Cafe Loup
Joe Cz (foreground), Lisa-Erin Allen and Ilene Adler.
Somewhere along the way I lost count of the participants, but it must have been something like 18 to 20 revelers who gathered on one of the hottest and most humid days so far this summer at Cafe Loup (185 W. 13th St.) in Manhattan for Friday's "offline." It was our first gathering at this casual French spot, arranged for us by Brad Kane and Greg Dal Piaz, but it may not be the last. Good food, good service, and a pair of L-shaped table arrangements in the back of the restaurant, allowing enough room (at least for those not trapped in inside positions on the banquettes) to get up, move around and socialize.

I find notes on 27 wines in the Palm Pilot, many of them indeed sketchy; I can't guarantee that I didn't miss a few, but here's my jumbled report:

Cafe Loup
Eden and Jody Blum.
Roederer 1990 Brut - Very pale. Bubbles dissipate fast. Toasty, rich.

Domaine Bourillon-d'Orleans Chateau-Chevrier 1989 Vouvray Moelleux - Pale gold, very funky - "Roquefort" is a nice way to put it; Jody Blum suggests something along the lines of "dirty socks." Past the nose, however, it's actually quite an impressive older Chenin Blanc, quite sweet, earthy and complex, framed by steely acidity.

Lagar de Cervera 1999 Albarino - Crisp white fruit on nose and palate. Bone-dry, ripe and citric, reminds me of very ripe tangerines. Nice.

Huet Le Haut Lieu 1985 Vouvray Le Mont Moelleux - Delicious, floral and stone fruit, honey, very sweet and rich. No earthy funkiness here, just a rich and well-balanced Vouvray.

Kunin Wines 1998 Dante Dusi Vineyards Paso Robles Zinfandel - Steve Plotnicki says this will be "the next Turley," a cult-wine-in-the-making. Maybe it's the weather, but I don't find it all that appealing at first; somewhat muted berry fruit, extract and alcohol. Almost like a Port without the sweetness. To its credit, however, a revisit after an hour in the open bottle finds it taking on more substance and palate appeal.

Domaine de la Mordorée 1998 Cuvee de la Reine des Bois Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Big, chewy, black fruit and chocolate. Excellent!

Qupé 1996 Blen Nacido Reserve Santa Barbara County Chardonnay - Big and buttery, more brawny than fat. Rob Adler likens it to a lemon-honey cough drop. I think he's right on target.

Thunder Mountain 1997 Ciardella Vineyard Chardonnay - Butterscotch, dry and rich; California style, but more finesse than the Qupé.

Mas de Gourgonnier 1999 les Baux de Provence Rosé - Light pink. Good berries, dry and crisp. Fine match with a smoked salmon appetizer.

Clos des Papes 1998 Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Barnyard, black pepper and black fruit, chewy and ripe. Much more earthy and bretty than the Mordorée, but it's appealing.

Spotteswoode 1988 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - Maderized with age. I don't find it enjoyable.

Siri d'Jermu 1998 Dolcetto di Dogliani - Jammy black fruit, tannic, long. Very fine, I hold some back to go with a beef entree (tournedoes).

Domaine de la Renjarde 1998 Cotes du Rhone Villages - warm and peppery.

Paul Jaboulet Aine 1972 "La Chapelle" Hermitage - Olives and black coffee. Crumbly cork poses a real challenge, finally yielding to show an earthy, murky wine that's old but still alive.

Monzio Compagnoni 1997 "Rosso di Luna" Valcalepio Rosso - A gift from the WLDG's Luca Mazzoleni, made by his friend Eugenio Monzio Compagnoni. Hand-carried from Italy to the next offline I attend with thanks to Luca. Big black fruit and a load of brett. It's horsey and barnyardy, but I like it.

Turley 1997 Moore "Earthquake" Vineyard Zinfandel - Creme caramel with hot-fudge sauce ... and seltzer. A little bit too bizarre for me.

Castello di Ama 1993 Vigneto Casuccia Chianti Classico - Black cherry, ripe, textured and complex. Still quite tannic.

Cafe Loup
Oleg O. (left) and Brad Kane share a laugh.
Azelia 1982 Bricco Punta Barolo - Nutty, some oxidation, tart and surprisingly tannic.

Fontanafredda 1978 Vigna "La Rosa" Barolo - Brown sugar and black fruit, old but going strong.

Alion 1994 Ribera del Duero - Warm, plummy, structured. Chocolate, tannic.

Edmunds St. John 1996 Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Syrah - Perfumed fruit, Jody Blum says it "smells like a white." Peppery and full-bodied, soft tannins. Rhone-like.

Rubino della Palazzo 1994 Umbria Red Table Wine - Warm, plummy, structured.

Domaine de Chevalier 1988 Pessac Leognan - Cedar and black fruit; fresh but tannic.

Les Forts de Latour 1983 Pauillac - Good old-Bordeaux aromas, cedar and black fruit. Full and balanced, youthful. Perhaps the top wine of the evening for me.

Chateau Lascombes 1978 Margaux - Aging but alive, sweet old-Bordeaux fruit.

Forstmeister Geltz Erben Zilliken 1983 Saarburger Rausch Auslese - At the end of the evening, we notice a German wine in a bucket, previously overlooked. Shall we open it? Sure! Petrol and pine, mangoes and orange juice. Interesting, a bit light. AP Number 3 551 083-18-84.

Have you tasted these wines?
E-mail me your tasting notes,
and I'll consider adding them to this page.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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