Another gathering the other night at the home of Marshall and Carolyn Manning, this time to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. As Marshall put it, think of Magnum Madness but only smaller. So I whipped up a trip to the New Seasons market deli for green pea and Gorgonzola salad in honor of Marsh, who avoids most (all?) vegetables. And taking orders well, I contributed one in a slew of wines from 1995 to honor the host couple, a Charles Joguet Chinon Clos la Dioterie Vieilles Vignes.
This crowd likes its white wines, especially on a warm evening like this. So a cooler in the backyard was the place to start. Moving quickly to try things before they were drained, I poured the 1995 Pinson Chablis Mont de Milieu from magnum. On first sniff, I thought I smelled apple Jolly Rancher™ candies, but that passed quickly to reveal nice maturing but still fresh minerally, waxy Chablis, plain and simple. Tangy and fairly long on the palate, nice wine with time to age yet.
Then the 1995 Pierre Luneau Le "L" de Pierre Luneau Muscadet, which smelled young and clean with clear Muscadet flavors. I was more taken by the 1995 Château de l'Aiguillette Muscadet VV, a recent release locally that smelled like a nice chenin blanc but tasted rainwatery and minerally, delicious and a steal at $12.50. Casa Bruno is the local importer. A NV Gruet Brut was its typically nice self, fresh and clean bubbles with a soft but dry flavor.
Not taking notes at the time, I know I am forgetting a few others, so on to the 2004 Domain Sorin Cotes du Provence Rosé, a classic southern French rosé with minerally strawberry flavors and a nice perfume.
And onto the reds, again there were more than I tried much less recall. But the highlights included the 1995 Joguet Chinon Dioterie that I brought, a fragrant earthy rocky cabernet franc with great balance and length, delicious with grilled lamb even if later wines were more classic matches. Such as the 1995 Domaine Tempier Bandol La Tourtine, which I actually tried earlier before the vultures ate the decanter it came in. Young, tight Bandol with lots of funk – good funk mind you – but great promise. What did it taste like? Bandol, which is harder still than most wines to describe in simple words. Try again in 8 or 10 years with that grilled lamb.
Back to Beaujolais, this the 2001 Chignard Fleurie from magnum. Nice cherry, leaf, and earth flavors but overwhelmed by the company even if I couldn’t help another quick taste at the end of the night. It’s a fresh, delicious wine from importer Kermit Lynch, and someone at this gathering made the good point to not overlook Lynch’s Beaujolais producers beyond the "Gang of Four" of Breton, Folliard, Thevenet, and Lapierre. Look for Chignard, Chanrion, and Diochon, among others.
Then a flurry of bigger reds that ultimately blew my taste buds away. The 1995 Bosquet des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape was my favorite wine of the night, essence of grenache-dominated southern Rhone wine, still young but so fragrant and full of sweet cherry, stone, and assorted meat flavors. Yum. A pair of 1995 Brunello, first a funky if not a little corked La Fortuna Riserva. Then a stunning and young Librisi Brunello that opened all night long. Tobacco, cherries, soil, old wood, just lots of interesting things going on. A poster child for why old school Brunello is still king, or should be. Then to the right bank of Bordeaux, first the 1995 L’Arrosee St. Emilion that was tasting a bit tight and hard, especially after such rich, expressive wines. Likewise the 1995 Grand Mayne St. Emilion which wasn’t corked despite what critic Robert Parker says about this producer in the mid-90s, but was stern and unfriendly to this taster. Back to the cellar for you.
There was more, a nice 1995 Recioto di Valpolicella (producer??) that smelled like there might be some rimage Banyuls mixed in (for the dark chocolate notes). And a 1995 J.J. Prum Spatlese – was it Whelener Sonnenuhr? – that was lightly sweet and pure after some initial sulfur. And a 1995 Gevrey Chambertin (again, producer??) that smelled nice but tasted tight, and some other random things.
But I was done. So down again to the bus for an adventurous ride home through the Portland night to live again for another gathering. Thanks Mannings, well done as usual.