This lineup from a birthday dinner covered the full emotional range known to wine geeks: disappointment through heartfelt enjoyment to the sublime and immortal and back to disappointment, with a detour through a weird back-road or two.
We started out with a disappointment.
Drappier, Grand Sendree, 2008
If this is the best Drappier could come up with for their premium cuvee in a great vintage like 2008, then someone needs to take a long, hard look at the house's decision making process. Despite a fine nose with decent complexity, the total package is underwhelming because the palate is sweet and under-dimensional (there was nothing we could perceive that would suggest a bottle-specific fault).
Domaine André et Mireille Tissot, Arbois, Les Bruyères, 2015
All the Tissot Chardonnays that I've tasted were weird in a good way and this is no exception, a Chardonnay that marries the intensity of Corton-Charlemagne with the peaty accents of Islay Whiskey, while letting enough fruit to shine through to make the package very palatable.
Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2004
And, speaking of Corton-Charlemagne...Shining after a few minutes of air, this shows the Corton-Charlemagne signature of high octane minerals married to fruit that is exotic and reserved at the same time. My batting average with Bonneau goes up to .300+ at long last with this great, reserved filigree
Anthill Farms, Sonoma Coast, Peters Vineyard, Syrah, 2015
There are things I look for in a Syrah: pepper, flowers, bacon. I don't suppose I really need them all in one wine. What I get here is bacon and a touch of exoticism. It's a ripe wine, not excessively so, and underneath the ripeness is a tannic backbone. Merits an extended session and another look in a few years. I'm adding Anthill to my wish list.
Pierre Gaillard, Cote Rotie, 2013
No useful notes here. It feels typical, yet mute and uninspiring at the same time. I really hope it's just a question of youth and that in better surroundings, and that with longer and more rapt attention, I'd have been able to perceive its potential.
Domaine Rapet, Corton Grand Cru, 2012
A winsome nose, spices, mint, autumnal forest floor shit. Sadly, the palate is coarse with its drying finish, and lives up to Corton's reputation for being an underpeforming Grand Cru.
Dujac, Echezeaux Grand Cru, 2011
There are producers and vineyards you can always bank on. Dujac, I think, is on that list, and Echezeaux, while not in the short list of the great Grand Crus, is certainly consistent. I think this is a very top tier Echezeaux, even in a vintage not destined for the history books. It has great depth, finesse, poise and the aromas of rotting leaves are so evocative that I can imagine the Cisterians had no recruitment problems.
Egon Müller, Mosel, Scharzhofberger, Spätlese Riesling, 2011
Icy slate blazed by sulfur tinged minerals. The balance is so exquisitely focused that the sweetness flows like liquid crystal across the palate until it culminates in a salty finish. A great wine with effortless composure that will probably outlive me.
Domaine l'Aiguelière, Coteaux du Languedoc, Montpeyroux, Côte Rousse, 1995
This cuppa full of brett is going to sway a lot of hipster hearts. Not mine, though.
Kracher, Burgenland, Welschriesling, TBA, Nummer 3, 2009
This makes me question Kracher's reputation, but then again, I also tend to question Sauternes' reputation. In both cases, a spicy, hedonistic nose is followed by a palate constructed favoring low acidity. I think more wines are ruined by low acidity than any other single fault.