BV Georges de Latour Vertical Tasting and Dinner

Tasting Notes

 

All notes by Ben Sherwin


Another great CLONYC event. It was interesting to see these wines over a 28 year period. There is certainly a consistency in that the predominant fruit is cassis and there are clear powdered cocoa notes and herbs (which often crosses the line to herbaceousness). There were some good wines here, but other than a nice run from '94-'96, there's nothing that I'd run out and buy. One topic of conversation is whether these wines are made to last past 15 years. Given the experience with the older wines and the way the '94 went south, I think there is some truth to that. Amazingly, given the history of bottle taint, we did not have one flawed bottle.

Thanks to Mike for putting on another great event and thanks for supplying the beautiful brochures. As always, good times.

Warm Up
Thanks to Steve for bringing the Tensley. An interesting little wine that's worth finding. Thanks to Nano for bringing the Tapestry to whet our appetites.

  • 2005 Tensley Grenache Blanc Blanc Camp 4 - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
    Very nice re-creation of a S. Rhone wine. Lush and full in the mouth with pretty tropical fruits, lime and a slight nuttiness (almond?). The acidity is well used here preventing it from being overly heavy (although it is quite substantial) or flabby. Nice effort.

  • 1996 Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    An easy drinker with some nice, dark aromatics. Slightly astringent on the finish, but it doesn't ruin the overall effect. A good, simple steak wine. Drink up now.

Bring Out Your Dead
None of these wines showed particularly well. They ranged from the interesting ('78) to the good ('87) to the undrinkable ('80). Lesson learned here is that it's tough to take a BVGdLT out 20 years.

  • 1978 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Certainly showed the best of the olders BVs. Nice mature fruit (I thought of crushed dried cherries although I've never actually smelled that), cocoa powder and a complementary herbal quality (dill, thyme) that was in no way vegetal. Some notes of old leather emerge after a while although they begin to replace the fruit which dissipated after a couple of hours in the glass. Unfortunately, there is no middle to this wine as the midpalate just disappears. The wine reemerges on the finish, but mostly in the form of acid which overwhelms the little bit of fruit that is left. In the end, I'd say that this wine was more interesting than good.

  • 1980 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    It was interesting to see this wine evolve in the glass from the initial aromas of burned plastic to toasted celery to madeira. In a word, yuck.

  • 1986 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    A bit of burnt rubber on the nose that dissipated over time. Some dusty cassis on the nose was the highlight of this angular, joyless wine. I didn't get any interesting secondary aromas (such as leather or tobacco), only an herbal quality that bordered on the herbaceous. Whatever fruit that is left is ruined by a sharp astringency that clips the finish. I don't get the sense that this was ever particularly good.

  • 1987 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    The initial whiff of rubber blew off fairly quickly leaving surprisingly lively fruit on the nose. Black plum and raspberry liqueur with some cocoa and herbal notes. Unfortunately, there wasn't much follow through on the palate which was all sharp angles. Whatever fruit that existed in this wine went south some time ago leaving the other components, particularly the acidity, to knock it out of balance. The finish is all acid and not particularly long. Not undrinkable, but well past its prime.

Ohio Flight
So called because it was high in the middle and round on the ends. There was great consitency stylistically for the entire flight and I had a tough time differentiating them at first. This was clearly the flight of the night and all of these showed very well with the '95 being the standout. I'm not sure there was a stylistic change fromn the '80s, but these wines sure were different (i.e., lively).

  • 1994 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    A nicely made wine. A substantial improvement from the earlier BV's, this boasted sweet dark fruit (cassis, plums), baker's chocolate and some tobacco. Very round and silky in the mouth with sweet tannins that are fully resolved. Nicely balanced finish of fruit and acidity that lingers nicely. My one complaint is that it faded a bit as the evening went on, but I'd say that this has another good 5 years of drinking in it. Well done.

  • 1995 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    A broad open wine that heaps generous fruit (cassis) up front and lingers long on the finish. It had a bit of toast and herbs. What elevated it over the '94 and the excellent '96 was the fine balance of opulent fruit and bright acidity that gave the wine a more pure focus. Delicious. WOTN

  • 1996 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Very similar stylistically to the '94. Perhaps a bit more cedary which may be the extra 2 years in the bottle (cedar vs. dill?). Still, you can tell these two wines are related with big, round black fruit and dark chocolate notes. Silky and of medium weight in the mouth with a longish finish. Very nice.

Going South
Not much good here. The '97 was especially disappointing after the nice run in the mid-'90s.

  • 1997 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    This was the most disappointing wine of the night for me, albeit not the worst. I found it fairly non-descript steakhouse wine. None of the opulent exhuberence that I've had in other '97s. Not flawed, but uninspired.

  • 1998 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Green, thin, astringent. I don't even know why I put any '98s in my mouth any more. You just can't beat this vintage.

  • 1999 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Tight and closed for my tastes. This wine is going to appeal to those who prefer leather to fruit in their Cabs. Not that there wasn't some fruit there, it was just overwhelmed by the firm structure. It was so reticent to me that I wrote the word "closed" twice in my notes. Maybe this will emerge as something nice (there's plenty of stuffing), but it could just as easily go the other way if the fruit fades and this becomes a stemmy, dusty mess.

"A Winemaking Tour de Force"
The quote of the night from Steve about the mediocre 2000. His point was that it took a hell of a lot of winemaking talent to even get what they got. He had a point. Pretty funny quote though. The '01 was a pretty decent wine, but there was nothing special here that would lead you to spend big $$ for this stuff.

  • 2000 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    A pretty decent bottle of wine for the vintage. You can bet it took some work to even get it this good. Still, taken out of the context of 2000 it's a mediocre bottle of wine of best. There is some fruit there (cassis), but it seemed just shy of ripeness with the predominant flavors being herbs, cocoa and bell peppers. The gambit here seems to be to move the secondary flavors to the fore to make up for the lack of real fruit and they almost pull it off. In the end, it's a bit to thin, lacks any substance in the mouth and finishes a touch to astringent to make it worthwhile.

  • 2001 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Not bad, this was surprisingly open and round. It's a wine I would order off a menu, but there is nothing interesting enough here to actually have it in my cellar. Plenty of fruit, oak and cocoa. I don't sense this is going to improve much although it should drink well for a while.

  • 2002 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Way backward and slightly shut down, it's tough to make heads or tails of this wine. Pretty much just oak and earth at this stage, I would expect some of the juicy 2002 fruit is hiding somewhere in there (although I didn't see it). I'm not sure what to make of this one.

Dessert Course

  • 2000 Mer Soleil Viognier Late - USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County
    An interesting wine. A bit unctuous and borderline, this wine coats your teeth with sugar. Perfectly nice, but it could use a little more acidity to balance the natural sweetness of the Viognier.



vvv

CLONYC Blog coming in 2007

"A site where all you will need is the love for wine, a whim for life and one a night a month."

home

designed, built and maintained by Mike Pobega