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  • 2003 Château d'Yquem

    D'Yquem 2003 - Much ado about nothing.

    When I have d'Yquem au menu, I give up being rational. Both ways, and I'm usually dithyrambic... partly because uncorking d'Yquem is not daily bread, and partly because there's something indefinable behind this sober and elegant label that is very unfair to other contenders on the Ciron's banks : if you've had a chance to taste such vintages as 1975, 1988, 2001, 2007 and even the more "modest" 1989, you know what I mean. And if you're unfortunate enough to have stored a few cases of 2003, then, you have a problem. At least : I have a problem.

    2003 was indeed a challenging year marked by an unprecedented heat wave where inspired winemakers created beauties in Sauternes and Barsac - Coutet 2003 brought me down to my knees! - but the sprinkle of genius did not illuminate Yquem. Not at all. Let me be straightforward : this-is-a-very-disappointing-wine. Period. And if you wish to live the d'Yquem 2003 experience without having to pay the entry fee for the legend, here are 3 alternatives that will save you time and money :

    1. Meet my grand mother. Or just pay her a visit when she cares of her oak furniture (that's usually on Tuesday): the intoxicating smell of turpentine backed by a contradictory scent of beeswax will give you a clear idea of the olfactory impressions of this vintage. Absolutely nothing (exotic fruits, white flowers) can survive to such a mess swirl of indelicate fragrances.

    2. Fix yourself an Aperol x Spritz, without Proseco. Or sip a shot of Bitter San Pellegrino. The coarseness of bitters, the ubiquitous and unmelted sugars and the dryness on the finish will get you as close as one can get to where d'Yquem 2003 can take you.

    3. Let dry an orange peel for a couple weeks : once it has reached the consistence of a candied fruit, chew it. Let it melt in your mouth for a while and blame me for having suggested this rather painful experiment.

    Such a disappointment would be excusable if I only had that impression once. But statistics don't lie, and the 3 bottles from 2 different cases I´ve drunk over the past 6 months gave me and my guests the same consistent impression of a perfectly failed wine.

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  • 1999 Château d'Issan

    Chateau d'Issan 1999 - My mom's best friend

    Ok. Let anyone who has not watched porn throw the first stone at me... no pebble rain ? Sweet, we're between those in the know ! D'Issan 1999 has long been like Bree van der Kamp in Desperate Housewives's season I to me : un-tou-cha-ble. Too Margaux. Too arrogant. Too perfect. And yet, impossible not to imagine a world of kinkiness behind this strict appearance of the most classic Bordeaux blend : 65% of Cabernet felt like a skirt worn past the knee, a white button-up shirt, and a strict headband... but as always in Margaux, add 35% of ripe Merlot, and everything becomes possible. What if Mrs. van der Kamp was secretly wearing Honeybirdette's most daring lace ? It took me 22 years to dare staring at her, it took her 22 years to open her horizons... and here's the story.

    D'Issan and I met around the 1999 en primeur campaign, and my first ever Bordeaux purchase was like the smile-blush-run sequence with my mom's best friend. She would never notice, I would have the moment tatooed in my fantasies eternally. Of course, I wish I had dared to make the first step, but hey... there are moment when you're just a teenager, and the case of D'Issan 1999 faded away in my basement and my desires up to that day when I decided to put some order im my cellar.

    And here she was ! Marcia Cross in her prime who would have jumped from ABC to Pornhub : seductive, provocative, freed from codes and explict. Same strict outfit, but loose enough to reveal a shameless opulence and a sophisticated deep ruby lingerie. Eye contact. Politically incorrect. The wine swirls beautifully in the glass and reveals waves of smoky vanilla, ripe red fruits, warm pastry and a sensual hint of muskier aromas... it's prodigiously sensual. First kiss. No time for preliminaries. This wine imposes a sense of avid urgency to be drunk and Marcia and I have been waiting for too long : the embrace lives up to the promises but not beyond the long awaited scenario. It's full, it's round, it's mellow and D'Issan shows no restraint in this elegant debauchery, but no excessive efforts to call for a second round of cuddles either. Past a tsunami of torrefied coffee beans, pencil shavings, sweet plums marmelade, blackberries and fresh blackcurrant there remains an impression of soothing voluptuousness and bitter nostalgia. It's a classic aging Margaux, the best of MILF porn for sure... but post coïtum omne animal triste.

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  • 2010 Château Lynch-Bages

    Everything Pauillac is as intimidating as Pall Mall's line up of gentlemen clubs. You're a member, or you're not. And if you're in, it takes a few generations to blend the code of conduct with your DNA and another dynasty to avoid social suicide while navigating inbetween 3 centuries of implicit evidences. And so is Pauillac : rules maker, standard setter, warden of the elegances, old school and eternal... immensely boring, and therefore absolutely desirable.

    And here comes Lynch Bages, the only punk in town who does not bother borrowing a tie to sit at the 1855 Ivy League's table. The Prince Harry of the left bank, Hugh Grant before Divine Brown : so perfectly compliant that his deviances make Parker's systematic contempt for him look like jealousy. But in 2010, even the Wine Advocate could not help but admitting the dunce's genius.

    With a solid 70% of new oak and 79% of cabernet in the blend, stats don't call for nuance and subtlety. And the color rather tends to confirm this intuition : lights fails to pass through this deep violine liquide with crimson reflections. It's superb and promises the exhausting experience of virile wine from the Duero's valley, until sight gives way to smell. There rises the black swan, in a prodigiously balanced symphonhy of bramble, ripe raspberries, blackcurrant here; fumes of smoke and smells of undergrowth there; and a whole world of fine spices all over the place... and each of these fragrances at the right place. Rarely could the world elegance find a better definition; as for what happens in the mouth, it's about balance. Same perfect blend of fresh black fruits, yesterday's fire pit, kampot pepper and exotic swirls of an Indian market. At 11 years of age, its tannins are solid but round edged and backed by a surprising acidity that calls for decades of improvement.

    This wine is a first class long haul trip to the most extraordinary of the Left Bank. Indulge yourself a VIP pass to the most exclusive Pauillac experience and start wondering : after such a wine, what ?

    17 people found this helpful, do you? Yes - No / Comments (4)

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