Monday, August 12, 2013

Harlan and Pingus shine at private Capital Grille tasting (Guest post by Ron Siegel)

We met Saturday night at the Capital Grille with our good friends the Edwards and Montoya's to drink some highly anticipated wines, some of which we had never shared together (Harlan and Pingus). It was a great night that lasted more than 6 hours to account for the wines opened, stories told, and sidebar activities (including Andrew demonstrating to us and the restaurant the new Coravin system that we had all just recently purchased).

We started with a white wine flight of  2002 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne  and 2007 Didier Dagueneau Silex. The Corton had lemony and crushed rock notes and the great acidity had it drinking more like a great Chablis than a Corton Charlie. This wine had a more elegant and austere style than the fatter and richer style that I have gotten from this producer in other vintages. This is still a baby and I will save my remaining bottles for consumption several years down the line. The Silex was a real beauty showing lemon, sea shell, grapefruit, and pear with a touch of flint. Really crisp with tart acidity. This wine is probably one of the best Sauvignon Blancs on the planet. 

Our next flight was devoted to Champagne. The NV Krug Grand Cuvée had a light yellow color with a nose of lemon, hazelnut, biscuit, and green apple. This was very refreshing and the bottle was drained rapidly. The 1990 Dom Perignon drank beautifully. I love older vintage Champagnes and this did not disappoint. Nice medium bronze color that almost looked like a rose in the dim light. Some apple, pear, honey and creme brûlée with some mocha and a kiss of burnt orange and pastry dough. Really great stuff!

We kicked off the reds with a pair of Bordeauxs. The 1990 Beausejour Duffau has always been a consistent RP100 wine. That night it showed a bouquet of blueberries, blackberries, licorice and exotic spices with graphite, forest floor, and mocha. On the palate full-bodied, rich with a balanced tannin structure that should allow this wine to drink beautifully over the the next 20 years. The second wine was the 1989 Cheval Blanc. This vintage was a lighter and a more feminine style of Cheval showing nice red berry fruit with floral notes of lavender, olive, green pepper, and soy. I love Cheval and this was a nice treat.

We followed this up with two red wines that were disappointments considering we had high hopes because of the vintage one the one hand and the producer on the other. The 1947 Volnay Lois Lavirotte & Fils exhibited ripe cherry and rhubarb -- a little too ripe, maybe even porty -- with damp earth, mushroom, iodine, and cinnamon. I drink a lot of older Burgundies and this one did not cut it. Very disappointing for a 1947. I have no idea what was going on with the 2000 Conterno Monfortino Barolo as we just had the ‘02 and ‘04 vintages of this wine and both were absolutely stunning and very aromatic. This bottle was completely shut down and not yielding much on the nose or palate. We should have decanted it from the beginning but unfortunately it was popped and poured. Not sure if it would have made a difference. A real shame as Monfortino is one of my favorite Barolo's.

The Rhone flight more than made up for the disappointment of the prior. We started with the 2007 Rayas CDP. What a vintage? Sheer power that will eventually turn more to elegance and finesse but you could tell that everything is there for it to become one of the top vintages of Rayas. Kirsch liqueur and raspberry jam came to mind along with garrigue, lavender, pepper, and Asian spice. I am glad I have a case of this put away while I enjoy the ‘95, ‘98, and ‘00 which are starting to hit their drinking windows. The 2000 Usseglio Deux Freres CdP  had black cherry and violets dominant on the nose. Burgundian in style with some Provençal herbs, earth, and pepper. Very elegant and suave in style. The 1998 Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage was the final wine in this flight.  This vintage had a somewhat slightly muted nose of red fruits, game bird, earth and leather with some meat, violet and iron. This was a lighter and less ripe vintage for La Chapelle as compared to their 1989 and 1990.

The Pingus flight was next in line. I had never tried the wine before, so when I found out that Keith just picked up the ‘07 I thought it would be a good time to open one of the ‘01's that I had in my cellar. The 2001 Pingus exhibited blue and black fruits, cassis, tobacco, chocolate, and pencil shavings on the nose. Classy and very Bordeaux-like, this wine could pass for a 1st growth. Andrew called it a very modern style in Ribera del Duero. I liked it's elegance and balance. The 2007 Pingus had some black and red fruits, spice and cola. It tasted more new world as it had riper and jammier fruit. Fatter and richer in style than the 2001 with a creamier finish. This will turn out to be an excellent vintage for Pingus, it just needs more time. While pricing has almost reached first growth levels the wine is extremely well made and it was a joy to taste these 2 vintages side by side. These were decanted 3 1/2 hours before serving.

Next up and our official last flight, Harlan. 1996 Harlan. Nose of blueberry and black currants with cedar, smoke, tobacco, and graphite. Nice length, and well balanced, just starting to reach it's drinking window I really love the elegant style of this vintage. 2003 Harlan. This again was a contrast in 2 styles where you had a more elegant style versus a riper and richer one. The ‘03 is off the charts with rich blackberry fruit. This is more full-bodied with  bigger and richer fruit than the 1996.  Showing sweet cassis and chocolate with smoke and graphite. I can see why Harlan is considered the First Growth of California, as they are extremely well made. Bill Harlan has one of the best vineyards sites in California and spares no cost in trying to make some of the best wines in the world. A real treat to taste these!

Andrew wasn't finished yet and continued to open more bottles, one being a 1998 Togni which I remembered enjoying but too tired to take notes and another being a really nice NV Champagne made in a Cuvée style.

This was another amazing night with good friends who all share the same passion, enjoying good wine and food and most all having a great time when doing it. This is what it is all about!!!!!

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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