Notes from another wonderful wine lunch with Albert Givton at Pastis in Vancouver.
1995 Castello di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Riserva Sassello – fromk a great vintage, this wine was bright with a slightly ripe note in the nose, and slight greenness in the mouth, mild tannins, and a good clean, long juicy finish.
1997 Castello di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Riserva Sassello – another good vintage and another nice showing. Nutty red fruit nose, subtlke entry, softer on palate, with good legs, medium length and riper fruit.
1997 La Vite Lucente – this Tuscan IGT from Montalcino is 85% sangio and 15% merlot and it gets 12 months in French oak. The result is a well perfumed wine with the best depth of fruit of the three, and slightly bitter pleasant hints on palate. Good acidity. A cooperative effort between Frescobaldi and Mondavi.
Next flight (all were served blind) was a tough one to nail.
2000 Mas de Daumas Gassac Cuvee Emile Peynaud – a small limited special lot (2500 bottles) from a specific vineyard made from cabernet sauvignon only. A rare one you never see for sale, and an interesting one. This producer is, for my money, the preeminent Languedoc Roussillon producer and this was an exceptionally good wine. Dark with a slightly spicy cabernet nose, sweet in the mouth and with a very long finish, still showing significant levels of tannin.
2000 Araujo Cabernet Eisele Vineyard – I used to buy Phelps wines from Eisele so remember the vineyard fondly. This wine seemed slightly musty in the noise at first but that blew off and a very decent cherry fruit nose came through. Medium Body, decent stuffing and medium length. I have seen several reviews of this wine indicating it is getting long in the tooth, so I should indicate that Albert’s cellar is maintained at 10 deg. C. or less which means a much longer life.
1997 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet – well this was a first for me – a Marthas with zero mint! The fruit wasn’t as ripe as the Araujo, and the wine was medium bodied with significant remaining tannin but more elegance and better balance. It was interesting to hear from Albert that the tale of mintiness from having the vineyard near some Eucalyptus trees wasn’t completely true – he recounted being at the winery at harvest and seeing eucalyptus leaves that had somehow managed to get into the crusher – completely without human help, I’m sure……
Next flight was three mature and delightful wines.
1964 Ch. Brane Cantenac – pale enough to be a Burgundy, fully mature and showing good balance and a very slightly funky slightly smoky nose. A refined enjoyable wine. This property hasn’t done much that was great in the last 50 years, unfortunately.
1982 Ch. L’Evangile – good Pomerol from a great vintage, showing a lovely garnet colour, nice enticing nose of sweet minty plum and hints of anise. The wine combines, somehow, power with elegance and there is no rush at all as I expect a long life still ahead. Quite rich and long in the finish.
1978 Grand Cru Vineyard Garden Creek Ranch Late Picked Gewurztraminer– most people today either don’t know of this winery or know it as the modern low range clone that uses the same name. In the early 80s I went down to race a vintage sports car at the Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca and always came back through Nappa, or Sonoma, or both to pick up wine along the way (still have a few bottles of the St. Jean 1978 Belle Terre TBA in the cellar). One stop was usually Grand Cru at the trailer that was the tasting room, and I find I still have one bottle of their 1978 Gewurz TBA – IIRC an induced botrytis wine.
This wine stated on the label that it would be best drunk within a year or two of harvest. It was an off dry late harvest style with 6% RS and 11.4% alcohol, and amazingly, it was still alive! Medium amber colour with a tangerine apricot nose, not too sweet in the mouth with a slight bitterness at the end and a lemon zest finish that was refreshing. Very enjoyable wine even though it was drunk 33 years later than the winemaker recommended!
Last flight was probably the most interesting, mixing two venerable French with two equally venerable American wines.
1983 Jaboulet Dom. de Thalabert Crozes Hermitage – pushing the envelope for almost all Crozes, this one had a light colour, slightly funky almost Burgundian nose, lots of soft tannin and considerable terminal acidity. Would have been better some years ago.
1978 Jaboulet ‘Thalabert’ Crozes Hermitage – same wine from a great vintage, but before they added the ‘domaine’ to the name. The bottle was slightly shorter and a lighter shade of green and the wine was darker than the 83 and showed a riper rounder plum fruit and bacon nose, well rounded profile on palate and a full bodied sweet finish. It seemed almost New World and was still in fine shape.
1978 Duckhorn Merlot Three Palms Vineyard – the first vintage using fruit from that famous vineyard, this is one wine that if someone had offered it to me, I’d probably have declined, betting it would be dead or dying. In fact it was a light coloured wine with a herbal nutmeg nose with green hints, still in lovely balance with good length. I’d have bet wrong.
1978 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 2 – fragrant perfumed nose, full ands sweet in the mouth with well integrated tannin, rich and round in the mouth, now drying a tad at the end but also showing hints of terminal spiciness that were very nice.
This was the sort of California cabernet I ‘grew up’ with and I much prefer it to the fat jammy in your face versions mostly made today.
Great lunch and lovely old wines.