The wine gods must love this tasting group. About eight months ago, winemaker Mike Hirby and I chatted about the possibility of doing this dinner/tasting for the CLONYC gang. On Monday, November 23rd, 2009, that chat bore it's fruit. If you ever get the opportunity to meet with Mike, and taste his wines, you would sure consider yourself lucky too. He is a one of the most easy going humble & downright friendliest guys I know, who just happens to make amazing wines! Mike brought us a dozen or so wines to sample. I have always been a fan of his Realm wines, and the 2007s are really the schnizzle they have been hyped to be. Mike’s own label, Relic was well represented as well. Great fruit sources and a very imaginative winemaker can lead to some fantastically wonderful wines. Wines which paint sometimes seems to spill out of the box, as in the example of The Sage, his white blend (44% Chardonnay, 22% Viognier, 22% Roussanne, and 12% Marsanne) proved. I would like to thank Mike for his generosity and graciousness in coming east to meet with this humble group of wine-lovers. We are lucky beyond belief to be able to have amongst us such talented and just downright nice winemakers, like Mike who share our passion. A very very great night! The staff at North Square outdid themselves once again. Great food and service. I am so glad that CLONYC has a new home. 1971 Ch Haut Brion Blanc- Mark was kind enough to bring this. A very lively wine with hints of its former self showing like a veiled senior citizen. Some fruit, some acid, some life. Great light-salmon color. A bit short and maybe a wee bit simple, but enjoyable nonetheless. 2008 Relic The Sage- I really enjoyed the dimension and profile of this. I get the Euro influence Mike said he was seeking.. The nose was all citrus, apricots and tall grass. A deft balance with some extra character filled nuances coming toward the end. I take it the Roussanne and Marsanne were making themselves known. Beautiful. Beyond this point, all reds double decanted back into thier own bottle-- 2.5 hours early. 2008 Relic Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast- My short experienced self (on Sonoma Pinot) welcomed this one. The nose had loads of cherries & cola some wild flowers. Very interesting as it sat in the glass.. A very pretty wine that revealed the Bing cherry, cola, and a hint of earth. I loved the character and tight-rope balance this showed. One that Mike said only gets better in 2009. I only ask….how? 2007 Relic Artefact- (96% CS, 2% PV, 2% Syrah) what an amazing wine. The nose was singing of all good things to come. Black fruits rule the night and this is the opening act: Dense and plush with currant, black cherries, plums and vanilla. A deeply complex serious wine that changes moment to moment. What an interesting wine! 2007 Relic Cabernet Sauvignon Rockledge Vineyard- I have been a fan of the Rockledge Vineyards stuff for a few years now. Mike now gets that fruit for his own label. This was dark and brooding. The nose was restrained. On the palate this is as serious as a heart attack. Dark, dense, cassis and black cherry driven, this is a bit tannic and unyielding. Plush and masculine, with a long black filled fruit finish. A fantastic wine that wears its name like a badge of honor. I love it. 2004 Rockledge Vineyards The Rocks- For a bit of contrast. What contrast? This is as dark and muscular as the 2007, and even more wrapped in tannins if possible. A similar profile to the 2007 as well. This is a staple in my cellar, one I ‘go to’ when I want to remember why I will always love Napa Cabs—as if I need reminding. 2007 Realm The Tempest- The tempest and I are like a bickering couple: sometimes we see eye to eye, but more times not. Strangely, the year it was cab heavy (2005?) was that one time we did. Medium weight and reddish black profile, there was great structure and finesse. It's just that damn Merlot that gets in the way… 2007 Realm ‘The Falstaff’- Cab Franc blend. This is a head spinner and eye popper! Super aromatics with loads of black and blue fruits. Some plums, some black cherries, and some camphor. I loved it. It is one you can sit with all night long and never get tired of. Elegance and pizzazz all in one. A no brainier buy. 2007 Realm ‘the Bard’- Usually not in my top group as well, this years is exceptional. A dark fruited currant/cassis/kirsch profile with a beautiful vanilla nose that is all joy. What a pretty and graceful wine. Wow! 2007 Realm Farella- These designates are always so great to taste alongside one another. This has all the Farella stuffing I am used to with a bit more elegance and style that I can remember, broaching toward the Crane territory. Great balance and length. Very nice indeed. 2007 Realm Beckstoffer Dr Crane- How do you spell WOW. This is all I ever remember it to be, but better. How the hell can this be so? Dark, brooding, intense, aromatic, elegant, muscular, balance, length, potential, love. This changed in 15 minutes to be even more of what I just said: more dark, more brooding……A cabernet drinker’s cabernet. Want to make someone happy? Buy them one of these. I…say….no….more. 2007 Realm Beckstoffer To Kalon- Always the crowd pleaser, this again brings it to new heights. Always vying neck and neck with the Crane for first place, you need a photo finish for this race. Dark and ominous, this has tons of character and structure, with gobs of the blackest fruits known to man. We need another word for ‘blackest fruits’—ok….we need 2 new words. 2008 Relic Rockledge Vineyard barrel sample- Mikes’ term for picking some of these 08’s was ‘picking sweet’. I never heard the term myself until last night. This is a pure and clean expression of a super young un-bottled. The stuffing is all there, its just all covered with the baby fat. Sure, it’s a bit primary, but a red/black fruit profile is in there somewhere. I will love to sample this after it’s been under cork for 6 months. 2008 Realm Dr Crane barrel sample- similar to the Relic, but a bit less primary, and slightly more characters peeking through. A sweet fruit profile which I really enjoy. Chewy, luscious and exotic. The class is evident. Again, let’s see where we go with this. Mike spoke of the difficulties encountered in 2008. Time will tell.
Upcoming CLONYC events
Last night nine hungry but smiling men gathered at North Square Restaurant for a 1996 Napa v. 1996 Bordeaux themed dinner.
All agreed on the fact that 12/13 years have blurred the lines on many of these, and figuring them out was a chore, but a fun one. (At least until flight #4).
We decided to do this one blind. Single blind. Instead of detailed notes, I have given the wine number in the order it was served. 4 flights of 3 wines, we voted after each and gave an impression of where we thought it heralded from, hence the N or B.
Always humbling, one needs to always remember how feet tastes before going too far out on a limb when tasting blind.
It was a very great night indeed. The company top notch. I got to meet Ramon, who seemed to fit right in with this rambunctious group. The food was exceptionally good on this evening, and Lulu did a spectacular job for us. She handled the blinding and numbering. My steak was perfect, as was the crab and lobster cakes. The dessert of flan was unbelievable. Thanks for all who attended, and especially those who brought extra bottles (Mark, Nano, Ramon, and Steve). Steve served his 2007 Congruence as an appeteezer. Once again, very nicely received.
Thank you to everyone!
Flight 1- Here we go....
Wine #3 1996 Ch. Lynch Bages (7 correct guesses on nationality)
Mark 3rd (B), Ramon 1st (B), Nano 1st (B), Eric 3rd(B), Julius 3rd(B), Kevin 1s(N)t, Steve 3rd(B), Mike 2nd(N), Robert 1st(B)
Robert, Nano and Steve called this one correctly at the reveal
I enjoyed this one most of all the Bordeaux. It was dark and super black fruited, cassis, black berries, with some earthiness and leather. Fully resolved, but still graceful.
Wine #6 1996 Leonetti "American Vineyard" Cabernet (4 correct guesses on nationality)
Mark 2nd (B), Ramon 2nd (N), Nano 2nd (B), Eric 1st (B), Julius 2nd (N), Kevin 3rd (B), Steve 1st (N), Mike 3rd (B), Robert 3rd (N)
This had the most interesting nose of this flight. Somewhat sweetish and menthol.
Wine #7 1996 Corison Kronos Vineyard (5 correct guesses on nationality)
Mark 1st (N), Ramon 3rd (N), Nano 3rd (N), Eric 2nd (N), Julius 1st (B), Kevin 2nd (B), Steve 2nd (B), Mike 1st (N), Robert 2nd (B)
Kevin & I guessed this correctly at the reveal.
I knew this was Corison, just could not decide on which. It was of a little more rustic style, so my first indication was the Napa bottling
Flight 2- A step up.
Wine #2 1996 Ch Pape Clement (7 correct guesses on nationality)
Kevin 1st(B), Steve 1st(B), Mike 2nd(N), Robert 1st (B), Mark 3rd(N)Ramon 1st(B)Nano 1s(B)Eric 1st(B)Julius 3rd(B)
Wine #4 1996 Abreu Madrona Ranch (4 correct guesses on nationality)
Kevin 2nd(N), Steve 2nd(N), Mike 3rd(B), Robert 2nd(B), Mark 2nd(B), Ramon 2nd(B), Nano 2nd(N), Eric 2nd(N), Julius 2nd(B)
Wine #10 1996 Jones Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (8 correct guesses on nationality -- Steve thought it was made in HELL)
Kevin 3rd(N), Steve 3rd(H), Mike 1st(N), Robert 3rd(N), Mark 1st(N), Ramon 3rd(N), Nano 3rd(N), Eric 3rd(N), Julius 1st(N)
Steve called this hell? I called its best of the group.
A great flight agreed by all.
I found this Graceful and pure with a pretty nose of violets. Currant, kirsch, and black olives with leather and dust. The breed was evident
My second choice in the nights hierarchy.
Flight 3- The All Napa Flight
Wine #1 1996 Peter Michael 'Les Pavots' (8 correct guesses on nationality)
Ramon 3rd(N), Nano 2nd(N), Eric 1st(N), Julius 1st(N), Kevin 2nd(N), Steve 1st(N), Mike 2nd(N), Robert 1st(B), Mark 1st(N)
Wine #5 1996 Corison Napa CS (7 correct guesses on nationality)
Ramon 2nd(B), Nano 3rd(N), Eric 3rd(N), Julius 3rd(N), Kevin 3rd(B), Steve 2nd(N), Mike 3rd(N), Robert 3rd(N), Mark 3rd(N)
Wine #12 1996 Lail "J. Daniel" Cuvee (5 correct guesses on nationality)
Ramon 1st(N), Nano 1st(N), Eric 2nd(B), Julius 2nd(N), Kevin 1st(B), Steve 3rd(B), Mike 1st(N), Robert 2nd(N), Mark 2nd(B)
I loved this wine. Easily my wotn. Dark, brooding and black fruit filled with some soy, and camphor. Great textured mouthfeel and load of life ahead.
Epilogue-The undrinkables (to me at least)
I pinned as ‘The Bordeaux Flight’ by nose alone, this was a rough one to get through. All the hallmarks of Bordeaux were present, I was just not interested in deciphering them. Most did end up agreeing that it was surely a flight of all Bordeaux, but in voting there was some second thoughts...
Wine #8 1996 Ch Leoville Poyferre (7 correct guesses on nationality)
Mark 3rd(B), Ramon 1st(B), Nano 1st(B), Eric 2nd(B), Julius 3rd (B), Kevin 1st(N), Steve 1st(B), Mike 2ndB), Robert 1st(N)
Kevin was the only dissenting voice on the Frenchness of this one.
Wine #9 1996 Ch Lafon-Rochet (5 correct guesses on nationality)
Mark 1st(B), Ramon 3rd(N), Nano 3rd(N), Eric 3rd(B), Julius 2nd (N), Kevin 2nd(N), Steve 2nd(B), Mike 1st(B), Robert 3rd(B)
Wine #11 1996 Ch Smith Haut Lafitte (7 correct guesses on nationality)
Mark 2nd(B), Ramon 2nd(B), Nano 2nd(B), Eric 1st(B), Julius 1st (N), Kevin 3rd(B), Steve 3rd(N), Mike 3rd(B), Robert 2nd(B)
Posted by m pobega at Friday, November 20, 2009
1992 Penfolds Grange. Crumbly cork. Still dark with nary a inkling of age. A nose of flower petals, lavender and calla-lilies which only got better as this sat in my glass for an hour plus. The palate had a wonderful depth of fruits: some black cherry, creme de cassis, and red plum. There was a lilty graphite note which was meshed beautifully with some lavender, tar, and earth, good earth that is. An extremely elegant, delicate and lovely wine with super balance and class. A minute plus on the back. This came out of the gate a winner and never fell behind. Wow. WOTF & WOTN. 95
2003 Mitolo GAM. This started with a candied nose, with blackberries and pomegranate. Great balance, nice mid weight mouth feel with dark cherries wrapped in semi sweet chocolate & some dark plums. There was a note of oregano as this sat in the glass. A very pretty well structured Shiraz with a hint of black pepper. Wonderfully resolved tannins. 90
2000 Elderton Command. A very nice dark color with some pretty dark fruits of blackberry, black cherry, black plums and blueberry pie. A little oak was detectable. This had a great mouthfeel which as it sat in the glass, and tasted against the Mitolo, seems a bit simple, but still enjoyable, and I have always found these consistent with delivering the Shiraz goods. 89
The Blind wine was a 2003 Cayuse, I think….
This was surely out of its ‘continental’ bearings, and screamed California or Washington. I always enjoy these, and this may have shown better in SLONYC 1. Thanks Mark for bringing this second bottle for the group.
2002 Shirvington. I liked this out of the gate, but I have always been known as a bit of a contrarian. This had some very intense elements that shot from the glass. Some blueberries, some black cherries, some pomegranate. As it sat in my glass, it did become noticeably hotter. It started nicely balanced and crashed quickly. Not the groups favorite, and some even hated it, but hate is such a bad word… 87
2002 DeLille Cellars Syrah Doyenne. A mistake bring, but interestingly enough, it fit the octagonal hole more than the other Washington State wine. Nice deep red fruit profile and an interesting graphite/sulphur note which I actually think added to the overall feel of this mid-weight, elegant, and very pretty wine. Some vanilla, some black cherries, and a hint of warm blueberry cobbler. A very strong finish makes this a winner. 90
2003 Ox. Hmmm. Ox huh? This small producer really shined last big last night. This was the nights mind bender to me. It had a very pure and clean style that was a nice welcome in this night’s line-up. A dark fruit profile of cassis, blackberry, super black plum, tar, earth, leather, and blueberry. The midpalate was like a secondary wall of all the same, just intensified. Wow. I loved how this traveled across the spectrum of the tongue. A nicely structured and masculine wine with tons of backbone and weight, but yet balanced and satisfying. Say it again, Ox. The groups WOTF-- Mine too. 93
2004 Dead Arm, 2004 Amon Ra, and 2006 Mollydooker Velvet Glove. This whole flight seems similar to me in the sense of over extraction and cloying sweetness. The Molly stood out from this group for me. It had an intense bruised blue fruit profile that seemed to sit above the sweetness. A nice big mouth feel with some chewy tannins and pure acid balance. It was the WOTF….for me. Only me.
The Amon Ra was the groups WOTF.
The first SLONYC dinner went off swimmingly last evening. We tried to broadcast live, but the bandwidth was a killer. We managed to get some streamed, but I am sure watching paint dry was a better choice, as I knew it would. It’s always great to welcome new faces amongst the regulars. I always enjoy Brent's take on the wines, it was great seeing everyone and thanks for bringing such a great array of Syrahs.
The wines were really almost all top notch, almost. A great variance of styles was present. These are truly foodies wines, and the sliders were the perfect foil to the 2nd flight. My favorite flight was the first, and my wine favorite wine of the night was the Skull.
In answer to Dans question, no there will not be a BLONYC when we do Brunellos…..
2001 Dellille Cellars Syrah Doyenne -Pretty fowers on the nose, some red fruits, a Pinot type of acidity and balance. Elegant anf feminine. Very nice start
2002 Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard Walla Walla - A bit subdued nose. Big purple fruits with some nice balance and grace. Black peppers and crushed pebbles. A very great wine.
2004 Jaffurs Upslope - This was similar in style to the Cayuse with more giving on the nose. Very structured and pure. Some blackberries, strawberries. Soy, and a touch or earth. Another winner
2004 Scholium Scheria – Full bodied and really showing well, this had some white pepper and anise. If I had a complaint, it was only evident after tasting the Skull below, and maybe, just maybe slightly hallow, but very nice still.
2004 DuMOL RRV - Exotic nose with great black and blue fruits. Clean and precise finish. Great with the lamb slider!
2005 Charles Smith The Skull - This was my WOTN. It had everything I ever wanted in a US Syrah: Black and red medly of fruits with full mid-palate with woven pure tannins. I really appreciate the hint of bacon, with the crushed river pebbles. It had it all and all was in balance. A
2005 Alban Reva – A bit akward and edge with jammy black and red fruits spilling over the side. I initially liked it, but in the company, it paled.
2005 Ambullneo Syrah Howling- Wow, this was hitting on all cylinders. Full black fruit profile with soy, leather, and white pepper. Very very nice.
2005 PAX Lauterbach Hill - Typical in the PAX way. Black pepper and earth tones. Never elegant, but usually pleasing. Great mouthfeel and slightly angular in the finsish. Very good.
2005 Samasara - Don’t remember much, other than it being pretty in-line with this line-up.
2007 Carlisle Papa's Block - Not a fan of this typical four square, but surely Syrah type. Not much character beyond the lines.