Ducru Beaucaillou Vertical, Spanning Vintages from 1970-2000
Oh the beauties of being a bench warmer. See I grew up w/ high basketball aspirations and a ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich-like work ethic (though I shot the ball a bit more along the lines of Chris Dudley), yet my lack of athletic ability and the minor hiccup of being vertically challenged left me ‘riding the pines’ as they say. What in the hell does this have to do w/ wine, you ask? See I am a rambunctious little outsider (in case you didn’t notice) and I tend to thrive in situations where someone bails on a tasting group (that I of course don’t ‘belong to’) & I’m called upon at the last minute to fill-in their spot. Sloppy seconds and pinch-hitting don’t apply to a freshman that warms a junior varsity bench as I’ve turned a new leaf when it comes to wine. I relish in my sixth man status! Who needs talent and athletic prowess for this sport? Put me on the bench any day coach, I’ll always have my handy bottle of 2000 Ducru Beaucaillou ready, just in case it’s needed for a vertical. Last night, I got my second chance for glory so I had to take complete advantage of it…and get sloppy drunk.
Free throw practice:
Monthelie Comtes Lafon, 2004
Did Lafon happen to plant some Chenin Blanc in his Meursault vineyards? An exotic, paraffin inflicted nose shuffles quince paste, smoky wood, persimmon and funky floral scents through the air in a precocious, almost esoteric flair. The palate is a mouthwatering, juicy torrent of personality that expands to a chewy, almost unruly finish that makes no apologies and takes no prisoners. While it isn’t as immense in size as my note may suggest, its character belies whatever weight I sensed in the palate. She’s certainly lots of fun, but not for everyone, 92 points.
Lay-up drills, led by some elderly all-stars from Ducru Beaucaillou:
The first flight was a trio of 70’s teammates that was lead by the 70, the least rusty of the bunch. A beautifully earthy, damp forest meadow tinged nose paved the way for a sweet attack of white mushrooms, red currant fruit and loam. In spite of its age, the palate presence has a hearty, almost mealy texture that you can sink your teeth into. Though she tails away a bit on the finish, she gave us some twilight beauty that struck me most for its sweetness and charisma, 90 points.
The middle child of the 70s showed hints of the disco-dancin’ exuberance to come in the decade, but was clearly still muddled as the Vietnam War had just come to a close. An airy, somewhat sullen nose tucked away to a light to medium weight, easy going mouthful of red fruit that turned briny, w/ a metallic underbelly becoming evident on the finish. The ’75 was compressed, somewhat short, but all in all, a decent drink in a banal sort of way, 84 points.
A wiff of alcoholic heat distorts the already unfocused nose of the first ’79 I’d ever snuck my nose into, yet pulls things together a bit more in the superficial, yet tasty palate that has plenty of life, yet lacks verve as it leaves a flat, almost feeble impression in the mouth, 82 points.
Oh how I love to find savory, beefy notes in Cabernet based wines, and this ’81 was just the meal ticket for that type of ride. A bloody, ham sandwich of a wine revealed layers of sweet cassis in the mouth w/ good underlying acidity that paved a juicy glide underneath its ripe fruit. While she didn’t go the distance on the finish, she certainly is a bottle I’d like to have stashed away in my cellar for the next several years, 89 points.
The first slam dunk of the evening came from a vintage that had performed poorly at Eleven Madison recently, but brought its a-game tonight! A rockin’ roll nose of rich, heady delights pumped out licorice, dried flowers, melted chocolate and black currant paste scents that you couldn’t help but snort up each nostril as if the cure were inside. A chewy, concentrated palate supplies ample weight and power to cruise in the cellar for the next 15 years….easy, 93 points.
An atypical showing for an ’85, as Chris noted, where I’d expect something forward and up-front w/ its pleasure, though this bottle kept things much closer to the vest. An austere bouquet of black olive, leather and damp earth turned somewhat hard and angular in the mouth, though I found aeration to bring out spicy, graphite infused characteristics that fattened up in the glass. While this is hardly a representative bottle, I still think the wine had the potential to be outstanding w/ a bit more time, 90+ points.
L’Apres Midi, Peter Michael 2004
Ahh, the perfect time for a California debate while munching away on some scallops. Sherwin’s preconceived notions of ‘what California Sauvignon Blanc should be’ (uhhh, terrible right?) affected his enjoyment of this wine, simply because he thought it didn’t contain Semillon, though I think about a tenth of the cepage is Semillon? Anyways, I say ‘look at it as a White Bordeaux in California,’ or better yet ‘a good white wine,’ and you’ll see the light! Brothah this wine has a lot to say, and I think it really transcends its pedigree as it is just awesome stuff. A plump, fleshy bouquet of freshly cut grass, shaved vanilla bean, quince paste and leafy herbs suck you in, as if a hypnotic trance was the reason I dug a Sauvignon Blanc based wine from California! The gossamer texture deftly transposes creamy richness w/ delineation and precision…had me at hello, 93 points.
1995 & 1996
Always fun to taste ‘95s and ‘96s side by side, and this pair was no different (wouldn’t it have been a hoot if we mixed up those decanters guys?). The ’95 was clearly the more structured of the two, exhibiting a frankness in its muscle, perhaps being the evening’s ‘man’s wine.’ While it had an almost burly coating to its fruit, the concentration was personified by an elegance and nobility that hooked us all. The ’96 showed reserve, yet had a more succulent texture that really exploded in the palate, revealing layers of crème de cassis and rose petals alongside an alluring blueberry note that chimed in on the finish. Both had great structure and are fantastic cellar candidates, though the ’96 is a bit more approachable and poised for earlier drinking. I scored them 94+ and 95 points respectively.
The All-Star w/ the buzzer-beater
Yeah, yeah I brought it. Yeah, yeah I suppose it’s a Coelho-wine (as most 2000’s are), but dude, this was packin’ heat! A black colored robe opens the door to a potent nose of gravel, lead pencil shavings, bay leaf and the essence of black fruit. Once this hits the lips its intensity and sheer depth become palpable, revealing tremendous viscosity and layer upon layer of glycerin. While chewy and rich, the texture always remains suave and in symmetry, closing w/ spicy, perfectly ripe tannins, 96+ points.