Holiday Tasting Event

Columbus, OH

Tasted December 11, 2005 by psmith with 995 views


These are notes from an annual holiday "tasting" that a bunch of friends in Columbus do. Though an interest in wine is the common link, there's certainly a great range in the level of interest that the participants have, hence the wide variety of styles and qualities that usually show up. Either way, it's always a good time and a few interesting wines are always opened.

Flight 1 (23 notes)

Wines are ordered by vintage rather than the order in which they were consumed, which was generally not organized.

1978 Château Mouton-Baronne-Philippe France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
Some earthy tobacco notes but definitely old bones at this point with a nasty oxidized glue or furniture polish note. Medium-light bodied, and better 10 years ago or with some pretty robust food at this point. */5
1980 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo Riserva Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Loads of VA on the nose - full of tar and little else. A more agreeable palate. Masculine but light-medium bodied with big, hard tannins. **+/5
1980 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
Great dark black cherry nose with some well-integrated charred oak. Still a young fruit profile - has anyone ever tasted an old Montelena? Well balanced with plenty of fine tannin remaining. Just a bit hollow in the end where it shows its age. Overall a medium-bodied, distinctly Napa, classy Cabernet. ***+/5
1982 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
Slightly stinky dark fruits and characteristic bold black cherry and earth. Well-balanced and fully supported by fine tannins. Distinctly Californian, but with a nice earth-driven quality as well. A surprisingly full, chewy texture. ***/5
1982 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
Some sawdust on the nose with deep black cherry and cassis notes rounded out by well-integrated dark charred oak. Not young, and maybe not the backbone for much more aging, but still plenty of the fruit usually associated with a much younger wine. ***-/5
1985 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
Surprisingly green, bell pepper nose with just hints of underlying fruit character. Big tannins will long outlast the under-ripe, hollow fruit that this wine shows. Drinkable, but not impressive. **-/5
1985 Azienda Bricco Asili (Ceretto) Barbaresco Bricco Asili Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
From magnum. A feminine nose with some tarry cherry notes. Streamlined and well balanced on the palate with some more youthful potpourri and middle-aged fruit all held up by harder tannin than Ceretto usually exhibits. Chewy with good length. Starts to show some older notes with time in the glass - probably time to drink up but a very nice wine. ***+/5
1986 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha's Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
Classic MV eucalyptus along with some earth and classy black cherry/cassis on the nose. Still room for improvement here with fine, gripping tannin and youthful, though not particularly intense, fruits. Nice wine. ***/5
1987 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Allen Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
A strawberry jam nose with some classy red notes and underbrush. Zero backbone to this wine - I might as well be drinking flat cherry cola. Maybe better a few years back. **/5
1988 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
Some black cherry and more Pauillac-like character on the nose. Mature on the palate, the weaker, usually green vintage shows in the angular fruit profile. As always with Dunn, plenty of gripping tannins remain; still, time to drink these up. **+/5
1988 Chateau Musar Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
Stinky nose with a distinct manure note overwhelming some red fruits and earth. More full than the nose would suggest, with good length and balance. Different, and a good effort, but the funk is a bit hard to get by. **+/5
1990 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
Mature, stern cherry, cedar, and more Bordeaux-like cedar or lead-pencil on the nose. A full, surprisingly expansive palate shows some charry oak and greener mint notes. Good for a few years still. Best Far Niente Cab I've had. ***+/5
1992 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Hillside Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
Dark mint on the nose with lots of cassis and black cherry notes. Quite full and punchy with loads of youthful fruit and just starting to show some more secondary cedar notes. Really well balanced and great quality in the fine tannins. Nice persistence on the palate. Years of life ahead of this wine. ****-/5
1992 Judd's Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
A pure nose showing red cherry and mint notes. A bit darker on the palate with slightly unbalanced gripping tannins and medium body. ***-/5
1992 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
Well weathered charred oak on the nose, but not in a dill or olive way that some Silver Oaks can show. Soft and slightly sweet on the palate - showing lots of cherry and pleasant green notes. Finishes with coarser, chewy tannins. Good for several more years in the cellar. ***-/5
1994 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon S.L.V. USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
Like a number of the '94 Stag's Leap wines a bit lean and green, along with some earthy mint, cherry, and charcoal. Maturing fruit profile and, while probably ready to go, some grainy tannin remains. **+/5
1995 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection USA, California, Napa Valley
More like I remember this wine than a bottle enjoyed last week. Loads of pure cassis on the nose with some muted coffee and a typical Caymus oaky streak. Fuller-bodied with fine tannin and darker Cabernet liqueur. A bit angular in the fruit profile. Clearly capable of lasting but maybe not as long as I would have thought based on last week's bottle. ***/5
1995 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
Bold cassis and characteristic ripe Cabernet with a nice green hint. Still quite young and grapey. Well framed by dark oak and balanced tannin. A rougher build that needs age to sort itself out, but very promising. ***+/5
1995 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Cornas France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
This bottle looked like it had been to hell and back..a few times. Reserved smoky meat and muted blackberry on the nose. Quite light on the palate with some VA and sharp, oxidized acids. Save a bit of charm on the nose not much to like here. */5
1996 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
Initially a slightly reticent nose with some honeyed white flower, ripe lemon, and a good dose of butter and mineral. Exotic, with great class and medium-full body. Plenty of life left and really tasty. Almost Burgundian. ****-/5
1996 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
Surprisingly youthful nose that bears more resemblance to the newer Prides than I remember with this wine. Lots of chocolate, blueberry, and spicy oak to be sure. Abundant fine tannin, maybe too much so, in this very ripe, very Pride wine. ***-/5
1999 Dominus Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
Initially very grapey. Develops some more characteristic coffee, vanilla, and chocolate notes in the glass. Good weight on the palate. Hard to get a read on - in need of lots of time but certainly seems capable of improvement. ***-/5
2002 Turley Zinfandel Ueberroth Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
A black raspberry or Framboise milkshake. A real fruit bomb. Not complex or particuarly interesting, but fun and quite enjoyable in small doses. **+/5

Flight 2 (1 note)

My palate was pretty near shot by the time I got home but I felt like opening a last bottle. The Donnhoff sounded like something with enough acidity and power to wake me up, but with low enough alcohol that I remained coherent. A good choice indeed!

White - Off-dry
2002 Dönnhoff Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spätlese Germany, Nahe
Yum. Like sweet lemonade with a great mineral character and uplifting acidity. Great balance and length with little of the sulfur that sometimes plagues such young Rieslings. ***/5
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