1984 Guess the Red Blindtasting

Rich and Peggy's Home in Los Altos, CA
Tasted Monday, November 23, 2009 by Richard Jennings with 282 views

Introduction

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Introductory comments by tasting organizer Ross Bott:
In tonight's Guess The Red tasting, we'll celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1984 vintage with a collection of 1984 reds from around the world. This tasting will be a little more challenging than usual, with six wines involving in the Rhone varietal family, including a Cote Rotie (Syrah), a Chateauneuf du Pape (Grenache-Mourvedre-Syrah and other varietals), a Provence red (Grenache, Cinsault and other red varietals), and a Petite Sirah. Furthermore, we'll have the 1984 Domaine Trevallon, one of the earliest and still among the best Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah blends in the world, and a Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel-Petite Sirah blend.

The 1984 vintage in California was warm and dry, producing outstanding, long-lived red across the board from Cabernets through Zins and Petites. In France, the 1984 vintage was a relatively cool one, sandwiched between two very warm vintages, 1983 and 1985. However, I've found that many of the 1984 Rhones and Provence reds have aged beautifully into delicate, silky wines that at the same time are full of pepper and spice, reflecting their Syrah lineage. Here's the lineup:

SYRAH: 1984 Pierre Barge, Cote Rotie (12.5%): Gilles Barge's Cote Roties are much more in the traditional northern Rhone style rather than the more oak invluenced, riper modern style. They are often described as terroir wines, reflected more the granite-filled soils of the region, and the wines are full of spice, earth and minerals.

GRENACHE-SYRAH-MOURVEDRE-CINSAULT: 1984 Prieuré de Domaine de Saint Jean de Bebian, L'Herault (12.5%): This tiny domaine is located near Pezenas not far from the Mediterranean coast and about midway between Marseilles and the Spanish border. The original estate was founded by Roman monks in the early 12th century, and vineyards were planted around the bell tower of the Prieuré, or cloister. The bell tower still stands to this day. Maurice Roux bought the estate in 1954, but it was his son, Alain, who began the transformation of the domaine in 1970. Alain was an idealistic and slightly wild French winemaker who was determined to prove that one could produce wines in Provence that would rival the top Chateauneuf du Papes. He brought in Syrah cuttings from Jean-Louis Chave's great Hermitage domaine, Mourvedre from Domaine Tempier's Bandol vineyards, and Grenache and other Chateauneuf varietals from Chateau Rayas. The early vintages were amazingly good, and as the vines matured, they got even better. Kermit Lynch used to be the sole importer of this domaine until the mid-1980s, but after many calls at 3AM California-time from Alain Roux (noon his time) raving about the quality of the new vintage, Kermit decided it wasn't worth the pain. In 1991, the domaine was sold to Chantal Lecouty, a well-known French wine journalist. And just this year, it was purchased by Dmitriy Pumpyanskiy, a Russian oil tycoon who owns 2/3 of the oil and gas giant, TMK.

GRENACHE-MOUVEDRE-SYRAH: 1984 Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape (13.9%): We last tried this a year or so ago, and it was doing beautifully -- hints of plums and black cherries but really all about minerals and white pepper. This wine features rather more Mourvedre than the Saint Jean de Bebian.

ZINFANDEL-PETITE SIRAH: 1984 Ridge "Geyserville", Alexander Valley (10% Petite Sirah, 13.4%) A typical old Ridge Zin -- long-lived and evolving more towards a complex Rhone blend rather than what one might imagine an old Zin would age into.

PETITE SIRAH: 1984 Dry Creek, Dry Creek Valley (13.4%): Like Ridge, Dry Creek Vineyards blends small amounts of Petite Sirah into their old vine Zinfandels. They also bottle a very small amount of varietal Petite, of which this is an excellent example.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON-SYRAH: 1984 Domaine Trevallon, Coteau Aix en Provence (12.5%): A nose full of spice, with a bit of garrigue. Showing more of the Cabernet influence in the depth of the taste.

Flight 1 - My TNs and group scoring (6 Notes)

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  • 1984 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau 93 Points

    France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

    Group's #1 (my #1) – 12 pts; 4 1st place votes, 1 2nd place vote, 0 thirds, 1 last place – bricking medium red violet color with pale meniscus; herbaceous, bacon fat, smoke nose; tasty, bacon fat, smoke, tangy, roast beef jus, garrigue and clove palate; medium-plus finish (easily guessed it was VT)

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  • 1984 Dry Creek Vineyard Petite Sirah Sonoma County 89 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County

    Group's #2 (my #4) – 18 pts; 1, 2, 0, 0 - almost opaque very dark red violet color; tart berry, menthol, VA, herbal nose; charcoal, tart black fruit, graphite, mineral palate, quite youthful; medium-plus finish

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  • 1984 Domaine de Trévallon 90 Points

    France, Provence, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Les Baux

    Group's #3 (my #3) – 21 pts; 0, 1, 3, 0 - bricking medium red violet color with pale meniscus; mature, earthy, bacon fat, olive, herbaceous, roasted coffee grounds nose; mature, roasted meat, bacon fat, mineral, olive, coffee grounds palate; medium finish 90+ pts.

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  • 1984 Ridge Geyserville 91 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County

    Group's #4 (my #2) – 23 pts; 0, 1, 1, 1, - medium red violet color; smoky, roasted meat, meat jus, pepper, anise nose; mature, pepper, tart plum, smoky meat jus, mincemeat palate; medium-plus finish 91+ pts. (90% Zin, 10% Petite Sirah)

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  • 1984 Pierre Barge Côte-Rôtie 88 Points

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie

    Group's #5 (my #5) – 25 pts; 0, 0, 2, 0 - bricked medium red violet color with clear meniscus; earthy, olive, herbaceous, pepperoni nose; mature, olive, olive tapenade palate with a touch of pepper; short finish 88+ pts.

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  • 1984 Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian Coteaux du Languedoc Flawed

    France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Coteaux du Languedoc

    Group's #6 (my #6) – 27 pts; 1, 1, 0, 4 - bricking medium dark red violet color with pale meniscus; TCA, murky, menthol nose; light bodied, TCA, smoke, menthol, liquid pepper palate; short finish

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