In this round of Vintage Pairs Blind Tasting, we served:
From the San Erasmus island in Venice’s lagoon, this land is never under water, and so it has for centuries been the source for food for the residents of Venice. In the 16th century – a historically warm period, it was covered in vineyards (who needs vegetables, right?). Today Michel Thoulouze has revived the tradition. There are native Italian varietals here, but the core is Istrien Malvoisie (Malvasia). It’s planted on native roots. Consultant is Alain Graillot of Northern Rhone fame. We import this wine mainly for Linden’s wife! (Ask Linden for the story).
Something quite historic here. These bottles may have seen their best days already but they have been immaculately stored since original release in a cold dark Bristol UK cellar by the Englishman who discovered this estate for the UK – John Avery. These bottles came from the auction of his cellar last year. Mt. Eden interests me particularly because it is one of the first original vineyards planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the United States – 2,000 feet up above what is now Silicon Valley in Santa Cruz. I’ve been there – todays it’s a bit of a nail-biting bumpy ride up an old dirt road, same as it’s ever been. The vineyard was planted in 1943, and when Jeffrey Peterson arrived as assistant winemaker in 1981 those were the vines still in the ground. He made the 1982, and was put in charge in 1983 at which point he shifted the direction – in the ‘80s – to a leaner style (which he later abandoned). He also began replanting the vineyard with modern clones, spacing and training. He is still making the wine. It’s a great visit. How will these two oldies taste? I have no idea, but isn’t it fun to find out even if they don’t blow our minds?
Also from John Avery’s cellar. Isn’t that cool? If you get this one blind you are on fire! Tasmanian Pinot Noir! But if you think about it that makes sense – down there it is no Mediterranean or Tropical climate like so much of Australia’s coastline. It’s temperate maritime – like Bordeaux, and like much of New Zealand. When I began tasting wine in New Zealand at the beginning of the 1990s, this estate already had some buzz for Pinot. I haven’t tried once since the late ‘90s, so this should be interesting, right? 18 and 19 year old ‘New World’ Pinot? Gotta be worth trying that. This is a 2ha north-facing site (turn yourself upside down and that makes sense for the Southern Hemisphere) close-planted (6000 vines / ha) site, that is cool (harvest is late April / early May), and dry (<500mm p/a rainfall). Whatever, was it actually good? We will never see these again I’m sure.
I’ve always been intrigued by the adventurers in wine as you can probably already tell. The Durrbach family bought this estate in the ‘50s in Provence, between Avignon and Arles. They planted Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault, right? Wrong. They planted 50/50 to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in 1973, and by the early ‘80s had a bit of a cult following in the US and UK. Much like Sassicaia in Tuscany, breaking the rules meant a very lowly classification for the wine, but also like Sassicaia, the price quickly rose above the ‘regular’ wines of the region. The 1990 is a bit of a legend here. I’m hoping these show well. Was there a lot of brett?
(Incidentally, these are also out of John Avery’s cellar – so perfect provence-nance ;-)
Not much here for me to say really, is there? It’s more of less half/half Cabernet Franc (gravels) Merlot (clay) at the top of the St.-Emilion hierarchy – 1er Grand Cru Classe A. You really need bottle age for the Franc to come out and do its wonders. 1995 – though 22, may still even be a little surly because it was a reserved and tannic vintage. 1978 – a cool, late crop, has long been fragrant. I’m hoping it may beguile us.
|2010||Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux||750||WA 92|
|2002||Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux||750||WA 91|
|2011||Domaine Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les Saint-Georges’||750||BH 92-95|
|2001||Domaine Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les Saint-Georges’||750||--|
|1985||Chateau Magdelaine||750||WA 87|
|1982||Chateau Magdelaine||750||WA 87|
|1994||Vega Sicilia Valbuena #5||750||--|
|1994||Vega Sicilia Unico||750||WA 96|