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Wine Group Christmas Party Tasting Event

Richmond, VA

Tasted December 4, 2004 by RussW with 1,056 views


Our 6 member tasting group and spouses assembled at Jeff Begin's home for our 1st annual Christmas party. Our group meets about every quarter and are all male events, but Jeff and I thought it would be nice to start what will hopefully become an annual event and throw a Christmas party to include our better halves and say thanks for putting up with our addiction. We had a great spread of assorted foods, cheeses, and desserts and started the evening with some champagne(nothing terribly exciting) and a nice '01 Robert Weil Riesling Kabinett. The official tasting consisted of 3 flights of 2 wines each followed by D'Yquem with dessert.

Flight 1 - Pinot Noir (2 notes)

1997 Domaine Truchot-Martin Charmes-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
The color was extremely light cranberry with a brownish tinge and clear at the rim. The nose was explosive, profound, elegant characterized by earthiness, very subtle barnyard, cherry, brush, autumn leaves, herbs, lavender. I would have been happy to just sit and smell this wine all night. The mid-palate was nice cherry fruit and a medium length finish of cola, cherry and nice supporting acidity. This is drinking great now and since I am a rookie with Burgundies of this quality I have no clue if this will continue to improve with age but if I had to guess, since '97 is considered a lesser vintage, I would say enjoy this now and over the next few years. 2 of our group have substantial Burgundy experience (at least compared to the rest of us) and said that although '97 was supposedly a lesser vintage they have had good experiences with other wines and if one is selective very nice wines can be had that are drinking well now and do not require years of age. This was an enlightening experience for me.
2001 Roar Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
I knew this wine was in trouble after the Truchot. Hell, everything else to follow was in trouble. The color was a translucent dark ruby with black raspberry and cherry, a touch of vanilla, and spice. The oak has integrated some from the last time I had this in 2/04. The finish is medium length with explosive fruit, spice, and some tannins. This wine is still going strong and will continue to drink well for another year or two. Another good wine from Rosella's.

Flight 2 - Cabernet Sauvignon (2 notes)

1994 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
Based on the color one would never guess this wine was born 10 years ago. Opaque purple all the way to the edge. The nose was very open and expressive with cherry, cassis, earth, herbs and nice floral notes. On the mid-palate the wine was full with cherry and blackberry. The finish was tangy cherry with a dash of salinity and medium in length. A lot of subtleties in this wine that grew on you as it sat in the glass and opened up with air. Should continue drinking well for another few years.
1994 Viader USA, California, Napa Valley
Semi-translucent dark raspberry. No bricking on the edges and the color certainly does not reveal the wine's age. The nose was plummy and closed and several folks thought it was slightly corked. The mid-palate was more plums with little complexity which carried over to the finish with an added subtle touch of dark chocolate. Tannins were resloved and any oak was fully integrated but the wine was a huge disappointment as it was very one dimensional and the nose was shut down. I have one bottle left which I will drink very soon and hope this showing was a result of being corked.

Flight 3 - Syrah (2 notes)

1998 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
Opague purple with no fading at the rim. The nose was gorgeous with bacon fat, floral tones, and white pepper. The mid-palate was rich tangy blackberry with a medium length finish of dark fruits and some supporting acidity. A very good syrah that is well balanced and drinking beautifully. My only complaint would be the finish which is just slightly clipped.
1996 Peter Lehmann Shiraz Stonewell Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
Opaque purple. The nose was full of black licorice and dense dark fruit. The mid-palate followed the nose with dense dark fruit and some heat. The finish was, you quessed it, dense but not as long as I had expected. This wine is very monolithic at this stage and although it did improve some with air there was just not any real complexity to keep my interest. If I had any of this in my cellar I would hold for a few more years and then decant liberally.

Flight 4 - Dessert (1 note)

White - Sweet/Dessert
1993 Château d'Yquem France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
The nose was a bit funky and although it showed honey, pear, and some tropical fruits it was disjointed and not all that pleasant. I swear it reminded me of dirty socks. The palate was not much better and exhibited none of the deep richness I was hoping for. This has to be one of the weakest vintages over the past 10-15 years.


The WOTN for everyone was the Truchot with the BV and the Ojai rounding out most folks top 3. It was a fun evening and the Truchot was a revelation for me as I have little experience with good Burgundy and this was a very good one. I am fighting like hell to not start down this very slippery slope.

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