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Monday, April 23, 2007

Hedonism in Westchester

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1999 Rose
Lovely color and soft nose of dried currant and strawberry fruit slowly allured my senses on a picturesque, sun-drenched Westerchester afteroon. The mousse was uniform and authoritative, pumping through graphite, stone and racy citrus flavors w/ the quintessential form you'd hope for in vintage bubbly. Textbook in finesse. 91 points.

Chapelle Aux Loups, Saint Veran 2004 (Jadot)
Leo's 'house wine cheapie' (considering he was ludicrously generous w/ the subsequent bottles he opened, I suppose this would qualify in the 'thrift' category)- definitely held it's own in comparison to the more mature, 1998 grizzly grand gru lineup to come.
The aromatics initially strike me w/ a wave of fresh cut melon, fleshy honeydew that hints at it's succulence in the mouth. As it sits in the glass, basil, mint and floral elements begin to surface. In the mouth, generous w/ it's golden delicious and sheer authoritative mineral clamp on the's intense and full of crushed rock character. Astounding value. 88 points

1998 Corton Grand Cru, Jadot
A relative rarity in 'white' Corton, but needless to say, it's quite appropriate to plant chardonnay in this appellation (at least when Jadot is handling it). Much darker gold than the Saint Veran in color. The complexity of the nose was spellbinding, and continued to morph like a chameleon throughout the afternoon. Sour cream custard, hazelnut shavings, sweet spice, and dried honey lend their way to succulent green apple & intense limestone flavors. This has to be one of the most bracingly nervy expressions of chardonnay I've witnessed. I can't help but evaluate it strongly for it's immense complexity, but caution that the acidity could deter many (it could use a tad more fruit for balance)...just not at our table that evening. 93 points.

Considering my affinity for Burgundy is certainly at the apprehensively novice level, I had yet to experience the sensation of a chardonnay grape that made me hunger for food as insanely as these wines did! Thanks to the fabulous home cooking, I was indeed taken care of.

Criots Batard Montrachet Grand Cru, 1998 Jadot
Brilliant in it's light golden hues, and initially presented itself in a more straightforward fashion than the Corton. Easier to like w/ it's rounder charm, but not as compelling as it's Corton sybling. Baked apple, honeysuckle & notes of cream become more accentuated in time. The palate was full of the essence of tree fruit skins, dried honey & a welcome soft texture- certainly less complex, but easier to enjoy in isolation than the Corton. The personality of this wine was slower to evolve, but certainly gained in steam. I would cellar this for a couple more years as it has more blossoming to look forward to (and will merit a higher score). 89 points.

Nuits Saint Georges, Les Damodes 1997, Jadot
My first thought upon smelling this wine was 'Long Island Cab Franc!' Granted there was much more depth as I further investigated...but the hallmark crushed flowers, red currant and raspberry perfume were certainly there. This certainly is a candidate for utilizing a touch of brett as a seasoning, as it added in complexity instead of detracting from the character. The palate consisted of fruit pits, gravel and judicious amounts of black pepper spice. The soft tannins ended the ride nicely, but my boat wasn't completely rocked. 88 points, sound but not transcendental.

1996 Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido
Oh the nose of a mature Pauillac couldn't be as clear if it were Lafite herself. Fresh cut cedar, lead pencil, black currant and a hint of dark chocolate were so damn appealing to me! Lovely density to the palate, w/ a range in fruit from dark plumbs to blackberry, as roasted red pepper, graphite and a notion of steel added a mineral complexity towards the finish. Adored the wine, unique and certainly an old fashioned estate that shows much better w/ age. 93 points.

2000 Castello del Terriccio
A nebulous blend (which was discussed above at length) gave rise to a black-purple, saturated color and a completely idiosyncratic nose! Smokey aromatics gave way to matchstick, roasted coffee, espresso drip, melted asphalt and heavy black licorice. I guess the only controversy was whether or not the palate outshined the may well have! Gigantic, even mammoth in the mouth w/ a heavy layer of roasted dark fig, cocoa and pressed plumb filled the palate, almost w/ ease?! The sweetened tannin was shot through a double barrel shotgun & made us all want to stand in the firing squad for the rest of the evening. What a wine; Carlos Ferrini uncovered a gem in this amalgamation. 96 points, wine of the evening.

We concluded w/ a 97 Coteaux Layon (brought by Guy) and a 1975 Suduiraut. I shirked my note taking duties as Guy seemed to really come into his own w/ these wines (and I'm certain his commentary is much more compelling). But my impressions were that the Coteaux Layon literally stuck to my teeth w/ it's overt viscosity & cane sugar. Immense, even stupid amounts of dried apricot, bubble gum and syrup could literally knock one over the head- definitely fun though ;) The Suduiraut (poured from a 375 mL bottle) was much more provocatively enjoying than hedonistic, but damn the finish obliterated anything I've ever tasted! The nose and palate actually NEEDED time for the bitter orange marmalade, apricot & saffron notes to fill out...but even though the body was medium at best, the finish still sung way past the Coteaux Layon for nearly 2 minutes. Guy and I joked that the Coteaux Layon just needed the Suduiraut's acidity and finish to be a perfect wine!

Thanks again Leo, you and your wife are benevolent and wonderful hosts. Loved meeting your kids (so I could finally see who that young man sucking on the Cakebread bottle was) and can't wait to tackle another marathon evening of wine and laughs w/ you two. I miss that alluring nose of white burgundy already....but I still say that hobby is masochism!


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