An Evening with Inglenook and Philippe Bascuales

By: Ryan Tedder

Inglenook lineup


We had the pleasure of hosting Philippe Bascuales of Inglenook Winery  this week on Tuesday.  He was in town to show some library selections from this iconic winery’s portfolio. Inglenook was Napa’s original First Growth since its founding in 1880 by sea captain Gustav Niebaum in the dust of Rutherford. This piece of dirt has made wines that will easily age 50 years and rival some of the world’s finest Cabernets blind.   Philippe was winemaker at Chateau Margaux before being personally recruited by Francis Ford Coppola in 2011 to become estate manager and winemaker at Inglenook Winery. He was an amazing host as he spoke through Inglenook’s memorable wines and the differences to making world class wine in the Old and New World. We tasted through the following wines:

 2012 Inglenook “Blancaneaux” White Rhone Blend

 2011 Inglenook “Edizione Pennino” Rutherford Zinfandel

 2010 Inglenook “Cask” Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

 Three Year Vertical of Rubicon :  2005 Rubicon, 2009 Rubicon, 2010 Rubicon

The Blancaneaux was wonderfully balanced for a White Rhone Blend which I often find to be somewhat flabby when they are made without balance. The Edizione Pennino Zinfandel was wonderfully “old-school” in that it maintained spicy, earthy rustic notes to go with the sweet and sour ripe fruit background. One of the best in the category for sure. I thought the best QPR wine of the tasting was the 2010 Cask Cabernet. This bottle was good with a little air and great with more of it. This is all about what classic, age-worthy Napa Cab tastes like-black cherry, cassis, cedar, espresso, dry tobacco, mint, dark chocolate and violets. The tannins had a fine caressing sensation of silty grip and the wine took on more aromatic complexity and roundness as it stayed open. I did an offer on this a few months back for $65/btl. The wine was a steal then and it has only improved since then! I had a bottle of 1967 Inglenook Cab a few years back with one of my favorite wine drinking buddies. That wine trumped several other higher end cult cabs-that made me believe in the terroir. I think Inglenook is officially back! The Rubicon were all stupendous for their own reasons. The 2005 was mature and drinking wonderfully being dominated by red fruits and dry roses. Elegant and complex, a delight to drink. The 2009 was massive, dark fruited and full of potential. This needs to lie down for 5 years easy. This has the stuffing! The 2010 was a souped up version of the Cask. You could definitely taste the Margaux pedigree in this puppy. Super aromatic nose of purple flowers and dried herbs, cassis, brambly blackberry and blueberry with menthol and a great tension of tannins, acid and just ripe fruit. Approachable now and it will be fascinating to watch develop. Kudos to this great line up of wines! We ended up drinking copious amounts of great wines after that-as it normally occurs…

Blog Inglenook 7.24.14

The Line Up of Wines Included:

1996 Sauzet Batard Montrachet

2009 Denis Mortet Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes

1993 Hudelot-Noellat Romanee-St-Vivant 

1997 Hudelot-Noellat Richebourg

2002 Frederic Magnien Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er Cru

1999 Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Les Haut Doux

2010 Chappellet Cab, 2006 Bello Family Cab

1988 Heitz Trailside Cab

1998 Chapoutier Hermitage “Le Pavillon”

Good Times had by all!

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Chateau d’Yquem 1990

Blog d'Yquem 90

To say that the 1990 Chateau d’Yquem is fantastic would be an understatement. As I swirled then sniffed, pronounced aromas of apricot jam, poached nectarine, peach, vanilla custard, marzipan, pineapple and orange zest swathed with honey and orange blossom filled the room. In the mouth, it was powerful and structured and as rich and luscious as its deep, golden hue suggested; impressively balanced with a note of orange zest on the finish that provided a nice lift to this wine’s concentrated richness.  The flavors were consistent with the aromas on the nose.

The gorgeous mouthfeel – unctuous and silky – and the depth, intensity and complexity of flavors haunt you.  And the best thing is the finish hangs around for a good three minutes changing from honey to ripe peach and apricot jam then orange zest… yes, crazy! I just want to put a bottle of it in the freezer and pour it over vanilla ice cream and that, folks would be the day I will be eating the world’s most expensive and utterly delicious vanilla ice cream. I know, I’d likely get death threats for this one….

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A Few Goodies in Graileys

By: AJ McClellan

July is typically a little slower at Graileys but last night we had a great night with several members coming in and some great bottles of wine opened up. It all started with a 2007 CVNE Imperial, this Rioja was drinking great! Some of you might remember us offering the 2001 of this wine a few months ago; well I can say you might see the 2007 before long because I was a huge fan of the wine. Soft fruit with delicate tannins and well integrated oak notes.

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Next we popped a Magnum of 1998 Dom Ruinart. We have tasted several of these recently and it is fantastic every time. There was a light yeast note with pretty tropical fruit and hints of lemon zest on the finish.  After the wine opened up a little the minerality started to come through and it finished with a nice toastiness.

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Last but not least we had the 2011 Crocus Malbec, which is Paul Hobbs new project out of Cahors France. This wine is everything you could hope for from a Paul Hobbs project. Juicy tannins with big black fruit and soft tannins this is a great typical Malbec from a fun region!

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1996 Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva



The day started innocently enough with the 1999 Chateau Ausone. This is drinking really well right now and is enjoyable with its deep black fruit core (plums, cassis, blackberries, and black raspberries) and smoky and crushed rock nuances. The palate is full-bodied yet the wine carries the high levels of tannins really well creating this rounded, smooth texture. Great freshness.

When Simon pulled this magnum bottle of 1996 Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva it signaled that the party was about to get serious. And it did not disappoint. Initially muted; very tentative with whiffs of truffle, smoked meat, wet clay and dried herbs barely perceptible on the nose. The palate showed a remarkable elegance with a silky mouthfeel and this deep core of dusty cherry and a tangy cranberry note on the lengthy finish. As the wine warmed up in the glass, the bouquet became more pronounced, detailed and complex. Savory with sweet cherry notes layered with iron, licorice, fig and dried tobacco. A sophisticated wine that kept on changing as it sat in the glass.

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Great Wines Around the Table.

By: AJ McClellan

We had quite the day here at Graileys yesterday! While it wasn’t the most busy day we have had this week it certainly took the cake with some of the best bottles opened…


We started with a bottle of 1993 Giacosa Santo Stefano di Neive Barbaresco that was just beautiful! The wine was a little on the light side but full of sour cherry and great minerality that only grew in the glass as the wine opened. After the Giacosa we popped a 1994 Gaja Barbaresco for comparison. It was great to see the old school Giacosa and taste it up against the more new aged style of Gaja. The 1994 showed much darker in color with stronger black fruits and plenty of tobacco and leather. After opening up for a few hours the Gaja flourished softening around the edges and exploding with beautiful floral notes that showed for a good 45+ seconds on the finish.

Once we got over the Italian kick we decided to move on to Spain with a NV Vega Sicilia Unico Reserva Especial. This is a interesting blend of 1990, 1991, and 1994 vintages of Unico creating a interesting depth of character that you don’t typically find in the wine.  All of the wood spice, cedar, dill, and vanilla were present with ripe red fruit and a subtle minerality that I really enjoyed. Next we took a quick jump over to Saint Julian and popped a bottle of 1996 Ducru Beaucaillou that was stunning! The 96 was full of Bordeaux earth and graphite with a finish of wet tobacco and mushrooms. The final stop was a 2001 Diamond Creek red Rock Terrace that was a fun counter point to the wines we had already been drinking. The Diamond Creek was full of life with vibrant red fruits and a crushed rock minerality that was a real treat after the earthiness of the Bordeaux.

There was a handful of other wines that were opened through the night but the above highlights were a real treat! The best part is today is already shaping up to compete with yesterday, make sure to check in on Monday to see what was popped around the tables!!


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A Tour of White Burgundy 2014

By: Ryan Tedder

White Burgundy Tasting

We had a splendid educational tasting of White Burgundies at Graileys in the back room before the Fourth of July. We have launched a summer educational tasting program of Whites to pair excellently with the Texas Summer. We decided to start with White Burgs because they are our favorite whites in the world. Next we will go to Champagne and finish with skinny bottles from the EU. Good stuff-especially if you want to drink a bunch of great vino under the guise of “education” ;)

As a tour of White Burgundy goes we decided to go from North to South starting in the chalky soils of Chablis. The Chardonnay grape does funny things up here that are hard to replicate but easy to love. The 2012 William Fevre Fourchaume 1er Cru was a great place to start. The 2012 was loaded with power, dry extract, a briny, salty power, green apples, limes, green plums, and musty white flowers. There was a signature cheesy note to go with the tart tropical flavors and the expansive thoroughly dry finish. This wine really makes me believe in 2012 Chablis-wow!

Next we transported ourselves to the top of the hill of Corton Charlemagne at the most northern part of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy fabled Cote d’Or. We chose a bottle of 2011 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru. Martray is the largest landowner of Corton Charlemagne and they craft a benchmark wine that I prefer to drink in it’s first 7-8  years of life. The baked apple pie, caramelized bosc pears, honey, roasted nuts, marzipan, caramel, cinnamon, and raw power of the wine made it an instant hit! It got better as it stayed open and it was in my opinion the best wine of the night. I like oak, extract and power in White Burgs-esp Grand Crus-so this was right in my sweet spot. Buttered popcorn, toffee, and even salt…Wow

We traversed just south to the large white village of Meursault-home to no Grand Crus (for no good reason) and a sea of superlative Premier Crus and prestigious producers. We chose to go with a rising star in the world of White Burg, 2008 Arnaud Ente Meursault from Magnum. Mark my words, this domaine is THE Meursault producer to watch for precise wines of multifaceted depth and extreme ageworthiness. Arnaud Ente learned his winemaking prowess at Coche-Dury and his signature is extreme cellar cleanliness, a fanatical aversion to oxygen in his wine, and an ability to coax alluring flavors without overly manipulating the excellent grapes that he procures. This wine was laser-like and powerful as well. These 2008 whites (and reds) are extremely open and drinking like champs! Some how this wine showed almost a combination of the first two-there were green plums, tart apples, green pears, and a  fascinating wet stone, mineral, limestone framework. The finish was extremely long as well. I have a feeling this wine will just fill out and take on weight and secondary richness as it ages. A wine to stockpile for the price!

Next we went to the more minerally noticeable village of Puligny-Montrachet. We opened a bottle of 2007 Moret Nomine Puligny Montrachet. Of the three main white villages in the Cote de Beaune, Puligny Montrachet is the smallest producing and finding it in the summer in Texas proved quite difficult! Leflaive, Sauzet and Carillon are some of my favorites. This was the least fruity wine of the tasting. It was all minerals, oak, spices and flowers. There was also some lemon and the 2007 vintage has a really nice textural complexity that is hard to describe. My least favorite of the tasting but the quality was still high and several people enjoyed the juice. A good introduction to the village. 

We followed with a remarkable bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet from another young gun of White Burg-Benjamin Leroux. For many people white Burgundy means Chassagne-Montrachet. These wines fetch the highest prices and they represent the “classic” rich, dry style of the area with plump tree and stone fruit, French oak, full malo and high amounts of dry extract and power. The 2011 Benjamin Leroux Chassagne-Montrachet Abbaye de Morgeot 1er Cru was a strong second in my opinion for best of the tasting. The nose had a touch of tell-tale match stick but than did not taint this classy bottle of wine. Leroux crafts the Comte Armand Clos de Epeneaux Premier Cru in Pommard for his day job. Many would say this is the best bottle of Pommard made today and is easily of Grand Cru status. We tried through a number of his wines and the quality was hard to ignore. This was our favorite white of his and it showed today. There was an umami savory richness and the nose had a sea breeze, limes, lillies, salt, green tree fruit and exotic musty aromas almost like dried elderflower. On the palate the firmness of the chalky mineral power was noticeable and confident, the fruit was more yellow in color and plumper than the nose. The oak was not apparent and the finish was extremely long. This wine kept you coming back saying what is that and why does it taste so good. Really impressive wine-looking forward to tasting the 2012′s.

To complete our maiden voyage through White Burgundy we dropped way down south to the Maconnais and Pouilly Fuisse. Every time I say this village name to my friend he reminds me of the Cheech and Chong reference from Up in Smoke. Youtube it if you haven’t seen it-good for a midday laugh. The Maconnais and specifically the Pouilly area is dynamic and diverse today. With the prices up North in the Cote d’Or at record prices, smart winemakers and entrepenuers are identifying the best single vineyards (Climats) in the area. They are buying or leasing the land and grapes and making rich wine of very high quality for great prices. This area is slightly warmer than the Cote d’Or and the fruit and texture of the wine is fatter. We chose an excellent operation to represent the region. The 2010 Bret Brothers Pouilly Fuisse Terres de Vergisson showed itself well but lacked the distinct minerality of the previous wines. A great bottle of Chardonnay that would give most New World expressions a run for their money. The ripe orchard fruit and citrus fruits were delightful and there was a light note of wet stone. Light butter, vanilla, and oak spice notes created nice balance. A really great bottle of drinking juice.

Great times had by all!! Don’t miss the Champagne and Skinny Bottles later this summer. Cheers





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The Singular Greatness of Richebourg

richebourg gros freres 2008

This kind of experience is how wine gets under our skin time and time again. As soon as I put my nose to a glass of 2008 Gros Frere et Souers Richebourg, I was hooked. Highly aromatic with distinct red fruit notes of cherries, strawberries and red plums with undertones of Asian spice and flowers. Powerful on the palate that builds in intensity as the wine glides from the front to the back of the mouth; broad textured with soft and silky tannins. Persistent length; sumptuous flavors of red fruits on the finish.  Clearly youthful right now but the ripe fruit and the silky mouthfeel makes this wines such a pleasure to drink now. Given the wine’s balance between the structure and generous fruit, this will age very well.

photo mouton 95


Other notables from this line-up included the 1996 Chateau Montrose which was sported a knockout nose of cedar and roasted herbs with a nice core of blackcurrants and blackberries; a nice whiff of roasted espresso beans. Full bodied with very polished tannins and smooth, rounded texture. As the wine warmed up in the glass, it showed more complexity with layered notes of sweet black fruits, wet clay, cedar, roasted sweet herbs and a smoky/toasty oak notes. I love where this wine is now –tons of fruits in the front but showing some semblance of flavor and structural maturity — but this has definitely has the stuffing to age very well in bottle.

A bottle of 1999 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle was likewise shared around the table. This was the second bottle I’ve had in the last week and I thought this was more evolved that the bottle before than. Very savory with a bouquet of smoky tar, iron, forest floor and earth layered with plums, baking spices and licorice. Well-structured, supple textured with medium finish.

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Its Good to be Home!

By: AJ McClellan

It sure is great to be back in town! For my birthday week I went down to Belize for a fly fishing trip and while it was incredibly relaxing and unbelievably beautiful there was one major thing that was lacking… WINE!


It was great to get back into the flow of great wine and what better way than a 2005 Staglin…  This great wine has David Abreu’s stamp all over it with dark raspberry and black cherry corsing through the glass. The wine was just starting to get a touch of packed earth minerality and the violets were blooming on the nose. In the mouth this wine was still a monster with huge tannins and a long delicious finish. While it was a little bigger than what I normally taste it sure was a stunning bottle!

Next to cleanse the palate we had a duo of Champagne magnums starting with the 1998 Dom Ruinart and ending with the 1999 Bollinger Grande Annee… The Dom Ruinart was especially approachable with bold yeasty notes and freshly picked apricot and pineapple. While in stark contrast the Bollinger was heavy on the palate and full of quince, honey suckle, and broche. The pair were fantastic together representing a yin and yang of Champagne.

To finish off the night we popped a pair of 1995 wines from opposite ends of the earth… a 1995 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill from the Napa valley with beautiful ripe fruit and a lovely minerality that bordered on earthy funk. The palate was in a perfect place with medium tannins that have been smoothing out for the past 19 years and were drinking like velvet. In comparison we had the 1995 Vieux Chateaux Certan from the right bank of Bordeaux. This wine was in a delicious drinking window as well but in a completely different way. The Tannins were still smooth and silky but where there was a massive fruit note on the Diamond Creek this wine was primarily earth and foliage backed by dark blueberries and crushed red cherries. The mothfeel was much the same but with a touch more rustiness to the VCC….

All wines were stunning and the night was a complete success. It feels good to be home!

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1996 Montrose Kills It!

montrose 1996

The 1996 Montrose was the last bottle opened for the evening and what a showing! Perfumed and rich with upfront nose of blackcurrant and black cherries laced with camphor and cedar. A subtle hint of barbecue smoke added complexity. Supple mouthfeel with very polished texture. With time, the wine showed a nice minerality that became more apparent on the lengthy finish. Lovely drinking window.

We did start the afternoon with the stunningly elegant and aromatically compelling 2002 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. Ripe and complex on the nose marrying ripe nectarine, peach and fresh apricot with bright lemon and acacia undertones along with almond cookies. The palate was broad and generous but showed a core of energy from the zippy acid. Impressive length.

This was followed by the 1969 Remoissenet Chambolle-Musigny. Sweet fruit aromas emanated from the glass. Scents of fresh cherry and strawberry on the front with hints of iron, minerality and raw meat. Silky textured with incredible finish.

And just to round out the day, we also tasted the opulent and richly fruited 2009 Checkerboard Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine’s intense nose boasted aromas of crème de cassis, blueberry, plums and sweet toasty oak with just a hint of violets. In the mouth, this was full-bodied and opulent with refined tannins that created a massive wine without any hard edges.


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Make it a Grand Cru Summer!

By: Ryan Tedder

Nothing like Tuesday evenings at Graileys! Some of our best clients took some of the riches with them to dinner-it was just 2003 Penfolds Grange (100 pointer), 1992 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon (Unreal!) & 1969 Remoissenet Chambolle Musigny (Needed air!)- No biggie. Some other wines were so good that they didn’t make it out the door! It was a fun night all around.

blog burg 1Three of them especially stood out. As rare as these wines are, it is such an amazing treat to drink them on a regular basis. As LA & I often say, a bad day at Graileys is like a good day almost anywhere else.

burg blog 2


1999 Louis Jadot Chevalier Montrachet “Les Demoiselles” Grand Cru  was stunning as always. Ever bottle except 1 of this beautiful wine have been spot on each and every vintage. Their was beautiful tension between the grippy dry extract,  limestone minerality, noticeable acidity, and luxurious oak. The wine came across the palate like a kaleidoscope of flavors. Baked apple pie, spun honey, honeysuckle, candied lemon, dry white flowers, bruleed pear and toasted, buttered bread and honey roasted peanuts. It drank like a boss!

2000 Vincent Girardin Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru was a complete contrast in styles most likely due to vintage. The Vinny G was fat, plump and opulent. Over the top creamy peach yogurt, baked apple pie, butter, pineapple, mandarin orange and caramel. The oak was lavish, the fruit ripe, and the wine was almost reminiscent of an older Aubert Chardonnay. Eye opening comparison of the two.

1998 Dominique Laurent Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru was the best red Burgundy of the night. This producer makes wines thatr show better younger than some of the more traditionalist Domaines of the Cote d’Or. In my opinion this sacrifices total ageability and the wines are rather blousy and fruit forward. Nonetheless the wines taste quite good. The myriad of red fruit was spot on: cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries, pomegranite, sandal wood, dried roses and baking spices took me to Russian River with more “other stuff” going on. Enjoyable but definitely not going to get better in the cellar-drink up! 


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