Three Wines From Three Continents

Private Event

Tasted September 12, 2019 by oldwines with 213 views


A computer services company and one of their value-added resellers wanted to do a customer event that would combine product/services presentations with an interesting, unique wine and food experience. I was assisted with the food pairings by the venue staff and especially my associate Jay who, with some of his staff, helped the venue Chef and staff deliver an extraordinary event. We organized and facilitated this tasting that combined three main flights, each with three wines from around the globe. There were a total of approximately 30 participants. My scores vary somewhat based on how the wines showed initially upon decanting , when I wrote most of my notes, and then after the actual tasting with the food and some consideration given to the group's input, a few of whom were experienced wine collectors. Scores are less important overall, in my view, than actual detailed notes/comments but in a single evening they do communicate a certain degree of relative ranking.

Flight 1 - Arrival and Attendee registration (1 note)

Guests arrived to some passed hors d'oeuvres, including Zucchini Fritters, Prosciutto Crostini and Avocado Radicchio Crisps paired with a sparkling wine from Italian producer Rocche dei Manzonni... 2010 Valentino Brut Riserva Elena.

White - Sparkling
2010 Podere Rocche dei Manzoni Piemonte Valentino Brut Riserva Elena Italy, Piedmont, Piemonte DOC
90 points
Served as a welcome before a 3 flight tasting. Consistent and delicious as usual. If I am not mistaken, Valentino (Rocche dei Manzoni) was the first Italian Chardonnay based, traditional method sparkler several decades ago. This was lightly yeasty, bright with acidity and citrusy.

Flight 2 - Chardonnay - France, New Zealand, USA (3 notes)

The Chards were chosen for their similarities and their differences. All would be considered pretty bright, nuanced, balanced Chards that are more "old world styled" but of course represented their unique terroir and winemaking styles that especially showed differing amounts of oak/no oak/lees aging and malolactic fermentations. These were paired with a plate featuring a shrimp salad (of my creation), seared scallops over braised greens and some pear and brie quesadilla.

The nearly unanimous best combination was the Shrimp with the 2013 Domaine Thibert Les Cras Puilly-Fuissé. On the wines alone the group thought the Les Cras and the Kumeu River Coddington were near even. The Kumeu River went best with the Quesadilla while the bigger-bodied Hanzell Chard and the Scallop were a great match.

2013 Domaine Thibert Père et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Les Cras France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Pouilly-Fuissé
95 points
Decanted for air, returned to bottle prior to travel to a tasting. One of three Chards from around the world. The wine is a light to medium lemon yellow with a slight green tinge and no sign of oxidation. The nose is lightly floral (peonies and lemon blossoms), slightly smokey, citrusy and with noticeable wet stones. Bright acidity keeps this fresh and lively with lime, white peach and pear on the palate. Finish is long, minerally and saline with a distinct burnt sugar and hazelnut flavor that lingers for 30-45 seconds. Beautifully balanced, bright and energetic but a bit more lean than the other two wines in the flight. Better with food.
P.s. This was particularly good with the shrimp salad which featured golden beets and tangerine that really was a nearly perfect combination and overall was just getting better and better as it got more air. Score raised from 93 upon decanting to 95 after the actual tasting. The majority of the attendees chose this as their best Chard/food in this flight and perhaps the entire event.
1 person found this helpful Comment
2011 Kumeu River Chardonnay Coddington New Zealand, North Island, Auckland, Kumeu
94 points
Double decanted for a little air prior to transporting to a tasting. Screw cap closure keeps this young and fresh. One of three Chards from around the world in the first flight. It is a medium yellow color. Nose has some noticeable SO2 which blows off quickly along with mixed citrus and a touch of vanilla. Palate is very bright with medium+ to high acidity yet with a rich, mouth coating texture. Juicy with quince and pear then layered with creamy lemon curd and hazelnuts. Very complex. Finish is long (30+ seconds) and lingers with creme brûllèe and more of the hazelnuts. Layered and complex with balanced fruit, oak, minerals and acidity.
P.s. This was delicious with the Pear and Brie Quesadilla. Second most favorite of the flight to the 2013 Dom. Thibert Les Cras.
1 person found this helpful Comment
2011 Hanzell Chardonnay USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
93 points
Double decanted around 11 am and given about an hour of air before re-bottling to take to a tasting. One of three Chards from around the world at the tasting. Light to medium lemon yellow color with no sign of oxidation. Nose is fragrant and complex with vanilla/oak, citrus, smoke, crème brûllée, grilled peach and generic stone fruit. Medium+ acidity that keeps the wine energetic yet at its heart very rich and chewy with a dense texture showing lemon, pear and stone fruit. Finish is very long and nutty, minerally and creamy. So much going on here and explosive with food. Reminds me of a 1er cru Puligny-Montrachet. So much better with a lot of air!
P.s. This was quite big and slightly brooding compared to the 2013 Dom. Thibert Les Cras and the 2011 Kumeu River Coddington, though certainly not over-oaked or buttery. Only a few people liked this best in the flight. It was excellent with the seared scallop and braised greens. Initial score upon decanting adjusted to 93 from 95 as a result of the actual tasting.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 3 - Syrah/Shiraz - France, Australia, USA (3 notes)

This was a very interesting group of wines. The goal was to keep the selections somewhat similar emphasizing nuances of style and age, rather than contrasting wholly dissimilar styles. The food pairings included Crispy Polenta Fries, Seared Duck Breast (which was absolutely delicious by the way) and a Deviled Egg with Chipotle yolk and Black Caviar. The Côte-Rôtie was very pretty and lightly spiced and seemed to go best with the Polenta Fries. The Shiraz was great with each of the food pairings but best with the duck, I think. The Ridge was great with the deviled egg.

2001 Grant Burge Shiraz Meshach Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
94 points
Cellared properly in OWC since release. 4 bottles double decanted at 9pm the evening before bringing to the tasting. Large amounts of grainy sediment. Picture is just one bottle’s worth of sediment.

The wine is a translucent medium ruby/garnet with a slight brick tinge. The nose is spicy with vanilla/oak, cedar, plum and charcoal. The palate has medium+ acidity and medium tannin. It is rich and chewy with a slightly drying mouth feel and layers of savory and sweet spices, black plum, black raspberry, tar and chocolate. Finish shows some leather and some tartness lasting moderately long (20-30 seconds). Nice balance and elegance for such a big flavored wine but it begs for some food.
P.s. For me this may have been one of the most interesting wines of the evening. Having been decanted the evening before and recorked for transport and originally being quite light colored and ended up much darker and richer than when I tasted it upon decanting. It had lots of blackberry jam but balanced with good acidity, spice and velvety texture. Score raised from 93 to 94.
1 person found this helpful Comments (4)
2010 Louis Barruol Côte-Rôtie Les Roses France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
92 points
Double decanted around 7am and taken to a tasting. Light to medium garnet color. Very fragrant and spicy nose that is also floral and minerally, nights include pepper, mint, red cherry and a little light sweet perfume (like your grandmother might wear?). Palate has good acidity and moderate tannin and has rather savory fruit, most notably red cherry, black pepper. menthol and mint. The finish is interesting as it adds a milk chocolate element. Yummy and fresh with good complexity.
1 person found this helpful Comment
2007 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
93 points
Cellared properly since release. Double decanted around 10am and taken to a tasting. 14.5% ABV. tasted in a flight with 2 other syrah's from around the globe. Light to medium garnet crimson. Fragrant nose, spicy, floral and with a whiff of alcohol but also vanilla and black cherry. Medium+ acidity and medium- tannin. Leaner than the other 2 Syrah's but no less interesting. Shows red fruit like cherry and crushed red berries as well as menthol in textured layers , Finish is delicious and round with stony minerals. Only thing that hold this back from being the best of the flight is that little bit of alcohol that is a bit too obvious.
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)

Flight 4 - Cabernet Blends - Chile, USA, France (3 notes)

The goal for this flight was to show all the wines with some age (minimum 15 years) and different varietal blends. The food pairings were Ratatouille, Lamb Chops and a Potato Latke with a Plum, Cherry Chutney, all rather classic. All three wines went well all-around. I thought the Almaviva was the most interesting wine and the one that improved the most from decanting to final tasting and was still evolving as we departed the venue. The Ch. Lynch-Bages was a slight disappointment at the end of the evening (I didn't really have a chance to taste it at the event until most of the guests had departed) when it seemed to have gotten quite herbal, bordering on vegetal. The Mondavi Reserve was the only wine all evening which was fully consumed by the end of its flight.

2001 Viña Almaviva S.A. Almaviva Chile, Maipo Valley, Puente Alto
96 points
Cellared properly in OWC since release. 4 bottles double decanted at 11pm the evening before and brought to a tasting. Light sediment in the bottles. The wine is translucent medium to dark garnet. Nose at first is muted then opens up with cedar, pine needles, charcoal, charred wood, black plum and licorice. Decent acidity on the palate with some fine grained tannin still quite evident. Medium bodied, plummy, herbal and slightly sweet and tart on the finish which also highlights some Asian spices and lasts a fairly long 45 seconds or more.
P.s. After all the breathing when tasted along side the 2003 Mondavi Reserve Cab and 1985 Ch. Lynch-Bages this was a few people's favorite and mine as well. This put on weight and depth that made it delicious with Lamb chops and the slight green herbal nature disappeared. Score raised to 96 from 92.
1 person found this helpful Comment
1985 Château Lynch-Bages France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
94 points
Cellared properly since release. (12.5% labeled ABV) Double decanted 4 bottles at 8am and taken to a tasting versus 3 other Bordeaux blends from around the world. The was a good amount of chunky sediment. The wine is Medium to dark but translucent garnet with surprisingly little bricking. Looks way younger than 35 years old. Nose is fragrant with just a hint of brett which seemed to blow off quickly. Scents include sous bois, dried herbs, black currant, anise and graphite. Palate is surprisingly bright with acidity and low in tannin. Rich and savory with cassis, licorice, black cherry and a tartness from what seems to be a natural acidity that won't quit. Finish has leather and is very long. Really delicious, complex and layered in a classic Pauillac that given the price at the time deserved to be the WIneSpectator wine of the year in 1988.
P.s. At the actual tasting this was slightly vegetal on the finish and while silky smooth and elegant didn’t quite grab the group as much as the other wines in the flight...i.e. 2003 Mondavi Reserve Cab and 2001 Almaviva. Score reduced to 94 from 95
1 person found this helpful Comment
2003 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
Cellared properly since release. Double decanted at 7:30 am for transport to a tasting. Labeled 1at 14.5% ABV. Opaque garnet color with ever so slight bricking. Nose is fruity and earthy with dark berries, chocolate and sous bois. It has a rich mouth feel, medium tannin and acidity with chocolate, black plum, blackberry and clack cherry. Finish has graphite and minerals and more of the chocolate. Tastes surprisingly young. Lovely wine that is the last Mondavi Reserve wholly made by the Mondavi Family.
P.s. This showed beautifully versus the 2001 Almaviva and 1985 Ch. Lynch-Bages and seemed to be the most popular wine. So silky smooth and the milk chocolate on the finish was amazing. Score raised from 94 to 95.

Flight 5 - Dessert (1 note)

A Fudge Walnut Brownie and a Chocolate Covered Strawberry were accompanied with Symington's 2000 Quinta do Vesuvio Port. Not much more to say than "Classic".

Red - Fortified
2000 Quinta do Vesuvio Porto Vintage Portugal, Douro, Porto
93 points
Cellared properly in OWC since release. Double decanted at 10pm the evening before taking to a tasting. Massive amount of sediment. The wine is an opaque garnet crimson. Nose reminds me of strawberry rhubarb pie, dried currants and incense with a slight whiff of alcohol. More medium bodied with still bright acidity and modest tannin. A bit syrupy on the palate with chocolate and red berry jam dominating. Finish is definitely more red fruited and is overall quite elegant and moderately long. Very pleasant and balanced if not a show stopper.


The lively discussions and my somewhat irreverent answers to some questions made for an interesting and fun learning experience for most everyone involved. Feedback from the clients indicated it was a great means of initiating follow-up, more in-depth business discussions with potential and existing customers.

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