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Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

NYC Offline Tasting (Sept. 11, 1997)
More than 20 online wine folks from the Wine Lovers' Discussion Group and the CompuServe Wine Forum gathered Sept. 11 at the Minetta Tavern in New York's Greenwich Village for a delightful evening of getting to know in person old friends we've known online, with excellent Italian food and wines -- LOTS of wines -- to make the evening perfect.

Thanks to the WLDG's Brad Kane for making the arrangements, and to Andrew Scott for designing a beautiful tasting-notes booklet as a take-home souvenir of the event.

As best I could tell, everyone had a great time, and we made short work of the following 34 wines brought by the revelers. Let's do it again soon!

The following notes are presented with the usual caveat that they're casual comments on wines consumed with food in a happy social setting, and thus can't qualify as seriously analytical. Each wine is listed with the name of the person who brought it, where known.


Manoir de Rouergou 1995 Cahors (Mike Bassman) - Clear garnet. Funky raspberry aroma and ripe raspberry flavor, flawed by an odd "fishy" note that's a little offputting.

Chateau de Chambert 1989 Cahors (Mike Bassman) - Black-purple. Nice spicy berry fruit on the nose and palate.

Weinert 1991 Argentina Malbec (Mike Bassman) - Very dark purple. Spicy oak and black fruit aromas and flavors, tartly acidic.

Valentin Bianchi 1994 "Elsa" (Argentina) Malbec (Mike Bassman) - Very dark garnet. Black fruit flavor. Full fruit, a little one-dimensional but a good quaff, and a very good value at $6.50.

Chateau Mendoza 1987 Argentina Malbec (Mike Bassman) - Dark in color. Funky barnyard aroma notes; earthy flavor, a lot of brett.

Vino de Eyzaguirre 1994 San Francisco de Mostazal (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial (Mike Bassman) - An intriguing bottle in a burlap sack, it was inky dark in color, with a big jammy fruit flavor, ripe and soft; enjoyable if a bit "Beaujolais" in style.

Ch. Leoville Las Cases 1970 St.-Julien (Robb Gordon) - Dark garnet, still clear at the edge. Good old-Bordeaux aromas, coffee and cassis; textured and vibrant on the palate, still full of life. Delightful!

Chateau la Roque 1993 "Cupa Numismae" Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup (Robin Garr) - Very dark ruby. Lovely aroma, a bowl of cherries; deep, layered and complex fruit. As in the past, an excellent introduction to the better Languedoc reds.

Chateau la Roque 1994 Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup (Robin Garr) - Dark garnet. Spicy red-fruit aromas with a whiff of coconut. Fully and juicy fruit, soft first impression, but then firm acidity kicks in.

La Cuvee Mythique 1994 Languedoc (Andrew Scott) - Very dark color. Good black fruit and anise aromas; a fruit bomb on the palate, with massive tannins still showing the need for more time.

Cuvee Enrico Vallania 1990 Cabernet Sauvignon (Andrew Scott) - Very dark garnet. Slight herbal and black-fruit aromas and flavors; quite "elegant" for an Italian Cabernet.

Mitchelton 1993 Victoria (Australia) Shiraz (Peter Hirdt) - Dark reddish purple. Lovely raspberry aromas with herbal and pleasant medicinal notes. Delicious raspberry flavor, well balanced.

Ridge 1995 Dusi Ranch Paso Robles Zinfandel (Peter Hirdt) - Berry fruit and anise, huge, leaps from the glass, impressive.

Ridge 1990 Bradford Mountain Cabernet Franc (Varda) - Dark reddish-purple. Jammy blueberry fruit and toasty oak, ripe and full.

Arns 1993 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Brad Kane) - Opaque. Attractive fresh cassis; lots of stuffing though still very tight. Impressive Cabernet, needs much time.

Rabbit Ridge 1995 "OVZ" Sonoma County Zinfandel (Joe Cz) - Day-glo reddish purple. Ripe raspberry aromas; big and brawny yet well balanced; very fine Zin.

Ravenswood 1992 Gregory Vineyard Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon (Robert Callahan) - Dark purple shading to black. Mint, eucalyptus, black fruit and faint earthy notes; full and ripe fruit on the palate, great structure; excellent wine, drinking very nicely right now.

Berardenga 1990 Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva (Bob Scherb) - Dark ruby color. Excellent black-cherry and spicy oak aromas; ripe and full flavors, drinking very well.

Qupe 1995 Santa Barbara County Bien Nacido Reserve Syrah (Loren Grossman?) - Day-glo reddish purple color. Delicious black fruit, mint and floral aromas. Consistent on the palate, full and ripe, showing well although a bit more of a fruit bomb and not showing quite the complexity that I'd expect from the BN Reserve.

Gaja 1989 Sperss Barolo (?) - Clear garnet color. Floral, tar and smoke and black-fruit aromas; deep and complex although still quite youthful.


Ch. Haut-Brion 1984 Blanc (Varda) - While 1984 may have been a terrible year for RED Bordeaux, this wine demonstrates the error of carelessly extending the conventional wisdom about vintages beyond its narrow limits. This wonderful white was possibly THE wine of the evening. Pale straw color, with a lovely aroma of toasted coconut, wildflowers and a "mineral" scent that's oddly reminiscent of the same trademark quality in the Haut-Brion red. Steely and bone-dry, tart and surprisingly fresh, the flavor also carries an odd but appealing hint of coconut. Great wine, one of the best of the evening.

Henry Goyard 1995 Domaine de Roally Macon-Montbellet (Bob Scherb) - Very pale gold color. Appetizing apple scent; soft, luscious and off-dry flavor, buttery and floral. Delicious wine, but almost bizarre for a Macon -- presented blind, I'd have sworn it was a Riesling.

Domaine Bourillion-d'Orleans Chateau-Chevrier 1989 Vouvray Mouelleux (Brad Kane) - Very pale greenish-gold. Citrus and an earthy ripe-cheese note on the aroma, odd but pleasant. No hint of Brie or Camembert in the crisp, slightly sweet flavor, though; it's full and ripe and delicious through a long finish.

Chateau Moncontour 1990 Vouvray Moelleux "Vielle Vignes" (Joe Cz) - Pale gold in color with a markedly "cheesy" aroma very reminiscent of ripe Brie that carries over into the otherwise appropriately tart-citric and just off-dry flavor.

Joly 1985 Clos de la Coulee de Serrant Savennieres (Penny Collins) - Pale gold color. Lovely almonds and hazelnuts in the aroma; full, bright fruit flavor with mixed cocktail nuts and piercing acidity. Carrying its age very well, as Savennieres can do; another of the top wines of the evening.

Burgans 1995 Albarino (?) - Very pale color. Honesuckle and toast aromas; simple, floral fruit flavors, vaguely akin to a Viognier; light, crisp and dry.

Gaur 1992 Marcassin (?) - Pale gold color. Almond and mint aromas, nice. Crisp yet buttery, apples and tropical fruit.

Maximin Grunhauser 1983er Herrenberg (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) Riesling Auslese (Brad Kane) - Full aromas of mangoes, pine and "mineral." Soft on the first taste, but steely acidity and classic Riesling "diesel" become apparent in a very long finish.


Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey 1986 Sauternes (Mike Miles) - Pale gold color. Honey and a perceptible whiff of volatile acidity. Sweet and rich on the palate, still seems quite youthful.

Chateau Rieussec 1985 Sauternes (Andrew Scott) - Rich gold color. Classic honey-apricot aroma. Complex and balanced, with good acidic structure beneath luscious sweet fruit.

Alderbrook 1995 Kunde Vineyard Muscat (Mike Bassman) - Bright gold in color, with an absolutely stunning aroma so delicious I could just sit there and sniff it all night without tasting: Green tea, orange blossoms and wildflowers. It's no slouch in the palate department, although in fairness, the simple, very sweet flavor seems a bit simple alongside the Rieussec. Who ever said comparisons have to be fair?

Friedrich Baumann 1985 Oppenheimer Sacktrager Riesling Beerenauslese (Brad Kane) - Clear gold. Delicious butterscotch aroma. Wonderful flavor, great finesse and balance, still showing vibrant fruit and Riesling minerals. To my taste buds, it outstrips both Sauternes on the table, although it's a close race (and a rather different style) with the Rieussec.

Disznoko 1992 Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos (Peter Hirdt) - Bright gold color. Raisins and honey in a rich, jump-from-the-glass aroma. Juicy golden raisins and caramel in a rich, sweet and well-structured flavor. I could get used to this!

Dr. Parce "Saint Martin" Banyuls (Don Rice) - Oldest Banyuls I've tried, and its reddish-amber color and nutty, sherrylike nose show its age; it's still a delight, though, having become something like a fine Tawny Port with its caramel, stone fruit and walnut flavors. And, as the conventional wisdom holds, it was a great match with a dark chocolate dessert.

Up a Lazy (Hudson) River (Sept. 13, 1997)
Mary and I had an absolutely delightful time this afternoon and evening, joining CompuServe Wine Forum stalwarts Don and Melissa Rice at Grand Central for a commuter-train ride on a perfect late-summer day, rolling up the Hudson Valley past West Point to the little riverside town of Cold Spring, N.Y., where we met CIS'ers Tim and Judy Baker for an excellent dinner with lots of good wine.

We gathered at Hudson House, a pretty little B&B and inn in a 160-year-old building on the riverbank, with scenic views overlooking the Hudson with Storm King mountain in the background, and, it's certainly worth mentioning, very good food and very friendly service.

Tim and Don brought great wines, mostly from the Loire and Alsace (what else would you expect from those guys!?), plus a couple of good Finger Lakes items; and we added an interesting local Hudson Valley wine from the inn's wine list.

So without further ado, on to the TNs!

Hermann J. Wiemer Finger Lakes New York 1995 Semi-Dry Johannisberg Riesling - Pale brass color. Lovely floral aromas are so full and flowery that the scent rises up from the glasses on the table before we can take a sniff. Crisp, fresh fruit flavor, fresh apple-like fruit, structured with such steely acidity that its 2.5% residual sugar seems almost dry. Perfect aperitif.

Hermann J. Wiemer 1995 Finger Lakes New York Dry Johannisberg Riesling - Very pale gold, with a delicate floral scent and good, crisp fruit, threshold sweetness (under 1% residual sugar) well masked by firm acidity.

Robert Denis 1989 Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau Vignes de la Gaillarderie - This is a dry Loire Chenin Blanc with a pale straw color. Mineral and earthy aromas, slightly evocative of ripe cheese (an oddity more apparent when the wine was warmish than after it cooled in an ice bucket). Flavors follow the nose, dry and steely; made an outstanding match with a diverse batch of appetizers from lobster ravioli and crab cakes to a grilled portobello mushroom. Importer: Lois/Dressner Selections, USA Wine Imports, NYC.

S.A.L. Filliatreau 1995 La Grande Vignoble Saumur-Champigny - A Loire Cabernet Franc. Dark garnet color, with grapey, herbaceous aromas; very fruity on the palate, structured with lemon-squirt acidity, quaffable and fresh. Importer: Louis/Dressner Selections, Vins Fins Import Marketing Co., Great Neck, N.Y.

Millbrook Vineyards 1995 New York State Pinot Noir - Made from 61% Hudson River fruit and 39% Finger Lakes. Clear ruby color, with a slightly musty black-cherry aroma. Jammy black-fruit flavor, herbs and a bit of a (not unpleasant) cherry-cough-syrup flavor. Given the low expectations we all brought to a New York Pinot Noir, it was a pleasant surprise, went reasonably well with rack of lamb and exceptionally so with a roast duck in a sour-cherry sauce with wild rice.

Bernard Fouquet 1990 Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray Loelleux - Very pale straw color. Mineral and faint ripe-cheese aromas, markedly distinct from the ripe, fruity aroma full of peaches and pears. Good fresh-fruit sweetness is laced up with zingy acidity. Importer: USA Wine Imports, NYC.

Domaine Touchais 1979 Reserve de Nos Vignobles Coteaux du Layon - Very pale straw color, aromas of fresh flowers and stone fruit. Crisp, surprisingly fresh fruit on the palate followed by tart acidity, surprisingly dry. Delightful wine. (Hand-imported by Don Rice.)

Hugel 1993 Alsace Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive Selection de Grains Nobles - Clear bright gold color, lush peach and grapefruit aromas. Flavors consistent on the palate with a touch of honey, intense, unctuous and layered. A great wine, a wonderful ending to an outstanding meal.

To Robin Garr's current tasting notes.
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