Today is the second post where I reflect on many of the great wines that I was fortunate enough to taste over the course of the previous year. Here, I focus on the top ten reds that I had purchased at some point over the last couple of decades and I pulled from my cellar.
1988 Inglenook Vineyards Merlot Reserve, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $100? I bought a few Inglenooks several years ago for a song and this is sadly the last of the lot. The first bottle was less than impressive, in fact, I found it rather pedestrian. A completely different story here, however. It has that classic old red wine nose: stewed fruit, green pepper, a bit of spice. The palate, however, is gangbusters: slightly stewed fruit but oodles of spice and plenty of swagger. Yowza. It’s great when the last bottle is the best and when you opt to open it on Open That Bottle Night with a small group of friends (and before you realize that there is a raging pandemic on the horizon). Outstanding. 93 Points.
2003 Cosentino Winery M. Coz Meritage Red, Napa Valley CA: Retail $120. 52% of this wine comes from the “Secret Clone” Cabernet Sauvignon, which Mitch Cosentino has been using for a couple of decades. My last bottle of this vintage, with only a couple of 2000 M. Coz left. Whoa. Fruity, yet restrained nose of blackberry and anise, lovely. Great fruit, oodles of body, loads of character. This might just be the best wine I have tried by Mr. M. Cosentino, but I might need to verify the veracity of that statement. Oustanding. 94 Points.
2006 Blain-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Rouge, Burgundy, France: Retail $75? 100% Pinot Noir. I bought three bottles of this wine for $25/each online over ten years ago and this is the first that I have opened. Whoa. Chassagne is far more well-known for the white wines that come from the appellation, which, somehow, makes the reds from the region all that much more compelling for me. While far from “fruity” this wine does have quite a bit of fruit both on the nose and the palate. It’s also earthy, minty, and yes, even a tad bit tannic on the finish. This is the first Burgundy I have opened in some time and I am not disappointed in the least. Oustanding. 94 Points.
2006 32 Winds Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $100. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. B.A.B. This is my next-to-last bottle of this wine, from the inaugural vintage of 32 Winds. As I have stated here in the past, this is a phenomenal wine made by no other than Ehren Jordan, of Turley and Failla fame and one of this country’s top winemakers. Whoa. Rich, fruity, deep, introspective. Despite being more than a dozen years old, this wine is still st the top of its form. Only one bottle left. Oustanding. 94 Points.
2007 Louis Latour Corton Domaine Latour Grand Cru, Burgundy, France: From magnum. Retail $200? 100% Pinot Noir. The reviews for this wine on Cellar Tracker are all over the map, ranging from 70 to 95 points. Obviously, I am much closer to the upper end of that scale. Wonderful fruit of cranberry and raspberry on both the nose and the palate along with considerable depth, earth, zingy acidity, and a lovely finish. As amazing as this was on night one, it was perhaps even better on the following evening. One more magnum and three single bottles left, I’m in no hurry. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2005 Domaine Jessiaume Santenay 1er Cru Les Gravières, Burgundy, France: Retail $45. 100% Pinot Noir. I bought a half a case of this wine back in 2011 on sale for the mere price of roughly $20/bottle. I popped the first in 2104 and it was stellar. This was the second we opened, some six years later. It might be even better. The nose is slightly muted with just a hint of being stewed, but it is also rich with dark berry fruit, mint, and some tobacco. The palate is close to stunning rich fruit (in a reserved Burgundian way), near-perfectly balanced acidity, and a depth of flavors that one would expect from “higher-level” Burgundies. Whoa. And then some. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2003 Mauro Veglio Barolo, Italy: Retail $50. 100% Nebbiolo. For whatever reason, I decided to pull out this wine as well as a 2005 Burgundy fearing, after reading the notes on Cellar Tracker, that one or both might have turned and were well on the downward slope. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the corkscrew. This, like the Burgundy, was absolutely fabulous. Minty, fruity (still), peppery on the nose after a bit of time open (muted initially). The palate? Whoa. I really don’t understand the other comments on Cellar Tracker–this wine is gangbusters: rich, fruity, great balance, and still muscular tannins. I have one more bottle and I am in absolutely no hurry here. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2013 B Kosuge Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $65. A bit of a Big Ass Bottle. I have been a fan of Byron Kosuge’s wines for a long while now and, coincidentally, I have been convinced for essentially the same amount of time that the Hirsch Vineyard is an American Grand Cru–one of the nation’s premier sites for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Those two views come together in this wine, which I purchased from Byron back in 2016 and this is the first bottle that we have cracked. Nearly translucent in the glass, but still with rich color and fantastic aromas: black cherry, earth, maybe some clove. The palate is delicate and refined, which runs in contrast to the Hirsch Vineyard which, just a scant few miles from the Pacific Coast, can be a bit harsh and rugged. The tannins are nearly integrated, the balance is impeccable, and the finish is lengthy and delightful. Whoa. Yeah, I was pretty much right about both Byron Kosuge and the Hirsch Vineyard. I like being right. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2011 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. I have waxed (hopefully poetically at least once) about my admiration for Clos Pepe and winemaker Wes Hagen. Slightly less often, I have lamented the demise of the winery, which I will not go into yet again here. While I still have a grand total of 6 cases from the Clos, with each bottle, the universe shrinks. I opened this bottle as my Eagles were battling the 49ers on Sunday Night Football and had pulled ahead of the team from the Bay. As a typical Eagles fan, I was sure that my team would blow it and I would retire for the evening once again dismayed, disappointed, and disgruntled. To ease my pain, I pulled this from the cellar. Whoa. And then another. We had tried a bottle nearly a year ago at Thanksgiving, and it was stellar. This bottle? Likely better. Gorgeous red berry fruit, eucalyptus, subtle black pepper, and perhaps some sage on the nose. Yowza. The palate is even more incredible with a wave of fruit, depth, perfectly balanced acidity, and a finish that lasted until the last failed pass attempt by the 49ers that ended the game. While I was happy that the Eagles won, this wine (almost) rendered the final score irrelevant. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2004 Gros Frère et Sœur Clos Vougeot Musigni, Burgundy, France: Retail $250+(?). 100% Pinot Noir. Back in 2006, I bought four bottles of this wine in a small wine shop in Chassagne. Wines from the much-heralded 2005 were about to be released and the shop had reduced prices on their 2004s. This is the first that I have opened and holy cow. Clos Vougeot is the largest of the Grand Crus in the Côtes de Nuits, but that only means a total of just over 50 hectares (125 acres), which is divvied up among more than 80 growers. Well, the last bottle that I opened of this wine was only back in February of this year but that seems like well more than a world ago. Fairly dark and musty in the glass with earth, spice, and over-ripe, even stewed black cherry in the glass. But the nose is even more than that as there is tobacco, black pepper, clove, meat, and even blood–the type of wine one could sniff for days and never find all the various aromas. The palate is quintessential Burgundy: plenty of fruit (if one would call it such) that is dried, stewed, even pickled, and laden with loads of secondary and tertiary aspects (leather, tobacco, clove, allspice). I would hazard to guess that this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but oh my goodness is it mine. Whoa. And Holy Cow. Extraordinary. 97 Points.