Friday, November 16, 2012

Stellar vintages in the Luma Cellar: A tasting (In collaboration with Ron Siegel)

Saturday last, Ron pulled together a group of the "regulars" for a dinner and tasting at Luma on Park, one of our favorite restaurants in the Orlando area.  There was no predetermined theme.  Everyone brought whatever they wanted and Ron assigned the bottles to flights.  The actual event took place in Luma's basement cellar, which, in a prior life, served as the vault of the long-departed Barnett Bank.  This bottle-lined, world onto itself is a perfect retreat for an event such as this with no external intervention beyond the coming and goings of the always attentive wait staff.

Traffic was heavy on I-4 so by the time I got to the location, the assembled group had already polished off a 1996 Roederer Cristal and were well on the way to demolishing an NV Jacques Selosse Initial.  The cocktail hour was extended to include a session of Palmer and Pizza wherein the famous Luma flatbread Pizza was paired with a 1975 Chateau Palmer.  The Palmer had black and red fruit on the nose, forest floor, spice and red pepper.  On the palate pepper, dankness, tar, and a tongue-coating minerality.  This wine was elegant with medium plus acidity and a long, drying finish.

Ron Siegel, friend, tasting organizer, and occasional guest poster on this blog, takes up the narrative from this point.

Our first course was accompanied by a 2004 Bouchard Pere et Fils Corton-Charlemagne and a 1993 Haut-Brion Blanc.  The Corton-Charlemagne had a nose of citrus, lemon, green apple, and asparagus. It started out drinking like a Chablis with notes of sea shell and flint.  This wine should have been decanted as it took a while to open up.  Wow on the Haut-Brion Blanc.  It might be my favorite vintage for current drinking; showing sweet fruit of lychee along with green mango.  Much more open than the Corton Charlie with classic candle wax and flinty, smoky notes on the nose.

The bridge between the white and red wines was a 1947 Casa de Sonoma California Cabernet Sauvignon brought by Steve Alcorn. This wine had been recorked in 1982 at Sebastiani Cellars and the original cork was in a pouch attached to the neck of the bottle. See Steve's blog for tasting notes on this wine.

We followed the bridge with a Remoissenet Burgundy flight wrapped around a pork course.  The 1964 Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes had a nose of red fruits and forest floor but had this musty and woodsy smell that made it my least favorite of the flight.  The 1971 Corton Diamond Jubilee started off with a little curry and sweet red fruit. Fat and round with a touch of burnt marshmallow.  More opulent in style than the Nuits-Saint-Georges.  The 1971 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Argillières exhibited nice cherry aromas, more acid on the fruit, and nice length.  A very enjoyable drink but leaner in style than the Corton.

The Remoissenet flight was followed by a second Burgundy flight wherein two of the three bottles were drawn from the fabled 1947 vintage, considered by some to be the greatest Burgundy vintage ever.  The first bottle of the flight, the Remoissenet 1947 Chambertin Clos de Beze, drank like a 1990.  Amazingly rich and youthful.  Showing the classic soy and Asian spice.  Really a step up over the 71’s.  The Drapier 1947 Romanee St.-Vivant was very aromatic.  A nose of cherry, cinnamon, clove, and Asian spice. Classic Romanee St.-Vivant, feminine and aromatic but not as powerful or rich as the Clos de Beze.  The final wine in this flight was the 1961 Hudeolet Bonnes Mares.  Dark color, very spicy and floral. Someone referred to it as almost-perfume-like.  A great flight of Burgundies.

With the Burgundies behind us, we turned our attention to that other great French gift to wine drinkers: Bordeaux.  We had three separate Bordeaux flights beginning with one featuring wines from the 1966 vintage.  The wines in this flight were Chateaus Leoville-Poyferré, La Mission Haut Brion, and Canon-la-Gaffeliere.  This flight was a little disappointing as nothing stood out.  Even the La Miss, which had won wine-of-the-night honors the last time that it was opened at one of our events, seemed to be a little off even though some at the table really liked it (Editors note: I don't know what they were thinking or drinking).

The second Bordeaux flight was a Chateau Haut-Brion mashup: 1962, 1971, and 1990.  This flight was very interesting as I had never had the '62 or the '71.  The '62 had a very dark color, rich sweet dark fruit in the mouth.  Almost syrupy in texture with tobacco, smoke, and black fruit.  A nice wine. The '71 was not as rich or as youthful as the '62 but showed the classic Haut-Brion style of cigar box, smoke, black fruits, and spice. The '90 was a different beast as it was still very young and needed more time to open.  I wish that I had decanted it a few hours ahead instead of doing a pop-and-pour.  Nose of black fruits, soy, and cigar box.  Very aromatic with spices and herbs.  The wine kept building in the glass and I am sure that with a few more years it will be one of the great Haut-Brion’s.  I will be purchasing more of this wine.

The final Bordeaux flight was a Pomerol-Pauillac face-off: 1994 Petrus against 1982 and 1989 Lynch Bages.  The '94 Petrus was a surprise as it showed some lovely sweet red fruit and seemed fully mature, drinking beautifully now, with great balance and texture.  The best '94 Bordeaux that I have had!  The 1982 Lynch Bages also showed well.  Red and black fruits with leather and spice with nice minerality.  This '82 appeared to be fully mature and was drinking well. The '89 is a great Lynch but is way too young as it was showing a lot of tannins.  I have 2 cases and would not touch for another 5 years minimum. I love Lynch but am currently drinking the '60’s, '70’s and the early- to mid-'80’s as they need time.

The Dessert flight was interesting with the 99-point 2001 Rieussec and the 100-point 2001 Climens.  I thought none of them showed as well as the Suduiraut or Yquem, the stars of the '01 Sauterne vintage.

Dinner was over but there was still some drinking to do so I opened a 2000 DRC Echezeaux. This wine is still very young with a nose of black cherry, soy, spice, mushroom and a florality.  I love the power and structure of this wine and will revisit it in a few years.  I also opened an 03 Rayas that was not in Steve’s Blog.  This did not disappoint. It was not a blockbuster but showed the classic Kirsch, strawberry, and spice that makes this wine special.  Classic Grenache flavors but none of the overripe fruit that is normally associated with this vintage.

The full Monty.

It was another great night of wine discussion and appreciation as it is very interesting to drink these great wines and compare them to their peers.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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