Date: May 25, 2018
Cuisine: New American
Today’s Sauvages lunch is a lunch in honor of late Co-Poobah Steve Levin. It’s graciously hosted by Paul at at his beautiful home in Flintridge. This event is held outdoors in memory of the Zinfandel barbecues that Steve would hold for our group every summer at his home (it being Paul’s idea to maintain this fine tradition). To that end, we always enjoy a few Zinfandels at this lunch in addition to the theme wines for the lunch. The annual lunches at Paul’s home always rate very high on the scales for ambiance, camaraderie and food quality.
The main wine theme: This year, as it has been the past few years for our lunch at Paul’s, our primary wine theme will be “Grenaches of the World”, in this case from the 2007 and older vintages (the older the better). Just to be clear, “Grenaches of the World” means any Grenache or Grenache-based blend (at least 60-70% Grenache), as long as it is rated 93+ by a reputable critic, and is from the 2008 or older vintage. Grenache-based wines from Australia, California, Washington, Priorat, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Sardinia (called Cannonau) or any other parts of the world are fair game as long as the wine has a qualifying score.
We gather at one multi-wing table.
NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée. Paul had a number of these in 375ml of some unspecified edition <=162?
From my cellar: 2015 Stift Göttweig Pinot Noir Messwein. 90 points. Like grapefruit soda!
2007 Lail Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Georgia. A strangely expensive Sauv Blanc ($100!), although tasty.
2013 Bader-Mimeur Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly.
2014 Peter Michael Chardonnay Mon Plaisir. VM 92. Peter Michael’s 2014 Chardonnay Mon Plaisir wraps around the palate with gorgeous depth and textural richness, two of its principal signatures. Candied lemon, succulent apricot and spice notes meld into the creamy, voluptuous finish. This south/south-east facing site at 1,600 feet planted with old Wente clone Chardonnay yields distinctly ample wines.
1996 Alvaro Palacios Priorat L’Ermita. VM 92+. Saturated ruby-red, darker than the Dofí. Blackcurrant, black cherry, clove and Mediterranean spices on the nose. Dense, sappy and sweet in the mouth; lively, harmonious acids frame the wine very youthful black fruit and spice flavors. Finishes with substantial but smooth palate-saturating tannins and superb persistence. This is harder to taste today than the ’97, but should ultimately be the stronger vintage.
Albert brought: 1989 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape. JG 95+. I have always been a fan of the 1989 Château Beaucastel, which I rank just behind the superb 1981 at this fine estate. The most recent bottle I tasted of this wine was still just a touch youthful, but offered up fine complexity on both the nose and palate and shows excellent promise. The bouquet is a blend of roasted fruitcake, cherries, new leather, venison, incipient notes of sous bois, woodsmoke and hot stones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and rock solid at the core, with a bit of tannin still to resolve, fine focus and grip and a very long, classy and slightly chewy finish. I would be tempted to give this wine a few more years to really resolve, as it will be a superb wine and it would be most enjoyable to drink it at the same plateau that the 1981 has been enjoying for a good decade already.
agavin: this bottle was too bretty for me, although I love this wine
1989 Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes. 95 points. Awesome.
2000 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Le Secret des Sabon. 94 points. Medium ruby. Exotic roasted aromas of surmaturite: black raspberry liqueur, dark chocolate, leather and earth. Shows a thickness and sweetness verging on porty, but the appeal of this bottle was reduced by some exotic, rather odd oak notes. Can this be right? (My sample of the 2001 was too low in SO2 and showing distinct oxidation notes.
Fruitti de Mare. Octopus carpaccio, razor clams, scallops and spot prawns. We’ve had this dish here before, but it’s always a great showcase of seafood. The only problem is the dubious “pairing” with so much (admittedly great) Grenache.
2001 Rotllan Torra Priorat Tirant. VM 91+. Deep red. Exotic coconutty oak on the rather port-like nose. At once sweeter and more primary than the Amadis, with a penetrating minerality. Also quite oaky, but has more jammy plum and blackberry fruit to stand up to the wood. Still, it’s hard to predict whether this slightly pruney wine will reward more time in bottle. Finishes with sweet tannins and good length.
2001 Clarendon Hills Grenache Old Vines Romas. VM 94. Bright, deep ruby-red. Captivating aromas of black cherry, violet, licorice and espresso; a rather Rayas-like style of grenache. Chewy, rich and sweet but also quite suave. A succulent, superripe basket of fruits complicated by torrefaction notes of coffee and chocolatey oak. Long, chewy, powerful finish builds impressively. The ’99 version of this wine was aged in 100% new oak; here, 30% seems perfectly appropriate.
2001 Clarendon Hills Grenache Old Vines Blewitt Springs. VM 91. Bright medium red. Very ripe, roasted flavors of raspberry and strawberry. Fat, rich, sweet and mouthfilling; offers a bit less verve than the Kangarilla but this is still shapely grenache. Finishes with big, mouthcoating tannins and impressive sweetness and volume. This is the Dolly Parton of the Clarendon grenache bottlings, notes importer John Larchet.
2004 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de mon Aïeul. VM 93. Explosively floral aromas of raspberry and wild strawberry complicated by mineral and lavender notes. Concentrated and deep, with sweet but nicely focused red fruit and bitter cherry flavors accompanied by exotic smoked meat and black walnut tones. An impressively rich, powerful wine, offering serious palate coverage and a long, very sweet finish.
Oxtail Consommé. Stuffed morel mushrooms and spring vegetables. This was my dish of the day, and it was just a lovely meaty/mushroomy broth. I particularly enjoy morels too.
2003 Clos Mogador Priorat. VM 91. Dark ruby. Superripe, potent scents of cherry liqueur, candied dates, dark chocolate and fruit cake. Fat to the point of unctuous, with a distinct sweetness to the rich dark fruit-dominated flavors; cedary oaky notes build through the finish, along with vanilla, baking spices and a suggestion of black olive. A bite of licorice root gives focus to the long aftertaste. For all the volume here, this has the balance for cellaring.
2004 Spectacle Vins Montsant Espectacle. 93 points. Purple color with fast forming legs and aromas of eucalyptus, blackberry and violet. It’s balanced and has flavours of blackberry with a full body. Bright texture with a long finish.
2003 Domaine de la Mordorée Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de la Reine des Bois. VM 93. Inky violet color. Rich, smoky and deep on the nose, with powerful scents of chocolate, creme de mure and kirsch, tinged by candied violet and cracked pepper. Concentrated and lush, with a round, velvety texture and abundant sweet plum, blackberry and mocha flavors. Finishes with ripe, round tannins, a very sweet note of cassis, and great length.
2003 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo. VM 95-97. Deep, dark red. Multidimensional bouquet of kirsch, cassis, red plum, pipe tobacco, grilled meat, licorice pastille and roasted coffee; this has nearly all of the Chateauneuf food groups. Utterly mouthfilling in its richness, with tremendous concentration of red and dark berries, garrigue, bittersweet chocolate and aged beef. Finishes with a velvety lushness, round tannins and palate-staining persistence. A simply remarkable wine: it finished at 16.2% but the alcohol only shows in the wine’s unctuous, almost oily palate feel.
Wood Roasted Rack of Wild Boar. Sierra porcini and sea peas. A great rack. A little lighter and with a sweeter flavor for being boar (inside of lamb or something).
Flight 4: Cheese
From my cellar: 2007 Clos Mogador Priorat. VM 93. Glass-staining purple. Explosively perfumed aromas of blackberry, cherry-cola, candied licorice and black cardamom, with a smoky mineral undertone and a hint of fruitcake. Lush, decadent dark fruit flavors show a liqueur-like density but don’t come off as heavy thanks to slow-mounting minerality and a touch of spicy black pepper. There’s nothing shy about this, and while there’s the ripeness and weight that I expect from this wine, there’s also a brightness that bodes well for aging.
agavin: very slight corked 🙁
2005 Clos Mogador Priorat. VM 93. Opaque violet. A head-spinning bouquet of ripe blackcurrant, cherry liqueur, cola, candied plum, mineral and floral scents, along with a suave undercurrent of spicy oak. Deeply concentrated dark berry and cherry preserve flavors are impressively powerful and ripe, but improbably fresh too. Chewy tannins build on the finish but are overwhelmed by the intense, powerful fruit. This is a beast right now and in need of at least seven to ten more years in a cool cellar, maybe more. Then serve it with the richest red meat dish you can come up with.
agavin: after my bottle was corked Paul generously brought out this one. I have to remember to bring backups every time. I usually do, and it’s only when I don’t that it’s corked.
2006 Sine Qua Non Grenache Raven Series. VM 95. Opaque violet. Complex bouquet of cassis, blueberry and pipe tobacco, complicated by smoky Indian spices and dried rose. Expansive and open-knit, offering sweet dark berry preserve flavors and complementary notes of candied flowers and fruitcake. The smoky element gains strength on the finish, which is long, energetic and refreshingly mineral-driven. This is remarkably lithe for such power; I underestimated its potential last year. Includes 94% estate fruit, vinified with 25% whole clusters.
2007 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Deus-Ex Machina. VM 96. Glass-staining ruby. The nose offers a drop-dead sexy array of berry, floral and mineral scents, along with nuances of spicecake and black olive. Impressively deep and sweet but also energetic, displaying dense red and dark fruit liqueur flavors and sexy floral pastille and baking spice qualities. The mineral quality comes on strong with air and lends lift and urgency to the very long, spicy finish. This is slightly more elegant than the Comte des Fous but just as potent.
2006 Clos Erasmus Priorat. VM 95. Deep ruby. Heady, expansive aromas of raspberry, cassis, cola, star anise, smoky minerals and potpourri. Completely stains the palate with sweet red and dark berry compote flavors; a sexy floral pastille quality gains volume with air. Deep and powerful but graceful, offering a hypnotic melange of fruit, floral and mineral qualities and completely buffered tannins. This superb and very long wine will reward patient cellaring.
Cheese Plate. Camembert di Bufala, Italy (water buffalo milk). Comte Fromagerie Charles Arnaud, Jura France (cow milk). Nerina Ash Aged, Italy (sheep and goat milk).
My cryptic notes.
Flight 5: Zin
Today I got really serious with the gelato transportation, hauling the Ifi Coolbox with 3 flavors I had made just that morning — notice my sexy custom logo!
Saffron Almond Gelato. I steeped the milk with Persian Saffron and blended in Sicilian Romano Almonds from Sicily!
Symphony in Pink – on the bottom Amarena Cherry Gelato and on the top, White Peach Rose Sorbetto.
And the full lineup!
Overall, a delicious afternoon — food and wine both! As a Burgundy nut, a often forget how delightful Grenache can be, but it’s really great stuff — and so consistent. Certainly a nice grape, if a powerhouse. Even the Zins were (relatively) enjoyable.
We did have WAY too much wine for the number of courses. We could have used an easy 2 or 3 more courses to stage it out. A couple years ago we had one more course and we could really use that as there is that extra Zin flight. I tried to “add” one with the gelato :-).