Nick Wittman visits San Diego

Quarter Kitchen - San Diego, CA
Tasted Saturday, March 19, 2011 by Paul Lin with 806 views

Introduction

Leave it to the San Diego wine crew to put together a terrific dinner and blind tasting of wines. Ron Hromoko deserves credit for organizing and herding cats; thanks for letting two wayward Orange Countians join in the tasting. It was great to see some familiar faces again as well as meet some new ones. Thanks to everyone for being so kind and hospitable, and I hope to see you all again in the near future.

The main portion of the tasting consisted of three blind flights -- Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Syrah. The last two Bordeaux were brought by some better-late-than-never-comers, so of course they were not to be tasted blind. Interesting, my WOTN ended up coming from the Chard flight and was the 2008 Aubert Hyde and Sons. Just a fantastic wine and very much worthy of the vineyard designation. The biggest disappointment for me, I must say, was the 2003 Shafer Hillside Select, if only because it was very much closed down. I guess this proves that California Cab -- even from ripe vintages -- does last longer than 8 years. ;)

Wines are listed in the order tasted.

Flight 1 - Champage (1 Note)

  • 2004 Taittinger Champagne Brut Millésimé 88 Points

    France, Champagne

    Robust notes of ripe pears, green apples, and pound cake. The palate is rich and creamy and saturated with fruit. Could use a bit more cut and definition, time certainly, but certainly a nice way to begin the evening. 88-89 points.

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Flight 2 - Chardonnay (4 Notes)

  • 2008 Aubert Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard 90 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast

    Tasted blind. Notes of toasted hazelnuts, fresh pineapple, orange blossoms, crushed minerals, and yuzu. While exceptionally polished on the palate and possessing the longest finish of the line-up, the wine was unfortunately marred by some heat. My #3 wine; the group's #3 as well.

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  • 2006 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Flawed

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Tasted blind. A very poor showing for this wine. Industrial notes of petrol, melted plastic, and nail polish remover, offset only by notions of lemon rind and crushed rocks on the otherwise insipid and attenuated palate. I want to give this wine a score somewhere in the low 80s, but based upon the vintage dating and other notes on CT, I can only conclude that it was somehow flawed. Interestingly, some in the group really liked this wine. My #4 wine; the group's #4 as well.

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  • 2004 Kistler Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard 92 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

    Tasted blind. Robust notes of melted butter, ripe mangoes and pineapple, brioche, and lemon zest. Rich and tropical on the palate. I thought at first that this was the Kongsgaard, so this was a pleasant surprise. My #2 wine; the group's #2 as well.

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  • 2008 Aubert Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros

    Tasted blind. Pure and fresh notes of pear, dried pineapples, green mango, ocean spray and lemon oil. Dazzling yet nuanced on the palate with an energetic acidity and a fine mineral-laced finish. My #1 wine; the group's #1 as well. AND it was my WOTN! Simply delicious! 93-94 points.

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Flight 3 - Cabernet (4 Notes)

  • 2008 12c Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard 89 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford

    Tasted blind. Slightly candied notes of crushed raspberries, ripe cherries, fruit cake, and vanilla extract. Achieves harmony on the palate with good acidity and woodsy tannins. This comes across as the youngest Cab in the line-up. My #2 wine; the group's #4.

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  • 2003 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select 86 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District

    Tasted blind. The wine was pretty much SHUT DOWN, but with some time (at the end of the tasting) and very aggressive swirling I was able to coax out some black current, graphite, ground espresso and wet soil. Hard to judge at this stage, but since it was not flawed in any way, I have to go with what I tasted. My #4 wine; the group's #2.

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  • 2006 Ghost Horse Cabernet Sauvignon Shadow 91 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Tasted blind. Mild TCA prevented this wine from getting a better score, but even with the flaw, it was still my wine of the flight. Decadent notes of dark chocolate, creme filled truffles, cherry compote, and mocha latte. Rich and hedonistic on the palate and still a joy to drink. Too bad about the cork taint. My #1 wine; the group's #1 as well.

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  • 2002 Kuleto Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 87 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Tasted blind. Backward notes red currants, pomegranate, graphite, and black tea. Super tannic on the palate. There is potential there, but I just could not get past the tannins. My #3 wine; the group's #3 as well.

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Flight 4 - Syrah (4 Notes)

  • 2006 Samsara Syrah Alder Springs Vineyard 85 Points

    USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County

    Tasted blind. Simple notes of macerated raspberries, garrigue, and pink peppercorns. Seems to lack some acidity and structure. I initially thought it was French since it had an old world quality to it. Ultimately, a rather pedestrian wine. My #4 wine; the group's #4 as well.

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  • 2006 Myriad Cellars Syrah Las Madres Vineyard 87 Points

    USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros

    Tasted blind. Muscular notes of grilled meats, black pepper, crushed granite, stem and lavender. An interesting and well-made wine, perhaps slightly rustic, but admittedly not a style of Syrah that I usually seek out. Nonetheless, my #2 wine; the group's #1.

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  • 2008 Myriad Cellars Syrah 100% Whole Cluster Las Madres Vineyard 86 Points

    USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros

    Tasted blind. Gamey notes of roasted meats, red plums, black pepper, and garrigue. The family resemblance to the other Myriad is there; this one just seems a bit on the young side. My #3 wine; the group's #2.

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  • 2005 Grand Rêve Vintners Syrah Collaboration Series Reserve Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 88 Points

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain

    Tasted blind. This Syrah is a bit more in my wheelhouse, although it was admittedly over the top in terms of its oak. Lavish notes ripe plums, dark chocolate, vanilla and Almond Joy candy bars. Big, rich, and dense on the palate. Terroir? Pshaw! Terrific! My #1 wine; the group's #3. 88-89 points.

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Flight 5 - Bordeaux (2 Notes)

  • 2000 Château Cheval Blanc 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Even with a worn out palate, it was pretty clear that this wine was something special. Fine-laced notes of cassis, Queen Anne cherries, sweet tobacco, cedar, oyster shells, and crushed minerals. Elegant on the palate but light years away from its true potential. Very pretty and real treat. I'm sure the score will improve but right now it's 92-93 points.

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  • 2000 Château Pape Clément 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    This wine is really to drink now; I have my doubts it will get significantly better. Powerful notes of coffee, wet clay, black currants, Indian spices, and scorched earth. The palate is enjoyable if a bit monolithic.

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