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A Hedonistic Weekend – Saturday Tasting Notes

2009/09/27

Yesterday’s blog outlined the ridiculous quantity of wonderful food we ate on the second day of our Wine Guys Weekend. While I referred to what we drank that night, here are my notes on the wines opened.

  • 2005 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia – Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d’Alba (9/12/2009)
    Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: Opaque purple colour. Aromas of blackberry, cocoa (odd since there is no barrique at all in the winery), black cherry and licorice. Medium-full bodied, beautiful acidity that is almost crunchy, showing peach, blackberry, and sliced black plum notes. Moderate-long finish, ~40s, with dark fruit. Awesome stuff! Amazing match with vitello tonnato and bagna cauda. Cellar more to allow for tertiary notes to develop. Drink over the next 5-8 years. (92 pts.)
  • 2005 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Conca Tre Pile – Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d’Alba (9/12/2009)
    Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: Red fruit – sour cherry and plums in particular on the nose and palate. Medium bodied with decent length. A good Barbera but not outstanding. It was seriously outclassed by a stunning bottle of 2005 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia. I love the wines from Aldo Conterno, but the $45CAD sticker price on their Barbera is tough to stomach. (88 pts.)

These two bottles of Barbera were paired with a couple Piemontese apps at lunch – vitello tonnato and bagna cauda. It was interesting to try two 2005s side-by-side. Aldo and Giovanni were brothers and in 1969 the former wanted to start experimenting with more modern winemaking techniques. The winery was split between the brothers and are still two of the top producers in the Langhe. The Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia came up on top on this day. It was significantly more complex and showed fantastic length. I will try to hold off on remaining bottles to see how they evolve.

  • 1994 Château Haut-Brion – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan (9/12/2009)
    Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: Medium-dark ruby colour. Delicate, Pessac nose of cedar, dried cherry, currant, and leather. Medium-bodied, resolved tannins, with cedar, sandalwood, worn saddle leather, and prune notes on the palate. Short-moderate finish, ~20s, with sandalwood and spice notes. Not an overly complex First Growth, but considering it was an off vintage, the wine was drinking really nicely. Drink now. (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Delas Frères Condrieu Clos Boucher – France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Condrieu (9/12/2009)
    Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: Light-medium gold colour. Pretty, very aromatic nose of freshly grated ginger, lanolin, Ataulfo mango, white flowers, pie crust, baked apple pie and notes of blood orange and marmalade as the wine warms. Full-bodied, rich, with good minerality and acidity. While the nose would make one expect an off-dry/sweet wine, it’s completely dry on the palate showing Ataulfo mango, ginger, and baked apple pie replays joined by just a hint of lemon curd. Moderate-long finish, ~40s, with lemon curd, ginger, and mineral notes. An outstanding bottle of Condrieu and one I wish I had in my cellar! (95 pts.)
  • 1985 Krug Champagne Brut – France, Champagne (9/12/2009)
    Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: Medium-dark gold colour. Aromas of sherry, oatmeal cookie, and apple chips. Very fine bead with few bubbles in the stream. Good mouthfeel however. Medium-bodied, with sherry and caramel notes joined by just a hint of coffee. Moderate finish, ~30s, with lemon and apple.

    Initially this was in the 92-point range. Over the course of the next four hours that the wine sat in the glass, it developed significantly more complex aromas and flavours and turned richer on the palate. With air and an increase in temperature, the wine morphed into a very classy, powerful Champagne worthy of a solid 95 point score. Wonderful stuff! (95 pts.)

While sitting around before dinner, we enjoyed these three wines with some cheese. The 1994 Haut-Brion was from a weak overall vintage but still showed quite nicely. It was a medium-bodied wine that was ready to drink and a nice start to the evening. The Condrieu from Delas was simply stunning, especially as it was allowed to air and warm in the glass. If this wine is released by the LCBO in the future, it’s definitely going in my shopping cart.

I’ve been fortunate to drink more than a few bottles of Krug over the years and was really excited to taste the 1985 again. On opening, it was slightly disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it was still lovely but didn’t have that extra something that makes it otherworldly. I revisited my glass several times throughout the evening (I prefer to drink Champagne out of a white wine glass as the aromas are much more prevalent) and after three or four hours, it really hit its stride and showed amazing length and power, but also finesse. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised that it needed so much air or that it was better warmed to room temperature. It happens all the time with Salon too! Please don’t drink this wine too cold or give up on it if it initially seems uninspiring!

  • 2001 Château Rieussec – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes (9/12/2009)
    Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: From 375mL. Medium-gold colour. Aromas of vanilla custard, mango, peach, foie gras, botrytis, orange peel, and passionfruit. Full-bodied, unctuous, but quite cloying due to a lack of acidity. Spice, pineapple. botrytis, and honey notes through to a ~40s finish. I was expecting significantly more from this wine and may be a point too generous with its 90 point score. (90 pts.)

An overly generous plate of foie gras torchon with onion confit and warm brioche was the foil for this pair of sweet wines. Considering the critical acclaim for the 2001 Rieussec (WS100, WA99), it should have been the standout of the two. Not so. It was unanimously the most disappointing showing of the weekend. The Sauternes was cloying due to a lack of acidity and was tough to consume when paired with a similarly unctuous slab of torchon. The Kracher #6, however, was stellar and really quite enjoyable. I don’t see this wine improving much and it has started ambering significantly. I would drink over the next few years.

An interlude with a couple old bottles of Bordeaux came next. L. opens a very old bottle each edition of the weekend and this year was a bottle of 1912 Chateau Lafite. It was unfortunately undrinkable. A bottle of 1966 Chateau Latour was better – for the first 15 minutes at least! Then it fell apart in the glass. I didn’t write formal notes on either wine but it was an experience nonetheless.

  • 1997 Fattoria di Sant’Angelo (Lisini) Brunello di Montalcino – Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino (9/12/2009)
    Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: Not decanted. Poured into shoulder and slow ox’d for four hours. On opening, huge, brooding, intense, and intoxicating aromas of sottobosco, baking spices, and aniseed burst from the bottle. With air, hints of truffle, leather, and frutto di bosco emerged. Full-bodied, the wine has a gorgeous texture and shows replays of sottobosco, truffle and baking spice replays as well as some dried cherry notes. A hint of smokiness and slight alcoholic warmth on the very long, ~50s finish. Absolutely stunning but it is clearly still a very young wine. This wine has a very long life ahead of it. I will hold my remaining bottles for at least another five years and drink before 2020. (94 pts.)
  • 2004 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (9/12/2009)
    Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: Tons of kirsch, framboise, and alcohol. Really not enjoying the super-ripe style. Almost candied in its fruit profile. I would really like to try a Clos des Papes with age to see if this comes into check and shows more classic notes with time. Right now, the overripe fruit and alcohol is not particularly appealing or enjoyable. NR.

    Follow-up: A friend took the leftovers home (just corked up, not vacu-vinned) and two days later while still hot from the alcohol, it showed more classic notes that included garrigue and grilled meat and some of the kirsch notes fell to the back. Perhaps there’s hope for this wine with additional cellaring!

We started drinking the Brunello while the main course was being prepared. I was sure to save some to drink with the veal however. The massive grilled veal chop was served with a red wine/veal demi-glace sauce, grilled zucchini and peppers, and Yukon Gold potatoes with thyme roasted in duck fat. Lisini’s 1997 was sublime! I prepared the bottle in the same way I always do with Brunello. Open many hours in advance (four hours in this case) and pour the wine down into the shoulder to allow a little more surface-to-air contact. The slow oxygenation process allows the wine to open up nicely without losing the delicate nose – one of the most appealing things in a bottle of Brunello. It is not suggested to decant Brunello. There is a very, very long life ahead of this wine and I will not touch my next bottle for at least another five years.

It was no surprise the battle of Barbaresco was handily won by Gaja. The 1986 Sori Tilden was mature, showing excellent tertiary development on the nose and palate and should drink well for several more years. After several good bottles of 1988, 1989, and 1990 Dante Rivetti Barbaresco Riserva, I was expecting significantly more on this evening.

By the time we got to the Chateauneufs, we hit a food and wine wall. That said, the Clos des Papes was a kirsch-y, framboise-y, alcoholic mess and was quite disappointing. We didn’t even finish the bottle. Manny took home the leftovers and two days later reported back to say it was significantly better. It would be nice to try an older vintage to see how they hold up with time, but I don’t know if that would necessarily translate to the newer, hyper-extracted style that seems the be increasingly prevalent in the Rhone. The Grand Veneur Les Origines showed better on the evening but I would like to sit down with it again at some point where I can give it the attention it deserves.

While the wines didn’t quite hit the level of the previous evening, there were still some very tasty bottles opened. Can’t wait for next year!

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