To celebrate such a cool guest, we had 2 pre-flights, all Cabs, some from Bordeaux, some from California. 1982 Chateau Lynch-Bages (legendary Bordeaux Grand Cru) and 1982 Diamond Creek "Red Rock Terrace" Cab (venerable Napa Valley stalwart) were noteworthy, but hardly exciting. As an aside, I have a love/hate affair with blind tastings (which Ross' always are). Case in point: blind - I preferred Diamond Creek, but when unveiled - I liked Lynch-Bages. Go ahead, raise eye-brows, grin, smirk, chuckle - but I find myself wanting to know what the hell I am drinking! I don't care if it influences my opinion. Let it! Tasted blind, Diamond Creek seemed younger, riper, denser, darker, while Lynch-Bages seemed tired and light. But 30 min later after the reveal, Diamond Creek now tasted sweet and aggressive, while the Bordeaux cajoled its way onto my palate. Totally subjective.
Craig then followed with Sojourn Pinot Noirs:
2006 Sojourn "Sangiacomo Vineyard", Sonoma Coast
2007 Sojourn "Sangiacomo Vineyard", Sonoma Coast
2008 Sojourn "Sangiacomo Vineyard", Sonoma Coast
2009 Sojourn "Sangiacomo Vineyard", Sonoma Coast (not yet released)
2009 Sojourn "Ridgetop Vineyard", Sonoma Coast (not yet released)
Then 4 Sojourn Cabernets:
2006 Sojourn "Mountain Terraces Vineyard - Reserve", Sonoma Valley
2007 Sojourn, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley (just released)
2008 Sojourn "Beckstoffer Vineyard Georges III", Rutherford, Napa Valley (not yet released)
2009 Sojourn "Showket Vineyard", Oakville, Napa Valley (barrel sample)
And finally, for a "post-flight", the sweet finish came by way of 1978 and 1980 Chateau Rieussec, one of the grandest estates in Sauternes, a wine that is supposed to age "forever". As background, sweet wines age for a long time, because sugar acts as an anti-oxidant. Over (a long) time, sugars dissipate, while the acidity originally masked by the sweetness finally asserts itself. Rieussecs have a lot of acidity and a herbaceous edge to begin with, and with 30 years of age, they become an "interesting" concoction. (You can read my friend's Richard Jennings notes on an old Rieussec tasting here).
Don't know what happened to me - most of the crowd were oohing and ahhing, but this was one of those days when everything tasted awfully strong - bitter, sour, astringent. In fact, I am almost sure that there must have been something wrong with my palate, because of how across the board the wines seemed off. The only Sojourn I liked was the lighter, more Burgundian-styled 2006 Pinot, which Craig ranked as his last, quoting a very challenging vintage, light, somewhat under-ripe wine that had evolved too fast (in his opinion, but group's #3). The 1982 Lynch-Bages (an excellent vintage in Bordeaux from a top producer) seemed past its prime. The '78 and '80 Rieussecs were sour, bitter, mediciney, particularly the un-botrytized 1978 (a bad thing for Sauternes, imagine aloe or agave plant with a bit of sugar on top). And the culty Sojourns with larger than life Craig telling the tales, tasted ... I gave up trying.
I came home that night firmly convinced that I am on the verge of having a stroke, and my taste-buds were the leading indicator. I am over-worked and over-stressed, working my ass off at YouSendIt, shuttling all those large files back-and-forth for millions of folks and companies out there. This morning writing this, I have a headache and a runny nose. So maybe it's a flu that's been going around. Whatever the reason, Craig, buddy, it's me, not you! Please give me another chance :)!
I need a vacation!