Monday, January 19, 2009

An Eclectic Flight of Wines and an Impromptu Tasting

My good friend Cosme suggested a Friday night get-together for a bottle of wine, but some frantic, last-minute, Blackberry Messenger exchanges led to a less intimate affair with about half of my wine group and four great bottles - a formal tasting without formality! How fun is that?

Last minute the gang scraped together a wonderfully eclectic set of wines:

1997 Drei Doná Tenuta la Palazza Graf Noir
2003 l'Ecole no. 41 Perigee
2003 Chateau Bernadotte
2006 Bouchard Pere et Fils Le Corton

I won't declare a "winner" tonight - my scores were nearly identical and these weren't really comparable, but here are some notes on a great evening of wine:

My 2003 l'Ecole no. 41 Perigee was first featured here in August of 2007 during American Wine Month. Definitely the softest, jammiest, wine of the evening, a wonderful nose of smokey currants, leather and violets, flinty cherries, cocoa and grenadine with some vegetal notes in the background. A big, heavy wine on the palate, earthy and minerally...definitely that ripe fruit I tasted 18 months ago, but a half point lower this time around. Score: 17.5/20

You can count on Lloyd to bring something aged and intriguing, so tonight's 1997 Drei Doná Tenuta la Palazza Graf Noir (55% Sangiovese, 30% Uva Longanesi, and Cabernet Franc) was par for the course. Musty on the nose, like the rind of brie cheese, it took a long time to open up but that patience was rewarded with some truffle-y mushroom, vegetal and floral notes. A joyous, velvety texture on the palate with great balance, a very long finish and decent acidity, but a bit too heavy with the oak for my taste. Blinded I thought aged Bordeaux at first, but with further development and some nudging from Lloyd I guessed Super Tuscan - who would have guessed "Super Emilia-Romagna"? Score: 17.5/20

And you can count on Cosme to bring a Burgundy. The nose of the 2006 Bouchard Père et Fils Le Corton Grand Cru was subtle, but the spicy (musk and cloves) and oaky notes dominate, some fresh rasberries, vanilla and leather supporting. Soft, smooth and luscious with good minerality, modest acidity and a decent finish - not as tightly wound as I like my Burgundies, but I suspect this would be a crowd pleaser. Hard to believe this is the same wine as the 2002 I raved about. My take? This is closed down and needs a few years in the cellar. Score: 17/20.

My apologies to Chris, but his 2003 Chateau Bernadotte arrived freezing cold out of the cellar so we set it aside for a while - by the time we got to it I was done taking notes! From memory it was reminiscent of my comments on the 2003 Vintage in Bordeaux - very drinkable today, with classic dense, woodsy tannins and ripe fruit.

It is really hard to compare and contrast such different wines, but what I can say is that the Graf Noir generated the most enthusiasm and conversation (how often do you drink Uva Longanesi?). I loved it, but I was a bit put off by the heavy oak (same for Le Corton). But these comments are secondary to the thrill of sharing some odd wines and wonderful companionship - sometimes the best tastings are unplanned and unstructured!


Edward said...


The cold weather must increase your thirst!

I've got a bottle of the 05 Bernadotte to try at some stage.

Joe said...

Hi Ed - imagine a leisurely 8km jog at minus 15 celsius - gets the blood flowing, not sure about the thirst! I am not sure what to expect with that '05, '03 was a weird vintage and not indicative I'm sure