[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

NYC Offline Tasting (June 1997)
These are the wines shared by our group of about 14 CompuServe Wine Forum participants, spouses and friends who gathered in June 1997 at Les Sans Culottes, a pleasant little French restaurant on Second Avenue near 57th Street, at a dinner arranged by Robb Gordon (and applause to him for doing so). Forum participants, in addition to Robb and me, included Neil Tolciss, Doug Kaplan, Steve Wolfe and Don Bear. The wines were served pretty much buffet-style (with the dessert wines saved for the end), allowing everyone to taste in whatever order each preferred, and to make individual decisions about wine-and-food matching. I thought this approach really worked out well.

Here are my notes, in the order I tasted them; with the usual disclaimer about how wines tasted unblind from restaurant glasses in a social setting with food nearby are hardly scientific or analytical; still, with the exception of one over-the-hill 1989 Villages Burg (not listed), just about every wine on the table was really fine.

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht 1994 Gewurtztraminer Wintzenheim. Clear, bright gold, with a rich scent of litchees and a very full, intense flavor, honey and litchees and grapefruit; quite sweet, surprisingly so for an Alsatian not listed as Vendange Tardive, with firm acidity to lend balance, and a pleasant bitter finish. Importer: Wine Markets International, Woodbury, N.Y.

Joseph Roty 1989 Gevrey-Chambertin Les Champs-Chenys. Clear ruby color. Good, fresh tart-cherry aroma. Fresh fruit flavor, consistent with the nose, so clean and fresh that it seems -- dare I say it? -- much more like a California Pinot than a Burg. Importer: Wine Markets International, Woodbury, N.Y.

Joseph Drouhin 1989 Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru. Slightly hazy ruby. Leather, light barnyard and pleasantly vegetal aromas. Dry, almost over-tart on the palate. Importer: Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., NYC.

Mumm non-vintage Cuvee Napa Brut Prestige ($15.99). Very pale straw color with light pinpoint bubbles and a frothy mousse. Yeasty, apple-like scent, and a flavor that's soft and creamy, finishing tart.

La Cuvee Mythique 1993 Vin de Pays d'Oc ($15.99). My contribution of the evening, a top Languedoc that I've been wanting to try for ages. Very dark garnet, almost black. Lovely but shy black-fruit aroma and ripe, full blackcurrant and plum flavors, clean and long; opens up with time in the glass, and soft tannins and big structure suggest that this one's got a long future in the cellar. Importer: Val d'Orbieu Wines, Dallas.

Domaine du Chateau de Meursault 1982 Clos du Chateau Bourgogne Chardonnay. Don Bear brought this one from his cellar, and we're glad he did; it's evidence that a good Chardonnay from a good maker, even a low-end appellation Bourgogne, will last almost forever. Pale-gold in color, it breathes a lovely chestnutty nose, leading into a tart cooking-apple flavor, surprisingly fruity, with just a light nutlike whiff of encroaching oxidation.

Au Bon Climat 1995 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay "Le Bouge." Clear straw color. Lovely aroma, citric and "burgundian," Doug Kaplan calls it "classic Clendenen." Tropical fruit on the palate, big and rich and forward, clean and very long.

Turley 1994 Napa Valley Hayne Vineyard Petite Syrah. (The "incorrect" spelling with the 'y' in Syrah, as in the REAL Syrah, is on the label, not a typo.) As an avowed Petite Sirah hater, I'm reluctant to admit this in public, but this wine blew me away, and just about everyone else in the room. Opaque in color, deep purple-black. Deep, brooding aromas and flavors, black fruit, blueberries and subtle licorice. Mouth-filling, dark chocolate and black coffee and ripe, juicy fruit, tannins and lemon-squirt acidity. Opens a little after two hours' breathing but still needs more. A remarkable wine, wins a show-of-hands poll as wine of the evening by a landslide.

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 1989 St.-Julien. Very dark garnet. Cassis, caramel and coffee aromas. Ripe, tart fruit flavor. Light tannins present, but it's drinking surprisingly well already. Importer: William Grant & Sons Inc., NYC.

Ch. Puy Blanquet 1982 St.-Emilion Grand Cru. Dark garnet with an amber edge. Very leathery and vegetal aromas; soft, "sweet" fruit flavor, tasty, holding up well but probably not going to benefit from further aging.

Inglenook 1984 Napa Valley Reserve Cask Cabernet Sauvignon. Very dark color. Leathery aromas; lots of fruit flavor still, but awfully one-dimensional. "Lots of fruit," Steve Wolfe says. "But the fruit is PRUNES."

Flora Springs 1994 Carneros Pinot Noir. Clear ruby color. Light candied cherry fruit aromas, full and ripe. Sweet red-fruit flavors follow the nose. Approachable, quaffable; price unknown, but Robb Gordon, who brought this bottle, notes that it's an exceptional value.

Beringer 1987 Botrytized Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (54%) Semillon (46%) "Nightingale." Bright gold in color. Earthy and honey notes flawed by a dank mustiness that sneaks in on the nose and palate; some controversy about this, but I'm convinced it's "corked.

Chateau Suau 1979 Barsac. I wasn't familiar with this estate, so today I checked the first edition of Parker's Bordeaux, to find that he's unimpressed, alluding to the '79 as "flabby, dull, commercial wine, with cloying sweetness." I guess I'm with RMP on this one. Pale gold color. Simple and sweet at first, turns dry and faintly bitter in the finish. Odd, uninspiring.

Pellegrini 1994 North Fork of Long Island NY "Finale." Who'd have expected the dessert wine of the night to be a Lawn Guislander? Litchees and apricots and a touch of botrytis leap out of the glass. It's rich and very, very sweet, built on an acidic structure that holds it up and carries it out on a very long finish. A little more coarse than an Alsatian Selection des Grains Nobles, but the resemblance is there; varietals not listed, but there almost has to be some Gewurz in it. Startlingly good dessert wine.

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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