I’m catching up on posting tasting notes, as this had been a very busy travel year, together with changing jobs. So I might as well start at the top…
This primo event was a Parker 100 Dinner, organized by Mark Hubbard, on Nov. 4, 2006. Sommelier service was expertly provided by Jessie, a local wholesale distributor. Jessie expertly decanted every wine that needed aeration or had sediment, at a time suitable to each wine. Several wines were double decanted earlier that day.
The restaurant, Bellavino, adjoins their wine shop. This gave me the chance to fill a gap in the wine program for the evening by purchasing a Champagne to get things rolling.
89 Veuve Cliquot Trillenium Reserved Cuvee, magnum – A perfectly fine brut, delicate mousse, light yeastiness, and some nutty complexity. Poured twelve ways, there was enough remaining to refill for the soup course. I rate this in the low 90s.
The whites with the first course were not 100 point wines. These were selected to pair with the seafood starter. I had a delicious piece of seared barramundi in place of the crab.
Coos Bay Dungeness Crab Cake
Roasted Weiser Farms Beet Rubies
Micro Fennel and Huckleberry Beurre Rouge
2004 Dom. Wm Fevre Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru – Nose showed clarity of aromatic elements, lime zest, oyster shell. Very young palate, crisp, primary. Opened up as it warmed, but way too young. I rate it just under 90 for present drinking, with big upside potential to the mid-90 range in 10 years.
1995 Dom. La Roche. Chablis Blanchots Grand Cru – Nose showed TCA and slight sulfur. Very minerally, but not as crisp as the Fevre. N/R.
Ethiopian Coffee Crusted Venison Loin w/ Juniper Demiglace
Hand-chopped Tartare of Venison with Mint and Fried Caper Berries
2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet – Minty, rather primary. Shows really young, better balanced than the 03. Very impressive. I can see why this got a high score. Better structured than the typical Napa cherry-vanilla jam syrup that gets similar score. Will probably age like top Bordeaux. Revisit in 15 years. I rate 95-99.
2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet – Way too young and tight, with gnarly tannins. Mulberry fruit flavor. Ditto the observations of the 2002. 95-99.
The venison course was excellent, the tartare stealing the show. I might have preferred Eritrean coffee to the Ethiopian, but that’s a minor issue.
Curried Roasted Moroccan Pumpkin Potage
Maple Leaf Farms Duck Confit, White Truffle Oil Drizzle, Fried Leeks
This course showcases a problem I had with the planned menu, which the chef was unwilling to change. I knew that syrah could not pair with squash soup. The chef admitted privately, after the meal, that he doesn’t care for N. Rhone wines. I can’t understand why he had been insistent that the dish was appropriate. Big minus! So I asked Jessie to refill the Champagne glasses and most of held our N. Rhones for the Lamb course to follow. My notes below are based upon tasting either prior to the potage or with the lamb.
1991 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline – This took 1½ hours to open up. Then it displayed the classic roasted aroma of this terroir, with addition of anise. Leather-like flavor, mulberry. The acidity makes a statement. Some high tone aromatics that some identify with the viognier. I rate this in the mid-90s. Probably needs another decade.
1991 Chapoutier Hermitage la Pavillon – Great nose. Animally. Smooth in the mouth. Seamless, but with a bit truncated finish. Will not benefit from further aging. Rates about 93.
1991 Chapoutier Cote Rotie la Mordoree – Skunky nose took a while to clean up. Smooth, light on palate, with mineral finish. About 92.
Altulfo Mango Sorbet
I do not know if this is bought or made in house, but this was superb mango sorbet.
Braised Colorado Lamb Tagine
Toasted Black Quinoa, Purée of English Peas
Caramelized Figs and Apricots
2001 Domaine de la Mordoree CdP Cuvee de la Reine des Bois – Sweet nose. Drying tannins, balanced, dark fruit and minerals. Too young to fully assess. Will probably drink in the mid- to high-90s down the road, but not really open for business now.
2000 Domaine du Pegau CdP Cuvee da Capo – Bit bretty. Nice balance and restraint. Dry fruit and a tarry finish. This also needs time.
Grilled Filet of Waygu Beef
Vanilla Bean- Nutmeg Mashed Potatoes
Roasted White Asparagus
Flame Scorched Heirloom Tomato Coulis
1982 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – Classic P-L. I’ve had this several times and it never fails. High 90s. This has not yet entered its tertiary phase and will keep going strong for years.
1990 Ch. Montrose – Nose is closed, then slight TCA. I’m the only one to detect TCA, or nobody else said anything. I kept it to myself because it was slight. Delicious flavor, but young. Better showing this time than at another Parker 100 in the late 90s. Still, as typical of St. Estephe in a great vintage, it needs decades. Try again in 2020.
1990 Ch. Margaux – Great nose, and then slight TCA. Again, I keep it to myself and no one else says anything. I know this wine from its earliest day and it is potentially great. This bottle was not so. N/R.
1995 Ch. Tirecul Cuvee Madame – Big botrytis on the nose. Pretty hefty and sweet, but with enough spine to keep from being cloying. Impressive stuff, beyond where Sauternes and Monbazillac typically live. This wine seems to be one for the ages – it should live forever in a good cellar. 98-100.
2001 Chateau d’Yquem – Utter brilliance. Pristine clarity in the aromatics, titillating with bergamot and not really showing its botrytis. This is of the same brilliance that the 1995 Baumard Quarts de Chaume displayed in its infancy, but more so. Drinks like flower nectar (the kind I used to suck out of the little red flowers the grow in S. Florida, by pulling out the long stamen and licking the single drop off it), with an interesting clove spice component. 100 points. Another one for the ages.
I did not take notes on the cheese selection.
Fresh berries with Shaved Chocolate
N.V. R L Buller Calliope Rare Tokay – Hot initially, then a liqueur of orange and caramel. To me, not in the same league as the Chambers Rare Tokay Liqueur. Mid-90s.
The dessert was the kind of last minute, throw-together dish that shows lack of imagination or a too-stressed kitchen. Nothing cooked, nothing baked. Just raw (maybe macerated) berries and shaved chocolate. Not the match to the tawny wine.
This kind of tasting, in which top scoring wines are experienced slowly, with food, demonstrates the foibles of rating wine in a vacuum. I wonder whether anyone, including Robert Parker, would reach the same rating conclusions if the wines were tasted and consumed at the table instead of quickly in a barrel room or lined up in a stand alone tasting format.
So... Big question for Bob, or anyone else... How often, when you sit down to a meal with a 100 point wine do you think the wine drinks at that level of perfection?
I have had many chances to try 95-100 point wines, as well as legendary wines that have not had published ratings on a 100 point scale, at dinner and in stand alone tastings. I find an unequivocal disconnect between the formats in terms of how wines show in their intended setting – which is with food, at the table. I suppose, perhaps, that the 100 point rating ought to be reserved for just those wines that hold up equally well in both formats.