New Year’s Eve Wines 2010

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I knew it would be an especially interesting New Year’s Eve when my friend Steven wrote me that we would raid his cellar to drink “OLD wine” this year.  He was concerned that some bottles might be past their peak, so what could we do but drink them.  If we happened to come across a bottle that was past its peak, we would simply move on to something else.  I didn’t think this would happen since Steven is fastidious in storing his wines.  So, on December 31, my friend Jorge, visiting from Peru, and I joined Steven for an evening of enological delights.  My notes are below:

Range of Wines Enjoyed New Year's Eve 2010

Meyer-Fonné Pinot Gris Alsace Hinterberg de Katzenthal 2006, France
Golden in color.  Complex nose of orange peel, wax, poached apple, baking pie spices and nuts.  On the palate it is rich and oily, sweeter than expected both in texture and taste although the acidity keeps it nicely balanced.  The oily texture made it a nice accompaniment to Smoked Salmon with Capers.  This was a very good vintage for Pinot Gris vendage tardive which is probably why this wine was sweeter than expected.  (dry white wine, 13.0% alcohol, natural cork closure)

Henri Boillot Bourgogne Blanc 2001, France
Chardonnay only counts in my top three varieties if it is from Burgundy, so I was delighted to have this as our second wine.  Now at ten years we were a bit afraid that it might be past its prime, but we were not disappointed.  It was even better when we decanted it to give a bit of oxygen.  Golden-yellow in color, delightful for its age.  Complex on the nose for a simple “Bourgogne” appellation wine, with hazelnut, butter, dried red apple, lemon zest and a dose of wet stone minerality.  The aromas shone through on the palate, with a pleasant nutty bitterness on the finish.  It was delicious with herbed chèvere cheese.  (dry white wine, 13.0% alcohol, natural cork closure)

Louis Latour Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 2005, France
While this didn’t really qualify as an “old” wine, it was one we wanted to drink.  While the village of Chassagne-Montrachet is nowadays known for its excellent white wines, a few centuries ago it was famous for its red wines.  This wine was indeed still young and should have been opened some five years in the future.  Ruby-garnet in color, the wine was younger than its color indicated.  It showed aromas of dried cherries, prunes, dried rose petals, dried forest twigs, dried roasted orange peel and black licorice.  On the palate the tannins were still obvious.  This would be an interesting introduction for those unfamiliar with Burundian Pinot Noir.  Too many unfamiliar with Pinot Noir quickly dismiss Pinot Noir as a “wimpy” wine.   (dry red wine, 13.5% alcohol, natural cork  closure) 

Château Labégorce Margaux 1996, France
This wine was quite a delight.  I really enjoy the tobacco and cedar notes typical of Bordeaux.  Ruby in color, this wine showed notes of cigar box, dried tobacco, orange peel, stewed cassis and a pleasant earthiness. It was quite rich and delicious, and still quite youthful.  The notes I found online indicate the wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.   (dry red wine, 12.5% alcohol, natural cork  closure)

Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs North Carolina, USA
Time to ring in the New Year, and what better way to celebrate with a sparkler from the region.  For those unfamiliar with Biltmore Estate, the house is a Châteauesque-style mansion located near Asheville, North Carolina built between 1889 and 1895, and today is the largest privately-owned home in the United States with 175,000 square feet and 250 rooms.  The first vineyards were established in 1971.  The wine was platinum blonde in color with a fine and persistent mousse.  The wine showed notes of toasted lemon wafers, toasted lemon peel with a pleasantly yeasty and toasty nose.  On the palate the wine was dry and creamy with a delightfully refreshing mouthfeel.   (dry white sparkling wine, 13.0% alcohol, natural cork  closure)

Cain Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1984, USA
What a real treat for New Year’s Eve.  This wine needed a careful decanting, and after decanting it was obvious for the thick and abundant sediment left in the bottle.  The cork was intact but crumbled upon extraction, but it was really at the end of a natural cork’s life.  The wine was ruby in color and surprisingly youthful.  The nose was also surprisingly youthful with notes of cigar box, cassis, dried tobacco and a slight note of bell pepper and tomato leaf.  It was amazingly young and we would have given it a few more years before opening it had we known.  Chris Howell of Cain Vineyard & Winery was kind enough to provide the following information about the wine:

“The 1984 Cain Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon was the first vintage to be made entirely by Lester Hardy, Cain Winemaker 1984-1989.  It was the first significant harvest of the Cain Vineyard, and just the third harvest in the new (1982) cellar.  Also, this was the first vintage to be aged in Cain’s new barrel room.  The barrels were all French oak.  Aging was 18 months.  The main bottling: “1984 Cain Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon” was drawn from more than one vineyard, both the estate, and on Mount Veeder.  The vineyard sources were Cain, Frontenex and Veedercrest/Napa Mountain.  Altogether there must have been about  40 tons, no more than 2500 cases of this rare wine.  Release price:  $14.  (1988).”

This was really something special, and many thanks to Chris Howell for the information which really helped put the wine into perspective for us.  Interestingly, Wine Spectator rated this wine 79 points in 1988.  Wines, like people, do change, sometimes for the better.   (dry red wine, 12.8% alcohol, natural cork  closure)

Vieux Château Gaubert Graves 2000, France
From the highly touted 2000 vintage, this wine  was still amazing deep red-purple in color, the tears also deeply stained.  Lots of minerality in this wine with rich cassis and blackberry, pencil shavings, cedar, dried tobacco and vanilla.  Despite the richness of the wine, the minerality and refreshing acidity were good foils for the meaty grilled steak (about 2 inches thick!) that we enjoyed with it.  Although I was not able to find the actual blend, I did find the estate is planted to equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.   (dry red wine, 12.5% alcohol, natural cork  closure)


About Gregg Smith

Gregg Smith is an American sommelier certified by The Court of Master Sommeliers living in Lima, Peru, and serving as director of the wine and bar program at Central Restaurante.
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One Response to New Year’s Eve Wines 2010

  1. Pingback: Año Nuevo 2010 | El Blog de Vides y Vinos

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