A self explanatory title. And here we go.
1999 Hanzell Chardonnay Sonoma Valley
Rich, ripe, oaky chard, as expected. Getting on just fine, though, provided that rich, ripe and oaky is what you like. Sort of a fat balance. The George Foreman of chardonnay based wine.
1996 Frederic Esmonin Griottes Chambertin Grand Cru
Stemmy, earthy, sour cherry nose leads to a palate that is rather firm and acidic, yet one dimensional. Closed? Or goin' nowhere? If I were a betting man I'd say the latter but I know better than to bet, particularly when a wine's development is in question. That said, 5-2 odds that this wine only gets marginally better.
1996 Frederic Esmonin Gevrey Chambertin Estournelles 1er Cru
Baked red fruit aromas show some interesting advancement, though they do lack focus and layered nuance. A bit rough and tumble on the palate, with tangy dried cherry fruit and slightly unbalanced acidity. Still, this is a much more enjoyable bottle than the GC above.
1970 Chateau Beychevelle St Julien
A gem from the famous Mahler Besse cellars in Bordeaux, always a good sign regarding a wine's provenance, provided it hasn't changed hands much or at all along the way, of course. In this case the bottle came directly from their cellars, though, and it showed terrifically. A slightly sweet smoky balance of fruity and savory aromatics waft from the glass. Classic. Savory cherry flavors on the palate, with just a hint of herbaceousness, velvety texture, good length, and elegance for days. Once again, a classic. Five stars, Five mics, Five @'s, and 95 points.
1994 Pahlmeyer Merlot Napa Valley
'70 Beych was a tough act to follow, and unfortunately for Pahlmeyer it was in such a position. Perfectly acceptable wine, with a ripe sweet, dark fruited nose leading to a more ripe, front loaded example of red wine. Still balanced, just a different type of balance from a different part of the vine growing world.
1985 Veuve Clicquot (1.5L)
Big, toasty, yellow fruited nose, with some golden currants and other ripe fruits present. Ripe and showing a bit softer, fleshier, and flabbier (that's champagne flab, by the way, so not all that flabby) than I might have expected. Better, and enjoyed in the past year: Clicquot's 1988 and 1980. At least that's how the respective bottles showed for me this year.
1962 La Lagune Haut Medoc (1.5L)
La Lagune is, for lack of a better way of putting it, something of a 'super haut medoc' for the quality of its terroir, its wine, and track record of ageing. I have enjoyed tasting this wine from such diverse vintages as 2003 and 1998, which says something as I rarely enjoy the taste of young to middle aged Bordeaux these days. This showed a real smoky, meaty quality on the nose. Think Bubby's brisket - if you had a bubby who made brisket, that is. Otherwise, just think braised short ribs. Sweet and savory flavors are ripe and spicy, sort of a vinous version of the house chipotle ketchup at Monk's Kettle in San Francisco (purveyors of the best tasting best value plate of fries in the city). With all respect to this bottle of wine, which is still drinking at 48 years of age, I would prefer those fries and chipotle house ketchup.
1995 Ridge Jimsomare Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains
One of my favorites of this group, from the great state of California and the premier grape growing region of the Santa Cruz mountains, Jimsomare is composed of all cabernet from this little known Ridge vineyard, located below the Monte Bello vineyard, and below the fog line. It generally only goes to Ridge wine club members. For those nostalgic for classic Paul Draper wines, here's one for you. 12.9% abv. Rustic dark berries and currants on the nose (brambly currants, not syrupy cassis, ya listening Napa?). Firm but elegant flavors on the palate, with very pretty dark and blue fruits, bright acidity, tannins that are still on the youthful side and overall just a wonderful balance and presence. Terrific.