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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I Could Get Used To This....

Well well, here we go again! Another staggering lineup put together by Leo Frokic and company left my head spinning, as usual. When I messaged him in the afternoon to find 4 wines decanting since 12 noon, I knew it would be a marathon- but oh what joy it is to run long distances w/ wines such as these!

I began (already behind apparently) w/ a glass of the lovely Pavillon Blanc 2000. While '01 was the vintage of the century for whites, the rouge-blessed 2000 was not unfair to the Pavillon in any way, shape or form. The aromatics cried mature white Burgundy! Spicy key lime custard and hints of sour candy and nutmeg laced the air. The palate presence was lovely, hinting at flint, clay stone and pear skins. Lip smacking and spot on mineral presence brought a lovely start to my evening. 90 points.

1997 Bienvenue Batard Montrachet, Jadot:
Much deeper golden color than the straw Pavillon. Scintillating scents, suggesting of mature hazelnut oil, and toffee. The palate revealed a wine that seemed MUCH more full of youth w/ vanilla cream, unsalted butter, and glazed pears. Laser sharp acids kept the weight lithe. Lovely depth, and plenty of room to mature. 92+ points

1990 Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape
Ruby, w/ some hints at bricking at the rim. Rustic, but beautifully delineated nose expressed leather, chili powder and dill in a pungently classic fashion. A mouth full of black pepper, ripe tobacco, dried figs and plums left a silky texture and some heat on the back end. Ambitious, but just so slightly over-done. Commendable effort...vintage wasn't too shabby either ;) 88 points

1980 Chateau Margaux
My birth year brought very little pleasure from the vine- but Leo's diligence in finding a stud left me handsomely rewarded (what did I do right in my previous life to receive such a wonderful friend whom takes care of me like this?!). A surprisingly young 1980 showed more vibrancy in color and saturation than the 1990 Mont Redon! One of the prettiest perfumes of the evening, and unmistakably classic Margaux. Sweet red peppers, kalamata olives, graphite and ever so slight senses of dried mushroom. Lovely fruit on the entry began w/ silky black currant and finished w/ a caress of milk chocolate. There's actually a bit of unresolved tannin to shed...what a surprise. Gorgeous. 93 points

1985 Chateau Gazin
Speaking of surprises! Leo and myself were swooning over this beauty. Scents of cigar smoke, roasted elements and a piercing tobacco leaf brought a wealth of intrigue to this wine. A mouth full of dark, rich black fruits and cinnamon stick were creamy and verged on decadent. The finish of this wine was pure and a straightforward tone of a freshly wrapped cigar. Long, long explosive finish lingered through the evening. What the wine lacked in suppleness, it made up for in length and concentration. 94 points, a champion!

1998 Ornellaia
While this was clearly the most jammy wine of the evening, it was not over the top at all. Flavors of fig paste, black currant, sage, roasted espresso and toasty oak are compelling and profound. Certainly youthful, but expressed wonderful symmetry, concentration and polish. Leo was kicking himself for popping this one (albeit w/ a 10 hour decant!), mister maturity...hey I adored it! Call me a fan of slutty, youthful crowd pleasers...I like 'em all, old, young and in-between. Certainly drinking well, but will continue to evolve for 15 plus years. 95 points.

Terriccio 2001
While the 2000 was a huge hit during out last get together, the 2001 (a much more heralded vintage) was just silly. The buzz was on the 'banana flavor' which the table couldn't deny was more than evident. Hey I love bananas, but they are a tad strange when they come in the shape of a blackhole of a Syrah based Tuscan blend. There were certainly other notes that arose; namely nutmeg, cinnamon and a boatload of sweet spice shot from the glass. The palate was, again, ridiculous. Melted asphalt, fig spread and black licorice overwhelmed the mouth w/ monstrous loads of candied tannin and density. Another oddity was the citric undercurrent that was somewhat obvious and blatant in this 'entity' of a wine. I have no idea where this wine is going or what it's doing, but it dictates everything w/ monstrous muscle and an iron fist. I'll reserve judgment on this puppy for another 50 years...when, perhaps, it will settle into something more wine like.

Lafleur 1993
Oh no you didn't Leo, oh yes he did! Vintage shmintage, who cares that 1993 was deplorable, this chateau doesn't need weather! A cornucopia of scents, that I'd never truly experienced in wine before, find their way from the glass to the nose like a lover spotting his soul mate in a crowded space. Notes of asian spice, root beer, smoke, plumbs, sweet tobacco and spice box present with such wonderful charm and grace. The wine has opulence in spades, even though this is a far from 'profound vintage of Lafleur' it still brings rich texture, fudge coated black cherries and cigar pipe flavors, carried over profound tannins. I suppose one could say that this wasn't effortless or perfect in harmony, but pedigree couldn't be any more obvious. 95 points

As my wife was trying to peel me away from the table, Leo managed to coax an additional 20 minutes outta her so we could jump into the 2003 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno. The roasted qualities of the vintage showed through this seriously endowed wine. Plenty of liquified black currant, spice, blueberry and vanilla extract rounded this full bodied Tuscan blend. Gorgeous. 95 points.

Of course the Ornellaia and Oreno are classic quality wines, and the Chateau Margaux and Lafleurs are historical legends...but the treasures in their blissful terroirs can still surprise you when you uncork a bottle of 1980 or 1993 & find something profound can be coaxed out of soils that Mother Nature didn't nurture well at all. Makes you wonder if there are pockets of vineyards that the sun always shines on, even when it's raining everywhere else.

Thank you Leo and Connie...I can't ever express enough gratitude for your generosity. Salud!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Paumanok does it again!

Wow what a performance they put together in 2004 w/ their Grand Vintage Cabernet Franc! One of the most dramatic domestic examples I've ever had of the varietal (one thing the Jamesport area of Long Island can do is furnish exemplary quality fruit when sacrifice, prime viticulture and do-diligence is put to the test). Gorgeously Bordeaux-esque in it's perfume of graphite, black currant, tapenade and red licorice. There is a racy mouthfull of red cherry, radish, and macerated red plumbs that extends into a lovely echo of the redfruit spectrum. Crisp acid and sound palate depth personify a pure expression of ripe, pit-fruit driven Cab Franc. Bringing the good name back to Cabernet Sauvignon's red headed-step parent....

Sometimes our much maligned fathers will still hold the throne at the dinner table, and Paumanok knows how to dish up the main course! 91 points....Theirry Germain would be proud!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Update on 2005 vintage from Roar
Checking in on the '05 vintage for the Santa Lucia Highlands:
Rosella's vineyard pinot noir, w/ roughly 1-2 hours in the decanter.
Surprisingly faint, transparent ruby color (not unlike the 2005 Chasseur appellation line). Softly projected aromatics of red plums and freshly macerated pomegranate evolve into a fragrant perfume of baked golden delicious skin over time.Sweet, silky and lush palate of light kirsch, framboise and raspberry. Ethereal, w/ lovely balance and sound persistence. The palate becomes more profoundly sappy in time.92-93 points.

Less opulent than the previous vintage, but decidedly more sound in it's sense of pinot elegance for 2005- makes the more 'traditional California pinot' fan a bit more at him (if there is such a thing, sounds like an oxymoron..). Very approachable but some room to gain a bit of weight in the future. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Debunking the 'Modernist Myth' w/ Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova 1999

2nd time indulging in this beauty and good lord was that perfume singing. Aromatics are exotic & compelling, scintillating layers of black truffles, dried porcini, spicy cedar, graphite and ripe tobacco bring tingles to my toes. The palate is rich and creamy w/ pure blackberry & dark cherry flavors that are ever so slightly sparkled w/ a touch of cedary oak, and those flavors shine intensely through the finish as a wine of this caliber should. Top notch performance, a real show-stopper of a brunello that is drinking wonderfully (I let her decant for 1-2 hours...but it was certainly more evolved than most 99's). 96 points. I am drooling to grab some more...

As a side note, this producer has been under some criticism of late for broaching the modernist gap & creating amorphous wines that lack true Brunello character. With regards to the 1999 Tenuta Nuova, that couldn't be farther from the truth. This wine is more opaque than most Brunello (although I'm sure the vintage allowed producers to harvest sangiovese grapes at higher levels of phenolic maturity than most), but who cares? It sure didn't taste like there was a dollop of petit verdot, syrah or any other suspicious 'color adding grape,' and isn't that all that matters? With regards to the aging in small barrique, at this point of it's evolution it is nearly undetectable...I would assume Giacomo Neri performed his malos in the barrel, which would account for the seamless integration and creamy texture. This is unmistakably Brunello, and a classic example at that. With regards to the 1999 effort, voices that cried heresy seem to be purely reactionary.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Alto Moncayo Campo de Borja, 2004 Garnacha

There are certainly 2 kinds of ultra-rich hedonistic extraction bombs in the New World. Those that pull it off, and those that don't. Wines of this caliber at their best provide all the opulent layers of fat you could ask for, while not only hiding their alcohol, but seducing you into believing they have a sense of understated elegance. Needless to say, I am certainly an advocate of a wine that can reach such heights.

Unfortunately, the Alto Moncayo does not. It's saturated, black and purple to the rim, and demonstrably heady. There is an exotic & severely extracted quality to the blue and purple fruits that evoke notions of wild berry, huckleberry, white fudge block and ground clove. My nostrils begin to burn a tad from the blatant, syrupy fumes.

The initial attack is pleasant, w/ sweet blackberry jam and kirsch flavors, that become amorphous and coarse as the wine travels to the mid palate. The wine morphs into an over-blown red zin from Rosenblum and severely hides the subtle grenache flavors of roast beef, black pepper and citrus. The finish is muted, buried and clipped by alcoholic fumes.

The points this wine merits are solely on ambition, as it wasn't terrible to taste, but the coarse, bitter extraction and disjointment fully keep this wine in the pass category. A severely disappointing effort (due to expectations). 84 points.