Champs for Champs on Champagne Friday

What a fun night at Graileys! We started Champagne Friday with 4 Champagnes, three small Growers and 1 famous Champagne House.  The first Champagne we poured was the Bollinger Special Cuvee: classic, clean, fresh, easy, and tasty. Next was one of the most interesting Champagnes of the night: NV Vouette & Sorbee Fidele. It was yeasty, with light, sweet brioche notes, juicy Bosc pear and lime zest. I kept it in the glass for about two hours and as the bubbles faded, more biscuit notes developed but this time, with sweet brown butter. It had this lovely richness to it that really balanced bright minerals. This Champagne drinks like a still wine.  AJ and Ryan mentioned decanting this one, which is why I left it in the glass for two hours, only going back to it, sip by sip, to check its flavor status. Superb in quality, but very low in quantity, this is one of the most unique Champagnes I have ever tasted.

The last two bubs we poured were Grower Champagnes: the Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier Premier Cru and the NV H. Billiot Fils Brut Rose from Ambonnay. The Vilmart & Cie was one of my favorite Champagnes of the night. These wines are full bodied and rich due to oak aging and old vines. The Billiot Rose was more on the clean side with light, just ripe and even green strawberries with a hint of sweetened lemon rind, and sweet cherry gummies.  It would not be Champagne Friday without Ruinart Brut Rose! Compliments from a member, this Champagne had deep minerals, riper strawberry fruit, a hint of rose water, and a touch of baking spices. Much more weight and depth of flavor compared to the Billiot Rose; but then again, they are Ruinart.

After all the bubbles were poured, more serious reds came out from the lockers and cages. First red that was opened the 2004 Leroy Musigny. Amazing wine! It was so complex in all degrees.  First opened at 4pm, the nose was dried red cherries, raspberries and red plums, dried herbs, and it had hint of hemp and eucalyptus, which reminded me of the 2008 Chateau Rayas. I let this sit in my glass throughout the night, which then developed more earth and mushroom notes in the nose and the palate evolved with a powerful richness of fruit and minerals. My favorite wine of the night!

The next set of reds, we had a chance to compare vintages old and young from classic producers of California and Bordeaux. We started with 1999 Chateau Montelena vs 2005 Favia Cerro Sur. Both completely different styles in production, Montelena being more old school, reserved fruit and alcohol compared to the attention grabbing Favia. The Montelena seemed a bit closed when opened, considering the age and winemaking style, the fruit was soft and lean with baked red cassis and black berries; whereas the Favia was a fruit bomb with plump, juicy black fruits. More secondary notes were present in the Montelena: cedar dust, leather, tobacco with a black and red tea medium finish. The Favia screamed with sweet violets and baking spice, fresh vanilla beans and cinnamon integrated harmoniously in its luscious, powerful palate. These wines seemed like they were from two completely different worlds.

Going to Bordeaux, we tasted a Third and a Second Growth, one old and one young: 1978 Chateau Palmer, 2009 Chateau Leoville Poyferre (respectively). The ’78 Palmer was the more traditional Bordeaux, nothing but earth, black truffle, black pepper, leather, and hints of bitterness from black tea, all balanced by deep black fruit and dusty minerality. It was dirty, but a good dirty. The 2009 Leoville Poyferre expressed riper black and blue fruit in its youth, with fresh, intense purple flowers, sweet herbs, fresh eucalyptus, and gravel. There were layers of sweet cassis, vanilla stalk, and black tea. Much like how the California Cabs tasted earlier, these two Bordeaux also seemed a world apart.

The last memorable wine of the night was a 2000 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Rotenberg Pinot Gris Selection de Grains Nobile. SGNs are really underrated and do not receive the attention they deserve. Intensely aromatic, the glass beamed with sweet apricot, ripe peaches, and caramelized orange zest. This wine is powerful all throughout in sweetness, texture, body, and finish. Without being cloying, the perception of sweetness was beautifully balanced with bright acidity and alcohol strength. The finish was quite lengthy, leaving clues of botrytis on the palate of sweet honey and ginger spice. This was the perfect wine to end another great night at Graileys.

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Other great labels from this very fun night…

1990 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron

2000 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux

2001 Diamon Creek Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 Aubert Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

1996 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la RocheVieilles Vignes

2001 Dominus Napa Valley Cabernet

2006 Radio-Coteau Alberigi Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

NV Pierre Morle Rose Grande Reserve

2009 Arnaud Ente Meursault Les Petits Charrons

2011 Guidalberto Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot IGT Toscana

2004 Stags Leap Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon

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Off-Vintages and “Dead” Wines That Were Rocking!

By: Ryan Tedder

Blog Fun Wines 9.10Another day another stellar session of wine drinking at Graileys! I read loads of wine reviews and notes everyday and I have to say you have to trust your palate and the relationship you have with your wine person. Countless times I have cracked a 95 Point Cab and been underwhelmed or popped an 88 Point “Bad Year” or “Dead” Bottle of wine to have my mind thoroughly blown! The latter occurrence occurred this last week when we had three specific bottles that were really eye-opening.

First we had a wonderful bottle of 2000 Frederic Magnien Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru. The 2000 vintage is drinking amazingly well and is worth buying if you can find any. Although it did not get the media accolades of 1996, 1999 or 2002, this wine was drinking better than most of those years we have tried recently. Clos de Beze is within the mack daddy GC of Chambertin and the wines have a richness and purity of red fruit that is hard to describe. Raspberry coulis, saturated bing cherry, truffle, sweet baking spices, round, supple caressing tannins and pleasing bright acidity on the finish. Roses, pomegranites, cranberry, crushed rocks and dried herbs (marjoram?) also showed up on the classy red that was a pure pleasure to drink. The finish was long and the wine was solid-Bravo Freddy Magnien! His newer labels are easier to read and the capsules are purple in case you see it on the market.

Next we popped a bottle of 2008 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge that is from a “bad year”. I know that 2008 was a wet year and the fruit that was much less ripe than in 2007, 2009 or 2010. For me those conditions created a great wine of terroir at the legendary piece of land that Chateau Rayas owns. I have long thought that great land makes great wines every year all other things being equal. Each year might taste a little different in terms of ripeness or earthiness but that what makes wine so enjoyable right? The 2008 Rayas was almost like a Russian River Pinot Noir when we opened it because of its overly floral nose. A myriad of ripe and underripe red fruits exploded from the glass with dried roses and even mandarin orange zest or powdered sugar? On the palate the wine was lush and generous but maintained a nice tension due to the cooler vintage acidity. After 30 minutes of being opened, some of the Southern Rhone character of the wine started to emerge-dried herb garrigue, black pepper, raw beef and blood. The sweet citrus character remained and the fruit flavors integrated nicely with these new flavors. Quite a spectacular wine I would highly recommend that does not carry the “good year” price premium. A Rayas to drink in the first 15 years.

Lastly we enjoyed a superlative bottle of 1990 Opus One that tasted like one of the best Bordeaux in the room! The 1990 vintage was rated 90 Pts by Parker and he said the wine quit drinking god in 2012 and was now OLD. Well if Old always taste this good sign me up for more Old wine! The wine was drinking perfectly with a ripe cassis and currant core with a certain dried herb Cab family tobacco/anise thing with gravel, spices and leather on the nose. The tannins were mature and had a fine-grained, caressing character. The finish was endless with a mysterious depth of camphor, gravel, red plum and cassis. Probably my favorite wine of the night from a producer that you either love or hate. I loved this one!

As often happens at Graileys, some other wonderful wines were consumed. The wines of the night:

Blog 9.10 Other Wines

The Best 5 Wines were:

2012 Hoopes Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Hoopla “The Mutt” Red

2008 Chateau Clinet Pomerol

2010 Littorai Les Larmes Pinot Noir

1999 Jadot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru

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Good Wines, Good Company

Friday night was pretty intimate with only a couple of members enjoying wine in Graileys’ “Living Room”.  The 2007 “house Meursault” (Arnaud Ente) was opened and enjoyed by all. The citrus and orchid fruits were expressive in an array of conditions: sweet Meyer lemon juice and fresh golden apple on the nose, with more of a charred and preserved citrus with caramelized pear richness going into the mid-palate. With more power than what the 2009 Arnaud Ente Meursault [see my blog from the previous week] has to offer, this wine is just stunning. To me the 2007 showcases a deeper Meursault nature compared to the more focused 2009.  It drank with layers of toasted hazelnuts and salty almond skin bitterness, the perfect amount of Chardonnay yeast, and elegant minerality that all beautifully intermingled with the ripe fruits and earth. Can the 2007 Arnaud Ente Meursault age more? Absolutely!! …As long as we do not drink them all at Graileys ;)

The 1999 Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Clos Vougeot GC was the last vintage for the eldest Rion, Patrice, as he transitioned into his own negociant project with his wife, and is now run by his remaining siblings Christophe, Olivier, and Pascalle Rion . Coming from the “Whopper” of Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy, with a massive 50.59 hectares or 120-ish acres, one must be careful in selecting a wine from Clos de Vougeot GC, for variance of style and quality can be quite dynamic based on the producer and which parcel of Clos Vougeot the grapes are from. Luckily for us, Domaine Daniel Rion is a classic producer and in 1995, the Rion family purchased a just over half an acre parcelof prime CLos Vougeot from an old Burgundian woman for $900,000!! With this money, I think I will do the wine buying and drinking and let the Rions do the winemaking. This key parcel is located just south from Grands-Echezeaux, sitting high up the hillside with perfect exposure and irrigation and is comprised of 40+ year old vines; and as vines become older, the resulting wines develop more characteristics of its terroir. Wildly complex with loads of red fruit, spice and secondary organic earth elements (sommelier’s nice way of saying funky animal stench) shining through, this Clos Vougeot drank as a GC should.

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Other wines that were enjoyed this evening…

2011 Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay Napa Valley

2006 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Champagne

2001 Etienne Sauzet Chevalier-Montrachet GC

2008 Chateau Clinet Pomerol

2009 Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf de Pape

2001 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne GC

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Labor Day Weekend Thirst…

By: AJ McClellan

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After the Labor Day weekend it seemed everyone was ready to come in for a glass of wine! We had a full house and everyone was popping great bottles. We started with a real unique bottle, the NV Vouette Sorbee Blane d’Argile… This is a toasty, yeasty, full, robust Champagne that was blowing my socks off! Next we opened the old vine bottling of 2010 D Ardhuy Corton-Charlemagne La Vigne Dieu which is quickly becoming one of my favorite bottles of white. I remember trying the regular D Ardhuy Corton-Charlemagne almost a year ago and being surprised at how delicate and delicious it was. Well this Old Vine, comprised of 100 year old vines, has done it again! Subtle lemon rind, loads of limestone, with lovely stone fruit and crushed rose petals describe this bottle perfectly. Last but not least is the 2011 Clos des Pape Chateauneuf du Pape which was a BEAST! Rocky minerality with huge leather, smoke, cedar, and allspice! Wow, what a wine. This was a powerhouse Rhone that’s finish went on for days and tannins left your mouth dry, but wanting more…

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Other wines that we tasted were 2007 Arnaud Ente Meursault, 2009 Arnaud Ente Meursault, 2003 Brovia Barolo, 2009 Silver Oak Alexander, 2009 Barbour, 2001 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace.

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Super Rich California Kids

By: Ryan Tedder

Blog 9.4.14 Cali Love

Sometimes we might seem like hopeless Francophiles based on our blogs about consuming copious amounts of Bordeaux and Burgundy. We for every great bottle of Old World wines we consume at least one fantastic bottle of Californian win is consumed. We certainly do enjoy drinking these over the top delights with a little bit of age on them. The beauty of these wines is that they drink amazingly well at far younger ages than their European cousins. Earlier this week we did a nose dive into some wonderfully lush, rich wines with remarkable balance.

We started with Ivan the Fiver and a smashing bottle of 2012 SQN The Monkey White Blend. This was an enchanting blend of Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne that was outstanding. It had more limestone minerality than many other white SQNs I have drank. There was an opulent yellow peach, apricot, quince, cantaloupe nose with some musty white truffle and elderflower notes. The wines was creamy and supple on the palate with a touch of menthol heat. The finish was long and pleasing and this wine had excellent balance for the style. Not the absolute best white SQN ever but fantastic nonetheless!

Next up was the classic Old School producer of Napa, 2006 Caymus Special Selection Cab. As always this wine was solid with a juicy and loamy core of cassis, black cherry and blackberry. There was a slight violet and mocha note to the nose with sweet baking spices and cocoa notes. The wine was drinking wonderfully at 8 years with a sweet core of fruit tannins and a nice creamy, toasty Cinnamon Toast Crunch oak thing going on. This was like drinking candy you really like. I think a Reese’s peanut butter cup with be excellent with it. We slurped this down rather quickly.

The following wine was my first experience trying this producer. The 2009 Maybach Materium Cab Blend made by Thomas Rivers Brown from the Weitz vineyard that lies at 1000 feet in elevation high in the hills east of Oakville @ Rudd. This had a brooding meatiness with saturated black currant, licorice, pipe tobacco and new leather on the nose with a super plump blackberry cobbler, hot embers and heady flowers. The wine is extremely dense and loaded with power and potential. I would personally hold off on drinking another one of these for at least 2 years. The excellence of the wine is still somewhat wound up currently. This list is impossible to get on and now I understand why. Next to Futo as my top couple of New “Culty” wines this year so far.

Last up and the class of the evening was also from the one and only Ivan the Fiver, another superlative bottle of 2010 Colgin Estate IX Red Blend. This is the third bottle of this 100 Point wine that I have drank with our friend. I don;t understand how you can start to age a wine that tastes so damn good right now. Seldom do wines have such a profundity of flavor and extract but yet, they maintain wonderful balance and seamless complexity. Truly a wine to seek out and experience once in your life. There is a myriad of amazing flavors in the wine but the blueberry, violets, asphalt, pencil lead, sweet mulled black cherries, caramel, toast, and raspberry tart. Mind-blowing juice that I am happy to say I called producer, year and bottling…just saying;)

As often happens, several other great wines were consumed over the course of the night.

Blog 9.4.14 Other Wines

The goodies included:

NV Gonet Medeville Brut Rose

NV Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs

2009 Arnaud Ente Meursault

2001 Jadot Clos de La Roche Grand Cru

2011 Papillon Cab by Orin Swift

2005 Realm Beckstoffer To Kalon Cab

2000 La Conseillante Pomerol

2010 Domaine d’Ardhuy Corton Charlemagne Le Vigne Dieu GC

2010 Kosta Browne Russian River Pinot Noir

2002 Ken Wright Elton Vineyard Pinot Noir

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“Chateau Chateau”

It was a big night at Graileys last night as AJ was hosting a Blind Bordeaux tasting of Left Bank versus Right Bank of older vintages and it was also Tristal’s birthday. It is always a party when Tristal is here and with her new found love for “Chateau Chateau” (Not the Barossa Grenache. During LA’s going away party, Tristal converted to Bordeauxism from Californianity! {Graileys is non-devinoinational}), and along with a Bordeaux tasting in the back, you know some killer juice was opened!!

Ryan and I manned the front room while an intimate group gathered in the back for the Bordeaux blind tasting. Blind tasting is hard in general, I know I have made the wrong call for my final conclusions before, but imagine the added difficulties with older vintages of Bordeaux! But based on the wines poured and the happy faces that followed when the tasting was over, I have full confidence everyone enjoyed themselves and especially the wines. Some members did great (nailed four out of six)! Some members were pleasantly surprised that the bank they previously liked the least, they enjoyed the most when tasted blind. Overall AJ threw a great tasting and hopefully more Bordeaux tastings like this will be in our future.

In the Front Room, the night started with one of our house favorite whites: Arnaud Ente’s 2009 Meursault. Not as famous as the historic negociants of Burgundy, Simon discovered this small gem on his last trip to Burgundy.  So much personal care goes into the vineyards and the results of their micro-production white Burgs in Meursault and Puligny Montrachet really shine.  The ’09 Meursault was focused, with citrus zest, and clean minerality, balanced by an underlying savory component and with the classic Meursault richness. We cannot get enough Ente!

The next whites that were opened were my favorites of the night! (I know… how two white wines snagged my love when all kinds of Bordeaux were opened!?! Keep in mind, I did not get to try the Bordeaux {insert extremely sad face}). So I guess I had to settle with the 2008 Chateau Rayas Blanc!! And the 2010 Domaine d’Ardhuy Corton Charlemagne GC La Vigne Dieu!! Yields were really low in 2008, due to a cooler year, for all of southern Rhone, but cooler year or not, it is Chateau Rayas! One of the best if not the very best producer of CdP.  So I am very one lucky bird to been able to try this one. It was so intense with rich perfumed notes of orange blossoms and magnolias, preserved Meyer lemons, quince and apricot, followed by this alluring spice. This wine is the ultimate diet killing combo: alluring and fat! The texture was rich and oily, and I picked up more savory elements in the palate. Delicate white mushroom and hard cheese brininess balanced by brilliant acidity and minerality. It was drinking simply lovely.

One can never fail with Domaine D’Ardhuy. Only in its 3rd generation, the Ardhuy family is causing quite a buzz in Burgundy and in Rhone with their La Cadotte label.  The 2010 Domaine d’Ardhuy Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru La Vigne Dieu was drinking great!  It was pure, and really elegant; balancing ripe orchard fruit and fresh sweet herbs to delicate spice and limestone. You can really pick up its sense of place in the wine that these super old vines produce. Domaine D’Ardhuy also produces a basic Bourgone blanc which drinks like a champ!

I have not even gone over the reds, but I guarantee you, not a bad bottle was opened.  For those living vicariously through this blog, you can imagine what a great night that was had at Graileys.

Chateau Chateau

Other great bottles opened from Thursday night…

2010 Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay

1994 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1985 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

1998 Clos d’Estournel

1985 Chateau L’Evangile

2009 Antica Townsend Napa Valley

1978 Chateau Marguax

2002 Camp Pinot Noir Oregon

1999 Chateau Ausone

2000 Dominique Laurent Mazis Chambertin

1994 Cheat Mouton Rothschild

2007 Realm Cellars The Bard Napa Valley

1996 Chateau la Couspaude

1976 Chateau Palmer

1998 Paul Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage

 

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Skinny Bottle Tasting at Graileys

By: Ryan Tedder

Skinny Bottle Blog 1

With the blazing summer heat of Texas in full effect last week we did our first “Skinny Bottle” Tasting of German, Alsatian and Austrian wines at Graileys. This was a personal affair as well because I love Riesling of all styles and I used to live in the middle of the German wine country in a town called Worms in the Rheinhessen for 2 years. The wines proved difficult to find as only a handful of cases are ever brought of these timeless small production wines. A small group of acid heads come together in the back for an educational and thirst quenching exploration into the slender wonders of this part of the wine world.

We broke the regions into small flights and flashed maps and shots of the vineyards and bottles. It was a grand time. We broke the Riesling of Germany into 3 different Spatlese from 3 distinctly different regions: the Mosel, the Rheingau and the Nahe. The wine we drank started with the 2011 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Spatlese from Mosel. Mr. Haag is an iconic producer of the region and his vineyards wines were written about Thomas Jefferson among others. The 2011 vintage is a classic year and the wines have air airy, weightless feel to them. This wine clocked in at 7.5% abv and there was a good amount of RS balanced with nervy acidity and a fruit cocktail nose of peaches, white cherries, lush tropical fruit and light citronella. There was also wax, honeycomb, exotic flowers, jasmine and starfruit. This was really exotic juice with a precise, long finish. This will age for 20 years easily. Next we went to the Rheingau and the 2011 Spreitzer Winkeler Jesuitengarten Spatlese. Another delicious wine with more mineral, green apple, green plum, melon, pineapple, pencil eraser, white flowers and chalkiness. The wine was a touch weightier but still light on its feet at 8% abv. Probably my #3 in the subgroup but a great wine nonetheless. Lastly we drank the legendary 2012 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese from the Nahe. This was my top here and this producer is certainly one of the finest in all of Germany and the world. The wine was only 8.5% abv but the intensity, density, range of flavors and electricity on the palate was breathtaking. 2012 was another cool here in the small region tucked Southeast of the Mosel and Southwest of the Rheingau. The wine literally reminded me of Pop Rocks on my palate. There were notes of white and yellow peaches, cantaloupe, candied pear, white cherry, subtle cinnamon and lemon oil notes with tart tropical notes as well. The wine was subtly creamy with charming sweet berry fruit flavors. The precision and minerality were top notch and the finish was intoxicating. Bravo!

Next up we traveled to Austria and tried two superlative examples of the more serious wines that are made there. One was a single vineyard Grand Cru Gruner Veltliner from the Kamptal and a Smaragd Riesling from the oldest producer in the country in the Wachau. The 2011 Schloss Gobelsburg Lamm Vineyard Gruner Veltliner from Kamptal was poured from half bottle with the hopes this young wine would show more quickly. This is a personal favorite bottling for me. It needs another 2-3 years in bottle to be truly open knit and it should drink well for another 10 years after that. This Gruner receives some new French oak treatment and the wine has impressive dry extract, glycerin and power. The fruit were in the lemon oil, yellow grapefruit, tart tropical and sweet citrus camps. There were loads of floral aromas with a faint hint of white pepper on the finish. Although the wine needed a bit more time to be ready to drink, this wine still held its own at the tasting. Another smoking wine was the 2008 Nikolaihof, Von Stein Riesling Smaragd from Wachau. This vineyard literally looks like the terraced vineyards of Hermitage formed by the Romans. Smaragd Riesling is the highest ripeness level of Riesling in the Wachau and it equivalent to Auslese Riesling in Germany. This was far drier and weightier than any German Riesling. There was distinct bottle variation on this wine and the second bottle showed more opulently. That is always one of the worries with extremely old school, dirty cellar wineries. The nose was full of musky floral and elder flower notes; a juicy, buoyant, polished palate generously gave us white peach and grapefruit, suffused with floral and sweet herbal essences while the mid-palate showed a shimmering array of mineral nuances and a dynamic, uplifting, and refreshing finish. Quite the ethereal wine to say the least.

Last we finished in Alsace with three of the best producers and three completely different, although completely enjoyable wines that where , as a group, the best wines of the night in my opinion. I hypothesized that the additional bottle aging on two of thee wines probably helped and the 2012 Pinot Gris was amazingly forward and rich. The first wine was the 2006 Trimbach Riesling Frederic Emile. This is a wine I have enjoyed every year that I have ever tried. This particular year had a waxy, chamomile tea and honeyed nose with loads of peach, apricot, nectarine and yellow apple, with hints of guava and dried papaya. Refreshing acid and a medium bodied dry, minerally mid palate with wet stones, smoke and spice notes with a lingering finish. Next up was the 2012 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl and it was my #3 for the night. The opulence of generous yellow peaches, nectarines, bananas, and even pineapple. There was a buttercream, jasmine, exotic spice nose that just got better as it stayed open and the richness and almost sappy weight of the wine was impressive. Definitely a wine that would age for a while too as there was nice acidity and a slight crushed rock minerality. The last wine of the flight and the night was my favorite of the night without a doubt! The 2008 Marcel Deiss Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru was head-spinning good and certainly a wonderful introduction to this biodynamic proprietary field blend style of wine production. This blend of Grand Cru varietals from one of the benchmark Grand Crus of Alsace. This was layered, dense and exotically perfumed and the palate had a density and a mouthcoating texture that few wines have matched. The wine was lively and layered on the palate as well with everything from Citrus to Tropical fruit, a myriad of flowers, wonderful spices, chalky mineral and crushed rock notes with mushrooms and hay. Certainly a Tour de Force of flavor that made me an instant believer in this rock star of Alsace. A producer to seek out for sure!

As often happens at Graileys a wild night of great wine drinking followed:

Skinny Bottle Blog - Rest of the night

Wines from the session:

2009 Arnaud Ente Meursault village

1999 Groffier Chambolle Musigny les Sentiers 1er Cru

2001 Domaine Saint Laurent Chateauneuf-du-pape

2011 Morlet Les Passionment Red

2010 Jones Family Cab

2010 All Great Things Cab

2010 Shafer One Point Five Cab

1998 Trapet Chapelle Chambertin GC

2009 Favia Cerro Sur 

1995 Chateau Latour

2009 Moone Tsai Cab

2008 Fantesca Cab

2009 Renato Ratti Marcarasco Barolo

Great times had by all!

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A Tasting With Raj Parr in Lompoc

By: Simon Roberts

Friday was a good day, a trip down South on the 101 from San Francisco had Greg and I visiting the interesting little town of Lompoc, California. We headed down the coast to visit Rajat Parr at his winery nestled behind the Santa Rita hills. Raj has been making some very impressive wines at Sandhi and Domaine De La Cote in recent vintages so it was great to taste the 2013 out of barrel, get a smell of the 2014 vintage and also taste a few others around the table with Raj and winemaking team over lunch.

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The winery was a hive of activity upon arrival as they were nearing the end of harvest. The warehouse was full of trays loaded with just picked grapes, vats and a working Press. Raj was manning the grill and making  lunch for his team when we turned up. He graciously downed tools and showed us around the concrete vats where the wine was sectioned into vineyard designate vats that had been fermenting for the past week. The crop looked to be plentiful for the 2014 vintage, with Raj commenting on how good the fruit was, it looks like they have two great vintages in a row.

 

We headed off and tasted the 2013 vintage out of barrel, Raj was liking how the 2013 vintage was tasting and Greg and I were in full agreement.

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Both Pinots from Domaine De La Cote were really expressive. The 2013 Domaine De La Cote Bloom’s Field was well balanced out of barrel showing great structure and ripe fruit. I think this wine is coming together beautifully and will be rocking by the the time it hits the bottle. We also tasted the 2013 Domaine De La Cote Santa Rita Hills Pinot from barrel and again the balance was spot on, with a prominent cherry nuance on the nose, and savory notes and light spice on the palate. Finally we tasted the 2013 Sandhi Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir which was more powerful for me than the Cote wines. The balance of fruit and acidity in the wine was again impressive and judging by these barrel samples, 2013 will be a great year for the winery.

At lunch we sat with Raj’s team and his lovely fiance Jessica. We were waited on by Juliette, the delightful six year old daughter of Winemaker Sashi Moorman, Sashi also sat down with us after the last vat was filled. We tasted some local wines from Jim Clendenon, Lutum and Talley Vineyards East Rincon, all from the 2012 vintage. It was interesting to see the team discuss the vineyards and wines from around the area. We also tasted a 2011 Sandhi Encantada Pinot Noir that was drinking very well. It is always interesting to see what a couple of years in bottle do to the wines and this Pinot grew in the glass as we tasted. It was one I kept going back to throughout the lunch and one I will be tracking down if there are any left!

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After lunch Raj took us up to the Domaine De La Cote Vineyards. Standing at the top the vineyard and looking down over the valley in the afternoon sun had me wondering how you just pick  a slope and plant a vineyard on it. I asked Raj the question and he told me Sashi was driving along the road one day and thought that the slope where we stood might work. 6 years later the vineyard is vibrant with closely planted vines and producing some really well balanced wines. I guess sometimes you have to have courage in your convictions!

This was a cool visit and this will definitely be a project that we will be supporting at Graileys.

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Water and Fire, Foley and Michel Noellat

By: AJ McClellan

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We had a lively group in yesterday, with several restaurant owners and a great group of passionate wine drinkers. The night started with a delightful bottle of the 2000 Dom Perignon Andy Warhol millennium bottling (the yellow one). This bottle has really come into its own softening the acidity that once was overwhelming in this wine and bringing out the soft stone fruit and lovely minerality. A slew of other wines follow the bubbles but two of my favorites were the 1978 Michel Noellat Echezeaux and the 2008 Foley Howell Mountain Cabernet. These two wines could not be more different as the Noellat was full of earth and was so light it took all of your concentration to pick up on the subtle earth and fruit nuances. While the Foley was a blockbuster Cab that showed massive black fruits that and tannins that were barely out of their shell. I must say the Noellat was probably my wine of the night and out of the three bottles I have had of this wine it was my favorite.

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Other wines of the night were NV Villmart,2008 Evesham Wood Pinot Noir, 2002 Nicolas Potel Echezeaux, 2008 Nicolas Joly Coulee de Serrant, 1993 Jadot Clos st Denis, 2007 Arnaud Ente Meursault, and 2002 Delamotte Champagne.

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LA’s Going Away Party

By: AJ McClellan

Friday was a very sad day for Graileys. One of our longtime family members and good friend – LA Perkel is leaving our Dallas location to take up residence in New York. However, it is not all bad news, fortunately LA will be staying in the company and we got to have an awesome party in her honor!

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Now the multitude of wines that were opened on Friday is far too numerous to talk about each on in turn so I will hit the highlights and leave the rest up to your imagination… We started strong with a bottle of 1982 Dom Perignon right out of the gate. The Dom was fantastic and still full of life showing apricot, honey, and wild flowers with a sourdough finish. Next, was a Duo of Sine Qua Non – the 2003 SQN Papa, and 2005 SQN Atlantis Grenache. Both were great bottles of wine but they were very different. The Papa was powerful and rich with black fruits and loads of pepper, leather, and meaty notes. The Grenache was very powerful as well but not quite as dark as the Syrah and showed more blue fruit than the deep black of the Papa.

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Another great wine that was opened was the 1992 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet. I have long been a fan of these wines and every time they are opened they surprise me with how fantastic the bottles are and how fresh the wines taste. The fruit was still ripe and full of bright red fruit, there was a pleasant mineral notes on the end of the palate and the finish was very long lasting. This was a fun bottle to taste next to the 1978 Michael Noellat Echezeaux which while still very good was at the opposite end of the spectrum with dried fruit and loads of earth.

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The wines of Bordeaux made a great appearance as bottle after bottle were opened, each wonderful in its own way. 1989 Clinet, 1988 Mouton, 2003 Pavie, 1999 Ducru Beaucaillou, 1990 Pichon Baron, and 1983 Pichon Lalande were the stars of the Bordeaux wines that were popped around the table. I particularly had an affinity for the 1989 Clinet which despite its age is showing incredibly fresh fruit and tannins that are still full and strong on the palate. The 2003 Pavie was another wine that was fun to try as it almost always reminds me of a great bottle of Harlan.

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Out of all the wines that were opened, I must say that the 1992 Hudelot Noellat Richebourg might have been my wine of the night. It was tough picking between all the great bottles but this one just stood out to me with its elegance and stunning crushed limestone notes combined with great fruit and silky tannins. Although, I feel that I must also mention the 1952 Remoissenet Clos Vougeot that was showing just great!

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2011 Denis Mortet Gevrey Chambertin VV, 1999 Jadot CLos st Denis, 2003 SQN Papa Syrah, 1978 Michae Noellat Echezeaux, 2006 Guigal Ex Voto, 2005 SQN Atlantis Grenache, 2007 Crocker & Starr Stone Place Cab, 1987 Beringer Private Reserve, 1992 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill, 2002 Pahlmeyer Red Blend, 2008 BV George de Latour, 2008 Verite Le Desir, 2011 Barbour, 2010 Jones Family Cabernet, 1990 l’Evangile 375ml, 1989 Clinet, 1983 Pichon Lalande, 2000 Pichon Lalande, 1989 Latour, 2003 Pavie, 1988 Mouton, 1990 Pichon Baron, 1990 Les Tourelles de Longueville, 2000 Monbousquet, 1990 Lagrange, 1999 Ducru Beaucaillou, 1999 d’Armailhac, 2002 Forts de Latour 1.5 Liter, 2009 Arnaud Ente Meursault, 2009 Arnaud Ente Meursault Goutte d’Or, 1952 Remoissenet Clos Vougeot, 1992 Hudelot Noellat Richebourg, 1969 Remoissenet Chambolle Musigny, 1993 JF Mugnier Les Fuees, 2002 Domaine Cempier Bandol, 2010 James Cole Cab, 2011 Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltiner, 2008 Roederer Rose, 2010 Niepoort Redoma Blanc, 2010 Goldeneye Pinot Noir, 2010 Aegerter Chassagne Montrachet, 1955 Gould Campbell, 1983 Gilette, 1982 Dom Perignon, 2009 Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo, 2008 Niepoort LBV, 2010 Radio Coteau Alberigi Pinot Noir, 2012 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris, 2009 Foley Purple Label Cab, 1999 Chateau Moulin Saint Georges, and 2007 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello

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