December Birthdays

My Little Spanish Place
Tasted Tuesday, December 13, 2011 by Paul S with 386 views


Lots of birthdays in December - this was a quintuple celebration for William, Gina, Chad, KG and Alex. BYO and blind as usual, we had a very nice selection of little gems. In the midst of a whole lot of lovely old world wines, it was unusually the two new worlds that really caught my imagination.

Flight 1 - CHAMPAGNE AND A RINGER (3 Notes)

  • 2003 Mestres Cava Visol Reserva Particular 88 Points

    Spain, Cava

    Very interesting Cava. The nose showed lots of yeasty and earthy notes floating alongside, kumquats, figs and pears. Bubbles were a big on the biggish side, although the palate was certainly not clumsy. What stood out most was a very nutty, toasty, almond and butter flavours on the attack, followed by sweet, slightly dried fruit notes of apples and kumquats. The finish had surprisingly persistent length, with a bit of mineral and a touch of dried flowers. As would be expected, pretty good a whole range of tapas. Interesting stuff, not bad in terms of quality either - pity it was rather blown away by two good Champagnes that followed.

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  • 1991 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart 93 Points

    France, Champagne

    An unusual 1991 vintage bubbly. While this was clearly not from the strongest year, it was a lovely Champagne drinking quite at peak. Golden coloured, almost amber, I loved the interesting, aged nose on this with its notes of caramel and toffee, a bit of toast, nice little white meat inflections and then almost Rosé like cherry flesh and strawberry scents. Very pretty, very complex. The palate was very mature as well, with sweet haw flakes on the attack opening up into sweet cherries and slightly dried strawberry notes before entering a more appley midpalate where the fruit was drizzled with a slightly honeyed note. This was rounded of with a delicious mouthful of fruit and mineral at the finish. There was a lovely fresh balance throughout. Not quite zippy, but nicely fresh, so that while it may not have had the sheer weight of say a 1990, it more than made up for it by its sheer charm and beautifully drinkability. A lovely Champagne.

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  • 2000 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon 91 Points

    France, Champagne

    Still pretty good, but this was one of the weaker bottles of 2000 DP that I have had. It must be said that it did have a lovely nose as always - flowery aromas, creme fraiche, strawberry and red apple scents, earth and mineral, all unfolding in gentle layers. Beautiful stuff. The palate was rather full, rich, a bit big, especially when put next to the supermely elegant, charming 1991 Billecart Salmon that we had alongside. This showed gobs of fleshy green apple fruit, pears and lemons on the attack and midpalate before a bit of flowers peeked out in a nice long, slightly yeasty finish ringed with spicy notes. Very mouthfilling, with impressive depth, but I thought this lacked some of the fresh balance and verve of top vintages like 1996 and 2002, or even when compared with other bottles of 2000 that I have had. Nevertheless, still a very good wine, just not quite up to expectations given how this vintage seemed to be on an upward trajectory over the last couple of bottles.

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Flight 2 - JUST ONE WHITE (1 Note)

  • 2006 Louis Lequin Bâtard-Montrachet 90 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru

    I have been told that there is a lot of bottle variation with this wine, and this was the first time out of 3 tries I can see why. It was not bad at all, pretty good actually, but nowhere near as good as either of the last bottles, or as good as one would expect a Batard from a strongish vintage to be. It started lots of creamy, buttery aromas on the bouquet, then almond oil, white flowers, fleshy white fruit and a touch of mineral - nice enough nose, just that bit on the oaky side for me. The palate was big, rich and almost fatty, with oaky notes floating around a deep core of neutral white fruit. So rich and weighty in fact that there were guesses that this was a new world Chardonnay from some quarters, while others actually called it a white Rhone. There is some acidity here, so that balance is okay, and the finish had a nice nutty, minerally length, but this was somehow a bit lacking in life and vigour. William put it very nicely when he said that there was weight but no intensity. In fact, right at the end, this was actually a bit floppy at the edges. Overall, decently good, but not great.

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Flight 3 - RED BURGUNDY AND A RINGER (3 Notes)

  • 1988 Joseph Drouhin Clos de la Roche 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru

    Like many 1988s, this was just starting to come into its own and was quite excellent indeed. It had a beautiful nose - very aged, complex and mellow. It requires attention, but it certainly rewarded it with subtle, intriguing notes of damp earth, stony minerality, dark cherry and sour plum fruit at the base, and then rather high-toned notes of slightly dried strawberries, the lightest hint of violets, tobacco leaf and sweet spice emerging over time. All subtly lovely. It was the palate that really wowed me though. Beautifully structured yet wonderfully resolved, this somehow had both a firm background and yet a wonderfully silky foreground that left just the slightest a hint of a previous sternness. I also loved the delicious flavours of dark cherries and plums that were warm, rich and mouthfilling, yet wonderfully fresh and balanced as they glided across the mouth into a finish with a delicious lick of woody spice, earth and cigar smoke. Beautiful stuff that is just starting to drink at peak.

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  • 2000 Nicolas Potel Romanée St. Vivant 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Romanée St. Vivant Grand Cru

    Good, but after two smashing bottles of the same, this was rather a disappointment. I liked it quite a bit more than many of the others around the table, at least identifying it as a Vosne while some called it a Rhone! However, I must say it was a far cry from the last two experiences. This still had wonderful nose befitting its terroir, with deep earthy undergrowth notes, a whiff of damp tobacco leaf, leathery hints, some dried flowers and a sprinkle of spice over depths of dark fruited aromas. A very rich, very warm bouquet, hence the Rhone guesses maybe, but this was very nice. The palate was not quite the Grand Cru experience you would expect after a nice like that though. It opened prettily enough, with a little waft of roses and then some exotic Indian spices like cardammon and cloves dancing over darker flavours of ripe dark cherries, blackberries and ripe strawberries. There was lots of depth, plenty of acidity and a firmish pucker of dusty tannins that met the fruit on the midpalate. The finish had a nicely sweet linger of flower, wood spice and dark cherry. Yummy, but it somehow seemed to lack some presence and energy at the very end. Gone to was the bright purity lacing the big fruit that so charmed by the last two times. Bottle variation maybe, but this was a far cry from the excellence of the past two bottles.

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  • 1978 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Viña Albina Gran Reserva 93 Points

    Spain, La Rioja, Rioja

    Beautiful and tasting somewhat younger than it looked, this was one of my two favourite reds of the night alongside a 1988 Drouhin Clos de la Roche. Double-decanted an hour before serving, it showed wonderful nose of sweet blueberries, rich cassis notes, warm earthy aromas and boiled meat touched with sweet spice and violets galore. The palate had that soupy, sappiness of old Rioja and lots of savoury, earthy, meaty depth undergirding a perfumy mouthful of rich blueberry and spice notes. The back-palate was filled with a lovely waft of violets and sealed with a little kiss of dried red fruit. Lovely balance, wonderful integration, all resolved in a delicious soft, mellow silikiness - this was at a lovely place for drinking. A super enjoyable wine.

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Flight 4 - BORDEAUX AND A RINGER (3 Notes)

  • 1969 Château Montrose 87 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

    Intriguing. We were wondering whether there was a flaw with this or whether it was just a really old wine from a less than herladed vintage. There were the slightest hints that there may have been TCA, slightly better evidence that it suffered from volatile acidity, yet for all that, it had a nice enough nose of sweet strawberries and ripe cassis touched with a bit of tobacco, earth and fragrant spice and dried flowery notes. There was just that suspicious little whiff of nail varnish and wet paper in there to throw us off a bit, but otherwise, this was quite a classic Bordelais bouquet. The palate was drinking far younger than its 42 years, with ripe plums and berries still holding fort over the attack. It was nicely balanced too, all the way past its earthy midpalate and into a slightly thinned-out on finish where there was just a memory of tannins and very minor ring of something that might have been wet cardboard. This has probably seen better days, and half the table thought it was faulty. Whatever the case, it was quite amazing that it lasted long enough to give us some pleasure on the night, like a brusied and battered fighter, still throwing suprising strong punches.

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  • 1991 Ridge Monte Bello 93 Points

    USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains

    85% Cab, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. This was one of only two new world wines on the night, and I thought it was beautiful. It had a sweet nose full of ripe, fleshy aromas with plums and blackberries sprinkled with wood spice, earth and smokey scents. Lots of warm Californian goodness. The palate was absolutely delicious, with gobs of high-toned, lifted dark fruit flavours from ripe plums and black cherries to black berries and cassis. Rich, layered, ripe, yet wonderfully resolved and superbly balance with a lovely mouthful of juicy acidity as the wine drove into a long, perfectly integrated finish of earth, spice and roses. Hedonistic, mouthfilling yumminess, yet really well-controlled with not a hair out of place. This was a fine example of how a wine can be a clear expression of its new world terroir yet be a class act at the same time. Lovely stuff.

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  • 1986 Château Rausan-Ségla 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    I thought this was very nice indeed. It had a very attractive, almost Right-bankish nose, with earth, spice and lots of tobacco at the edges, and plums, dark cherries and berries, rich cassis notes and a gentle floral waft at the core. Really pretty in a full, rich way. On the palate, beautiful fine tannins gave a firm sense of structure to deliciously rich plum and black cherry fruit flavours. With time, some beautiful pure cassis notes emerged. In spite of the fleshiness of the fruit, there was lovely fresh acidity that lifted the wine towards beautiful finish where touches of dark fruit and pure violet flowers floating around the mouth. It was lovely in a clean, clear, elegant manner, classic Margaux in other words, but this also had a whole lot of firm 1986 structure at the back-end that suggests it needs time yet. A pretty thing, on the verge of beautiful maturity.

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Flight 5 - SWEETIES (2 Notes)

  • 1989 Trimbach Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles 93 Points

    France, Alsace

    Lovely. Not quite as good as the last bottle I had perhaps, but nevertheless as good a Gewurztraminer as I have ever had. It had a wonderful nose of telltale lychee creme and spice notes backed up with botrytised aromas of apricots, honeysuckle, sweet lemons and honey. The palate was rich and creamily textured, with more hints of lychee on the attack followed by a layer of sweet lemons, dried apricots and nectarines on the midpalate and then dried flowers and a beautiful lick of spice at the finish. Acidity was not the highest given the varietal, but this was nevertheless impecably balance, almost elegant. A really delicious wine.

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  • 1961 Talijancich Julian James Reserve 95 Points

    Australia, Western Australia, Greater Perth, Swan Valley

    This was a suprise treat at the end of dinner. On a night of many lovely wines, this one more or less stole the show. A deep, dark brown colour, it showed a panoply of chocolate and salted caramel, dried figs and raisins, spice and flowers, all tumbling out of the glass in an incredibly complex, wonderfully integrated whole. The palate was rich, unctuous, almost viscous, completely layering the mouth with oodles of Christmasy flavours - mince pie, Christmas cake spices, prunes, plums and raisins, fig skin, dark cherries and brandy, all with a bit of nutmeg and cinamon at the edges. Like the nose, this was super-complex and wonderfully integrated. There was so much going on here and such great weight and intensity to the whole wine that one almost expected it to tip into imbalance at points. Yet it somehow never did, mostly thanks to the barely noticeable but absolutely essential stream of acidity that flowed below the depths of the fruit. The finish was stupendous too, absolutely filling the mouth with rich chocalatey flavours, raisins and earthy notes that just refused to quit. Fantastic stuff - this was a special wine indeed.

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