2006 WS Top Ten Tasting


Tasted October 26, 2007 by otisabdul with 1,591 views


I attended the “2006 Top Ten tasting” at the 2007 WS Wine Experience in NYC last weekend. The seminar was moderated by Bruce Sanderson and Harvey Steiman. Representatives from each winery were on the dais to talk about their wines. I’ll try to include their comments in my tasting notes (along with any interesting ones from Bruce and Harvey).

The wines were poured according to body weight and density rather than rank order.

Flight 1 (10 notes)

2003 Kongsgaard Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Ranked #8. $75. Represented on the dais by John Kongsgaard. The grapes come from the estate’s 10-acre hilltop vineyard, as well as the well-known Carneros Hyde and Hudson vineyards. Kongsgaard’s father originally purchased the estate’s land to be used as a quarry, but changed his mind. The rocky soil is expressed in the wine. It is made in a simple Burgundian method, with no yeast introduced and natural fermentation allowed to take place, which can take anywhere from one month to one year. Barrel aged for two years. The wine had a light gold color, with juicy apple and peach blossoms on the nose. Lively acidity and fruit intensity. High-toned notes, with no toasty oak flavors. An excellent Napa Chard.
2004 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
94 points
Ranked #7. $38. Represented on the dais by Michael Browne, who started the winery 10 years ago with no formal training. This wine is a blend of four vineyards (Cohn, Koplen, Amber Ridge, and Bly). The fruit was harvested in 2 weeks, rather than the normal 4-5 weeks. It had wonderful aromas and flavors of blackberry, strawberry, sassafras and cola. A chewy pinot, with serious guts yet a luscious mouthfeel. Long, long finish. HS noted that there was “no attempt to throttle back” on this wine. I enjoy that style. Drink now through 2011.
2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
93 points
Ranked #1. $70. Represented on the dais by Giacomo Neri, whose winery has 120 acres spread over 5 vineyard sites. Quite dark for a Brunello. A wine of great elegance and purity, with the typical notes of violets and leather currently prominent. Giacomo noted that the wine is “full but not rich”. BS noted the “beautiful up-front fruit., ample complexity, and gamy notes underneath.” Quite approachable now, but should age well.
2004 Brancaia Il Blu Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
88 points
Ranked #9. $70. Represented on the dais by Zurich-born Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer. A blend of 50% Sangiovese, 45% Merlot, and 5% Cab Sauvignon. I did not think this wine was showing that well. Very tight and concentrated, with some reticent floral and plum aromatics. Harvey Steiman commented that it “speaks with a very strong Italian accent. The tannin and structure feels totally Tuscan to me.” Best after a few years of cellaring, I think.
2003 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
96 points
Ranked #3. $75. Represented on the dais by the very humorous and charming Anthony Barton, who dropped some great quips: “If I had to chose one word to describe our wine, it is ‘drinkable’. It’s not meant to be sipped and spat or stored away in the cellar and visited every night with a kiss.” When people ask when the best time to drink his wines, he usually answers “it’s a tough question, but I’ll narrow it down to lunch or dinner.” Barton also noted that the winery has had a fantastic run since 1995, and the 2003 is “a perfect example of the wine they are trying to make.” Despite its obvious youth, this wine has all the hallmarks of a great young Bordeaux. It has impeccable balance, with tannins and fruit equally distributed, combined with awesome power and concentration. Best after 2013.
2003 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor Chile, Maipo Valley, Puente Alto
91 points
Ranked #4. $47. Represented on the dais by winemaster Enrique Tirado, who noted that his goal is to make Don Melchor a “concentrated and expressive wine with finesse and balance.” The 282-acre vineyard is divided into small parcels and farmed by hand. It has stony soil and temperatures that fall dramatically at night. In 2003, they had spectacular weather. The blend is 95% Cab Sauvignon and 5% Cab Franc. This was an enjoyable cab, with blackberry, mint and cassis notes, supple tannins and decent length and depth. HS said it was “Lively blend of cab sauvignon and vineyard. A New World wine with Old World antecedents.” BS noted its “cedary tobacco and coffee flavors. Distinctively Chilean with a loamy minerality.” Enjoyable now, but should also age well for another 5-7 years.
2004 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
95 points
Ranked #2. $85. Represented on the dais by owner Alex Golitzin, a nephew of the legendary Napa winemaker, Andre Tchelistcheff. The majority of the fruit comes from the Champoux and Klipsun vineyards. A soaring nose of licorice, vanilla, cassis and red flowers. My wife commented that it was like drinking rose petals. Lots of oak, massive intense fruit, then a wall of tannins. Much better than the last time I tried this about 11 months ago, when it was undrinkably harsh. I can now see the excitement behind this wine. As HS noted ‘the substantial oak is sublimated to the harmonious and seamless fruit character.”
2004 Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
91 points
Ranked #10. $50. Represented on the dais by Michael Twelftree, who started the winery in 2000. He gave us his own tasting note: “Curry, cola, mint. Favorite part is the density and weight upon entry, as well as the purity and suppleness of the tannins.” The nose was a little funky and Rhonish, following through to a surprisingly light-bodied and peppery mid-palate. BS noted that it was “a nice expression of raspberry”. HS noted that “there is a character in its fruit that is unusual for Barossa, namely pomegranate. A big wine that has elegance.”
2003 Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
96 points
Ranked #5. $70. Represented on the dais by winemaker Laurence Feraud. Their fields contain both grnache and syrah, and they blend the fields rather than the grapes. She uses no new oak, the barrels are 4 to 70 years old. Laurence is looking for “smooth, spicy, meaty, garrigue, thyme, and rosemary in her wines – something that will match well with food.” This was truly a spectacular CdP, with a satiny, sleek and sexy quality. BS called it “a classic CdP, with dried chery, fruitcake, and herbs. A heady wine.” Drinking nicely now, but will certainly age for many years.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2003 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
92 points
Ranked #6. $45. Represented on the dais by Eric Larramona. The Chateau has been in existence since the 13th century. Larramona noted that there is a higher level of sugar than typical, resulting in a more concentrated wine.” Very floral nose, with tangerine, crème brulee and honeyed flavors. Decent balance. A little more acidity would be nice (for my palate), but it is still quite delicious.
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