I was lucky enough to be invited again to a absolutely fabulous wine dinner hosted by my friend 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.
The bright and eclectic decor is so Malibu!
And the wines that everyone brought are hidden in socks and served in a giant blind free-for-all, but we start off with some whites.
NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this cuvée, but with no lack of vivacity.
From my cellar: 2006 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. VM 96+. A reserved, indeed even reluctant nose of fresh and stony green fruit and citrus aromas that offer real depth leads to precise, minerally and exceptionally powerful full-bodied flavors that possess huge amounts of dry extract on the hugely long finish. This is still sorting itself out but the quality of the raw materials is impeccable and it possesses impressive potential, which will require at least a decade to realize. One of the finest examples from this appellation in the 2006 vintage.
2014 Aubert Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard. 95 points. Nose of butterscotch, beeswax, glycerin, pear, minerals and a touch of honey, very aromatic, flowery nose, of rose and salvia, more of the same on the palate, still very young and slightly subdued, very tasty during the 90 minute dinner, big body, mouth filling, intense fruit, long, flavorful finish of pineapple, salvia, and sage. Better in 2 years.
2012 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest. VM 94. Soil-driven aromas of apple, biscuit, chlorophyll, fern, anise and flowers. Quite rich, sappy and concentrated, conveying a strong impression of dry extract and stony minerality. Powerful, very solidly built premier cru with a very long finish tinged by licorice. I would not be surprised if this wine needs a good seven or eight years of cellaring to approach its peak.
And marcona almonds.
Eric brought out a set of his own reds to be tasted first (blind). They all shared a common “2007” theme, not that we knew that until later.
2007 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 99-100. One of the top wines in this incredible vintage is Avril’s 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape, which is the normal blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah and the rest of mix of permitted varieties. Brought up all in older foudre, it’s a blockbuster, almost over-the-top, effort that gives up notes of kirsch, incense, dried flowers, spice and pepper. Deep, full-bodied, massively concentrated, unctuous and downright sexy, it needs another 2-3 years of cellaring and will have 30 years or more of overall longevity.
2007 Dominus Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 98. The 2008 Dominus may eclipse the 2007, but it may just be a matter of style. The 2007 Dominus, the quintessential model of haute couture, is pure elegance exhibiting a seamless integration of wood, tannin, alcohol and acidity as well as a complex bouquet of cedar, new saddle leather, sweet kirsch, black currant and plum fruit and a notion of licorice. Both the 2007 and 2008 Dominus should drink well for 25-30 years.
2007 Harlan Estate The Maiden. Parker 93. As outstanding as the 2008 is, it is eclipsed by the brilliant 2007 The Maiden, perhaps the finest second wine yet made here. Sweet tobacco leaf, fruitcake, creme de cassis, black currant and licorice aromas emerge from this round, opulent, voluptuously textured wine. It is very much in keeping with the 2007 vintage. Enjoy it over the next 10-15 years.
agavin: ours was corked 🙁
2007 Joseph Phelps Insignia Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 99. Aged 24 months in new French oak, this infant 2007 exhibits an inky/purple color along with notes of graphite, spring flowers and smoky oak. This full-bodied, classic Insignia reveals fabulous depth, ripeness, texture, viscosity and richness. Still young and unformed, it should evolve for 25 or more years.
And people sampling the sausages.
Oh, and fruit. For those who eat fruit!
2002 Domaine Perrot-Minot Clos Vougeot. VM 91-94. Medium ruby. Expressive, nuanced aromas of black cherry, animal fur, smoke, minerals and nutty oak. Sweet, superripe and generous, with surprisingly opulent black fruit and mineral flavors. Finishes with substantial but fine, horizontal tannins and enticing sweetness. Like so many Clos Vougeots from this vintage, the tannins seem nobler than usual.
2005 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Châteauneuf-du-Pape. VM 93+. Inky ruby. Ripe, powerful boysenberry and blueberry aromas are deepened by musky tobacco and dark chocolate. Weighty dark berry flavors verge on thick; initially brooding but brightens with air, picking up an energetic, stony character. Red fruits build on a long, sappy finish. A serious style, and not for those who demand elegance.
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.
2003 Angelo Gaja Sperss. Parker 93. Gaja’s 2003 Sperss is made from vineyards in Serralunga and offers better balance than the Conteisa. It is plump and juicy, with a generous core of dark fruit, tar and menthol supported by a massive, imposing structure. The wine offers notable length although there is a suggestion of heat on the finish. This powerful, brooding Sperss will require patience, even if today it gives the illusion of being a relatively accessible vintage for this wine. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2023.
From my cellar: 1990 Vega Sicilia Unico. Parker 96. Served from magnum, the 1990 Unico (a blend of 80% Tinto Fino and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) possesses and extraordinarily, opulent bouquet with cassis, blood orange, Italian cured meat and crushed stone. It is extremely well defined and powerful yet succinctly focused. The palate is ripe and sweet on the entry. Vibrant red fruit, orange peel, marmalade, Asian spices all vie for attention. There is great weight and potency, building in the mouth that is rich in glycerine and climaxes with a spicy, meaty finish that tightly grips the mouth. It has a Right Bank, Cabernet Franc like persona. This is a lovely, decadent Unico that is surfeit with fresh and vitality, a Rubenesque Unico of some style. 109,548 bottles produced. Drink now-2030.
1970 Beychevelle. Parker 85. Fully mature with a spicy, plum-like bouquet, and some caramel aromas, the 1970 Beychevelle is round, fruity, quite silky and soft, and nicely concentrated. It lacks complexity and the depth of the best 1970s, but is still quite attractive. Anticipated maturity: Now. Last tasted, 4/88.
2003 Greenock Creek Shiraz Roennfeldt Road. Parker 96. The 2003 Shiraz Roennfeldt Road offers up an ethereal perfume of sandalwood, incense, lavender, Asian spices, and blueberry compote. Rich, dense, and very long in the finish, the wine’s 18.5% alcohol pokes through with a touch of heat. For that reason, it is likely to be controversial.
1995 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill. 92 points. A throwback. The nose was a nice mix of cassis and cedar. Over two hours, it put on weight and went from a nice but lightweight to a medium weight, concentrated but still light on its feet cab. The last sip was the best suggesting that this still has many years of positive development in front of it.
2012 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23. VM 91. The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon CASK 23 is the biggest and richest of these wines from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Broad and expansive on the palate, the 2012 is quite pretty, but stops short of being truly exciting. Blue and black fruits, violets and sweet spices add nuance on the perfumed, generous finish.
2006 Colgin Cariad Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 98. Meriting the same rating I gave it at its release, the 2006 Cariad is composed of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot. One of the stars of the vintage, this thrilling, opaque purple-colored wine offers up sweet espresso, jus de viande, blackberry, blueberry, flower and chocolate aromas. A fabulous texture, tremendous purity, sensational brightness and authoritative flavor intensity allied to striking complexity and elegance are the signature of this creative blend from the David Abreu vineyards of Thorevilos and Madrona Ranch. Six hundred cases were produced. Give this wine another 3-4 years of cellaring and enjoy it over the following 15+.
2010 Joseph Phelps Insignia Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 95. A gorgeously intense bouquet of lead pencil shavings, spring flowers, black currants, blackberries, and subtle smoke and foresty aromas jumps from the glass of this full-bodied, rich, concentrated wine with soft tannins, a multidimensional mouthfeel, and a long, rich finish displaying well-integrated acidity, tannin, alcohol and wood. This beauty is one of the top Insignias produced over recent years. It should age easily for 20+ years.
2007 Hundred Acre Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Ark Vineyard. Parker 100! A perfect wine, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Ark Vineyard (1,300 – 1,400 cases) from Howell Mountain is one of the great efforts from this high elevation terroir. It offers notes of burning embers, black raspberries, blueberries and flowers, a full-bodied opulence, wonderful intensity, but the wine is not weighty or overripe. Fleshy and voluptuous with terrific floral notes, it should drink well for 15-20 years.
Arnie’s rare 2005 Levy & McClellan Red. VM 94. Deep medium ruby. Complex, expressive nose offers black raspberry, licorice, brown spices, mocha, smoke, minerals and nutty oak. Wonderfully lush and creamy-sweet for the year, with Graves-like mineral, gravel and smoky notes (from barrel this wine struck me as brooding and Latour-like but today its fruit character is more red). Ripe, harmonious acidity and broad, lush tannins make this cabernet remarkably presentable-not to mention long on personality-for a 2005, but it also has the structure for an extended evolution in bottle. Even in 2005, this young vineyard on volcanic soil produced just over two tons of fruit per acre, according to Bob Levy.
Have a few wines!
Overall, another fun evening. Lots of great wine, company, and food. What more can you ask?