By: Ryan Tedder
Wow what an incredible evening of wine drinking with friends new and old! I am the Marky Mark of the Graileys team-or the New Kid on the Block if you will-and epic nights like these are the norm for Graileys, but I was still somewhat awestruck by the quality and quantity of amazing fine wines enjoyed at this wine mecca tucked away in Dallas. Freaking awesome!
We had the pleasure of hosting Geoffroy Loisel from Billecart Salmon for a memorable Champagne Friday accompanied with fresh hot chips to set off the precise and electric wines of Billecart. As to be expected the lineup was stellar but the Roses specifically stood out from the pack. The NV Billecart Salmon Brut Rose was pretty and elegant but also generous with its high toned red flower and red fruit aromas. Rose petals, rose water, cotton candy, crushed raspberries, wild strawberries and a chalky minerality dominated the wine. The 2002 Billecart Salmon Elizabeth Salmon Rose was on another level-it tasted like the regular brut rose plugged into an electrical outlet-the wine had a powerful, minerally electric wave the carried the wine all over the palate and the finish was a staggering 2 minutes. The wine really sat in the mouth and just churned out layers of red fruit and minerality. Fresh figs and strawberries with cream and toasted baguette. Impressive juice for sure!
My next favorite was the 2000 Billecart Salmon Nicolas Francois Brut-this wine would easily go for another 20+ years. Geoffroy commented that he had recently tasted a 1961 of the same wine and that it was still fresh and powerl. This wine also maintained a firm acidic backbone but the fruits were more sweet citrus, yellow apples, quince and sourdough bread. White flowers and chalk mingled in the wine too adding tension to it. The 1999 Billecart Salmon Blanc de Blancs tasted like the color white-how appropriate! There was a meyer lemon, lychee, kumquat tartness and daisys, spearmint, pine, and chalk aromas. The wine would benefit from extended aeration or more time in the bottle because it was so crystalline and powerful that it was hard to taste the nuance. Really powerful BldBl. The NV Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve is a great daily brut. It was not too dry and not too sweet. The flavor profile was a football with a precise attack, a fat middle and a laser beam finish. Indicative of the entire lineup-these wines have verve and precision. What a great Champagne house!
After that great start these were my wines of the week – or WOW wines! The 1996 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay is arguably the best Champagne is the world based on the market price for current vintages. It is a single vinyard 1.7 acre walled vineyard in the Grand Cru Pinot Noir village of Ambonnay. It is a Blanc de Noirs made from 100% Pinot Noir-this is actually the exact wine I was tested on at my last Advanced Sommelier Service Exam for Champagne Service. What a treat to actually taste it! The wine was a red ghost that floated on the palate the rest of the evening. I felt like a bing cherry specter with a rose petal wreath floated into eternity on the expansive and toasty finish. The signature Krug power and finesse were all over this wine.
Next 2 fantastic 1982 Bordeaux were presented and they were singing! The 1982 Mouton Rothschild was majestic as the aromas oozed out of the bottle right as the cork was pulled. Red currant, cedar, graphite, tobacco, spice box, black cherry, melted minerals were stuffed into this great wine and it didnt need any time to open up. Definitely drinking at its apex. The 1982 Cos d’Estournel from St. Estephe lacked in the aromatic complexity of the Mouton but was more texturely powerful and even a bit burly on the palate. Turned wet earth, cassis, black truffle, pipe tobacco and iron brooded in this powerful wine that screamed for Chateaubriand and good friends. The 1982 Bordeaux vintage is still powering along with the best Chateaux Grand Vin drinking at their apex.
As Graileys is Welsh for the “House of Burgundy” we had to consume some amazing vintage white and red Burgs! All three of the whites were singing! The 1998 Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne was drinking beautifully with butter, hazelnut, buttered popcorn, baked apple pie and limestone minerality. Each white built on the last as the class of Beaune whites forced its will onto our collective palate. 1999 Louis Jadot Chevalier Montrachet les Demoiselles was a special wine. It is sourced from a micro-parcel of the already world famous Chevalier Grand Cru. The wine was liquid gold-it possessed more spring honey and honeysucle and more of a bosc pear and white peach fruit profile. Even bruleed pineapple emerged in this powerful even tropical white Burg. Lastly the 1996 Jean Noel Gagnard Batard Montrachet took the cake for me. It was bottled sunshine and the palate weight and textural richness of the wine seperated it from its peers. Apple tart, honey, limestone, tangerine, orange blossom, daisys and creamy, toasty, buttered brioche all abounded from the wine. It just kept getting better until the last drop.
The reds were kind of like the Karate Kid-the 2010 Faiveley Mazis Chambertin was doing one legged kicks on trees stumps and catching flies with chopsticks while the 1989 Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley monopole looked on divising the next fence to paint and hand rubbing medical treatment to apply. The 89 was drinking in a perfect place and the black cherry, red licorice, truffle, forest floor and pipe tobacco were all in balance and the soft round tannins and acid were in perfect supple harmony. The 2010 tasted of class and potential. The red fruits were still somewhat tart but mouthcoatingly powerful. The morel mushroom, cigar, turned earth and red currant / cranberry fruit were all their in spades-they just lacked finesse due to the brut force the wine was holding back.
And then because at our very core we are funloving hedonists we endulged in a myriad of great Cabs from around the world. The lineup included in no specific order 2008 Robert Foley Howell Mtn Lottery Cab, 2008 Ehlers 1886 Cab, 1997 Fisher Coach Insignia, 2009 Jacquelynn by Boswell, 2010 Beringer Knights Valley Reserve Cabernet, 2009 Labor of Love Cab Franc Blend from Behrens Family, 1999 Merus Cab, 2009 Handwritten Cab, 2000 La Croix de Beaucaillou and a little 1996 Elderton Command Shiraz. A truly special and epic night had by all! Cheers.