Monday, January 11, 2010

TN: Wednesday Night Blind - January 2010


The monthly meeting of the "Wednesday Night Blind" group gathered for the first event of 2010. Six people gathered to drink good juice, eat good food and laugh. All of the wines were served blind and nobody knew what wines were being served save for those who brought the wine.

1999 Kendall-Jackson Merlot Vintner's Reserve - USA, California
This was the first wine of the blind tasting. It was a good wine overall. I liked the balance of the fruit, the smokey notes on the nose and the streak of espresso beans running through the mid-palate. We were all shocked when this was revealed. Lance stuck this into the tasting as a "fun" wine, he succeeded. I think this wine is actually in no danger of falling apart anytime soon, which is a bit hard to believe. I could find nothing off putting about it. (88 pts.)

2000 Château Cantemerle - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
Served from a decanter. I found this be a tannic and fairly closed wine. It took a good deal of swirling and coaxing to get the wine to open up. Distinctive notes of tobacco leaf, sour cherry and pine cones led me to the Left Bank of Bordeaux. Once the oxygen began to work its magic the wine opened up nicely and it became a chewy juicy wine with a good core of fruit. I really enjoyed it and liked it more with the Filet Mignon served later. (90 pts.)

2005 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge Sonoma Coast - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
I liked this a good deal, it was not the best performance I'd had from this wine, but it was very good. Some folks guessed Syrah perhaps with a dollop of Viognier added in. It did have a very floral nose, so that correlation was not much of a stretch. It certainly didn't taste like typical Pinot and the guesses of Syrah really did follow the flavor profile presented by the wine. It was big, a bit sappy, had a touch of heat and was a bit chewy on the palate. Not typical of Pinot. One taster said that it tasted a bit like all those Cali high octane Pinots he hates so much (he's a big burg fan and brought the Rousseau), when he said that, the game was up and I unveiled the wine. Most were surprised, he was wasn't. Anyhoo, I like the wine for what it is and am very glad to have more in my cellar. (90 pts.)

1998 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
This was an impressive wine from the first whiff. It was a very light crimson color, but the aromas pouring out of the glass were intoxicating, it was massive on the palate, really strong note of brambly black fruit, beef blood and spice, yet it was elegant and deftly balanced. An absolute delight to drink. I was pretty convinced this was an older California Cabernet or even an older Barolo and stated "No way is this Burgundy", then the wine was revealed. That's why I love blind tastings. You learn something every time. This was my WOTN which is very frightening for me. I went back to it several times throughout the evening and it just kept changing and not for the worse. Profound wine. (95 pts.)

1998 Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Antinori) Bolgheri Superiore - Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Superiore
This wine got bonus points for the nose which was dreamy. Too bad it didn't follow through on the palate which was a bit astringent and unyielding. I think it's just not quite ready to go yet. The bottle was opened at the table and would no doubt have benefited from decanting. It did slowly evolve and showed nice notes of black olive, plums and raspberry fruit. I guessed it was an older (94) Peter Michael Cab. (91 pts.)

•2002 Arietta Variation One - USA, California, Napa Valley
Very tannic at first and tough to judge, it opened slowly in the glass with a lot of swirling and revealed very nice notes of black fruit, Asian spices, cedar, new leather and cocoa powder. This wine had a lot of heat initially, I actually thought it may be a Cali Petite Sirah because of the heat and the black color. It really got its act together though and was a terrific wine. (92 pts.)

2001 Leonetti Cellar Reserve Walla Walla Valley - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
This wine was initially very primary and didn't have a lot of depth to it, lots of oak on first taste as well. It began to integrate nicely and had a silky smooth texture, big rich fruit, fantastic sense of balance and a long finish. This would have benefited from some decanting as well. I really like it though and thought it was more feminine than the straight Merlot that followed. (92 pts.)

2004 Leonetti Cellar Merlot Columbia Valley - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
This wine was really firing on all cylinders. It was big, really big, loaded with dark chocolate, hazelnut, blackberry, cassis liqueur it had a somewhat heavy presence of smokey oak, but it was well integrated into the whole package in my opinion. There were a lot of tasters that really liked this wine and it was fun to see their faces when the wine was revealed. It was a much bigger and beefier wine than the 01 Leonetti Reserve tasted just before it, the Reserve was a more subtle and well balanced wine, while this was a bruiser. I loved it though. I'll need to track more down soon. (94 pts.)

Another successful evening in the books. A discussion ensued between Jon Pratt, Lance and myself regarding the quality of steaks. Lance had just recently had a magnificent Flannery ribcap at his home and was explaining to Jon how amazing it was. I've never been privy to the delights that are Flannery beef, but had heard enough stories to realize there is something to them. Jon claims that "meat is meat" to wit: "prime is prime". So a challenge was proposed, Lance is going to order a Flannery rib cap and a Pork rib cap as an appetizer and Jon is going to get a prime rib cap from his distributor. He will cook them up the same way for next months Wed. night dinner and we'll put them to the test. It should be an evening to remember.

These notes are courtesy of Mark Franks, a member of our monthly tasting group.


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