|View from the Cielo bar roof-top, Santana Row|
The event was well organized, with enough interesting variety but without forcing me to rush. Plenty of generous refills ensured thorough evaluation of the wines. Harry Fong who runs VWM went all out. The wines were amazing, and many deserved an evening of their own. Here are the notes I was able to muster in the blur of this spectacular extravaganza put together for shop's customers. I focused on old world wines, although for Cali lovers there were plenty of impressive names too...
1999 Salon Blanc de Blancs - beautifully clean, fresh, full-bodied, complex, classy champagne. Will evolve for long long time.
1995 Paillard NPU - some bottle variation, the better bottle exhibited wonderful mature mushroom, nuts and citrus notes, with mint.
NV Armand de Brignac "Ace of Spades" - very good, clean, minty fresh, a little less opulent that the Salon, but still very good.
2000 Coche-Dury Puligny-Montrachet "Enseigneres" - pear, green apple, cream or fresh butter (but not fat), mint, complex and delicious. Needed 2-3 hours to open up.
2010 Dominique Lafon Puligny Montrachet "Champ-gain" 1er Cru - wow, excellent white burgundy, very deep, balanced, and delicious right now. Kept drinking it all night. I could still taste it the next morning. Honey, peaches, moderated by fresh acidity...
Tne next 3 grand cru white burgs were rich, lush and thicker-textured, as I expect from Montrachet and its satellites. All very young and not particularly welcoming right now, but well balanced and impressive. The Chevalier was more stern, while the Criots and Batard were a bit leaner than I would expect, but quite intense. It was clear that all three needed time to develop, and commanded undivided attention, which under the circumstance I was sadly not able to give.
2009 Philippe Colin Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru
2011 Fontaine Gagnard Criots Batard Montrachet Grand Cru
2010 Blain Gagnard Batard Montrachet Grand Cru
2010 Michel Gros "Clos des Reas" Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Monopole - very good wine, red fruits, polished, balanced, and deep, good acidity, hints of earth and minerals, nice spice and focus, with some influence of wood, but not in a bad way, which will integrate beautifully in the coming years. Kept coming back to it all night.
2011 Domaine Arlaud Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru - rich, smooth and balanced, good, but lacking excitement a little bit for me.
While the luxuriousness and depth of the grand crus was undeniable, I actually enjoyed the premier crus more at this stage. The Vosne Clos des Reas and the Puligny Champ-Gain were super delicious and drinkable now, but would age too, and they paired great with different foods. The Coche was a bit more esoteric and intellectual.
1994 Giuseppe Rinaldi Brunate Le Coste, Barolo - mature and raisiny/plummy on the nose, but beautifully silky smooth on the palate, with elements of plums and truffle. Contemplative wine to sip and savor.
2000 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva "Vigna del Sorbo" - great example of a mature Sangiovese - loads of tobacco and leather, and cherries and plums.
2001 Ceretto Barolo Bricco Rocche - great intensity and freshness, even at 13 years of age.
2009 Ornellaia - rich, supple, mouth-coating, cassis, graphite, tobacco. Smooth and a bit new-worldly in style.
2010 Sassicaia - much more feminine and red/blue fruited than the Ornellaia. 2010 appears to be a relatively light, elegant vintage for this wine. Bright acidity and hints of eucalyptus and sage. Testament to Super-tuscans.
The Italians put on a great show, and certainly for me Ceretto Bricco Rocche and Sassicaia were the most enjoyable and drinkable, while the other three were appealing in different ways.
2010 JJ Prum Riesling Auslese Graacher Himmelreich GKA - excellent. Sweet, but refreshing with crisp acidity, melange of baked apples, citrus and stone fruits, and great chalky minerality. One cannot help but fall in love with wine, when drinking this.
2011 Egon Muller Riesling Spatlese Scharzhofberger, Mosel - very good, already even at this age a pronounced note of petrol.
2012 Far Niente Chardonnay - too Cali in style for me -- buttery and oaky, but by California standards not over the top.
2010 Kistler Chardonnay McCrea Vineyard Sonoma Mountain - surprisingly light on its feet and refreshing, not what I expected. Almondy fresh flavor. Good balance. I preferred the white burgundies, but this was interesting.
Wow. Many thanks to Vintage Wine Merchants for inviting me to this very special event.