So a group of hardly usual suspects came to our house for dinner, inspired in part by Susan Spicer's first cookbook, Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans . . .
Mystery Wine № 1. Pale straw in color, clean and bright; the bouquet is aromatic, vaguely reminiscent of perhaps a white Côtes-du-Rhône, with hints of honeysuckle, apricot and peach, accented with tropical fruits. This sounds more complex than the wine really is, but it's silky smooth on the palate, off-dry (1.9% r.s.), with nice fruit and delicate spice notes; the finish is long and lingering. I know, of course, what it is, but I'd say it's a nice summertime quaffer, and would perhaps work with some spicy crawfish! It's 2006 Pontchatrain Vineyards Roux St. Louis, Tanque IX, "Blanc de Bois"¹ (St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana), and a reasonable deal at $13.00. (Bought at the winery in 2007.)
n.v. Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve, Mise en Cave 2004 (Champagne, France): Straw-gold in color, clean and bright with a good mousse and a fine bead; nice biscuity aromas, fairly rich in both the nose and mouth, with good acidity and a lingering finish. Very fine.
n.v. Larmandier-Bernier Brut Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs (Champagne, France): Produced solely from Chardonnay grown in the Côte des Blancs villages of Vertus, Cramant, Avize, and Oger, this wine is mostly comprised from grapes grown in the 2005 vintage, with a proportion of reserve wines (coming from the 2004 and 2002 vintages) at about 40%. Round, rich, and reasonably full for a BdB, with layers of complexity showing front-to-back. Superb!
2002 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, "Les Pucelles," Marc Morey et Fils (Burgundy, France): Christianne had mentioned that she's had some prematurely oxidized bottles of this wine in the past, but this bottle sings! Still youthful, with development yet to come, this is every bit the complex, wonderful white Burgundy one would expect for Marc Morey. Superb!
Mystery Wine № 2. Light dusty red in color, clean and clear; dried cherry and rose petals in the nose, with earth, spice, and light leathery notes. Clearly, by color alone, this looks to be perhaps a decade old; think old, traditionally-styled Rioja -- pale, aromatic and surprisingly flavorful -- and you get the idea. Nice fruit, light bodied but with good flavors, the finish is a tad drying but tasty. 2005 Homestead Winery Pinot Noir (Texas), from the Red River Valley region of North Texas, and I'm not at all disappointed in the wine; at $15, I'll certainly try it again when I'm next in Texas.
1970 Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves² (Bordeaux, France): This was from a Double Magnum (DMG), a 3.0L bottle that I purchased back in 1974 or 1975 when I worked at The Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills, California. IIRC, I think this was about $65 retail; I bought it with the intention of hanging on to it until the Millennium, or perhaps when I retired at age 65. Well, I was in the UK on December 31, 2000, and I began to wonder if this would last until 2018, so . . . dark garnet-red in color, clear and clean after decanting; the bouquet is rich, full, concentrated and classic LMHB, with cassis, ripe cherry, spice, leather, earth, and so much more -- very complex and layered; in the mouth, the wine is round and full, with great layers of fruit, earth, spice, leather, and more -- absolutely stunning, with good backbone, integrated tannins, and I'm not sure I need worry about more time in the cellar. Both Broadbent and parker have reported significant bottle variation with this specific vintage. It is not something I have ever experienced with the 1970, so maybe I've just been really lucky. All I know is that this bottle was truly magnificent!
2004 Domaine Baumard Coteaux du Layon, "Clos Ste Catherine" (Loire, France): Light honey-gold in color, with very fine Botrytis and ripe melon fruit aromas; light minerality and good acidity carry the wine's ample sweetness across the palate -- still quite youthful; delicious now, but given time, this should be stunning!
¹ Is it me, or shouldn't that have been "Blanche du Bois"???
² Today, of course, the appellation is "Pessac-Léognan", but back then, "Graves" was it.