Sunday, April 26, 2009

1977 Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France

What a special wine for a very special occasion! 1977 was the birth year of many a friend of mine being that I was also born in that year. But in this year 2009 it was extra special and important for someone in particular. 1977 was the birth year of one of my new sister’s, Chris. Her father John, and my father in-law, saved a bottle of 1977 Chateau Lafite for his daughter's wedding day, almost 30 years later on April 18, 2009. (Bordeaux wines are released about 2-3 years after the vintage date to allow for barrel and bottle aging).

I did not score this wine, because honestly I really don't think it matters (but it would for sure be well north of 90 points). Many people never get the chance to drink an older wine of this pedigree, and to have had two in less than one year I feel truly blessed.

1977 Lafite was one of the oldest wines I have ever tasted and one of the best, after of course the 1980 that I shared with my wife on our wedding day last year. Compliments to the father of the brides John - this is such a wonderful tradition that some of my friends and I for certain will continue. Funny enough at this rate if our children are born in a stellar vintage they may be drinking Smith Haut-Lafite (SHL) instead of Lafite.

The bride and groom were gracious enough to allow us a few sips. It was complete from start to finish, especially the deeply fragrant nose! This wine is truly bullet-proof – 32 years later and this wine was still magically fragrant in the bouquet and amazing on the palate.

Color: Brick red edges with a surprisingly more youthful than expected vibrant red outer center, slightly dark maroon core. Clean, even through a little bit of cork debris.

Nose: Absolutely the best nose on an older wine that I have ever had. Very complex and layered. Very fragrant, it reminded me of how pretty a Burgundy is, but unmistakably Bordeaux. Sandalwood, some crushed dry rose petals, some of that classic smoky oak, cassis & coffee bean but more subtle.

Palate: Classic older style flavors of cassis, dried cherry, some oak and old leather all haunted by the ever present taste of fall leaves that haunt many old wines aged well. You have to understand older wines, they have a few very distinct flavors and aromas, one being the smell of fall, the leaves, the cooler air, etc...this is a beautiful trait and very prone to older wines made from Bordeaux varieties.

Congratulations and thank you Chris & Jeff!



Thursday, April 09, 2009

2005 Del Dotto Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley

I received this bottle as a gift from a former co-worker at Merrill Lynch (Thank you Lisa!!!) for helping her "tweak", er, plan her trip to the Napa Valley with her husband and friends. Anyone looking to go there on vacation drop me a line with your contact details...I got the goods for Napa, Sonoma and San Francisco!

The 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc was drinking really nice right now. I think Parker scored this pretty well and I can tell why. Before we get to the tasting notes, a little about the winery. Proprietor Dave Del Dotto and his winemaker Gerard Zanzonico make wine in one of the newest and boldest wineries in Napa Valley. See them here! Not many people can just prop up a new winery on Highway 29 amongst the already crowded sets of wineries. But I guess if you plunk down $10 million just to create and build the winery (and let’s not forget annual massive property, grape, employee, tens of $1200 French oak barrels, and a host of other high expenses). NOTE: anyone looking for a good tax write off and enjoy wine, go into the winemaking business!

How did Dave Del Dotto get that money? It’s a funny story and you decide for yourself how you feel about it. Just Google his name to find out! I don't buy too much of his wine, and the labels are really freaking gaudy! I think he and the folks at Delectus hang out a lot! Roman chic or tacky Jersey/Long Island front yard Italian-esque?

Either way, the TOUR is one of the BEST in all of Napa Valley. I have sent about 6 or so groups there already and they all have walked out with at least a half a case of more of the wine, and probably half in the bag as you have the opportunity to taste or drink a whole lot of wine – it’s up to you if you want to spit. There were two tours when I last sent someone there. I have only been to the old caves down in the southern Napa sector of the valley. It is out if the way from the new winery which is smack in the middle of the action on Highway 29, steps from the likes of Mondavi, BV, Staglin, Coppola and Cakebread. Del Dotto is a barrel freak and uses numerous varieties of oak (French, American, or Hungarian) and toast levels (light, medium, and heavy toast for example). When you take the tour you get to taste the same wine from the same vineyard from a different style of barrel. Or vice versa, the same barrel but a different vineyard to see the terroir impact on the wine. It’s a great tour where you will drink lots of wine and talk with the great folks at Del Dotto on how the oak interacts with the juice to produce the wine you are tasting.

The proof is the juice in the bottle. I toured it once and myself bought a 6 pack, the same goes for my wife Lisa and sister-in-law (hey Chris!!!)

On to the notes!
Color: Immediately purple red, with a medium garnet center

Nose: Squeaky clean! The oak jumps up immediately but thankfully after an hour or so integrates better with the other aromas of red fruits, lots and lots of licorice, The oak gets more subdued but toasty, and violets are there, but you have to look for them. Lisa picked up on them and it was a great call! Thanks baby!

Palate: Currants, licorice, some cherry and black tea at first. Later on secondary Asian spice and oak mingle with some lavender and flowers. Finish: Silky, smooth tannins and luscious fruit sail on for 30 seconds or so. Great wine! Thanks again Lisa!!!!



Saturday, April 04, 2009

Random Tasting Notes of Recent Wines

2007 Clos de los Siete (Michel Rolland) (Argentina, Mendoza) $15

Clos de los Siete really is a great wine for the money. This is a bargain blend wine of Malbec, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon: 48/28/12/12% for this vintage. If you can get for under $15 it’s a great buy, however I have seen it for $20 and over. That is not exactly priced at fair market value. Loads of earthy black currant and blackberry mingle with some leather and just enough oak to notice it in the wine and give it some additional structure and complexity.

Color: Dark purple black center, red edges

Nose: Leather, smoky black fruit some iron and loamy notes

Palate: Loads of earthy black currant and blackberry mingle with some leather and just enough oak to notice it in the wine and give it some additional structure and complexity.

2005 Carlisle Syrah Sonoma County (USA, California, Sonoma County) $20

Drinking fabulously right now! Stinky and beefy at first, fleshy texture. Spicy nose and palate, even a bit of garigue, or funk if you will initially. After about a half hour the layers of dark berries, ripe strawberry and then a slightly vanilla and berry finish...yes, sounds kind of odd and maybe sweet but its really not - the acidity was very intact and quite surprising to be at such a level, fine grained and sweet tannins. Well balanced!

Color: Dark purple red core, edges were the same but lighter.

Nose: Initially a little funky with some garigue, pepper and loamy black currants.

Palate: More of the same, with a bright finish of red fruit acidity. Fine and ripe tannins. Mildly complex, changing nicely with time...sometimes black fruits and some loam, then spicy and beefy.

2002 Tor Syrah Hudson Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley) $35

Not old world Syrah like: no meaty or bacon notes, medium bodied. I purchased this wine in auction and remember it being a Syrah made like a Cabernet in style from Napa. I think it may have lost its identity with age, but not a bad wine all together. Opened for 2 hours, no decant. Drink NOW.

Color: Dark red center, lighter maroon edges

Nose: A whiff of oak, red fruits, white pepper and some herbal sage aromas. Sage gives way to more pepper and new aromas of currants and some licorice.

Palate: Great acidity and chewy tannins. Austere red fruits and some spice mix to complete a nice wine.

2000 Nicolas Potel Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Damodes (France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru) $28

This is my last bottle of the 2000 Potel wines I bought last summer for a steal at about $25 each, all Nuit St. George. Nicolas Potel was recently fired from his post at the negociant house he created and sold to a new owner. He stayed on board to manage and supervise but seems like he was ultimately squeezed out. 2000 was not a great vintage, so these wines are lighter and less nuanced compared to a good vintage.

Color: Light ruby red and pink rose petal edges

Nose: Dried red fruits, citrus and potpourri spritz combined with earth

Palate: Noticeable tannin and acidity, tart cherry, some spicy plum, not much nuance left though, probably past its peak.



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