I was lucky enough to be invited again to a absolutely fabulous wine dinner hosted by Eric Cotsen at his lovely Malibu pad. The group was mostly Hedonists, with a few other pals of Eric’s mixed in. 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.
Eric has these crazy high tech nitrogen dispensers that preserve (and aerate) the wines. He even has sets of glasses with etched number and letter combos so you can pair to the wines. Tonight there were two white wines in here and a set of 6 reds.
During this early phase of the party all the wine is served as a blind free-for-all. Eric himself served up eight wines (blind) as follows, with the red’s having a secret theme of “1990”.
2013 Aubert Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard. VM 97. The 2013 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard is translucent and weightless, yet also magnificent in its depth. Graphite, slate, smoke, incense, lemon and white peach emerge from the glass, but only with great reluctance. The Ritchie is the most reticent wine in this range, but it is in many ways the most intriguing. Intensely mineral and nuanced, the 2013 Ritchie will thrill those lucky enough to own it for another decade-plus. I can’t wait to see how this develops in bottle. The 2013 was done in 100% new oak, yet there is virtually no trace of oak at all.
2010 Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay Cuvée Blanche Sta. Rita Hills. 89 points.
1990 Joseph Drouhin Pommard 1er Cru Les Épenots. 84 points. Slight dried blood and beef but just a taint. Stillmostly brambly crush berries and dark red cherries. Showing medium bodied chewy tannins that would help it age another few years easily. Rough and more musculine on the palate than the volnay. This has more structure and extract that does contrast nicely with the volnay. Sappy dark red cherry fruits with pith.
2005 Cos d’Estournel. Parker 97-98. The 2005 Cos d’Estournel is another great success from this property, which is owned by Michel Reybier. A superstar of St.-Estèphe in this vintage, this wine has a dense ruby/purple color, beautiful, sweet cassis and blackcurrant fruit, some floral notes, spice and a touch of oak in a full-bodied, layered, impressive multi-dimensional style. The tannins are surprisingly sweet and well-integrated, as is the acidity, alcohol and wood. This is a beauty and certainly the top wine of St.-Estèphe. Drink it over the next 25+ years.
1990 Lafite-Rothschild. Parker 96-97. Interestingly, a bottle of 1990 Lafite Rothschild I pulled from my cellar for a video blog on my web site was still buttoned down, tight, and even with extended decanting was not showing as much as I would have hoped. However, a bottle tasted, of all places, in Seoul, Korea in February, was only a few points short of perfection. That amazing performance motivated me to pull another bottle out of my cellar and follow it over the course of two days. Sure enough, by the second day the wine was roaring from the glass. The 1990 Lafite has turned out far better than my early assessment. While it still possesses some firmness, and performs like a late adolescent in terms of its evolution, it boasts gorgeous aromas of cedar, tobacco leaf, cassis, and lead pencil shavings. The explosive aromas are followed by a fleshy, full-bodied wine that should hit its peak in 5-8 years, and last for 25-30 more.
1990 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Parker 87. The 1990 is not as well-endowed as the 1989. It displays medium dark ruby color and an attractive bouquet of vanillin from new oak, ripe blackcurrants, and spices. Although not as concentrated as usual, the wine does exhibit medium body, some glycerin, and fine ripeness, as well as an overall sense of grace. This stylish wine would have benefitted from more length and intensity. In the context of the vintage, it could have been better.
1990 La Tour Haut-Brion. Parker 85-86. A disappointing example of this wine, the 1990 exhibits a smoky, herbaceous character, medium body, and neither the depth nor richness of La Tour Haut Brions made in the forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and the monumental 1982. The 1990 needs to be drunk up as it is not likely to get any better. The color is already showing considerable amber and brick at the edge. The wine is somewhat superficial, but it offers complex aromatics of roasted herbs, meat, smoke, and spice.
1990 Beringer Chardonnay Private Reserve. Parker 89. Beringer continues to do everything right. Its staff of talented professionals may rank as the best in the business. Beringer’s Chardonnays take advantage of the rich, opulent fruit the warm growing climate and rich soils provide. Since 1991, the top Chardonnays have been 100% barrel-fermented and put through a malolactic fermentation. Both the Private Reserve and Proprietor Grown Chardonnays have soared in quality, with exceptional vintages in 1991 and 1992.
The gang mills around during the early phases.
And the wines that everyone brought are hidden in socks and served in a giant blind free-for-all.
2012 gripes of wrath.
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. VM 91+. Nose hints at spicy oak and flint. Extremely closed and inexpressive today; in a dry style but quite pure and delicate, with brisk acidity. Best today on the subtle, long finish. A very stylish wine but still stunned by the recent bottling.
2004 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese **. VM 89+. Pale golden-yellow color. Tangerine and apple blossom on the nose. Delicate yet rich in spice and decidedly floral. A salty minerality rather than obvious sweetness graces the finish, but there’s a creamy quality to balance the mineral character. Good length.
2003 Faiveley Corton-Clos des Cortons Faiveley. VM 93+. Dark red-ruby. Nose shows a slightly porty ripeness, with aromas of candied blackbery, violet and licorice pastille. Huge, velvety and thick, with a candied, liqueur-like quality and great concentration. Distinctly different from the rest of these 2003s, with utterly black flavors of berries and violet. A brooding and very primary wine with a huge structure for aging and rather penetrating acids. This will need many years in bottle to become civilized but may well be a monument of the vintage. The alcohol here is 15%.
agavin: whacky, didn’t even taste like a pinot, almost Syrah-like.
1964 Ducru Beaucaillou. Parker 78. Solid, rustic, amiable, and pleasantly full and firm, the 1964 Ducru-Beaucaillou lacks complexity and character, but offers a mushroom-scented, robust, round mouthful of claret. The fruit is just beginning to fade. All things considered, this was a success for a 1964 northern Medoc.
agavin: our bottle was in great shape, really nice and mature.
From my cellar: 2000 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve. Parker 99-100. The 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve (15.5% alcohol; 100% Grenache) is a wine of magnificent intensity as well as majestic texture and richness. Layers of concentrated fruit cascade over the palate. Opaque purple-colored and extremely full-bodied, with a gorgeous nose of minerals, white flowers, black fruits, pepper, and garrigue, this sumptuous, seamless 2000 Chateauneuf must be tasted to be believed. I have had this wine a half dozen times in blind tastings that included some of the finest 2000 Chateauneuf du Papes, and it consistently ranks as one of the top 2 or 3 wines in the tastings. Then again, I’m looking at its overall potential as it is not the most forward or evolved of the 2000 Chateauneuf du Papes. It is a magnificent tour de force in winemaking. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2025.
1994 Michel Ogier Cote Rotie. Parker 89. Ogier’s 1994 Cote Rotie is one of those elegant, finesse-style wines offering an intense, seductive, sexy, smoky, bacon fat, and cassis-scented nose. The wine hits the palate with a delicate, sweet ripeness, enough crisp acidity to provide definition, and a medium-bodied, well-knit personality. A slight shortness in the finish kept this wine from meriting a higher score. Readers should not be surprised if it fills out over the next several years, elevating my rating. It will offer attractive drinking now and over the next 12 years.
2004 Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita. Parker 98. 2004 was a superb vintage in Priorat and the three entries from Alvaro Palacios are stunning. The 2004 L’Ermita is harvested from a 5 acre parcel of 70-year-old head-pruned vines of which 85% is Grenache, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Carignan aged in 100% new French oak. The color is purple/black and the super-expressive nose offers toast, minerals, kirsch, and blackberry. The wine is full-bodied and seamless with complex flavors and the tannin totally concealed. The finish is very long and pure in this powerful yet elegant offering. It should drink splendidly for 15-20 years.
agavin: our cork was oddly dry and crumbled.
2006 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvée L. 95 points. Dark blackish red with fruit-forward blackberry, delicious and robust with dark chocolate, some oak, spice and deep black coffee Excellent complexity and structure to the wine with delicate tannins. Beyonce power in a more elegant lady.
1995 Turley Petite Syrah Hayne Vineyard. ST 93+. Brilliant ruby. Outstanding floral lift to the primary red berry and dark chocolate aromas. The palate combines superb thickness of texture and mineral lift, with a flavor of raspberry coulis complicated by coffee and leather nuances. Still remarkably youthful, communicating an exhilarating balance of sweetnes and acidity. Finishes with plush, sweet tannins and terrific floral length. This is still evolving and may ultimately merit an even higher score.
1999 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 94. Very deep garnet-black colour going brick at the rim. Complex, maturing nose with notes of warm blackberry, game, dried plums, moss, white pepper, Provence herbs and a whiff of iron ore. The palate reveals a concentrated, medium to full bodied wine balanced by medium acidity and a medium to firm level of velvety tannins. Very long finish departing with lingering savoury and mineral flavours. Drink now to 2018. Tasted November 2008.
2008 Torbreck The Pict. Parker 94. Very deep garnet colored with a hint of purple, 2008 The Pict offers expressive notes of ripe mulberries, kirsch, dried plums, Ceylon tea, tobacco, spice cake and fertile earth. Full bodied, concentrated and firmly structured, it has a firm level of chewy tannins and racy acid supporting the generous fruit, finishing long. This vineyard clearly coped extraordinarily well with the heat-wave and produced a superb wine! Drink it now to 2020+.
2007 Kapcsandy Family Winery Estate Cuvee State Lane Vineyard. Parker 96. The 2007 Estate Cuvee State Lane Vineyard (a 750-case blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot) boasts an inky/plum/purple color as well as a complex bouquet of melted licorice, chocolate, creme de cassis, mocha, and sweet forest floor aromas. Full-bodied and layered with exquisite purity, texture, and length, this large-scaled offering reveals a supple texture along with 20-25 years of drinkability. It is a seductive yet extraordinarily complex wine that should prove to be a future super-star.
2001 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard. Parker 97-98. From the undeniable first-growth quality site comes the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard. When the fruit from this vineyard is handled properly, the resulting wine often flirts with perfection. Hobbs’ 2001 boasts a dense blue/purple color along with an incredibly pure nose of spice box, cedarwood, creme de cassis, blueberry pie and subtle smoke as well as graphite notes that could easily pass for a first- or second-growth Pauillac. Broad, expansive, full-bodied flavors reveal stunning purity, amazing depth and richness, and a finish that goes on for nearly a minute. Still youthful, but oh, so impressive, it is hard to resist now, but it should be even better in 5-8 years, and keep for 30-40+ years.
2008 Clarendon Hills Astralis (Shiraz). Parker 97. Also deep garnet-purple in color, the 2008 Astralis is a little reduced and brooding on the nose showing aromas of dark berries, meat, licorice and dark chocolate. Big, full-bodied and rich in the mouth it has balanced acid along with medium-firm grainy tannins. It finishes long and balanced. Drink it now to 2028+.
1990 Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. 92 points. Another good, mature Cabernet from Mayacamas, showing peppermint, cassis, licorice, oak, pine needles, molasses, pepper, leather, dirt, and plum. Still plenty of tannin to resolve. I’d say it’ll go another 10 years or so.
2011 Peter Michael Winery Les Pavots Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 92. The 2011 Les Pavots (3,086 cases) is composed of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. Its chocolaty fudge-like notes intermixed with espresso roast, black and red currants, smoky barbecue and underbrush are followed by a deep, rich, full-bodied, outstanding red wine that should drink well for 10-15 years.
1977 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon York Creek. 91 points. Very cool. Color was dark red/ black. Classic Cali cab with smooth tannin. Cassis and red fruit with some tertiary development. I really love 70s Cali cab.
During this early phase, there are a variety of munchables:
An homage to Spago, with crispy sesame cups filled with salmon tartar, caviar, and bonito flakes. Delicious.
And a slightly different version with grav lox. Stronger in flavor, but equally delicious.
Ham and cheese panini with manchego and jamon de Iberico!
A white fish with yuzu, cilantro, and red peppercorns. Bright and delicious.
Sun dried tomato ravioli.
Beef. Tasty, but salty. There were two types.
Gravy. Super salty.
2007 Château Coutet. VM 92. Full medium gold. Pineapple, orange, toffee, nutty oak and a whiff of spun sugar on the enticing nose. Sweet but youthful and tangy, with lively acidity and underlying minerality giving an incisive quality to the bright core of pineapple and apricot fruit. At once rich and sharply focused, finishing with excellent length and verve. This should evolve slowly.
And deconstructed smore.
Finished out with graham cracker and seared marshmallows.
Then topped with the fruit and cream.
Just a bit of wine — 27 bottles!
Overall, another fun evening. Lots of great wine, company, and food. What more can you ask?