This week I was lucky enough to be invited to a absolutely fabulous wine dinner hosted by Eric Cotsen at his lovely Malibu pad. A number of us Hedonists attended. Eric has these diners regularly and they feature an awesome setting, great company, wonderful food, and amazing wines provided by both him and the guests. All the wines are served blind (more or less).
2005 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay. Mineral driven, with a touch of oxidation on the palate. Finishes with a huge bright Chablis like burst of acidity, and then a slightly odd finish. I liked it for its uniqueness, and that bracing acidity. I would have guessed it was a Chablis.
2008 Aubert Chardonnay Reuling Vineyard. IWC 93. Pale, green-tinged yellow. Reticent but pure aromas of crushed stone, flowers and herbal tea. Broad, classically dry and powerful, with primary fruit flavors currently overshadowed by soil-driven minerality. This is chewy-verging-on-thick and seems the least expressive of this set of chardonnays today. Tasted blind, I would have sworn this was a Batard-Montrachet (albeit a slightly hot one).
1988 Chateau Margaux. Parker 89. In a somewhat chunky, full-bodied, rather muscular style, with a dark, almost opaque garnet color and a big, smoky, earthy nose, with hints of compost, melted asphalt, black fruits, mushrooms, and new oak, this wine lacks the elegance one expects from Chateau Margaux, but does have plenty of tough-textured tannin and an almost rustic, corpulent style to it. The wine is mouth-staining as well as mouth-filling, but in a relatively chunky style.
1988 Petrus. Parker 91-94. This wine has become increasingly herbaceous with the tannins pushing through the fruit and becoming more aggressive. The wine started off life impressively deep ruby/purple but is now showing some amber at the edge. It is a medium-bodied, rather elegant style of Petrus with a distinctive cedary, almost celery component intermixed with a hint of caramel and sweet mulberry and black cherry fruit. It has aged far less evenly than I would have thought and is probably best drunk over the next 8-10 years.
1988 Lafite-Rothschild. Parker 94. Broodingly backward and in need of considerable bottle age, the 1988 is a classic expression of Lafite. This deeply-colored wine exhibits the tell-tale Lafite bouquet of cedar, subtle herbs, dried pit fruits, minerals, and cassis. Extremely concentrated, with brilliantly focused flavors and huge tannins, this backward, yet impressively endowed Lafite-Rothschild may well turn out to be the wine of the vintage!
1988 Latour. Parker 91. The best showing yet for a wine from this under-rated vintage, the dark garnet-colored 1988 Latour reveals slight amber at the edge. A bouquet of melted tar, plums, black currants, cedar, and underbrush is followed by a sweet entry, with medium to full body, excellent ripeness, and mature tannin. It is a classic, elegant Latour with more meaty, vegetable-like flavors than are found in a riper year, such as 1989 and 1990. The 1988 has just begun to enter its plateau of maturity, where it should remain for 25 years.
1988 Mouton-Rothschild. Parker 89. The 1988 has an aroma of exotic spices, minerals, blackcurrants, and oak. In the mouth, it is a much firmer, tougher, more obviously tannic wine than the 1989. It is a beautifully made 1988 that will last 20-30 years, but the astringency of the tannins is slightly troubling. Patience will be a necessity for purchasers of this wine.
1988 Haut Brion. Parker 92. A more firmly structured Haut-Brion, built somewhat along the lines of the 1996, this dark garnet-colored wine is showing notes of licorice, underbrush, compost, truffles, dried herbs, creosote, and sweet black cherries and currants. Medium-bodied, rich, but still structured, this wine unfolds incrementally on the palate, showing superb density and a lot of complex Graves elements. It is just beginning to hit its plateau of full maturity.
Salmon on pizza-like bread with creme-fraiche and capers. Good, although not as good as my version :-).
2002 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Cote de Bouguerots. Burghound 94. The subtle hint of wood spice this displayed in its youth has now been completely absorbed which gives full rein to the wonderfully complex nose of minerals, white flowers and a hint of crushed oyster shells that introduces muscular, powerful, deep and broad flavors that are blessed with superb length and terrific vibrancy. Those that may doubt that Bougros merits its grand cru status need only experience this wine to be persuaded. A great effort that is drinking well already though for my taste, it needs another 2 to 4 years in the cellar first. I have tasted this wine many times with consistent notes.
2008 Domaine Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin. Burghound 93. A pungent mix of wood spice, earth, red berry fruit, game, smoke and an interesting menthol note highlights the moderately animale character of the rich, full, refined and pure broad-shouldered flavors underpinned by ripe and very firm tannins that culminate in a moderately austere and still very backward finish. This will require moderate cellar time to be at its best, which at this early stage I would estimate at 12 to 15 years.
2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard. Parker 97. The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard comes from the fifth leaf of this estate vineyard and in this vintage contains 4.5% Merlot. The wine was aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak. Opaque purple-colored, its distinctive aromatics leap from the glass. Toasty oak, scorched earth, a hint of truffle, black cherry, black raspberry, and blackberry liqueur aromas are quite mesmerizing. On the palate, this sizable effort is firm, full-bodied, and structured, demanding 6-8 years of cellaring. It falls a bit short of the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of complexity but bear in mind that this is still a very young vineyard.
From my cellar, 1999 Fougeray de Beauclair Bonnes Mares. Burghound 91. Saturated deep ruby color, whiff of new oak to go with the explosive black raspberry fruit and almost liqueur-like flavors with lots of sweet pinot sap, buried tannins and excellent length. It is very ripe and powerful yet not over the top and remains beautifully elegant.
I was disappointed at how this was drinking now. I think it needs a bit more time to open up and gain more secondary notes. There was still a good amount of oak on it, and I like all my oak gone in a burg.
1997 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Fay Vineyard. Parker 87. As long time readers know, I have not been overwhelmed by the winemaking direction taken at Stag’s Leap. That said, this 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Fay Vineyard exhibits a dark ruby/purple color in addition to an attractive nose of minerals, Asian spices, black currants, and earth. The wine is medium to full-bodied, with good acidity, ripe tannin, and a slightly compressed finish. This elegant, but unexciting effort should drink well for 10-12 years.
2000 Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. Parker 87-89. The only 2000 I tasted was the Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. It reveals the vintage’s charm, sweet tannin, and lovely ripe fruit, but those characteristics are slightly negated by the fact that it does not have the depth, persistence, layers, or concentration of a great Napa vintage.
2000 La Mission Haut Brion. Parker 100! One of the wines of the vintage, the 2000 has barely budged in its evolution since it was bottled and released in 2002. After ten years in bottle, it still reveals a dense opaque purple color along with a potentially sensational bouquet of blueberries, black currants, graphite, asphalt and background oak. Extremely powerful, full-bodied and superbly concentrated with good acidity and high but round tannins, this massive La Mission-Haut-Brion should take its place among this estate’s most hallowed vintages when it hits full maturity in another one to two decades. I was surprised by just how youthful this wine tasted at age 12. If tasted blind, I would have guessed it to be around 4 to 5 years old.
2003 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Parker 95. The brilliant, opulent, fleshy 2003 Pichon Lalande (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot) possesses a high pH of 3.8 as well as 13% alcohol. Reminiscent of the 1982 Pichon Lalande (which never shut down and continues to go from strength to strength), the dense plum/purple-colored 2003 offers gorgeous aromas of blackberries, plum liqueur, sweet cherries, smoke, and melted licorice. Fleshy, full-bodied, and intense, displaying a seamless integration of wood, acidity, tannin, and alcohol, this beauty can be drunk now or cellared for 20 years or more.
2003 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Da Capo. Parker 100! For the fourth time, the Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee da Capo has been produced, and for the fourth time, it has received a perfect score although I might back off the 2000’s perfect score based on the fact that it seems to be more of an upper-ninety point wine than pure perfection these days. The 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee da Capo has distanced itself ever so slightly from the 2003 Cuvee Reservee. Before bottling and immediately after bottling, these two wines’ differences were not as evident. At present the Capo reveals that extra level of flavor, power, complexity and richness. It is a big wine (16.1% alcohol – less than in the 1998, but more than in the 2000 and 2007) boasting a dark plum/garnet color as well as a stunning bouquet of aged beef intermixed with pepper, herbes de Provence, and steak au poivre. This unctuously textured, full-bodied Chateauneuf possesses enormous body, huge flavors and sweet, velvety tannins. Still youthful, it has not yet begun to close down, and I’m not sure it ever will given this unusual vintage. It is a modern day classic that should continue to provide provocative as well as compelling drinking for 20-30+ years.
2006 Arkenstone Cabernet Sauvignon Obsidian. 95 points. This was young and full throttle, still showing a harsh oak treatment on the palate and finish that covered the quite ripe red fruit. Long vanilla cream finish. While the fruit was big enough with the heavy oak, seemed disjointed and overdone in this lineup. Revisit in 5yrs unless you aren’t shy of oak.
From my cellar, 2004 Cantine del Castello Boca Piemonte Conti. I brought this because it’s sneaky, and this was a blind tasting. The 2004 isn’t drinking nearly as well right now as the 2003. It has a lot more structure and needs several years to mellow out.
2001 De Suduiraut. Parker 98. A prodigious effort, possibly the finest Suduiraut since 1959, the medium gold-colored 2001 offers notes of creme brulee, caramelized citrus, Grand Marnier, honeysuckle, and other exotic fruits as well as a pleasant touch of oak. With terrific acidity, a voluptuous/unctuous palate, and sweet, powerful flavors buttressed by crisp acidity, it is a phenomenal Sauternes.
1988 Coutet Cuvee Madame. Parker 99. Tiny quantities are made of Coutet’s Cuvee Madame, a spectacularly rich Barsac that, along with Yquem, is the quintessential example of what heights a great sweet wine can achieve. The 1988, 1989 and 1990 vintages are nearly perfect wines. The 1990 is the richest and most powerful, but the 1988’s extraordinary perfume is other-worldly. All three wines offer a profound bouquet of smoky, toasty new oak combined with honeyed peaches and apricots, as well as coconuts and a touch of creme brulee. With extraordinarily rich, full-bodied, marvelously extracted personalities, as well as wonderful underlying acidity, these are spectacular wines.
As a postscript, many readers may not realize that Coutet’s Cuvee Madame is only released in great vintages. It is produced from the oldest vines and most botrysized grapes.
My favorite of the deserts wines by far. Really fabulous.
This was just a great great evening. A wonderful setting with fun company — and the wines! There were some real bruisers here. Although I’m still not a massive fan of the blind and unordered format. I think the wines themselves are best enjoyed 2-4 at a time in pretty strict sequence. You can’t appreciate a great Chardonnay after tasting an 88 Petrus. That part isn’t about the quality, but subtle wines can’t be appreciated side to side with massive ones.
Still, not complaining, as many of the bruisers were really first rate wines. Hehe. The food was great too and I miss the sound of the waves crashing. Several of my old places were on the beach, but now I’m up higher. More view. Less surf.
I miss my own puppy. But this guy had great ears.