Friday, May 9, 2008

Southern hospitality in the Southland

I was invited to dinner by a very generous host whom I only met the night before. Say what you want, but folks in Southern California have been open and generous to a fault. I have felt very welcomed here. No one tells me “you don’t know SoCal!” I was enjoying the conversation and food so the notes are a bit abbreviated.

1995 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston

Showed as well as the last bottle. Maybe a bit more structured. Very much in the house style, which is fine with me as I grew up with Pol Roger (dad was a big Churchill buff).

1996 Jadot Chevalier Demoiselles

This wine had come up in conversation the previous evening. Notorious as a victim of the premature oxidation problem, this bottle showed very few signs that it was suffering. Has a real tactile grip and mineral presence. Very, very good.

2004 Jadot Chevalier Demoiselles

Lighter and prettier than the 1996, if less tactile. Bright and snappy and really shows the Puligny-ness of the vineyard. I’m not sure that 2004 has produced wines for the long haul (or that any white Burgundy is a long haul wine anymore) but the racy snap of the vintage is certainly appealing.

2005 Sauzet Chevalier

Not the equal of the two wines before it. Almost a bit too big, enough to make it a tad loose although not sloppy. Nice enough, but didn’t make near enough of an impression for me to pony up the dough for it. Seems to lack the clarity, incision, and presence of the best Chevalier I’ve had. In essence, a wine I’ll drink on someone else’s dime.

1989 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe

We all wondered if the 1989 and 1990 had been switched. This is the prettiest I’ve ever had the 1989 show. It is usually a bit brett-y and brooding. Not tonight. Really lovely ruby color. Pretty nose of desiccating red berries, hints of mushroom, and leather. Enough acidity and remaining structure to pair very well with the food.

1990 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe

And this showed like an 89. Darker color, more tense and full of earthy animal character. In the end, I’m not sure that the decanters weren’t mistakenly switched. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but the wines showed so much like the other, that a rational mind tends towards the logical answer. Either the 1990 has become a brute or the 1989 has become the belle of the ball. Neither seems terribly likely, but I can’t say for sure.

2005 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe

After the 1989 and 1990, this was like a barrel sample. Not much to say, although it did seem a little fluffy for young Beaucastel.

1958 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo

Graceful, expansive, inviting, warm, and silky. Easily the wine of the evening for me. Beautiful aged Barolo in every way in a feminine srtyle. Probably near the end of its drinking window, and maybe at the beginning of decline, but a reminder of why we cellar wine in the first place. It’s amazing how charming and lovely these old Barolo can be.

1967 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo


1961 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo

Very, very strange. Completely overwhelmed by VA and some bacterial flaws. Very dark in color. Bizarrely so. I have no idea what this portends to other bottles.

1989 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo

A controversial bottle. I thought it was corked, others thought it was just strange and young. It didn’t have an obnoxious corkiness, but something more akin to a bleach smell. Whatever the problem, a shameful showing for a wine of immense pedigree.

1997 Dal Forno Recioto di Valpolicella

Big bold and delicious. While I found this wine to be excellent, if a bit large scaled, I’m not sure it is worth the hype. Not something I would seek out, but a glass at the end of the night was a treat.


Lyle Fass said...

Nice notes fucknut! Jadot 96's when not pre-moxed are awesome. Wait you drank an '04. Oh well the statement still applies.

Joe said...

'90 Beaucastel was always the brett bomb. And plenty big and ripe.

The bleach thing is interesting, I've experienced it in old Piemontese wine myself. I wonder whether it changes with air.

Anyhow, it unmistakably smells like hypochlorite, but of course it's totally inconceivable that there is any such present. Kind of like the way Muscadet tastes salty but isn't.


the vlm said...


That has been the opposite of my experience, and I've had way more 1990 than 1989 (my dad bought a good bit of the 1990). The 1989 has always been the brett bomb and the 1990 the pretty sister. *shrug*

The showing of these Piedmontese wines was peculiar in the extreme.