The Columbia Group - Back Together Again

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Tasted June 12, 2021 by VlgJeff with 48 views

Introduction

This was the first get together of the full group (8) since Nov 2018 - due to outside activities, and the Pandemic.

Champagne served with appetizers.
Rhone Blends served (blind) with the lamb tagine.
Sauterne served with the sweet dessert.

Flight 1 (3 notes)

Rosé - Sparkling
N.V. Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé France, Champagne
91 points
Poured into the glasses, then allowed to sit for ~10 minutes (=slo-oxed) while waiting for the last couple to arrive. What a difference this made compared to our previous bottle on New Year's Eve 2019.
The wine was more open and giving. A nicely balanced, medium bodied, wonderfully colored champagne. The palate presents a mix of flavors: some red berry, some brioche, some lemon citrus, and a touch of minerality. The acidity was balancing, and the usually slightly aggressive mousse had "calmed down", creating a creamier, smoother finish.
Yes, Champagnes can benefit from a short slo-ox, just like virtually every other wine. Don't worry about losing bubbles -- there are 49 million of them in a standard (750 ml) bottle (according to Bill Lembeck, whose opinions, and calculations, I regard very highly).
I'm not certain of the disgorgement date, and would appreciate any info other members might have.
7 people found this helpful Comment
Rosé - Sparkling
N.V. Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvée Rosé Brut France, Champagne
94 points
This bottle was uncorked when the last couple arrived and allowed to sit for ~15 minutes while the Billecart-Salmon Rose was being enjoyed over several toasts. This slo-ox allowed this wine to open and integrate, resulting in the most enjoyable bottle of this Champagne that we have experienced (well, maybe it was also due, in part, to the occasion and the company...).
The red fruits that we encountered on both the nose and palate -- a red berry mélange of strawberry, cherry and raspberry -- were lively, and presented a distinct difference vs. the Billecart-Salmon Rose that preceded. There was a touch of citrus, the mousse was creamy and smooth, and the acidity was lively and balancing. These are the elements of this wine that draw us in, and make drinking it so enjoyable.
I put the cork aside and checked it out the next morning, discovering that this bottle had been disgorged in the first quarter of 2016, making it one of the "freshest" bottles that we have experienced. Once again, I, for one, am happy that there is a movement to encourage Champagne producers to put the disgorgement date on the back label in the hopes of avoiding less than enjoyable drinking experiences.

Please note: I believe that Champagnes can benefit from a short slo-ox, just like virtually every other wine. Don't worry about losing bubbles -- there are 49 million of them in a standard (750 ml) bottle (according to Bill Lembeck, whose opinions, and calculations, I regard very highly).
2 people found this helpful Comment
Rosé - Sparkling
N.V. Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvée Rosé Brut France, Champagne
92 points
Wow. The conversation was lively (after an almost 2 1/2 year absence) and the Champagne was needed to counteract the dry throats that resulted. So, a second bottle of this wine was put into service. It had been sitting in the fridge "just in case", but was not given any time to slo-ox before being served. So, as good as it was, it was just a bit less enjoyable than the first bottle, as the fruits were a bit muted, and the mousse was a bit more aggressive -- it did improve as it sat in our glasses.
Checking the cork the next morning showed that this bottle had also been disgorged in the first quarter of 2016.
3 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 2 (4 notes)

Red
2011 Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
92 points
The first of four Rhone Blends tasted blind with a dinner of Lamb Tagine. Notes were taken and the four wines were revealed after dinner. Group rank #3.

A great choice as a first wine as it set the tone for the wines to come. An attractive clear dark ruby in the glass. The wine was decanted for 2 hours, yielding some sediment. The nose gave us some dark red fruits and a touch of some floral notes. The medium to plus bodied palate showed lots of dark red fruits (the 40% Mourvedre & the 20% Syrah) along with some glances at some brighter red fruits (the 30% Grenache & the 10% Counoise). All of this was accompanied by a solid dose of spice and pepper, nicely balancing acidity, and an all-round sense of vinous harmony.
The latest TCV Vintage Chart shows this wine to be Drinking Well: Mature, but with the potential to hold at that level for the next decade.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2007 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Le Secret des Sabon France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
92 points
The second of four Rhone Blends tasted blind with a dinner of Lamb Tagine. Notes were taken and the four wines were revealed after dinner. Group rank #4.

Decanted this bottle (with some sediment) for 2 hours - longer than our previous bottle in Feb. Although both bottles were part of the same auction lot, this bottle showed differently than that previous one.
The color was a medium violet to a faded rim. On the nose there was a flood of red fruit (mostly cherry) -- no surprise given the 95% Grenache in the blend. The medium to plus bodied palate showed this red fruit in abundance, along with some earth, some spice, and a touch of tannin. The acidity was juicy and was relatively balanced with the fruit, and there was no hint of the 15.5% abv.
Not certain why this bottle showed "lighter" - in color, fruit profile, and even body - than the previous one, as they were stored identically (by me). Still, a really nice wine that should hold for several years.
Red
2007 Domaine Saint Préfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve Auguste Favier France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
93 points
The third of four Rhone Blends tasted blind with a dinner of Lamb Tagine. Notes were taken and the four wines were revealed after dinner. Group rank #2.

Decanted this bottle for 2 hours, with a good amount of sediment. This wine was a very pleasant surprise.
The color was a deep violet to a faded rim. On the nose there was a good dose of red fruit (mostly cherry) -- evidence of the 85% Grenache in the blend, along with 15% Cinsault -- with notes of earth and garrigue. The medium to plus bodied palate showed lots of this red fruit, along with some darker red fruit, some earth/garrigue, and a fair amount of spice. The acidity was juicy and nicely balanced with the fruit, and there was no hint of the 15.5% abv. A really nice wine that should hold for several years.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Saxum Broken Stones USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
95 points
The last of four Rhone Blends tasted blind with a dinner of Lamb Tagine. Notes were taken and the four wines were revealed after dinner. Group rank #1.

Decanted this bottle for 2 1/2 hours (with a good amount of sediment), but it could have used more time. The color was a deep purple to a slightly faded rim. As this full-bodied wine opened, it revealed a primarily Syrah (78% of blend) nose of dark red, blue and black fruits with a touch of herbs. The kind of wine you just want to sniff all day. The palate mirrored the nose, with lots of dark red, blue and black fruits, along with some spice, and touches of pepper, earth and minerality. The acidity was lively enough to make the wine balanced, and the alcohol (only 15.6% abv) was well robed by the fruit. At almost ten tears old this wine is still a big boy, but it begs to be let loose. It may not get any better, but it should hold for at least the next several years. Drink it when you have the time to appreciate its gifts -- and give it a sufficient decant.
Our experience with Saxum wines has been a great learning experience centered around a growing appreciation for patience -- patience in cellaring the wines, and patience in decanting the wines. Our enjoyment, and our scores, have increased as a result.
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)

Flight 3 (2 notes)

White - Sweet/Dessert
2003 Château Guiraud France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
90 points
Slo-oxed for 20 minutes while dinner conversation was winding down. The color was a medium amber-gold. The nose was a delightful combination of apricot, honeysuckle and orange marmalade (thanks to Hoservin who nailed it). The rich and sweet medium plus palate mirrored the nose with the addition of touches of honey and citrus. However, many found this wine to be a bit flabby as the acidity was not sufficient to balance -- a somewhat common comment regarding the (incredibly hot) 2003 vintage. This became even more apparent when we opened a half-bottle of 2005 Ch. Doisy Vedrines to follow.
3 people found this helpful Comments (4)
White - Sweet/Dessert
2005 Château Doisy-Védrines France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
92 points
From a half bottle. Pop n Pour as there was no time to slo-ox. The preceding full bottle of 2003 Ch. Guiraud was consumed more heartily than expected (as it paired really well with the Baklava assortment). The color was a deep gold. The nose seemed "fresher" than the Guiraud with orange marmalade, honey, some tropical fruits and citrus. All of these notes followed on to the medium to plus bodied palate and were nicely balanced with a solid streak of acidity. Should hold for quite a while and give it a bit of air before enjoying.

Closing

Great time had by all.
Interesting results of the blind tasting of four (4) Rhone Blends.

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