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 wine 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 as the set of 6 reds he opened had bottles too big to fit.
During this early phase of the party all the wine is served as a blind free-for-all. Eric himself served up seven wines (blind) as follows, with a red theme of “syrah.”
2009 Mollydooker Verdelho The Violinist. 90 points. Floral and flashy Verdelho with a pretty, light golden hue and fresh cut flowers on the nose. Behind a veiled buttery texture, sweet grapefruit, star fruit and quince shine with a round and full mouthfeel. This Portugese white grape provides a real twang on a long, detailed finish.
I really hate this Sine Qua Non lead “no vintage etc on the front” trend.
2012 Sine Qua Non In the Abstract. VM 94. The 2012 White Wine In The Abstract represents a return to a much more opulent style after a few years in which the Sine Qua Non whites were a bit more energetic than is typically the case. Honey, apricot, mint, orange blossom and spices meld together in a huge, viscous wine that covers every inch of the palate. The purity of the fruit here is simply striking.
2005 Pax Syrah Cuvée Christine. VM 90. Deep violet. Strongly perfumed aromas of raspberry and baking spices, complicated by a sexy floral tone. Immediately appealing, with vibrant strawberry and raspberry flavors, energetic mineral notes and fine-grained, silky tannins. Very suave stuff, with deeper cherry and dark berry flavors developing with air. This is 100% syrah this vintage, sourced from seven different sites.
agavin: tannic mess
2007 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Landonne. VM 95. Vivid purple. Heady aromas of candied red and dark fruits, incense, violet and smoky minerals. Cherry-cola and blackberry compote flavors show an intriguing blend of richness and vivacity, with bright mineral snap on the back half. Finishes sappy, sweet and extremely long, with resonating floral and spice notes. This wine blends the richness and power of the Turque with the vivacity of the Mouline and should age effortlessly.
agavin: I thought this had a nasty funk to it, almost corky.
2002 Shafer Relentless. VM 88. Good full ruby. Musky aromas of bitter chocolate and espresso turned oakier with aeration. Bright, penetrating black raspberry fruit offers excellent intensity but comes across as a bit hard-edged. Turned a bit drier on the back end under its load of oak.
2012 Sine Qua Non Syrah Stock. VM 94-96. The 2012 Syrah Sticks & Stones is gorgeous. The radiance and suppleness of the year comes through in spades. Dark red cherries, plums, cloves, violets and rose petals wrap around the silky, super-expressive finish. The 2012 should drink beautifully pretty much right out of the gate. This is the last vintage in which White Hawk fruit is part of the blend.
agavin: big and a bit grapey
2007 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Mouline. VM 94. Deep ruby. A highly complex bouquet evokes dark berry preserves, potpourri and cola, with a smoky overtone. Juicy and precise, with penetrating black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors firmed by zesty minerality. Rich but light on its feet, with a bright, focused finish that features suave floral pastille and spice nuances.
2007 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. VM 93+. Opaque ruby. Dark berries, cherry-cola, licorice and Indian spices on the pungent nose. Deeply pitched blackberry and floral and licorice pastille flavors brighten with air and show an intense spicy quality, along with a touch of mocha. Clings tenaciously on the finish, which strongly repeats the cherry and licorice notes. In a more brooding style than the Mouline and years away from maturity.
During this early phase, there are a variety of munchables:
I list the wines brought my myself and the other guests in one big block. In practice these were consumed first blind before dinner, then brought to the table to be revealed and finished.
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes. Burghound 92. Ripe and extremely opulent intense citrus fruit and white flowers coupled with medium weight flavors dripping with minerality and enough fat to buffer the bracing acidity. There is a subtle underlying complexity and this is remarkably intense, assertive and precise yet there is excellent power and depth as well.
agavin: Meadows is so stingy, this was a very nice, even reductive white Burg.
2003 Domaine Perrot-Minot Mazoyères-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes. VM 93. Bright ruby-red. Musky aromas of minerals, cola, licorice and chocolate. Then juicy, powerful and fresh, with highly concentrated flavors of blackberry, violet and licorice; fruitier in the mouth today than on the nose. This boasts terrific volume and density. Finishes with round, sweet tannins and superb length. With extended aeration this showed a deep roasted nut character without losing its fresh blackberry and blueberry flavors.
agavin: Many of us thought this might be wine of the night. It was certainly great for a “cheap” Grand Cru Gevery.
1996 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. VM95+. Deep ruby-red. Very sexy aromas of currant, blackberry and brown sugar, all lifted by an ineffable floral quality from the thoroughly ripe cabernet sauvignon that comprises three-quarters of the blend. Dense, fresh and thick with extract; a wonderful combination of texture and guts. Has a core of steel and a powerful structure I haven’t found in more recent vintages from this chateau. A very serious style of Pichon-Lalande, with much less merlot than usual. Finishes with terrific length and grip. Drink between 2005 and 2025.
agavin: nice. good thing too as I have 6 bottles of it in my cellar.
1990 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 96. Two great back to back vintages are the 1990 and 1989. The more developed 1990 boasts an incredible perfume of hickory wood, coffee, smoked meat, Asian spices, black cherries, and blackberries. Lush, opulent, and full-bodied, it is a fully mature, profound Beaucastel that will last another 15-20 years.
agavin: a little cloudy/funky, but good.
From my cellar: 1998 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline. Parker 97-100. The 1998 Cote Rotie La Mouline boasts a dense purple color in addition to an astonishing, pure nose of jammy blackberry, currant, and cherry fruit intermixed with honeysuckle/apricot liqueur. Exceptionally seamless, full-bodied, and voluptuously-textured, with extraordinary flavors, this fabulous La Mouline is structured and tannic. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2020.
From my cellar: 2007 Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco Pagliaro. 94 points. This is a big, powerful, and absolutely beautiful Sagrantino from Bea. The fruit is lush, rich and dynamic. Acid is right and tannins are still strong. It was an amazing wine on all levels, but I think it will be even better in a few years when the tannins calm a bit more. When it hits that spot, it will be truly majestic.
agavin: I brought this bonus both because I was just at the winery and because I wanted to show off an unusual grape. The format isn’t so great for it though. Blind there are too many wines, people might enjoy it, but don’t notice. Revealed they focus on the big names.
1959 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. 93 points. Drinking quite well and not really showing 50+ years of age. Drinking like a 10 to 15 year old Rioja. I believe Jeff said he bought it in the late 1980’s. The nose has cherries, slight dried herb notes, a bit of an old wood note; very pretty. Great acidity without being out of whack. Cherries, cherry juice layered on the palate with earthy notes. Long finish. Happy Birthday Jeff and thank you for quite a treat!
agavin: an oldie but a goodie!
1994 Dominus Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 97. Deep garnet-brick colored, this has quite a perfumed nose with notes of potpourri, game, anise, baking spices and kirsch plus hints of toast and yeast extract. Generously fruited and full bodied, it offers a medium-firm level of grainy tannins, crisp acid and a long, layered finish.
1993 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 95-97. The 1993 should be as prodigious as the 1992. It is an opaque purple-colored wine with spectacular ripeness, purity, and potential. Dense, full-bodied, with a chocolatey, toasty, mineral, and blackcurrant-scented nose, this wine has a rich, full-bodied, chewy texture nicely buttressed by ripe tannin. In addition, the wine reveals more noticeable tannin in the finish, particularly when it is compared to the 1992 or 1994. This is another 20-25 year wine.
2002 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Claret. Parker 96-100. The 2002 Reserve Claret (two-thirds Merlot, one-third Cabernet Sauvignon and a tiny dollop of Petit Verdot) is the most flashy, exuberant and flamboyant of this trio. Close to full maturity, it offers complex, intense, pervasive notes of unsmoked cigar tobacco, licorice, graphite, spring flowers, blueberries and blackberries. Gorgeous ripeness, full-bodied opulence, decent acidity, and ripe, silky tannin make for a hedonistic as well as intellectually provocative wine. This rich, mountain-styled proprietary red can be drunk now and over the next 10-12 years.
2006 Sine Qua Non A Shot In The Dark (Syrah). Parker 100! The soon-to-be-released 2006 A Shot in the Dark is composed of 96.5% Syrah and 3.5% Viognier from the 11 Confessions Vineyard in the cool Santa Rita Hills. Performing better from bottle than it did from barrel, this prodigious red exhibits incredibly velvety tannins, a seamless style, and no noticeable oak (which is remarkable given the fact it spent 32 months in barrel). Dense purple to the rim with an extraordinary perfume of blueberry pie, blackberries, soy, Asian spices, and hints of forest floor and charcoal, this is a complex, rich, seamless, well-balanced tour de force in winemaking. A full-bodied, exuberant, unabashedly California Syrah, it will offer stunning drinking over the next 10-15+ years.
1992 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 91. Over the next year readers should be on the lookout for some of the 1,000 case production of Don Bryant’s Cabernet Sauvignon from an old vineyard on Pritchard Hill near the Chappellet Vineyard. Bryant’s 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon offers an impressive black/purple color, rusty tannin, immense concentration, full body, and enormous richness in the finish.
2005 Colgin IX Syrah Estate. Parker 95. Colgin is one of the reference points for just what heights mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux varietals, and more recently, Syrah, can achieve in Napa Valley. This beautiful estate and winery overlooking Lake Hennessey is owned by Joe Wender and his wife, Ann Colgin (equally renowned for her auctioneering skills), who are assisted by David Abreu, the well-known Bordeaux wine consultant, Dr. Alain Raynaud, and Allison Tauziet, who has skillfully replaced the brilliant Mark Aubert. As the scores and tasting notes suggest, this was an exceptional tasting. Colgin’s 2006s are among the finest wines produced in the vintage.
2001 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder. Parker 100. An utterly perfect wine that exemplifies this extraordinary vintage for North Coast Bordeaux varietals is the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder, which comes from the Jackson family’s Veeder Peak Vineyard. Unfortunately, slightly less than 300 cases were produced, so availability is limited. A dense opaque blue/purple color is followed by notes of lead pencil shavings, ink, blueberry liqueur, raspberries and black currants. The wine is super intense as well as extremely full-bodied and opulent with great structure, purity and density. (I know this sounds weird, but when I smelled and tasted it, it reminded me of the 2010 La Mission Haut Brion that I had tasted a month earlier, no doubt because of its volcanic/hot rock-like character.) This phenomenal wine is a modern day legend from Napa. Still a youngster in terms of its development, it should hit its peak in another 5-6 years and keep for 30+.
2007 Gargiulo Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Money Road Ranch. Parker 92. The least expensive offering, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Money Road Ranch (a 1,000-case blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot), offers copious aromas of espresso roast, new saddle leather, cassis, spice box, and red currants. A judicious touch of oak provides a spicy character, the tannins are sweet and soft, and the wine is fleshy, full-bodied, expansive, and savory. The most approachable of these cuvees, it should drink beautifully for 15 or more years.
2009 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Cinnamon Rhapsody. Parker 93. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Cinnamon Rhapsody is quite a bit richer and rounder than the Stags Leap. It boasts striking inner perfume and gorgeous textural richness all the way through to the generous, creamy finish. The blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec and 1% Merlot. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024.
2012 Wayfarer Pinot Noir Mother Rock. Parker 89+. The 2012 Pinot Noir Mother Rock was made from Dijon clones 777 and 37. It reveals an attractive dark ruby color as well as beautiful strawberry and black cherry fruit, underbrush and spice characteristics. Medium to full-bodied and earthy, with good acidity, it should drink nicely for a decade. 400 cases were produced.
agavin: hear is an outlier!
Dinner itself was enjoyed here at the outside table and its warming firepit.
Pea soup with parmesan crisp.
Pasta with asparagus and mushrooms. Quiet nice actually.
Salad of tomatoes, corn, and mozzarella.
Lamb chops with curried spinach. Yum!
Part of the crew as the evening wears on.
1988 Climens. Parker 96. The 1988 reveals layer upon layer of honeyed pineapple-and orange-scented and -flavored fruit, vibrant acidity, high levels of botrytis, and a fabulously long, yet well-focused finish. It is a great wine.
Bread pudding with vanilla ice cream.