Saturday my friend Mark invited us over for cassoulet - yippee! I’m getting over a cold and Betsy is starting one, but it takes more than a rhinovirus to keep us from confit and beans. We headed to Sleepy Hollow. As soon as we came in Mark presented me with a blind wine. Red fruits, a bit of spice, my guess is Pinot Noir. Yes. Riper, so I guess Cali. Yes, but Mark asks how old? Hmm, there’s some complex tertiary notes, so I guess 2000. Nope, I’m not close, it’s the 1981 Mayacamas Pinot Noir. I didn’t even know Mayacamas made a PN. We followed it through night, and debated on and off whether it was corked. At its best I loved this- the initial blast of fruit subsided, there was smoke, spice, and earth. At times there was basement odors. Overall, very fun to taste. B/B+
With Mark’s famous garlicky shrimp, the 2001 Domaine de Chevalier blanc. Fresh, ripe, and full, this is what I love about 2001 dry white Bdx- ripe vibrant acids, full white pit fruits and lemon, just a hint of vanillin oak. B+/A-
Since Mark had mentioned cassoulet, it seemed a good time to take along one of my bottles of the 1985 Ch. Eugenie “Cuvee Reservee des Tsars” Cahors. The good news is that the wine is alive with good fruits, the (not unexpected) less good news is that it is somewhat simple and rustic. Good with cassoulet, less interesting than other wines of the night. B-
1986 Ch. Sociando-Mallet
Mark wanted to open this as someone had made a “yuck” note on another forum, complaining of all sorts of off flavors (spiders, dead bodied). Decanted during afternoon. Sturdy but not at all hard, good acids , lovely melange of black fruits and cigarbox aromas. The only aroma that was not "classic" claret was some green/herby notes, but this wasn't unripeness but more a Figeac-like perfume. A-/B+
1969 Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny
OK, maybe I’m giving this extra points just for being a 44 year old village wine. But I thought this was absolutely lovely - beautiful floral Chambolle perfume, good fruit (raspberry and candied cherry), orange zest, Earl Gray. Captivating and complex, though maybe not as weighty/long as a higher pedigreed wine. Mark says from a cold London cellar where he has gotten a long line of overachievers. A-
Great night with great company. Mark's cassoulet was one of the best I've ever had, and the shrimp and garlicky salad were also delicious. Thanks!
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent
wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a
party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of
objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.