San Diego Offline, 11/9/2013

Nine-Ten Restaurant, La Jolla, California

Tasted November 9, 2013 by Javachip with 382 views


Tonight's guests of honor, Seaquam and his wonderful +1, are welcome to return anytime, and not just because they brought the first and second place wines of the night. This was our second offline within a week that took place in a restaurant named for its location -- this time, 910 Prospect Street in La Jolla. Cuisine and service were superb. The only minor quibble was that the kitchen was so efficient that we finished our meal with three bottles of wine still untouched -- a crisis that we rectified by ordering a few cheese plates.

The $20 corkage was not waived, but why should it be, on a busy Saturday night at one of San Diego's most popular high-end restaurants? Stemware included an assortment of Tria, Stolzle, and Luigi Bormioli. Our server gave us as many decanters as we requested. I brought my own, since many restaurants in San Diego have been unable to accommodate our requirements.

Rankings are by group vote; tasting notes and scores are my own.

Flight 1 (7 notes)

White - Sparkling
1998 Henriot Champagne Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut France, Champagne
94 points
Clear light straw-yellow color with scant ultra-fine bead. Ethereal bouquet of bruised apple, sweet hay, Meyer lemon, ginger, with hints of fresh croissant and crushed limestone. Superb from the start, it only got better, with vanilla bourbon notes appearing later. Pure, fresh, crisp, pleasantly tart on the palate. My #3, group's SECOND PLACE tonight.
White - Sparkling
2000 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne France, Champagne
85 points
Clear light straw color, lighter than the 1998 Henriot. Persistent medium-fine bead. Seaquam, our polite Canadian, noted some "funk, earth, and coffee" on the nose. Me? I thought it smelled like skunk. Which is distressing, because I own several bottles of this, and had planned to open the first one for Thanksgiving, but now won't. Hope this was just an off bottle. Seaquam offered that this wine was tight, out-of-balance, and needs several more years, but may ultimately prove a more longer-lived wine than the 1998 Henriot. I hope he's right. It did improve with air, eventually yielding some smoky lemon oil, bread dough, apples, and white pepper.
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1989 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
95 points
Decanted 45 minutes before tasting. Clear medium blood-ruby red color. Closed and bretty when first tasted from bottle, but then bloomed into a gorgeous bouquet of mixed red berries, cherries, plums, polished river stones, herbes de Provence, and pine resin. Beautiful structure and balance on the palate, rich and generous, with long finish. ShaneT simply said "flawless." My #2; group's FIRST PLACE tonight.
1991 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha's Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
92 points
Decanted 45 minutes before tasting. Clear inky dark garnet. Brooding bouquet of black cherries, eucalyptus, creme de cassis, and forest floor. Similar on the palate, full body, excellent balance, with long finish. Seaquam and I agreed that this wine seems youthful and tight and might actually need a few more years.
1994 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
91 points
Decanted 45 minutes before tasting. Clear medium blood-garnet color. Bouquet of stewed red cherries and rhubarb, leather, earth, creosote, with hints of prunes, rose petals, and spices. Medium-full body, velvety tannins, nice finish.
2004 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
91 points
Decanted 30 minutes before tasting. Clear dark garnet. Lovely bouquet of bright fresh red cherries, leather, earth, tar, sweet oak. Firm chalky mouth-coating tannins, herbal finish. Bouquet better than palate. Excellent now, probably better in a few years. Group's THIRD PLACE tonight.
1997 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
Decanted 30 minutes before tasting. Clear dark garnet. Glorious bouquet of blackberries, black cherries, black currant liqueur, toast, cloves, espresso, nutmeg, cocoa, forest floor. Similar on the palate, full body, rich and generous, excellent balance and structure, with long finish. Seaquam and I agreed that this was more open and mature than the 1991 Heitz MV. Cheers to SD-Wineaux for my #1 tonight. My first experience with this wine, glad I have some in the cellar.


So the legendary Napa cabs got minimal love tonight. They had strong competition from even greater legends from France and Italy. In reference to both the 1991 Heitz Martha's Vineyard and the 2000 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, the subject of tomcat urine was raised, whereupon Seaquam left us with our closing thought and the quote of the evening: "tomcat urine is an acquired taste."

A stellar evening with great people, food and wine. Cheers until next time!

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