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Old 06-12-2003, 04:27 PM
Bill Spohn
 
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Default 1980 Yquem, 49 Bordeaux, 1934 Riesling....

I owe most of my most memorable wine tasting experiences to Albert Givton, who
splits his time between Vancouver and Paris. On Tuesday, Albert held another
one of his always fascinating tastings, and in the process provided me with
some of my very best wines of the year (or for that matter any year).

The wines were served blind and identified after we wrangled with them a bit.
There were several surprises.

1980 Ch. d'Yquem - what a delightful way to start the tasting! The nose on this
wine just kept getting better and better with time in the bottle, and when I
went back to it and tasted the dregs an hour later it had opened up even more.
There was not much botrytis in the nose, and I figured it for an Yquem, but one
of a lesser year. My suggestions of 1987 or 1984 were off a little, but I had
the right idea. Medium colour, smooth nose that got more citric with time.
Quite sweet, but clean and with good acidity, I think this wine would work much
better with foie gras than would a richer vintage.

The next wines require some explanation. In the 1970s, California wines were
becoming stereotyped and it was accepted wisdom that their forté lay in
cabernets and perhaps zinfandels. A couple of winemakers, Andre Tchelistcheff
and Chuck Wagner rebelled against this and decided to prove that they could
make world class pinot noir.

Tchelistcheff was best known for his work with cabernet at Beaulieu Vineyards,
but he claimed "The best two wines I ever made in over 60 harvests were my 1946
and 1947 Pinot Noir at Beaulieu."

Similarly, Wagner was a cab giant, but refused to be type cast. The results,
together with another interesting wine formed the next flight.

1976 Beaulieu Vineyards Los Carneros Pinot Noir - this was made as an
experimental wine in very small quantities from grapes grown in the region that
was later, but not yet in 1976, to become the finest microclimate for pinot
noir in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. This wine was a Cote de Nuit ringer,
albeit with a pronounced dill, dry cement and rubber nose. Soft tannins and
slightly astringent at the end, this medium bodied wine had a slightly hollow
bit in the middle but it returned to finish well.

1976 Caymus Special Selection Pinot Noir (Napa) - the nose on this one was
riper with cherry notes, and the wine was still well structured and amazingly
firm.

1977 Mirassou Harvest Selection Cabernet Sauvignon - unfiltered wine from
Monterey County, without one iota of weediness or vegetal quality so common
with grapes from the area. Dark, with a minty ripe nose, medium body and soft
tannins ending with good length. Still alive and kicking. I went through a case
of Mirassou Anniversary Selection Zinfandel from the same vintage, and it was
an excellent wine that lasted well into the late 1990s. One has to wonder why
the winery has become known as a maker of budget wines of good value, with none
of these exceptional examples in recent decades.

We then had another sweet wine before moving on to more reds, and the wine
turned out to be one of the most remarkable wines I have ever tasted.

1934 Hermannhoff Niersteiner Rehbach Riesling Auslese - I have a fair bit of
experience with, and fondness for, Rieslings from the 1971 and 1975/6 period,
and more limited experience with the excellent 1966 wines, and that is what I
guessed this to be, not for a moment thinking it could possibly be more than 30
years older! When this wine was being bottled, Hitler was busy combining the
positions of Chancellor and President, and becoming "Führer" of Germany,
followed by the "Night of the Long Knives" purge. In America, prohibition
ended, John Dillinger was gunned down in Chicago, and Al Capone was moved to
Alcatraz. It had a notable baked apple nose, medium sweet in the mouth, and
was lively and long. It had been held in the original bottle with original cork
until 1998 when it was recorked. The bottle was typical but heavier glass than
we are used to today. Fascinating experience!


1949 Ch. Rouget - this Pomerol was doing memorable things in the forties and
fifties, but went into eclipse after that until the late 1990s. This wine
showed a typical light mature colour, but it still showed lead pencil in the
nose, lots of tannin, but an offsetting sweetness. It was clearly a very old
wine, and dried out in the glass over 20 minutes to half an hour, but while it
showed well, it was a quite good.

We next had 3 wines from 1975 that represented changes that took place at the
chateaux that year.

1975 Cos d'Estournel - the last Ginestet vintage. slightly closed but decent
nose, some fairly good fruit in the middle, but over all an austere wine
lacking in generosity.

1975 Grand Puy Lacoste - notable loss of colour, and the hallmark tannins of
the vintage, but there is (barely) enough fruit backing them to make it all
worthwhile.

1975 Pichon Lalande - made by Michel Delon at Leoville Las Cases during the
family battle for Pichon Lalande. This was by far the best wine of the three -
darker, forward, smooth elegant and balanced with soft tannins. An excellent
wine. I have seen this wine much further along from less cool cellars, and it
would be fair to say that generally it has past its best years unless cellared
at very low temperature. In contrast, the 75 Las Cases is just hitting
stride....


1963 Croft Port - my second 1963 Crofts in three days! This one was a Charles
Kinloch bottling and showed medium colour and a cardamom note in the nose that
I had not seen on the previous bottle, which added some nice spice to the mix.
Totally ready, a wonderful Port.

















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Old 06-12-2003, 06:12 PM
Joe Beppe Rosenberg
 
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Default 1980 Yquem, 49 Bordeaux, 1934 Riesling....

That 1976 Caymus PN was always a favourite--Charlie Wagner sold me my bottle
after I tasted it--never equated the wine with Burgundy--I viewed it as a
full bore testicular California red wine--others in California have made
Burgundian pinot noir but none with all the richness & charm of this
bottle.....I'm glad its holding up. On the other hand I had a few vintages
of BV's Special Burgundy at Hublein auctions and was merely whelmed.
Somewhere I had the 1976 BV Carneros, I think at the Pope of Parkton's and
it showed promise for that region, but I never tried the BVs from the 40s.
Beside the Caymus PN--Joe Swan's were great examples of what a talented
winemaker and the Cal climate can do with the grape.I was lucky enough to
meet Swan, Milton Eisele, Eleanor McCrea and Leon Adams before they died.
What a rare privilege!!!

--
Joe "Beppe" Rosenberg
"Bill Spohn" wrote in message
...
I owe most of my most memorable wine tasting experiences to Albert Givton,

who
splits his time between Vancouver and Paris. On Tuesday, Albert held

another
one of his always fascinating tastings, and in the process provided me

with
some of my very best wines of the year (or for that matter any year).

foie gras than would a richer vintage.

The next wines require some explanation. In the 1970s, California wines

were
becoming stereotyped and it was accepted wisdom that their forté lay in
cabernets and perhaps zinfandels. A couple of winemakers, Andre

Tchelistcheff
and Chuck Wagner rebelled against this and decided to prove that they

could
make world class pinot noir.

Tchelistcheff was best known for his work with cabernet at Beaulieu

Vineyards,
but he claimed "The best two wines I ever made in over 60 harvests were my

1946
and 1947 Pinot Noir at Beaulieu."

Similarly, Wagner was a cab giant, but refused to be type cast. The

results,
together with another interesting wine formed the next flight.

1976 Beaulieu Vineyards Los Carneros Pinot Noir - this was made as an
experimental wine in very small quantities from grapes grown in the region

that
was later, but not yet in 1976, to become the finest microclimate for

pinot
noir in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. This wine was a Cote de Nuit ringer,
albeit with a pronounced dill, dry cement and rubber nose. Soft tannins

and
slightly astringent at the end, this medium bodied wine had a slightly

hollow
bit in the middle but it returned to finish well.

1976 Caymus Special Selection Pinot Noir (Napa) - the nose on this one was
riper with cherry notes, and the wine was still well structured and

amazingly
firm.



  #3 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 06-12-2003, 06:17 PM
Bill Spohn
 
Posts: n/a
Default 1980 Yquem, 49 Bordeaux, 1934 Riesling....

That 1976 Caymus PN was always a favourite--Charlie Wagner sold me my bottle
after I tasted it--never equated the wine with Burgundy--I viewed it as a
full bore testicular California red wine--others in California have made
Burgundian pinot noir but none with all the richness & charm of this


I suppose the intervening years have mellowed this wine - perhaps had it not
been such a 'raging bull' in youth, it would now be dead?
  #4 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 06-12-2003, 10:43 PM
Joe Beppe Rosenberg
 
Posts: n/a
Default Old Zins & Chards was 1980 Yquem, 49 Bordeaux, 1934 Riesling....

Had the 77 Anniversary Zin from Mirrasou twice in the last 3 years--still
holding up very well. If I recall the Harvest bottling had a tad more oak
aging. Also had the 1969 Dedication bottling PN made for Mirassou by
Chalone's Richard Watson, still drinking well in its gracious decline.

In general speaking of Zins the high alcoholic monsters of the mid to late
70's have held up quite well in time; extensive research in the mid 80's
revealed that the best chards from the mid 70's where not the oak-monster
Chalones and Robert Young vineyards but the more restrained Montelena &
Freemark Abbey and also Stony Hill. Any opinions on this from more recent
experiences??????

--
Joe "Beppe" Rosenberg
"Bill Spohn" wrote in message
...
That 1976 Caymus PN was always a favourite--Charlie Wagner sold me my

bottle
after I tasted it--never equated the wine with Burgundy--I viewed it as a
full bore testicular California red wine--others in California have made
Burgundian pinot noir but none with all the richness & charm of this


I suppose the intervening years have mellowed this wine - perhaps had it

not
been such a 'raging bull' in youth, it would now be dead?





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