A little while back, we had the gang together for an afternoon of poker. Zach and Kyle put together some blind flights for us and we enjoyed the usual good food and great company (but lousy cards, if you ask me…).
N.V. Jacques Picard Champagne Brut. This wine features a rather prickly nose, with lots of struck match, smoke, flint and quinine aromas matched to tart green apple and lemon citrus bits. In the mouth, it stays tart and a bit sour-fruited at times, but I like the fun grapefruit, lemon and graphite flavors that are light and airy but with solid punch and nerve. I find myself enjoying drinking it when all is said and done, though I never really came around to liking the nose all that much.
N.V. Diebolt-Vallois Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs. The nose here is subtle but generally classy and well-bred, featuring soft aromas of ginger, baked apple, copper and caramel. In the mouth, it’s full-flavored but also fresh and taut, with very nice ginger, baked apple, lemon and other citrus flavors that are nice and juicy. It finishes dry and with good length. This is nice.
2009 Louis Jadot Moulin-à-Vent Clos de Rochegrès Château des Jacques. This is noticeably pink-colored around the rim and smells of suede leather, cedar shingle, autumn leaf pile, toasted stem and fireplace ash riding atop a core of sweet blueberry and boysenberry types of fruit aromas. In the mouth, it’s pretty darned youthful and tannic to my tastes, with some woody elements right up front. Otherwise, it’s quite fruity and moderately sweet with blueberry and rhubarb pie flavors that I find a bit obvious and in need of more time to find greater nuance and focus.
2009 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py Vieilles Vignes. This wine has an appealing nose of fine cedar closet, smoked cherries, red currants and dark raspberries that are fairly big but nicely layered and welcoming. In the mouth, I find this to be another rather youthful wine, but not showing as much oak or tannicn as the previous wine at this stage. There’s plenty of forward berry fruit, with good acidity and twang on a mid-weight frame that still manages to be full-flavored. It’s a nice wine with good further upside potential, in my opinion.
1998 Domaine J. Chamonard Morgon Le Clos de Lys. Here one finds more sublte and airy aromatic tones of sassafras, birch, suede, baked clay and milky dried berries to go with a lot of spice notes. In the mouth, it features a lot of spice and autumn leaf sensations to go along with faded blue and purple fruit. It’s light-bodied, mild and easy-sipping, but with good zest and tangy acidity. It’s pleasantly old world in style but probably needs to be drunk up fairly soon.
2010 Deebo Cuvee Barrel Sample. This was a bit of a ringer. It’s a North Fork of Long Island wine made by one of our players—once thought to be lost to Hurricane Sandy but nursed back to health in a Rebirth from the Sea. It features a big-framed bouquet of black cherries, black raspberries, mixed currants, charred leather and a slice of nuttiness that sets it apart a bit from the norm. In the mouth, it’s loaded with brazil nut, almond paste, carob and mocha flavors that aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I like the unique character of the wine and the impressive balance it maintains through to the even-keeled finish that features more of a chocolate-covered cherry type of profile. I’ll be curious to see what this becomes once it is bottled.
2005 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. This turned out to be the first in a series of 3 flights pairing the Caymus Cabernet from Napa Valley against the Don Melchor Cabernet from Chile. Of the three vintages of Caymus we tasted, this was the best—with each successive vintage getting less and less appealing. With regard to the wine at hand, I find it to possess a powerful nose loaded with sweet blueberry and mixed currant fruit aromas supported by more subtle bits of leather, aloe and white pepper. In the mouth, it’s very creamy and smoothly polished, with seamless, warm and giving sweet fruit and chocolate-mocha flavors to go with a pop of spicy toasted barrel accents. It’s modern-styled and highly-buffed, but I find it to be pure, effortless and easy to gulp in a lot of ways, too. Again, this was my favorite of the three vintages, though that's not saying much.
2005 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor Puente Alto Chile. The Don Melchor wines are consistently darker and a bit more serious in tone than the Caymus offerings. This one offers up aromas of limestone, black cherry, black raspberry and campfire smoke leading into a palate that’s a bit high in alcohol but loaded to the top with cranberry, red currant and rhubarb fruit supported by fudgy tannins. It’s big and ripe and offers pretty decent drinking other than the slightly off-putting alcohol content.
2006 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. The nose here harkens right back to the 2005, loaded with purple and blue fruit that’s sweet and forward and kissed by soft oak. In the mouth, it ratchets things up even more than the 2005, with super-sweet, very forward fruit in a bit of a candied package. It’s the essence of liquid cherry and black raspberry fruit and in general is bigger and more obvious than the 2005, both with the fruit and the wood. Still, it’s sleek and devoid of tannin and slips right down the palate, leaving behind a chocolaty after-taste. It’s maybe just short of garish, but I know a lot of folks there would disagree on that count—thinking it definitely over the top.
2006 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor Puente Alto Chile. This is much darker, almost broodingly so on the nose—showing some taut and tight aromas of blackberry and black currant fruit and dark earth tones. In the mouth, I actually thought this was a more traditionally-styled California Cabernet. It’s smooth, a bit warm from elevated alcohol, but loaded with classic black currant fruit and fine earth notes. The tannins are finely-managed and the texture is smooth but wiry. I think this was probably my favorite of the Don Melchors.
2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. The nose here features a lot of camphor, sweet creosote and charcoal aromas riding atop a core of overt blackberry and blueberry fruit compote. In the mouth, it tastes like pure grape juice to me. It’s insanely sweet and totally off the charts with glycerin levels—making it seem almost sickly-sweet. It feels like there’s a lot of residual sugar in here and it’s made up of massively ripe fruit all around. I guess it’s a logical progression from the 2005 to the 2006 to this, but for me this has gone over the tipping point into cocktail wine in a big way. Brutal.
2007 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor Puente Alto Chile. In stark contrast, this is dark and primordial on the nose, with scorched earth, toasted herb, grilled green pepper and black currant aromas lurking in the depths of the glass. In the mouth, it’s nice and juicy, full of red and black berry fruit, gentle tannins and solid structure. Slightly fudgy but pleasant fruit is supported by solid acidity that leaves a fresh feeling on the finish. It’s a young wine, but pretty tasty at this point.
Flight 7: After hours and non-blind
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Beaune du Château. I think most of us were happy to move on from the previous set of wines, and I definitely liked this one. It has a pretty bouquet of soft cherry and other milky red fruits, fine spices and a little bit of fireplace smoke. In the mouth, it’s a bit aggressive with the acidity up front, but it’s also nicely earthy and mellow in flavor—with leather, dried berry fruit and cool soil elements coming across as cool, well-delineated and finely-structured. It has a nice fresh finish and is just enjoyable all around.
2002 Domaine Joseph Voillot Volnay. I didn’t care for this nearly as much, beginning with the nose that I find to be a bit vegetal, with notes of pine sap, tomato paste and cooked down cherries that don’t do much for me. In the mouth, it’s got candied cherry and candied raspberry flavors for sure, but it’s a bit strident and tough, I’d have to say. Give it some time to smooth out on the palate, though I’m not sure I’ll ever like the aromatic profile.
Flight 8: More after hours and non-blind
1989 Château Chasse-Spleen Moulis en Medoc. As a pop and pour, this actually showed pretty darned well, I thought. The tight nose is peaty and smoky, with aromas of volcanic rock, tobacco leaf, menthol and dark earth showing classic make-up and good promise. In the mouth, it is even more classically old-fashioned, with mid-weight but dark and serious fruit stuffing showing a bit sticky at times. It features excellent structure, softening tannins and lots of nice black fruit and tobacco aspects. It’s in no danger of fading, but it feels like it would show even better with a few hours of decanting right now.
1996 Viader Proprietary Red Napa Valley. …and then seemingly all of a sudden there was this magnum of ’96 Viader making the rounds. Man, this is a nice wine and a great way to end the day! It’s absolutely lovely on the nose, with a sleek but classy bouquet of creamed cherries, cassis, clean earth, fine cigar wrapper and slight hints of menthol that just work beautifully together. On the palate, it is all class. It’s smooth, silky and pure, with an effortless ease about it and no hard edges but plenty of interesting leafy qualities and solid structure to go with the gorgeous black currant and black cherry fruit and fine-lifted acidity. I thought this was just great and a fantastic treat from Zach.