TN: French, Spanish, and Italian wines- some jammy, some jamming

Some friends who moved to Asheville this summer were in town for a couple of days, another mutual friend had a birthday, hey, sounded like an excuse for a party. So nine people gathered round our dining table, while the hound and her spaniel pal cavorted around and underneath.
We opened with proscuitto/fig rolls, shrimp cocktail, and a magnum of the NV Pierre Brigandat "Tradition" Champagne Brut. Initial approach is toasty and full, but seems a bit coarse, and not very complex or long. Certainly ok, just not intriguing. Held up ok overnight. B-
Dinner was spiced beef brisket, carrots, mushroom risotto, and salad. The birthday girl's favorite all time wine was a Barbaresco, the new NCer's a Chateauneuf, and his wife only drinks white. So I opened:
1999 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Just the basic estate bottling, this overperforms. Rich cherry fruit, tar, mushrooms, with medium tannins and fine underlying acidity. A-/B+
1999 Pierre Usseglio Chateauneuf-du-Pape I was disappointed in this, as I liked when young - thought it balanced and herby. With time the fruit seems still simple, there's a sweet edge than overwhelms, this comes across as generic ripe wine. Others liked more. B-/C+
2008 Lafouge "Les Boutonniers" Auxey-Duresses blanc Solid acids, midbodied, crisp, apple and pit fruits, just a hint of oak. Very nice white Burg. B+
NV Lapierre "X" (2010) Raisins Gaulois As usual, fresh and lively Gamay goodness.Fun glass. B+
2010 Pico Maccario "Berro" Chardonnay Piedmont Chardonnay! Mostly used for risotto. Light, clean, unremarkable. B-/C+
With our unseasonablty cool weather, some friends decided to make cassoulet, so we generously offered to help them eat it.
Started with some canapes of cucumber topped with a feta mix, and the NV Castellroig Brut. I always like this cava, clean crisp fruit, nervy, fresh. B+/B
1990 Ch. Montus "Cuvee Prestige" (Madiran) I liked this more than another recent bottle. Low acid without being flabby, lush, lots of cedar over dark fruit. B+
2003 Larose Trintaudon (Haut Medoc) Some tannins, still a woody note, fruit is definitely verging on jammy. Clipped finish. Not a fan. C+
2009 Grands Bois " 3 Soeurs" Cotes du Rhone This also verges on jammy, but it is probably Grenache, so I cut it some slack. Ripe red fruit, spice, ok. B-/B
2 nice evenings with friends!
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency
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