Restaurant: Private Club
Location: Somewhere in California
Date: December 9, 2015
After the Foodie Club met for our epic Truffle Dinner, we hit on the idea of a dinner exploring old California wines. We’re not talking the last 20 years of high alcohol monster wines, but the classic post war California. So this drink covers 1954 to 1998!
1988 Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Noirs Late Disgorged (magnum). 93 points. A beautiful etched 3L bottle, which we opened at R&D’s caroling party. Beautiful golden robe with a persistent mousse. Notes of roasted notes, caramel apple, fresh pear and hazelnuts. Fine bead with flavors of cherry, hazelnut, sautéed apple and pear with a subtle hint of honey and vanilla cream on the finish. Lovely. This actually needed some time in the glass to open and express itself.
2014 Wente Bros Vineyards Pinot Chardonnay. 85 points. None of us know what a “pinot chardonnay” actually was. Presumably, and by taste, there was plenty or all Chardonnay. This 60 year old white was pretty much gone, but it did have a sherry-like quality that was kinda interesting with the foie.
1970 Inglenook White Pinot. 89 points. We aren’t sure what was in this either, but plenty of Chard. It was pretty good too and surprisingly drinkable for a 45 year old Chard. I’ve had 15 year old Cal Chards in worse shape!
From my cellar: 1990 Fabien Coche-Bouillot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières. 93 points. Unmistakable and typical white burgundy notes of mineral, stone fruit, and saline. Very light in color and what appeared to be a new cork in the bottle. I would guess that these might have been topped off with the latest vintage prior to being released. This definitely showed remarkable freshness for a wine of 25 years of age. In a word, delicious.
1974 Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Selection North Coast. 88 points. Lovely midpalate lift and silky smooth texture. Palate is tertiary. David says full of dill and American oak, can tell it’s not French. Racines.
1974 Freemark Abbey Petite Sirah York Creek. 90 points. 41 years old and still has a tannic punch to it! Brambly, tobacco aromas, reminiscent of rasberries and blackberries. On the palate gently stewed blackberries, red fruits, mineral and a bit of a tannic kicker. This magnificent wine screamed for red meat accompaniment; alas, I had truffled eggs.
1974 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Family Vineyard. 96 points. Still quite dark in the glass with minimal bricking at the margin. Big and almost brooding, dense mixed black fruit; full mid palate; medium acidity almost keeps up with the fruit; some tannins on the finish; might have guessed that this was a 10 year old petite syrah.
1989 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard. 93 points. Highly perfumed bouquet of ripe fruit, flowers, and terroir. Indeed, the sexiest bouquet of the eight wines. Generous mouthfeel, considerable substance, quality finish. In a great place, and though it has several years of life left there is no reason to wait.
1983 Grace Family Cabernet Sauvignon. 93 points. This was the first vintage with the Dick Grace label, 3.5 years in Limousin Oak barrels, typical Grace nose, rich fruit and terrific bottle bouquet plus hints of more wood than the older wines, concentrated medium fruit plus lots of mouth coating tannins in the mouth, finish is long but average flavors when compared to the other wines tonight.
1984 Grace Family Cabernet Sauvignon. 92 points. Drinking very well for an older Cailfornia. I was under the impression Napa Cabs won’t age so well. This wine has changed my perception. Good levels of fruit, soft mellow tannins and a nose so aromatic of dried rasins. Great wine.
1984 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 90. This wine has consistently been a crowd pleaser, with its impressive dark color, rich, jammy, cedary, licorice, chocolatey, cassis, and olive-like aromas and flavors, and full-bodied, unctuously-textured style. It is a big, chewy, flashy, oaky style of Cabernet. Although fully mature, there are no signs of decline.
1987 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. Parker 98. Chateau Montelena has made so many sensational Cabernets that it seems almost impossible to believe that their 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate could be even more profound than any of the exceptional wines made previously at this property. The black/purple color, the extraordinary bouquet of rich cassis, violets, and licorice, the massive extraction of flavors, sensational depth, super ripeness, and a length that must last over a minute, suggest to me that this is easily the most concentrated and potentially longest-lived Cabernet Sauvignon that Chateau Montelena has ever made. The extract level is incredible, yet the balance is there. Anticipated maturity: 1997-2025.
1994 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 88. Mount Veeder’s 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon is a sleeper. The wine displays loads of creamy, vanilla, pain grille notes in the nose, to go along with ripe black currants intermixed with truffles and licorice. The tannin is sweet, the wine gives a nice tactile impression on the palate (medium to full-bodied and chewy), and the finish includes gobs of pure black cherry and black currant fruit. This is a delicious, up-front 1994 Cabernet that can be drunk now as well as over the next 10-12 years.
1993 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. Parker 94-96. Of all the extraordinary wines emanating from California in recent years, one of the most remarkable achievements must be the two cuvees of Cabernet Sauvignon made by Naoka and Gustav Dalla Valle, with the capable assistance of consulting winemaker, Heidi Barrett. Dalla Valle’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a pure, unbridled expression of this varietal at its most powerful and concentrated. The proprietary red wine, named after the owners’ daughter, Maya, is usually a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (the greatest Cabernet Franc I have tasted in the New World). These are wines of immense stature and richness. It seems nearly impossible that one could pack so much intensity and flavor into a wine without either the wine or the tannin coming across as heavy-handed. Since 1990, all of the Maya offerings have possessed extremely well-integrated tannin and acidity.
1993 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Franc Bosché Vineyard. 92 points. Very ready to drink now…window is closing. Very smooth and mildly velvet (velour?) mouth feel. Dark purple to almost brownish color with very little clear spectrum at the edges. Plum with a little hit of apricot and vanilla.
From my cellar: 1998 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard. 91 points. Brown-red. Roses, eucalyptus, flowers on the nose. Very powerful, yet in perfect balance. Tannins and acidity for the long haul. Nice fruit, lots of savory, complexity. This is a deep wine, and I wish I hadn’t just a sip in the tasting room. A wine to be studied and savored.
1987 Heitz Cellar Chardonnay. Fairly oxidized, but still drinkable.
1978 Joseph Phelps Johannisberg Riesling Selected Late Harvest. 92 points. It was sweet on the pallete like thin caramel syrup, a dark burnt golden hue in color. Smelled sugary & fresh & delicious. TBA brown in color.
All and all a stunning evening. The venue was great. The service was great. Food really exceeded expectations. This kitchen handles an enormous volume, yet these dishes were all really nice, and many fabulous. They aren’t the most modern looking, but they tasted really great and were fabulously paired with the wines.
Speaking of, some very impressive juice considering the age. That Chards and pinots from 40+ years were even drinkable is amazing. But many were very good. And a few of the cabs were just fabulous. I don’t really think these newer high alcohol style California wines being produced today will last like this. These cabs were made to taste like Bordeaux, and to last like Bordeaux. For the most part, they seem to. Now that isn’t to say that every wine in this tasting was young, fresh, and blemish free. These are old wines, and one accepts some fickleness. But they preformed well. More then well, great.