Champagne and Pinot Noir Tasting

Tasted January 7, 2014 by Dave Dalluge with 105 views

Introduction

It's been a few weeks now, but Craig asked me to post these notes. On January 7 I hosted most of our regular group to a tasting of mainly domestic pinot noir at my house. The idea was to start with appetizers and champagne as people arrived and then do a blind tasting of 12 Pinot Noirs with homemade pizzas. At the last minute Steve Sigmond informed me he had two whole truffles (one black, one white) to share with the group, so we added a simple risotto covered in truffles as a bonus course served with the first flight of Pinots.

I had originally planned to do all domestic pinot noir. However, at the last Tilia dinner Dave McMahon mentioned that there were some who had never had DRC. Since I was planning to blind the wines by pouring them into empty DRC bottle, I thought it might be fun to include the genuine article. Thanks to Steve we were able to include one in this tasting. The 12 wines (including the DRC) were blinded into empty DRC bottles and poured in four flights. From there we picked the wine of each flight, identified the top three wines of the night and saw how many can identify the DRC.

Flight 1 - Champagne (0 notes)

I didn't take any notes (busy in the kitchen!), but will post a picture for the BB. All showed really well with my favorite being the 2004 Veuve Clicquot. Hopefully others will add their thoughts to this thread. The appetizers were awesome, with a great selection of cheese, gougers, spreads, mushrooms and more.

Flight 2 - Pinot Flight #1 (3 notes)

The first flight was all California. Consensus wine of the flight was Rhys Swan Terrace, although I had a slight preference for the Home Vineyard. All three showed very well, but were pretty obviously California.

Red
2009 Rhys Pinot Noir Swan Terrace Alpine Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
91 points
Nice red fruit and spice on the nose. Good flavor intensity on the palate. Fuller bodied on the palate than the '10 Home Vineyard, but with nice balance and good flavor intensity. Would expect this to improve considerably with additional time in the cellar.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Rhys Pinot Noir Home Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay
92 points
Great nose featuring dark fruit and spice. Lighter on the palate than the '09 Swan Terrace, but with good flavor intensity and slightly more nuanced and elegant. Flavors of red fruit and mineral. Great finish.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Morgado Cellars Pinot Noir USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
91 points
Brooding nose featuring dark cherry, dried herbs and some toasted oak. Great texture and balance on the palate. Not as elegant as the two Rhys pinots, but pleasing for sure.

Flight 3 - Pinot Flight #2 (3 notes)

This flight set the pattern for the remaining flights, with Oregon poured first, Burgundy poured second and California poured third. Consensus wine of the flight was the Dujac, although I had a slight preference for the Kutch (which I had as wine of the night). I was really hoping for some Dujac spice on the nose to make it harder to zero in on the DRC; unfortunately it just wasn't there.

Red
2008 Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir Bayliss-Bower Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
Couldn't figure out what to make of this wine. The nose was wacky showing spearmint and anise/licorice. Ethereal and with minimal fruit. Equally wacky on the palate, with a great lightness/elegance, but again more secondary flavors than fruit. Multiple people picked it as wine of the flight, so it's uniqueness wasn't necessarily all bad.
Red
2005 Domaine Dujac Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru
92 points
Very reserved nose, showing some red fruit but not much else (where's the spice?). Better in the mouth, with good flavor intensity (mostly primary fruit) and great balance. Finishes well and is pleasant enough, but will likely show a lot more after many years in the cellar.
Red
2011 Kutch Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
93 points
I enjoyed this a lot. Clean red fruit and spice on the nose. Taste adds a bit of mineral and pepper. Barely mid-weight with great balance and a long, pleasing finish. My wine of the flight.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 4 - Pinot Flight #3 (3 notes)

This flight was absolutely rocking and I thought pretty evenly matched. Somehow they figured out the DRC would be in the third flight (I don't know what the tell was, but am glad I don't play poker). A majority (8 of 12) called the Arterberry Maresh wine of the flight, wine of the night and most likely to be DRC, although the DRC and Copain weren't really all that far behind.

Red
2011 Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir Maresh Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
94 points
This bottle was singing from the get-go. Soaring nose of elegant red fruit with just a touch of spice. In the mouth this is barely mid-weight, with a silky smooth texture and perfect balance. This was wine of the flight and wine of the night. Many thought this was the DRC.
2 people found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
2007 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru
92 points
Served blind. Reserved nose with some dark fruit, spice and mushroom but more muddled than singing. The taste is really nice with plenty of flavor intensity and great balance, but fairly one-dimensional at this point. Most enjoyable, but I was expecting a bit more.
Red
2010 Copain Pinot Noir "En Bas" Kiser USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
93 points
Showing much more fruit than either the Arterberry Maresh or the DRC, but still extremely elegant. Great red fruit flavors expand over palate leading to a long, satisfying finish. A beautiful showing.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 5 - Pinot Flight #4 (3 notes)

This flight was rocking too. I absolutely loved the Patricia Green (my second wine of the night), but consensus wine of the flight was the Clos des Lambrays.

Red
2010 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Marine Sedimentary Ribbon Ridge USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge
93 points
I'd quit taking notes by this point, but absolutely loved this wine. Red fruit and pepper on the nose. Most intense nose of the night. Equally great on the palate with a leaner style but still tons of flavor.
Red
2006 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru
93 points
No notes, but this is exactly what you would expect from Clos des Lambrays! Brooding nose of dark fruit a spice. Great flavor intensity. Will benefit from additional time in the cellar, but was most enjoyable on this night.
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2010 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Demuth Vineyard USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
92 points
No notes taken, but this showed very well with red fruit and pepper on the nose. Leaner styled, but still packed with flavor. A real beauty.

Flight 6 - Dessert Wines (2 notes)

Brad Ballinger brought an awesome chocolate cake for dessert, and Leo Sioris added the '96 Banyuls. I added the Fonseca when the Banyuls ran out. Thanks to both for supplying such an awesome course and fitting finish to the night.

Red - Fortified
1996 M. Chapoutier Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Banyuls
93 points
Popped and poured with dessert. No notes taken, but this was a perfect bottle. Thanks to Leo for sharing such a beauty.
Red - Fortified
2000 Fonseca Porto Vintage Portugal, Douro, Porto
Popped and poured. This is an excellent young port that showed really well (and disappeared quickly). Even Desiree loved it!

Closing

It was an awesome night. Thanks to everyone for their generous contributions of food and wine. I loved the blind format and am hopeful Jason Goldberger will follow through with his offer of hosting a CdP tasting using the same format.