There was a samller group than usual for the MArch tasting so Rich & Dana declared an uptowner. The wines were all tasted double blind, expect as noted. We two flights of six with the smaller group for the main tasting.
Warm up whites & bonus blind red
We began with the usual warm up whites and Rich pulled out a bonus red in a decanter. He indicated that this was a controversial wine and wanted to get the group's input. One publication had rated this rather low, the other major publication rather high, and Rich wanted to see which we leaned toward. How very disappointing for a first growth from a great vintage.
- 2007 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet
Deep straw yellow color. Fantastic bouquet of lemon oil, toast, smoke, stone and minerals with a subtle wool-like, cottony undertone. Flavors of lemon, pear, stone and minerals. Good underlying acidity with a long, lingering finish with terrific minerality. Guessed young Corton Charlemagne. Drink now-2020+. (94 pts.)
- 2008 Peter Michael Chardonnay Ma Belle-Fille - USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley
Pale straw color. Aroma of yeast, and dried out Play-Doh, as well as an odd herbal note- like rosemary but not quite. The play-Doh note is dominant and I had trouble getting much beyond it. Full-bodied, with lovely pear, apple, toast and cocnut milk flavors. Has some oak, but it's nicely balanced by the fruit. Good structure; long finish. Terrific palate; not so good bouquet. This was definitely new world, and knowing the cellar it came from, I guessed 2008 Peter Michael Chard. (91 pts.)
- 1990 Château Mouton Rothschild - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
Tasted double blind. Softened garnet color with a deeper core and clear meniscus. Aromas of red fruit, tobacco and roasted herbs, maybe a little vegetal/weedy too- it's there but faint. The nose screams Bordeaux. Loads of red fruit, tobacco and perhaps some iron on the attack, but disappears on the midpalate and never recovers. There's no midpalate and no finish to this wine- just very slight "impressions." 86 pts, which may be a point or two generous.
We were all in agreement about this wine- lovely bouquet, poor palate, at which point Rich brought out the bottle- 1990 Mouton Rothschild, and he then explained Parker's downgrading of this wine after the good barrel scores, noting the same flaws we found tonight. Rich has four left, which will be going off to auction- a prudent move. (86 pts.)
- 2007 Larkmead Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley
Inky crimson color with notes of black raspberry jam, incense, herbs and vanilla. Cherry and red fruit nuances as it opened in the glass. Full-bodied with incense, cassis, vanilla and red fruit flavors on the palate. (93 pts.)
- 2002 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
Inky crimson color. A bit reticent at first- just some generic dark fruit notes, but as it opened in the glass it revealed chocolate, coffee, blackberry, plum and red berry aromas. Full-bodied and well-balanced with chalky tannins and flavors of chocolate, black fruit and raspberries on the long finish. Impressive balance, fruit and length in this wine. Easy to pick out as Napa Cab. Drink 2015+. 94-95 pts. (94 pts.)
- 2007 Miner Family Sangiovese Gibson Ranch - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County
Garnet color. Umami in a glass- anchovy paste and red fruit aromas at first, turning to cherry and dusty earth with air. Medium-bodied; chalky tannins. Flavors of vanilla and red fruit across the palate with a lengthy finish. (90 pts.)
- 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia - USA, California, Napa Valley
Inky crimson color. Aromas of chocolate, cassis and incense with a nice vanilla and toasty/wood undertone. Full-bodied with very fine tannins and flavors of chocolate, blackberries and cassis, vanilla and cherry. Long finish. Impressive in spite of its youth. Drink from 2018+. 94 pts today with room for more at peak. (94 pts.)
- 2008 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select - USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
R&D are going to miss the April tasting the day after our anniversary, so the March uptown theme seemed a good reason to move our two bottles up. Decanted only a couple of hours prior to the tasting due to a busy schedule.
Dark color. Black fruit and a bit hot at first, along with vanilla, red fruit and currants. Full-bodied with firm tannins and flavors of ripe dark fruit dominating. Tannins have a chalky quality to them. Impressively long finish with vanilla and red fruit qualities. 93+ pts.
Later on with dinner this had opened a bit more and the alc calmed down a bit. Will be utterly impressive at peak, but needs time or 8+ hours in a decanter if drinking now. (94 pts.)
- 2002 Ridge Monte Bello - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Dark garnet/crimson color. Aromas of black tea leaf, cherry and blackberry. Medium- to full-bodied with fine tannins and flavors of red and black fruits, cherry and vanilla. Has an elegant floral quality on the palate as well. Long finish. 93+ pts. (93 pts.)
- 2005 Long Shadows Wineries Cabernet Sauvignon Feather - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
Inky garnet color. Vanilla, herb, rubber and black fruit aromas. Medium-bodied and nicely balanced with flavors of red and dark fruit intermixed on the palate. Medium plus finish. (93 pts.)
- 2002 Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
Inky color. Absolutely stunning bouquet of forest floor, tobacco, red fruit, iron, graphite and balckberries. On the palate, this is balanced and elegant with an abundance of fruit. Blackberry preserves, cherry, currants and herb qualities with a long, elegant finish. Has some wonderful Old World character with New World fruit; gorgeous! 96+ pts. (96 pts.)
- 2002 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain - USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
Notes of black cherry, currants and cassis, along with vanilla and minerals. Full-bodied with firm, fine-grained tannins and flavors of currants, cassis and vanilla. Long finish. 93-94 pts. (93 pts.)
- 2008 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate - USA, California, Napa Valley
Notes of dill, cherries and red currants with floral undertones. On the full side of medium-bodied, with flavors of red fruit and florals, cherry and vanilla. FInishes well. A lighter, more elegant wine that may have suffered a bit in this lineup by comparison. Still a very nice CA cab. 93+ pts. Was not surprised to see this unveiled as the Montelena. (93 pts.)
- 2002 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley
Garnet color. Aromas of ripe red fruit, grapefruit and currants. Medium-bodied, with tart red fruit and an acidic edge. (88 pts.)
- 2006 W.H. Smith Cabernet Sauvignon Purple Label - USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
Inky garnet color. At first this had a strong eucalyptus note- perhaps someone brought a Martha's?- but then this too turned a bit sour and acidic. Muddled red fruit with a sour, acidic finish.
Nonblind dinner/dessert wines
- 2001 Château Duhart-Milon - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
We threw this in the bag in case we needed another red with dinner, and so we did. Served nonblind. Deep crimson color with aromas of tobacco, leather, cedar, currants and dark fruit. Medium-bodied with black fruit and tobacco notes and a medium finish. 89-91 pts. (90 pts.)
- 1985 Dow Porto Vintage - Portugal, Douro, Porto
Aromas of blackberry liqueur, blue fruit and currants. Lovely black fruit qualities on the palate with a long finish. (94 pts.)