Monday, August 23, 2010


We had the big event. Tasting around three dozen vintages of Ch. d'Yquem. I'll do another blog on these soon, after I gather my thoughts. At the big dinner, there were lots of other wines. Some of these were great wines with immense pedigree. Yet in the context of the day and night, they were incidentals. However, they deserve respect and a report on how they showed - well at least to me. I only tasted about 15% of what was going around the dining room, on the other tables. Sort of in style order, and not how they were 'served', they follow:

A rather plain 2002 Schloss Vollrads Riesling Spatlese. Shy, muted, in the past noted for its VA, but I'm not good on that. However clean in other ways. Not that rich, really.

A series of Chardonnays. The 2005 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay had lots going for it, quite complex, but in the context of the next two, rather up-front. The 2005 Drouhin Corton-Charlemagne beautifully fresh and fine. I can see why Corton-Charlemagne and Grand Cru Chablis can get mixed up. Then a 2002 Jadot Puligny-Montrachet 1er 'Folatieres'. I was going to be scared to look at this because of premature oxidation, but not here, this was complex, nutty, steely and with substance in a gritty-grunty style.

A couple of Pinot Noirs. Funny how these can look a bit light when in the company of monsters. For Pinot and burgundy to shine here, they need to be truly ethereal, or big enough to take the clarets and Rhones on their own level. The 2002 Senard Corton 'Clos du Rois' was pretty and clear, without the herby-fungal base these wines can be made around. Modern stuff indeed. The 2001 Quartz Reef 'Bendigo' Pinot Noir was not outshone by the previous wine, still shy, tight and with legs to go, as this label usually has.

Rhoney things looked good in this dinner context. A 2007 Domaine la Boussiere Gigondas full of juicy Grenache fruit - brilliant! Not quite so endearing was the 1996 Rostaing Cote-Rotie 'Landonne', somewhat herb and vege tinged, to a still youthful, structured palate. Not pretty, but serious. The 1990 Wynns 'Michael' Coonawarra Shiraz was a wow. A great year. This was still fresh, minty-fruity with pepper, black berried fruit and spices on a supple palate. Yum yum.

But tonight it was claret night. A host of clarets that I only got to try a few of. Two 2006s were pretty smart. The 2006 Ch. Lynch-Bages Pauillac was full, broad, open, but packed with powerful cassis juiciness. The 2006 Ch. Gruaud-Larose St Julien was more aromatic, and lush. Slight bretty notes lurking, but not detracting at this stage. The other Mr Parker would love this. However, jam-packed with Mr Brett was the 1990 Ch. Batailley Pauillac. For this label, it was well-built - probably the best I've seen made under this label. But the brett.... As was the 1986 Ch. Montrose St Estephe, still vibrant and dark. Powerhouse in its day no doubt, and still there. But alas chocka full of brett. Drying too. Thus, this was well overstructured. And a 1982 Ch. La Lagune Haut-Medoc. Very aged, savouriness and complexity. Also plagued by brettanomyces. The tertiary characters and brett melding together. Still some sweetness, but also sourness. At time of release, the other Mr Parker loved it...

At the end of the night, there appeared some 1950 Calem 'Quinta da Foz' Single Quinta Port. Tawny and quite clear and light. Very elegant. Truly tawny in style with drying finesse through the palate and rancio kick-in on the finish.

All these would have been great on their own. And they were fabulous to taste - and drink. But on this day and night, they were unfortunately incidentals.

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