Monday, January 5, 2009
Older wines drunk in the past week, with an emphasis on '79
Alright, enough with the birthday and New Year stuff, it's time to catch up on some good old-fashioned tasting notes. Some wines I drank over the past week:
2000 Tarlant La Vigne d'Antan Chardonnay non-graffe
As you might surmise from the title, this comes from a single vineyard of ungrafted chardonnay. There is the trademark Tarlant austere chalkiness, with the extra intensity and focus of a blanc des blancs. I have a sneaking suspicion that this bottle was slightly corked. Not enough for me to detect on the nose, but the wine was not nearly as expressive as I had anticipated. The finish also seemed a bit clipped. Something of a let-down, but I am all the more curious to try another bottle. Does blanc de blancs from ungrafted chardonnay really show an entirely different set of flavors then just a good quality, grower blanc de blancs?
1988 Domaine Mussy Beaune 'Montremenots' 1er Cru
Due to the provenance of this bottle, which from what I had heard was particularly pristine, as well as the fact that the back label said the wine was selected by American Burgundy legend Becky Wasserman, I figured that this would be a well calculated Burgundy risk. Well, unfortunately, the wine only struck one note, a flat middle C on an untuned, neglected upright piano. The development was very poor: minimal bouquet, no interesting secondary/tertiary flavors, just some slightly warm red fruit. Not maderized, but possibly heat damaged? Who knows, I have no experience with the producer, nor wines from the Cotes de Beaune in the '88 vintage. I find it fitting that this and the Tarlant were drunk on New Year's Eve, a holiday known to disappoint those who do not set their expectations a bit lower.
1979 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains
Could it be...another disappointment? '79 was a warm vintage in California, and you really note it here. The acidity is lower than usual for SCM pinot noir. Very woody nose and palate. Redwood (redwood barrels were commonplace in California winemaking until they eventually fell out of favor) type woody. The foresty dark fruit was hanging on for dear life, really drying out. Though the wine did improve slightly in the glass, it was not enough to entice me to try a second bottle should I come across one. Drunk with a similarly lackluster meal at one of my neighborhood's more popular eateries, The Liberty Cafe.
1979 Charles Krug Hearty Burgundy Napa Valley
Peter Mondavi's (the feuding brother you hear about when you tour the Robert Mondavi Winery) Charles Krug label actually made some decent wine in the '70s. And I had a sneaking suspicion that this would be holding up fairly well. After all, the wine is hearty! I have no idea of the varietal breakdown here, but I would guess cab, zin, gamay, merlot, and others. My hopes were confirmed, this wine tasted terrific. We enjoyed it last night with some split pea soup, salad, bread and garrotxa cheese. It tastes incredibly fresh, with very pure, darker berry and black cherry fruits. Excellent balance of fruit and acidity, with tannins that are completely resolved. It reminded me of a simpler, slightly plumper good quality cru beaujolais. Not bad for $5 in the closeout bin.
1979 Niepoort Colheita
I'm not a big port person. It's got to be really special to grab my attention, and unfortunately this was not a really special bottle. I do like a good colheita, especially a white colheita (rare, but you might occasionally see one from Krohn). Colheita ports, or port from lesser vintages which are aged in barrel as opposed to bottle (as are vintage ports), can be a rare treat, combining the bright fruit of vintage ports and the oxidative, dried fruit and nut notes of tawny ports. This Niepoort showed more of the former, but in a fairly simple, straightforward manner. Another advantage of colheitas, though, is that they can be opened and enjoyed over a period of several months, so I have plenty of time to see if this wine eventually wins me over.