[LONG] Cellar Clearance Party 2014

Once again, we invited a number of our friends over to our house to drink a number of our wines under the pretext of a "cellar clearance." Whereas in years gone by this was indeed a way to get rid of wines that no longer matched our tastes, these days we have few of those wines left. However, there's always a reason to have a good party in mid-Winter, so we invited 20 of our closest friends over, inviting them to bring an appetizer to share. The wines we opened were:
Bordeaux/CalCab flight:
1994 Château Pontet-Canet (Pauillac) (3/2/2014)
A classic Pauillac nose: herbal, tea leaf and pencil lead. The wine itself was medium bodied, slightly tannic still with a nicely acidic backbone. Very good now, it'll probably continue to develop for a few more years before reaching its plateau.
1995 Château Montrose (St. Estèphe) (3/2/2014)
Initially, I was concerned that this bottle might have been slightly corked, but as it continued to open my fears were assuaged. A lovely, masculine nose of licorice and cassis was accompanied on the palate by a highly structured (but smooth) mouthfeel and some herbaceous qualities overlaying the dark fruit.
1999 Paoletti Non Plus Ultra (Napa) (3/2/2014)
A classic nose of California Cabernet: vivid cassis fruit and a hint of capsicum to add complexity. The wine had great structure, with modest tannins remaining and fine acidity. A real pleasure to drink.
Cal vs. Rhone:
2000 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape (3/2/2014)
Surprisingly forward for this winery, the 2000 is drinking quite well now, though still quite primary. Drunk in comparison to the 2000 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel, I thought that the similarities were striking: dark cherry fruit in the nose, with a slightly meaty side note. Good acidity and medium body with smooth tannins made this very drinkable at this stage, but by no means profound or complex.
2000 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel (Paso Robles) (3/2/2014)
Drunk alongside the 2000 Beaucastel, it showed bright cherry fruit in the nose and had a smooth, silky mouthfeel with plenty of forward, cherryish fruit. Very nice now, it showed no signs of fading and was surprisingly similar to the 2000 Beaucastel at this stage of its development.
New World Pinot Noir:
2005 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard (Willamette Valley) (3/2/2014)
Quite lovely and understated. Bright, red cherry fruit is overlaid with some smokiness. Fairly dense for a St. Innocent Pinot, it maintained balance and avoided any sense of overextraction. Nicely balanced acidity.
2006 Dierberg Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley (3/2/2014)
Good varietal character with a clear California emphasis on fruit. Medium body and moderate acidity. Fairly simple, but an honest expression of PN.
2008 Rippon Pinot Noir Mature Vine (Central Otago, New Zealand) (3/2/2014)
An interesting lactic note in the nose was followed by a nose of brambly black cherry fruit. Very good acidity and a few gritty tannins suggest that this wine has years yet to go.
Syrahs from around the world:
2006 Finca Sandoval Manchuela (Spain) (3/2/2014)
Identifiably Syrah in the nose, with a sense of jammy blueberries. On the palate, it had plenty of acidity to counterbalance the very forward fruitiness of the wine. Not in any sense heavy, this was a very honest rendition of the grape(s).
2007 Beckmen Vineyards Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard (Santa Ynez Valley) (3/2/2014)
Brambly blueberry fruit in the nose and a very smooth, slightly creamy feel to the wine. Not a true "blueberry milkshake" rendition of Syrah, but closer to it than a STGT enthusiast such as myself prefers.
2007 Éric Texier Côtes du Rhône-Brézème Vieille Serine Domaine de Pergaud (3/2/2014)
Yes, this was infanticide, and even after several hours of airing the wine was still quite tight. The remainder was recorked and revisited three days later. At that time, it was totally open, with a lush sense of juicy fruit and a hint of licorice. The palate had also smoothed out. This wine definitely needs quite a few more years to show its best.
Mark Lipton
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Mark Lipton

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