I know everyone thinks that I am out every night of the week drinking like I am starring in Leaving Las Vegas 2.. Well after the last three months of 2005, I felt like I had been on about twenty too many auditions, and I started to lay low, save new Year’s Eve as you all know about already. The laying low has continued, but the second week of January brought me out to Los Angeles for some work in a cellar and a notable night out, at least one where I was actually taking notes.
It is only fitting that my first official tasting of 2007 would be with the Royal Order of the Purple Palate, Dr. Desai presiding. It was good to see the gang, including a couple of emergency substitutes, which were already part of my gang anyway.
A blind Champagne was served out of magnum. It was light and without a lot of flavor definition, still possessing nice acidity but without flesh. There were rainwater flavors; it was smooth and long but seemed like a non-vintage blend on steroids at first. It was very dry and bready, more back street than opening night, but also more stylish and racy over time. It was a 1990 Pierre Moncuit Le Mesnil. (90).
All wines are served blind at a Purple Palate event, and we started with a flight of three whose clue was same grape, same region..
The first wine of this flight was very aromatic with a lot going on in its nose. There was fleshy fruit, exotic mint mocha chip and tobacco like a wet cigar leaf. It also had caramel, more mocha and this exotic smoked meat quality. Touches of grape and lavender rounded out the nose. Its mouth was tasty with lots of rocky flavors, cassis and dirt. It was a touch burnt, but in a good way. Christian admired its incredible texture and sweetness, as did Joe. It was a 1959 Heitz Pinot Noir. Who says Cali is a Cab, Cab world (95) ?
Although I have given away some general information about the flight, at the time I was writing this note, we were all still clueless. The second wine was even more mint chocolate chip than the first, sweeter and with more tobacco, also eucalyptus, oak and vanilla. It had nice balance, round and with a bit of ice cream flavors. It was smooth, long and a bit oakier but not offensively so, and it also still had good acid for a 1952 Pinot Noir, a 1952 Martin Ray Pinot Noir, to be precise (92).
There was one more wine in this rare and fascinating flight, and it was the sweetest of the three, very decadent and port-like. Open and exotic, Wolf remarked how it shows so much wood, and Jefery concurred with .vanilla and oak.. It was Wolf’s least favorite of the flight, but I liked its creamy and caroby palate, also marked by hints of smoke and citrus. It was chunky and had some soda aspects to its flavor profile, but it was also figgy, fleshy and seemed more advanced. Well, it was the oldest of the flight, being a 1949 B.V. Beaumont. Pinot Noir. Obviously, Beaumont carried a little more weight back then than it does now as a designation (93).
Once the flight was revealed, a heated discussion ensued. There was a general consensus that the flight was a bit Cabernet-ish in style, and Christian commented how perhaps a bit of field blending. occurred. Then Ed gave a fascinating tidbit about how back then, that taxes were different for different grapes, so it would not be surprising if winemakers put Cabernet in a Pinot bottle to pay less taxes since Cabernet was the most highly taxed grape! He then commented about how the flight reminded him of a decade in Burgundy when he just started drinking, the 1830s. Just kidding, Ed :).
The next flight.s clue was same vineyard, three different vintages, flown in by the proprietor.. Leave it to Bipin to get one of the greatest wineries in the world to hand-fly in a flight of wines for his monthly get-together. That’s Big Boy Style, although Bipin is never one to admit it!
The first wine had a mature nose yet was still fresh. Apple, cassis and plum were all there; the nose was definitely full of fruit. Musky, nutty, sensual and long, its nose was matched by its palate, which was rich, meaty, round, long and balanced. Its mouth-filling personality had great flavors of earth, chocolate, tobacco, caramel and citrus. Ed and Joe admired its raisiny ripeness. and concluded it had to be a wine from a warm weather climate. Eventually, we were informed it was a 1953 Vega Sicilia Unico (96).
The second wine was aromatic and smoky with sun-dried, red cherry fruit and tobacco aromas along with a dollop of citrus. Smooth and balanced, the wine was drier than the first, long and nutty with great spice and acidity. It kept gaining in the glass, impressive for a 1942 Vega Sicilia Unico (95).
The final wine of the flight was a 1964 Vega Sicilia Unico. A forgotten Unico, the 1964 reminded me that there is no such thing as a bad vintage of Unico. Its nose was chunky and chocolaty, yeasty yet fresh. There were aromas of egg, earth, tobacco, smoke and cassis. Tasty and with great length, the 64 was dirty, smooth, fleshy and chocolaty, also possessing great acidity (95).
Inspector Levy noted how there was not as wide a difference (between the wines) as the age.. Hmmmmmm. They released that 1970 how many years ago?
There was one flight to go, whose clue was Consecutive decades, same grape variety from two small properties sharing an ancient name.. Got all that?
The nose was a bit different in the first wine with this pungent, twisted, spiny character and lots of Worcestershire aromas. Very beefy in a bouillon way, it was long and kissed by mature barley and earth flavors along with oil, plum and petrol in this very deep wine, a 1959 Leroy La Romanee (93).
More chocolaty, dirty and a bit grassy, the second wine in this flight was very rich, also with lots of bouillon. Earth, band-aid and mushroom tea (don.t ask me how I know that one) flavors were present in this wild, wooly and dirty 1949 Marey-Monge Romanee St. Vivant. This was the property that eventually purchased (91).
The last wine of this flight had the cleanest nose of the flight with its fresh, citric vigor and tang. Earth and lemon made their way to the foreground in this spiny and vigorous wine, which did seem slightly chapitalized, but I still liked it. Wolf complained that it was too young. and questioned whether it was doctored.. Well, it was a late release Leroy, a 1961 Leroy La Romanee the RD of vintage wines (94).
There was a dessert wine, but in case you haven.t noticed, I don.t pay much attention to those. Having arrived from the East coast just a couple hours before dinner, it was time to say good night.
In Vino Veritas,