vaults Savennières Cuvée Spéciale Clos du Papillon. This is burnished gold in color, giving off interestingly funky and pithy aromas of beeswax, honey, apricot, lavender and oxidized copper mineral. It’s more obviously oxidative in tone on the rather dry palate that features oily, nutty flavors of citrus skin, peach, pistachio oil, honey, wool and yellow tree fruit cut through with intense acidity. It’s an interesting wine to drink, but I would have preferred to drink it maybe 3 or 4 years earlier.
1997 Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese Mosel Saar Ruwer. This is a tremendously enjoyable wine from start to finish. It opens with a fun and engaging nose powered by beautiful scents of blue slate, petrol, peach, spiced apple, fine spices and crystallized minerality. In the mouth, it has a bit of sulfur spritz that takes a little while to settle down, but then it kicks things into high gear with delicious and concentrated flavors of peach, apple and slate showing great depth and perfect sweetness. It’s probably not as cut with acidity as some might wish, but I find it simply delicious to drink right now.
1989 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese Mosel Saar Ruwer. This wine presents another lovely Riesling bouquet, maybe a bit more reticent than the younger Prum but still delivering very fine scents of lemon ball candy, tropical fruits and classy minerality. In the mouth, it keeps things fairly quiet and reserved, with good balance, tangy acidity and smoldering yellow fruit flavors providing solid appeal but not quite as much excitement for my tastes as the previous wine.
2008 Frank Cornelissen Susucaru 2 VdT Dry Rosato Etna. This is a cloudy pink-orange color. It delivers a constantly shifting and swirling bouquet of honeysuckle, peach cup, rosemary, crayon box, pink peppercorns, kiwi, pink grapefruit, limestone, yeast, wild berries and who-knows-what-else. In the mouth, it’s much the same—full of pink grapefruit, pineapple, mandarin orange and peach juice flavors that dance around on the palate with gentle sweetness and tangy acidity. I don’t really want more than one glass, but I sure get a kick out of it.
2010 Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet (Hervé Souhaut) Vin de Pays La Souteronne. I really enjoyed the 2011 version of this wine but unfortunately did not get around to tasting the 2010 on this night.
2009 Jean François Ganevat Poulsard Côtes du Jura Cuvée L'Enfant Terrible. This is a light pale color, with a cloudy aspect to it. On the nose, it’s light and airy, with feminine, floral aromas of suede leather, red flowers, cherries, red currants and pretty spices that are quite lovely. In the mouth, it stays true to that profile—with elegant, airy and floral-tinged flavors of cherry, currants and tangy pink citrus fruit. It’s very pleasing to drink all around.
2006 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Anderson Valley. I didn’t get a chance to try this one.
1998 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Gallina di Neive. This is all lavender, lilacs and rose petals on the nose at first, slowly building up to include airy but concentrated aromas of cherries, strawberries and pencil shavings that are just beautiful. In the mouth, it’s medium-weighted, classy and refined--with a pretty rose and lilac mouth perfume to go with fine, subtle flavors of cherries, strawberries and pink citrus. It’s hard to find any fault whatsoever with this. It was one of the wines of the night for me.
2000 Clos du Mont-Olivet Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Cuvée du Papet. This is a bit musty and dusty on the nose, but with a vein of lead pencil, leather and mineral notes running through a core of spiced cherry, cassis and chocolate aromas. In the mouth, it’s warm and kind of gutsy—with earth, baked cherry and cranberry flavors that are gently tannic and a bit tacky-textured. It delivers a good dose of flavor, though, and is still showing some structure and a solid finish.
1999 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Prestige. I really like the nose of this wine, which displays interesting funk, horsehide, saddle leather, garrigue and dry earth aromas to go with some sexy fruitcake and warm cherry fruit. It’s loaded with spice on the palate, which also has great energy and push despite a solid dose of tannin still in play. Cherry, cranberry, leather and spice box flavors dominate and should continue to deliver excellent drinking for several more years.
1991 Alain Voge Cornas Cuvée Vieilles Fontaines. This is absolutely wonderful on the nose, delivering hypnotically beautiful aromas of tobacco leaf, leather, singed iron, cranberry, wild strawberries, roast beef and dusty dirt road. In the mouth, it’s gently savory-flavored with rare meat, smoke, black cherry, campfire ember and cranberry elements that are alive and kicking but also approaching a fine state of resolution. It shows great balance, a solid backbone, and an utterly classic personality all around that I just can’t get enough of. This was my wine of the night.
1998 Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Vignes. This wine puts forth a highly appealing bouquet full of dark mountain berry fruit, herbs, bacon fat, hickory wood, flower petals, leather and dark earth. It’s still tannic on the palate, but with lifted and bracing acidity picking up the black cherry, bacon fat and peppercorn flavors very nicely. I like it a whole lot, and imagine it might be even better in 2-3 years.
2005 Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Vignes. Here one finds an immediate and dark nose of blackberries, black olives, limestone and coffee bean aromas that I find bold and intense. In the mouth, it shows a lot of similar characteristics, with dark chewy flavors of blackberry, fudge and volcanic earth supported by big furry tannins. It’s very tasty and well-made but youthful and far more traditionally-styled than the 2003 or 2004, needing at least another 5 years in the cellar.
1999 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude. This is rather plush and velvety on the nose, delivering appealing aromas of black currant, blackberry, leather, brownie batter and dark earth. On the palate, it shows nice meat, funk and bacon fat properties and some tasty dark fruit, but also a lot of overly-sour acidity and a fair dose of ticklish tannin that I find distracting and which seem to contribute to a bit of an uneven performance for this.
1999 Éric Texier Hermitage. CORKED.
2005 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Arana Reserva. With all of its exotic American oak stylings, this is just a huge amount of fun to sniff as it pumps out aromas of balsa wood, eucalyptus, fruitcake, wild blueberry, vanilla and spice box. In the mouth, it’s loaded with spiced blueberry, cherry, chocolate and mocha flavors that are like a little party in your mouth. It’s easy to drink and quite enjoyable at this relatively young age.
2000 Robert Foley Claret Napa Valley. This is totally impenetrably opaque purple in color, which is a tip-off to the intensely rich and sweet-fruited bouquet that features aromas of blueberry pie, cherry paste and oak spices. In the mouth, it puts forth a richly-textured tapestry of expansive but surprisingly resolved flavors of blueberry, fruitcake, fig and toasty spices. The alcohol feels a tad elevated on the finish and in general it requires a bit of a palate adjustment at this late stage of the evening, but it’s a juicy and gently sweet wine drinking pretty decently.
2007 Albert Boxler Riesling Sommerberg Grand Cru Dudenstein. Served from a 500 ml bottle, this wine features aromas of yellow hard candy, lemon peel, sweet chalk and crystallized minerality that are not all that full-blown or exotic, but are certainly inviting. In the mouth, it shows fine focus around pure and direct flavors of kiwi, star fruit, lemon ball and grapefruit that are pretty and sweet through the middle but nearly dry on the finishing kick. Indeed, it has a certain measured and calm quality to it that I like, along with a flint and graphite-influenced finish that lends it a lot of flexibility with food pairings.
2004 Albert Boxler Riesling Sommerberg Grand Cru Vendanges Tardives. The nose here is just sublimely nice—featuring gorgeous aromas of caramel, brown sugar, browned butter, bruised apples, copper kettle and meadow flowers. It’s pretty impressive on the palate, too, but doesn’t truly live up to the excitement and beauty of the aromatics. It’s kind of young and strident just now, with some brown sugar and baked fruit flavors that need some time to find greater layering and more fanned out complexity. I like it a lot, but would be inclined to hold off a bit longer before trying again.
1989 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Heimbourg Vendange Tardive. This is fun to sniff, as it’s giving up a whole lot of lychee, apple, honeysuckle, orange blossom, lilac, brown sugar and toasted spice aromas that are rich, overt and musky in tone. In the mouth, it’s loaded with burnished orange, apricot and lychee fruit flavors riding atop brown spice, honey and dried flower accents. It’s toasty and sweet and funky-fun to drink.
2000 Domaine de la Bongran (Thevenet) Mâcon-Villages Cuvée Botrytis du 04 Octobre. Man oh man, what a gorgeous dessert wine this is. The nose is ethereal, exotic and immediately inviting with its aromas of sweet cream, intense botrytis spices and beautiful peach and nectarine fruit. In the mouth, the sweet flavors of peach preserves, spun sugar, lemon candy, sweet cream and botrytis funk exhibit fabulous drive and wonderful intensity and vivacity. The sweetness level is high but it works in perfect harmony with the acidity and botrytis personality of the wine to deliver something that’s nearly impossible to find fault with. It’s simply delicious.
1994 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Mosel Saar Ruwer. There’s a burnished golden color to this wine that features a stunningly beautiful bouquet of toasted orange peel, nectarine, baking spice, slate and diesel fuel aromas that are deeply sweet and toasty dark but also incredibly lively and lifted. The acidity is electric on the palate, which is driven and tangy beneath rich and mouth-coating flavors of baked apricots, nectarines and toasted orange peel. It has great concentration and density but also drive, power and length in spades. It’s just a great wine.