Halloween 2019

Wham bam thank you ma'am!
Chateau Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Leognan, 2000

The best strategy in buying Bordeaux is simply buy as many 2000’s as you can. Even from the secondhand market 17 years after they were released, these are the best priced premium wines in the world. Although they're still not at their peak, they're drinking well enough now that my friends and I have started opening them over the last couple of years and we haven't run into a dud yet. This is detailed, nuanced and elegantly powerful, typical Graves minerals, smoke and tautly delineated black fruit. The 2008 is still very young. The nose is terrific, hinting at what the 2000 is already flaunting, but the palate feels lean, although there is enough balance to feel confident that it will flesh out.

We also drank the the Haut-Bailly second wine.

Le Parde de Haut-Bailey, 1998

Pretty fancy showing for a 21 year old second wine. Cedar and minerals, robust black fruit, long, not especially complex.

Vilmart, Grand Cellier d’Or, 2011

From one of the two most horrendous vintages in the millennium so far, we have here an incredibly fresh and pure Champagne, driven by piercing acidity and deep and bright lemon fruit. While it lacks great complexity, it makes up for that with that beautiful fruit and the power of its chalky texture. To place its vintage defying performance in context, this isn't even the house's top vintage cuvee.

Bruno Paillard, Assemblage, 2008

Bruno Paillard was an amazing discovery for me when we visited Champagne last year, a negociant housed in a modern winery that makes Champagnes that drink like a personally crafted grower Champagne. This is one of their two vintage wines (there's also a high end cuvee, the Nec Plus Ultra). The nose is mature, at first seemingly quiet for a great vintage like 2008, but it gains power with age. The palate is certainly as vital and robust as you'd expect from the vintage, with a chalky texture. If you run into one of the vintage cuvees and have a choice of the two, opt for the Blanc de Blancs.

Alain Voge, Saint-Peray, Fleur de Crussol, 2010

Flabby and oxidized. I'd guess it was decent in the first couple of years, after that, avoid at all cost.

Louis Moreau, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, Clos des Hospices, 2014

Clos des Hospices was a monopole owned by the Moreau family, until cousins Louis and Christian split up. I must say that Christian is the better winemaker of the two, judging by this. It's very good, but Christian's version is exquisite, more refined and complex even in youth. Having said that, this is a classic young Grand Cru, balanced and vibrant, but yet to unleash its power. A few twirls, though, and you start to get steely flint. 

Feldstein, Semillon, 2015

Elusive, delicate fruitiness, with a subtle mineral overlay that is slow to assert itself.

Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, 1998

If you married Chateauneuf and Barbaresco and added some brett, this is what you'd get: a tarry nose and a palate devoid of savoriness. This wine has its fans, whom I'm not going to try to convert. 

La Vizcaina, Bierzo, La Poulosa, Lomas de Valtuille, 2016

The first of a Bierzo mini-lineup, this is one of the projects Raúl Pérez has going on in the appellation. As you'd expect of a wine made of Mencia, yet another grape touted as some region's local Pinot Noir, this is eloquently spicy, with a silky backdrop, a round attack and a taut, saline finish.

Descendientes de Palacios, Bierzo, Villa de Corullón, 2016

This shows a different aspect of Mencia, a meaty, more masculine one, which I like just as much. I've actually had it earlier this year and the impressions seem aligned.

Seavey Vineyard, Caravina, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007

I think it's a curse. Last time the group drank a Voge together, someone had also bothered to bring a Seavey, which I detested as much then as I do today. A wine so rich and ripe, the only use I have for it is as a lesson into everything then went wrong in Napa at the turn of the century.