Monday, August 02, 2010

40th Birthday BBQ & 1970 Vintage Wine Tasting

A BBQ/Wine Tasting put together to celebrate my 40th Birthday. I started sourcing 1970 vintage wines about 2 years ago, buying them on WineBid, and other auction sites. Although several were over the hill, surprisingly, only 1 bottle was flawed out of an entire case of 1970's wines. Pretty damn good luck, if you ask me! Wines are listed in the order they were supposed to be tasted, not in the order they actually were tasted (although I noted it in the tasting notes for each). It was an epic event for me, as well as for many of my friends. Outstanding wines, and even better friends in attendance! Special thanks to Woody, Dave and Dietra, for going above and beyond helping me get everything set up. There are a number of photos on Flickr, as well as a video of the 1970's wines for download (requires QuickTime). Okay, on to the wines!

Pre-Tasting Bubbles, White and Rose
Some wines to whet everyone's palate, as well as go with the 93+ degree weather outside. There were others (a Lenne Estate "Le Nez" Rose of Pinot Noir, a Pinot Grigo, etc), but I didn't taste them.

1970 St. Émilion

  • 1970 Château Bellevue Lussac-St. Émilion - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Lussac-St. Émilion
    Bottle #1, and the first bottle of 1970 wine I bought for this tasting, over 2 years ago. Very thin looking, this looks, smells and tastes like a Pinot Noir. Fruit still apparent, with tons of barnyard. Absolutely no sediment (!) for a 40 year old Bordeaux. (84 pts.)

  • 1970 Château Canon - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Bottle #2. Cork came out in 2 pieces, with light effort. Some sediment, but not much. Dark maroon, with an amber tint to it at the edge. Soy sauce, very light fruit (cranberry or cherry?) hiding out. Very interesting to see people's reaction... (86 pts.)

1970 Margaux

  • 1970 Château Lascombes - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Bottle #3. Cork was wet on top with seeping wine, and sucked down into the neck slightly when I lightly tapped on the top. I had serious misgivings about this one, but they were unfounded. Cork came out in 2 large pieces. Wine is in excellent shape, with very dark maroon color, fruit living nicely. Cherries and blackberries, with nice earth and some asian spices. (86 pts.)

  • 1970 Château Rausan-Ségla - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Bottle #5. Cork saturated, but came out in a couple big pieces. Initially there was some VA in this one, but it blew off in about 10 min. Good color, dark garnet fading to bronze at the rim. Fruit is faded, but still there. Lots more secondary flavors though, with earth, tea, and leather. This gets the cool bottle trophy, with a funky triangular-looking bottle. (88 pts.)

1970 St. Julien

  • 1970 Château Gloria - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Bottle #4. Cork came out in several pieces, all of them large enough to avoid straining. This was a pleasant surprise! Very much still alive, even though I had my doubts (top shoulder fill, obvious signs of seepage through the cork). Cassis, cherry and earth, with a hint of soy sauce. Some sediment in this one, but not what you'd expect for a 40 year old wine. (88 pts.)

  • 1970 Château Léoville Las Cases - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Bottle #9. Cork looked perfect, but ended up crumbling with the introduction of a corkscrew, and came out in many small pieces, prompting us to strain the wine. In perfect condition otherwise. Solid tannins, big blackberry fruit, with secondary flavors of lead pencil and tobacco. Nice earthiness also. This was another wine that seemed only several years old, instead of 40. (90 pts.)

1970 Pauillac (and a 1976 First Growth)

  • 1970 Château Pedesclaux - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Bottle #6. Cork looked solid, but refused to budge from the bottle, eventually coming out in pieces and requiring straining. A nice wine, but nothing spectacular. Still quite alive and vibrant. Dark burgundy in color, with raspberry and graphite flavors, along with forest floor and cedar components. Tannins slightly drying on the finish. (87 pts.)

  • 1970 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Bottle #7. Cork crumbled into several large chunks, but no straining needed. This one seemed a little over the hill. Black tea, soy sauce, with just a little bit of cherry fruit popping up, but quickly dying. Some pretty serious sediment in this one too. (85 pts.)

  • 1970 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Bottle #8. Perfect cork, but stuck in the bottle, requiring it's destruction to get at the good stuff inside. Remind me to buy an Ah-so opener next time. Once the wine was finally opened and strained into my glass, wow. Very dark garnet color, no cloudiness. Looks like it was bottled yesterday. Fresh cassis fruit, with gravel and tobacco showing. Some fairly hefty tannins still kicking also. This was a joy to drink! (92 pts.)

  • 1976 Château Latour Grand Vin - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Bottle #12, and the only non-1970 in the lineup. Cork came out easily, in one LONG piece. This wine looks, smells and tastes like it is only a few years old. Dark maroon, with some lovely wood and earth aromas with gravel and blackberry fruit. Solid tannins, still holding strong. Nice acidity and fruit, making me think this one still has many years left to go. Just an outstanding wine. The secondary flavors are just starting to build up as the wine is getting more air. Particularly the gravel/pencil lead aspect. Very tasty tobacco and earth emerging too. Perfect wine to end the tasting. (95 pts.)

1970 Tuscany & 1970 Napa Valley

  • 1970 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio Alle Mura - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
    Bottle #10, and the only one that was flawed, in this case heat damaged. Overly sweet and caramelized. Not pleasant to drink at all, although still interesting to taste 40-year old Sangiovese. NR (flawed)

  • 1970 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Bottle #11, but opened early due to guest requests. Cork came out in one piece, easily. Nice dark maroon color, going a little bronze at the edge, with not much sediment or cloudiness. Black cherry fruit, earth and mint flavors. Still some drying tannins on the finish, which shows a bit of mocha/coffee. Very nice, aged Oakville Cabernet. (89 pts.)

New World Wines (and an Amarone)
Catch-all for "the rest of the wines" brought by me and several friends, including a bottle of the unreleased 2003 Sharecropper's Cab (with hand-written lajavascript:void(0)bel) from Owen Roe (thanks Jesse!), a Penfolds Shiraz (thanks Dave!), and an Amarone that was a 38th birthday present (thanks Dietra!).
  • 2008 Owen Roe Pinot Noir "Sharecropper's" - USA, Oregon
    Big, bold black cherry fruit and oak, with some nice barnyard kicking in. This is still a baby, and should be held for another year or 3. Very smooth, with nice acidity. (90 pts.)

  • 2000 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    For an 'off vintage' in Napa, this was shining bright! Very earthy, with that lovely aged Cabernet flavor. Deep cherry fruit, with tons of earth. A joy to drink, and one of my favorite wines of the night. Very happy I have another bottle, even happier these only cost me $30 each. (93 pts.)

  • 2003 Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon "Sharecropper's" - USA, Oregon, Columbia Valley
    Unreleased bottle with handwritten label, gift from Jesse. Very dark in color, with outstanding aromatics. Blackberry, earth, and a touch of pepper. Damn tasty stuff, that I hope to get more of soon! (91 pts.)

  • 2004 Vaona Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Pegrandi - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
    Birthday gift from Dietra 2 years ago, seemed proper to open it at my 40th birthday party! Dark purple/blue color, with big sweet blueberries and lots of earth. Tannins are kicking hard, but relaxed a lot with about 20 min of air. Very meaty, and a very enjoyable wine! (93 pts.)

  • 2006 Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon DuBrul Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Huge wine, with big blackberry fruit and black pepper. Some leather/tobacco showing also, and the nose just screams "violets!". Still needs time, but very enjoyable now, with air. (95 pts.)

  • 2006 Penfolds Shiraz Bin 28 Kalimna - Australia, South Australia
    BIG fruitbomb wine, with a ton of pepper. Typical Aussie Shiraz style, but very enjoyable to have a sip. More than 1 glass would be tiresome, until this calms down some. (90 pts.)

  • 2005 Opus One - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Decanted 4 hours. When first opened this was a tannic beast, with huge cassis fruit. After 4 hours in the decanter, with several people stealing pours over that time, it had mellowed out into a beautiful, balanced wine. The nose is amazing...violets, and big berry fruit, with an underlying earthiness to it. Cassis, raspberry, tobacco and toasty oak flavors, with a chocolate-coffee finish that goes on for 30-40 seconds. In the company of 12 bottles of 1970 wines, this was still my wine of the night. (97 pts.)

Sweet Wine
The final wine, forgotten in the refrigerator until most everyone had departed.
  • 2008 EOS Moscato Late Harvest Tears of Dew - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Final wine of the night, and my palate is shot. This is just over the top sweet though...way too much. Honeysuckle, orange and a heap-o-sugar. (83 pts.)
As always, tasting notes posted from CellarTracker.