Doin' the Demi-Doux: Day 2 of Zach's VT wine weekend (part 2)

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Doin' the Demi-Doux: Day 2 of Zach's VT wine weekend (part 2)

Post  Michael Malinoski on Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:09 am

So, we drank so many wines that this had to be split up into three posts. Zach, perhaps you oughta look into expanding how big posts can be...

1992 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate Napa Valley. With dinner, we were lucky to have Gerry, Kyle and Andy pull together this delightful mini-vertical of Montelena. Gerry quite interestingly pointed out that the fill levels on the three bottles were in exact reverse order of the wines’ ages—with the 1992 showing the highest fill level and the 1995 the lowest. In any event, the 1992 may have been my WOTN, just edging out the 1994. It has a very engaging bouquet of crushed velvet raspberry fruit layered atop earthier notes of browning tobacco leaf, dry mounds of dirt, bridle leather and tar. It smells dense but elegant; sexy and refined yet full and giving. It is a real nice balancing act that shows off many different facets of the wine. This is another wine I could just sniff all night. In the mouth, it is slippery smooth and lithely-textured, with very nice levels of mixed dark fruits. It presents a medium-bodied package, with solid acidic structure and totally appropriate tannin levels. This is drinking great now, but has the stuffing to keep going, for sure.

1994 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate Napa Valley. The ’94 is similar to the ’92 on the nose, but is a bit darker in tone, with a meatier profile that is not quite as nuanced as its older sibling. The aromas of leather, chocolate-covered dark cherries and tobacco leaf are still beautiful and nicely aged, though. At times, one also senses some warmer, sweeter red fruit notes running beneath. On the palate, the wine has a real classy, easy-drinking quality to it, yet never veers away from a sense of vibrancy and surprising freshness. There is a fine tingle of spice that accompanies the pretty red fruit and darker notes of chocolate and earth. It has a mouth-watering finish that exhibits fine length and balance, accented by soft round tannins. Like the 1992, this has plenty of life left but is drinking delightfully right now.

1995 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate Napa Valley. This version of Montelena serves up very nice scents of soft cassis, tar oil, black lava, tomato leaf and toasted caramel. In the mouth, it is soft and generous, but at times may be showing just a bit of heat and some gently roasted warm fruit qualities. The tannins are more obviously in play here than in either of the two previous wines, and while they are fine and dusty, they do coat the teeth a bit. Some smoky notes come on later in the evening as it sits in the glass and more of the warmly roasted red fruit character comes into starker relief. Regardless, the wine is generous and enveloping, though not the equal this night of the ’92 and ’94.

2002 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select Stags Leap District. I did not get to the Shafer HSS offerings until pretty late in the game, as I kept waiting and waiting for this wine in particular to open up in my glass. I poured it 4 hours earlier and kept coming back to it for sniffs from time to time, but I have to say that it never really revealed itself the whole night long. This certainly seems to be a wine in need of a long cellaring, though clearly the components are there for an outstanding wine down the road. The nose is tight, but decidedly classy—with aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and brighter, sweeter red fruit notes running deep underneath. It never really uncoils, though, and is clearly just showing a fraction of what it has in store down the road. It has excellent flow and delineation in the mouth and a good core of juicy black currant fruit that feels deep and pure. The structure is definitely rigid at this point, but there is no doubting the balance of this wine and the promise of what it has in store later on in its life.

2004 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select Stags Leap District. For drinking now, the 2004 would be my choice between these two. The nose opens up more quickly and is generally more open-knit and giving. It features cool dark cherry and black raspberry fruit aromas that feel classy and smoothly-rounded. In the mouth, it is really refined and polished to a fine buff, with a classy texture and an easy flow across the palate. However, it does have some alcoholic warmth that pokes in from time to time early on before settling down later on. Fine-grained tannins are not that prominent up front on the palate, but do assert themselves at the very back. Overall, I certainly like the wine, but find it tight and young, with outstanding promise in about 6-8 years.

2005 Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford. This was initially decanted about 7 hours before I finally got around to pouring myself some. With all of that airing time, it is still tightly dense, dark and thick on the nose, with black raspberry fruit, black pepper and soft rubber notes that manage to easily avoid any sense of seeming chunky or over-done. It exhibits a ton of dry extract on the palate, but the plushness of the texture and the delicious profile of flavors simply carry the day over any sense of over-extraction. It is really a fine balancing act, with the sweet core of spiced plums and dark Belgian chocolate framed by soft acids and a velvet glove structure. The tannins are extremely soft and even pillowy for such a young wine and manage to keep the wine feeling almost airy despite all the extract and richness of fruit. I have to say that I think this is going to really be something special down the road and I would love to have another crack at it in like 5 years.

2003 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. Like the Scarecrow, this had been decanted for about 7 hours. That is where the comparisons between the two ought to end. The nose here is taut and tensile--with blackberries, black cherry, dark mysterious earth, cool graphite minerality, ripe beets and some leafier elements combining into a nice package. I can’t say I like it as much on the youthful palate, where it starts off well enough with a sense of creaminess on the entry. However, as it fans out across the mid-palate, it brings in a lot of astringency. Acids pinch in tight, tannins that feel decidedly crunchy come on strong and some raw graininess comes in on the finish. Overall, it feels much too raw and disjointed at this stage of the game, despite the nice aromatics that promised more. I hope the palate develops well and catches up to the aromatics soon.

1958 Chateau Gilette Demi-Doux Sauternes. Kyle was on dessert duty and put together some very nice dishes. Once again, Zach’s Dad showed the depth of his generosity by offering up this old chestnut for all of us to try. It is a dark gold matte color and actually smells a bit to me like aged Chenin Blanc. Aromas of honeycomb, beeswax and interesting funk lead the way, with perhaps more typical notes of caramel topping and butterscotch coming in behind. It is finely acidic on the palate, with crisp edges and a somewhat narrow core of off-dry yellow fruit and butterscotch flavors that finish decidedly dry. It feels a bit aloof and removed at times and I can’t say I ever warmed up to it from a pleasure delivery standpoint. However, there is no denying that this is some unusual and interesting stuff that I enjoyed pondering while I was slowly losing all my chips to Gerry in the waning minutes of the final poker game.

2001 Chateau La Tour Blanche Sauternes. Wow, does this ever come across as fresh and uplifting at this point of the night (or morning, as it was). Aromas of nectarine flesh and pit, dried apricots and yellow pixie stick are lively and youthfully exuberant. It is very fleshy and opulent on the palate, coating the whole mouth with unctuous flavors of caramel, crème brulee, and apricots in a sugary-sweet but finely-pitched package. It all hangs together with a languid texture but exhibits excellent lift when it needs to. Yes, it is young, but I am happy to drink it right now.

1983 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Porto. It was getting really late and I just didn’t have the stomach to spend a lot of time with this wine. It smells warmly alcoholic, with faded cherry fruit and roasted nuts. A few quick sips suggest that it is a bit on the thin and fading side, with some jangly acids and spirits sticking out a bit against the macerated cherry and dried fig fruit. I was happy to just let it go.

Michael Malinoski

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Re: Doin' the Demi-Doux: Day 2 of Zach's VT wine weekend (part 2)

Post  Zachary L A N G on Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:31 am

I'm gonna have to bride Mike Cotou for some of that scarecrow! I wanted to dislike it, but just couldn't. What Zachie likes, zachie has to have bounce

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Re: Doin' the Demi-Doux: Day 2 of Zach's VT wine weekend (part 2)

Post  Michael Malinoski on Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:48 am

I think he's already married, dude, but he may be willing to take you on as a mistress... I love you

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Re: Doin' the Demi-Doux: Day 2 of Zach's VT wine weekend (part 2)

Post  Zachary L A N G on Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:49 am

Man o Man...might be time for bed for me....I can no longer spell!

I think I will BRIBE mike for some scarecrow! although - he is a great guy! Embarassed affraid Embarassed

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Re: Doin' the Demi-Doux: Day 2 of Zach's VT wine weekend (part 2)

Post  Michael Bowden on Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:00 am

Zachary L A N G wrote:Man o Man...might be time for bed for me....I can no longer spell!

I think I will BRIBE mike for some scarecrow! although - he is a great guy! Embarassed affraid Embarassed

Maybe its just time to keep on drinking!
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