February 27, 2011

Friday Tasting at Storyteller Wines - Dueling 1985's

On Friday I had the wonderful chance to catch a unique tasting at Storyteller Wine. Owner Michael Alberty poured five diverse wine as part of his normal tasting, but also brought out two special bottles just for fun, both of 1985 vintage: Stag's Leap Wine Cellar Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou St. Julien Second Growth. Here's a run down of the tasting.

(+) Jean Marc Chardonnay 2009 $20
A chardonnay with just enough for me to recommend. I've talked before about my apathy towards this grape, but I may be coming around. This wine was certainly interesting enough and in balance. Mellow medium body, with restrained use of oak, sadly the acid trailed off at the back end. Good porch sipper.

(-) Apolloni Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008 $24
All hail the 2008 Oregon Pinots? Well, maybe not all of them. This particular bottle was too forward with the oak, vanilla, & baking spice, that eventually gave way to some dark fruit. A balanced body with fine grained tannins, though still young. To me, not terribly interesting, but it could be all the hype that let me down.

(+) Felsina Chianti Classico 2008 $2
I reviewed the 2007 a few weeks back...or was I mistaken, and mislabeled it in my notes. In any manner, Felsina was consistant. The pressed flower scent set me onto the topic of old photo albums with yellowing film coverings. Still a Sangiovese classic in my opinion.

(++) Domaine Cabirau Côte du Roussillon 2009 $20
A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Carignan. Delicious, and appealing right off the bat. Herbal and meaty with intense nose, but ripe (not cooked) fruit character in there as well. Full bodied and soft tannins from the high Grenache content. Rich and warming for the cold weather we've been having.

(+) Matello Fool's Journey Willamette Valley Syrah 2008 $28
One of the bottles that we walked away with. Made from 87% Syrah, and 13% Viognier, cofermented, this wine was decanted three days prior, and was still very upright. A clear sharp cedar and black pepper attack on the nose with dark fruit on the palate and the tannin structure very much in place. Clean long finish. Could it have opened up more? Maybe we'll see when we open ours at home.

As we were getting to the stars of the show, those present started talking about the events going on in 1985. Talk of Regan and Michael Jackson. I always find it interesting when old wine is opened how it inspires this kind of talk. The presence of old wine is like a key to a time capsule, one that opens up the hidden events in our memories that we have stored away.

(++) Stag's Leap Wine Cellar Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 1985
This wine was vibrantly fresh, even after 25 years! Beautiful red cherry and sweet blackcurrent (more like crème de cassis), but most of all, that lovely smooth structure that comes from well aged Cabernet tannins. Excellent balance with a long finish. A very exciting wine, and my favorite of the evening. I was especially pleased to try this wine and see what Napa had made of itself after a couple of decades of experience, but before the rock-star winemaker era. Stag's Leap Wine Cellar's reputation is well earned, and this vintage shows why.

(+) Château Ducru-Beaucaillou St. Julien 1985 $135
I will admit upfront that I am not familiar with the St. Julien appellation other then it being on the Left Bank. My "mouth-on" experience with these wines is nil, so I did not know what to expect. All I had to go on was my experience with other Left Bank wines - mostly Médocs or Haut-Médoc.
The color was a beautiful pale red with lots of bricking apparent at the edges. Nose reminiscent of camomile tea with a menthol under-current and earth character, in contrast to the Stag's Leap fruit. I couldn't get the picture of stones out of my head - was it the scent of graphite or the fact that the château's name means "beautiful rocks"?  Medium bodied with silky, evolved tannins and very long finish.

No comments:

Post a Comment