Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Tahoe Tasting of 2010

So maybe it wasn't blind, and maybe it didn't run that deep, but I just had a nice Bordeaux and a nice Sonoma Bordeaux blend side-by-side. Namely a 1999 Chateau Cos d'Estournel Saint Estephe and a 2000 Chateau St. Jean 'Cinq Cepages' from Sonoma County.

After a two mile hike around Spooner Lake, and over some really nice beef filet mignon steaks from Overland Steak Company, we raided the wine cellar and skimmed a couple of bottles of decade old Cabernet blends.

The Cos d'Estournel from my dad's cellar was lovely, with graphite, raspberry, clove, smoke and cherry flavors with hints of soy and mushroom. It was just beginning to show a bit of age, with supple tannins. Toward the end of the bottle it showed very slight hints of brettanomyces character, turning even smokier, but overall it was a beguiling, elegant wine that was in great form.

The 2000 Chateau St. Jean 'Cinq Cepages' was in prime condition. Though 2000 was regarded as a pretty average vintage from Northern California, this artfully blended red still had a deep middle of sweet blueberry, raspberry and blackberry fruit and pretty lavender, plum, cinnamon and clove notes that were amazingly fresh and vibrant.

They both showed beautifully, but I was most impressed with the Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages. In fairness, it had only ever traveled from the winery to my San Francisco cellar to a refrigerated unit at Lake Tahoe, but this series has a well-deserved reputation as a finely-crafted Bordeaux blend, and this was another spectacular showing. By the 2000 vintage, this wine was already $70 a bottle and 15,000+ cases were produced. In this instance, at least, it still showed to be a pretty good value.

About a decade old is just when I like to drink my Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux blends, and for all the fretting about how well California Cabernets can age, I've seldom been disappointed by an 8 or 10 year-old California red of good pedigree.

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