at Patroon House in Glenmont, NY (3/18/2004)

I put on a blind tasting for the WCC to mark my 10th year in the group and my 50th year on Earth.

The themes of the tasting were, first, to taste the wines I love and, second, to pay some homage to some of the key people and tastings we've had over the years. All wines were totally blind for the group (but not blind for me). All wines were from my cellar. Below are my notes and scores, with some comments from the group.

Each member of our group brings his own INAO tasting glasses, enough for all the wines so we can continue to taste them through the evening. Most of us also bring one large Riedel Vinum Bordeaux stem for nosing.

Dinner started at 8pm at the Patroon House in Glenmont, NY [which sadly closed c. 2007].

All wines except Flight 1 were vigorously decanted in reverse order of service between 4pm and 6pm.

Flight 1 was opened and served immediately.

Flight 1. California Pinot Noir
With Mushroom Stew and a Truffle Risotto Cake

1.1 1982 Kalin Cuvée DD
Sweet cherry nose. Still tannic. The fruit is fading, but still something quite lovely about it. Slightly over the hill for me, but for some the favorite of the flight. 88 points

1.2 1987 Kalin Cuvée DD
Earthy cherry nose. Thick fruit. Perfect balance between tannin and fruit. Just lovely. To me right at its peak. 90 points

1.3 1990 Kalin Cuvée DD
Excellent earth and cherry. Still has tart sweet cherry fruit. Excellent length. Will hold for 3-4 years. 92 points

1.4 1990 Wild Horse Cheval Sauvage Paso Robles
[This wine was one of the key reasons for this flight, as the guy who got me into this group (Dick L) had turned me on to this wine the first time we tasted together.] Super sweet in the middle. Very long. Much thicker, sweeter and more youthful than any of above. 93 points

These wines really show that the best Cali Pinot ages quite well. Some people guessed Burgundy and some Sangiovese! No one guessed the age even remotely. Interestingly, several people guessed that the first 3 wines were different vintages of the same wine. Is that terrior?

Flight 2. Barbaresco and Barolo
With Grilled Petit Veal Chops in a glace de Veau-Chive Cream presented with Ratatouille filled Wontons

2.1 1982 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva
Tight nose of truffle and wet earth. Slowly opens into a heavenly nose of flowers and red fruits. Still youthful in the mouth with an exquisite complexity and expansiveness so characteristic of Giacosa. Drink now with 5 hours decanting or hold for 5 years. 97 points

2.2 1982 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Rionda Riserva
Very tannic at first and really tight. Needs more air. Still quite backward and tannic but with an intensity of fruit and floral complexity beyond belief. Needs 5-10 years if well stored. Still one of my all time favorite wines. 98 points

2.3 1985 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Rionda
Heavenly nose of sweet cherries, wet earth and flowers. This one is ready to go. Doesn't have quite the depth or richness of the 82 riservas above, but it is at its peak and showing all it's got! 95 points

2.4 1989 Luciano Sandrone Barolo
Backward with ripe fruit. Still youthful, but something's not quite right. Some thought there was a touch of TCA. I didn't detect any off flavors, but there's no question there was a flatness to it that my last bottle (at the Mid Hudson Il Cenácolo tasting) did not have. There is enough here to enjoy, but disappointing. 94? points

Flight 3. Cabernet
With Grilled Petit Filet of Beef accompanied by a pan seared foie gras medallion, served atop an andouille-sweet-potato hash with a caramelized shallot-balsamic reduction

3.1 1982 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
Wow! Heavenly, explosive, mind-blowing nose. Exquisite in the mouth. The finish goes on forever! One of the greatest bottles of wine I've ever had. Look in the dictionary under "100 Points" and see this wine. Flawless and exciting in every dimension. I think this bottle could have held like this till at least 2012, but I doubt I'll wait that long for my last 3 bottles. 100 points

3.2 1987 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa
Tight strawberry and minerals nose is quite lovely. Backward, but shows what's ahead when tasted with the food. Clearly needs a few more years, or have now with 5 hours decanting and a steak! Best 2007-2020. 97 points

3.3 1990 Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta Sassicaia
Excellent nose. Exquisite in the mid palate. The most ready to drink of the flight. Just great!
A little left in the open bottle the next day showed even better. Drink now - 2015. 97 points

3.4 1990 Leoville Las Cases
Backward nose. So tight. Sweet currants and graphite. Smooth. Goes on forever. Drink 2007-2025. 97 points
Next day: singing even more. Wow!

All these wines got better and better as the evening went on. Several people (some who had been in the group for 20 years) said this was the best flight we've ever had!

Everyone knew they were cab based wines. One person picked out the PLL and another the Sassicaia! One reason the Montelena was here was to pay homage to one of the best tastings we ever had, a totally blind vertical of Montelena. Interestingly, the guy who put on that tasting [Steve M] was the one picked out the Montelena here.

At the end of the flight (but before the wines were revealed), we held a vote for our favorite of the flight. Given the opinions of the flight, it's safe to say this was for WOTN. The votes were 2 each for the Montelena and the Las Cases, 3 for the Pichon (including me) and 6 for the Sassicaia! And most of these guys would list Bordeaux, Burgundy and California as their 3 favorite regions.

Flight 4. Australian Shiraz
With roasted New Zealand Baby Lamb Rack finished with a garlic-rosemary butter

4.1 2002 Marquis-Philips "Shiraz 9"
Sweet spicy red fruit nose. Massive fruit and tannin. Such intensity. A central sweetness that I love. "Fenugreek" says one guy. Great says me. 97 points

4.2 2002 Marquis-Philips Integrity
Floral to heaven nose. Tons of slate. Bang! Sweet fruit!!! Goes on forever. So young but so harmonious. This is the real deal! 97-100 points

4.3 2002 Shirvington
So backward and tannic. Huge! Disjointed. Hard to judge. Quite a contrast to the Integrity. Disappointing given how much I loved the 2001 in November. 94-? points

Clearly the most divisive flight. Many loved the wines, others thought they were clumsy oafish barrel samples not worthy of the tasting.

The placement of this flight after the classy cabs was a big mistake. Also wiped out some peoples' palates for the next flight. All in all, I should have left this one out.

Flight 5. Petite Sirah
With "a sampling of world renowned cheeses (Stilton, St. Andre,...) served with fruit and nut conserve and candied ginger-pear compote"

1979 Ridge York Creek
Heavenly nose of mulch and sweet fruit. Amazingly subtle after the Aussies. Just peaking now. Great! 96 points

5.2 1993 Rockland Cellars
Exquisite! Sweet fruit. Young but wonderful. Needs more time. Only pales in this company. 94 points

5.3 1993 Turley Cellars Aida Vineyard
Backward, amazing, extracted, massive. Reaches out and grabs you. Probably better in 5-15 years but wow! 98 points

5.4 1994 Turley Cellars Aida Vineyard
Great minerally red fruit nose. Still hugely tannic!
Day 2: Fantastic, stunningly expansive. Could be 100 points in 10 years! 97-98 points

This was the flight (along with flight 2) that everyone who knew me knew would be here. Around 7-8 years ago, we had a Bring Your Best Syrah tasting. I brought the 1994 Turley Aida PS. Honestly, I didn't think much about Syrah vs. PS. At that time, Robert Parker listed them together in the annual index. I knew it was great so I brought it. We each put 10 bucks in a pot and I took it home as WOTN. Afterwards, our leader wrote to the Wine Spectator to ask for a clarification. The letter appeared in an issue with Robert Mondavi on the cover. They said something like "Technically the PS isn't Syrah and your friend did bring a ringer, but clearly you should thank him for letting you taste a great wine." They did, but I gave back the money anyway. Ever since, no matter what the theme of a blind tasting, everyone asks me which PS I brought.

All in all, a great night and a great way to celebrate.




All original content © Ken Vastola