Brasserie Dieu Ciel! Rosée d'Hibiscus
This is a bit of a weird beer but I loved it. Comes off as a light brown ale with brown spice and hibiscus. I love hibiscus tea and this delivered that tart flowery citrus character that I have grown to love in the tea. What surprises me with this is that I read it was a wheat beer, which I didn't exactly pick up at the time but in retrospect, probably should have guessed. While it is fairly rich with decent weight, there was some weight lacking in the finish that I attributed to the hibiscus being so dominant. It was probably the wheat character that I had misread. Anyhow, I loved the balance on this and thought it to be a great summer sipper. Very quenching with interesting things going on.
2009 Hair of the Dog Fred From the Wood Barley Wine
Probably the best barley wine I have had to date. Not always a big fan because the sweetness levels can be cloying. Medium dark brown. Moderate to mild head. This is pretty darned sweet but so pleasing in it's flavor profile that I just found myself liking it more and more as I continued to sip. Tons of brown sugar and caramel, hints of orange zest, brown spice, vanilla, slight bourbon barrel oak, a good dose of tobacco leaf with other complex herbal notes. Mildly carbonated. Very smooth and easy to drink yet very complex! Can't really capture everything that is going on and it was only a 12oz bottle, which I split with Maureen. She liked it too.
Russian River Damnation Batch 23
This is an ale aged with oak chips. This is the third offering of the 23 from RR, thus Batch 69. Have had this in bottle and on tap. Bottles are not ready yet, still showing too much aggressive carbon dioxide. The tap might be my favorite 23 ever. Really nice, rich, toasty vanilla oak on top of citrusy lemon zest, herbs and brown spice. Thicker than the regular Damnation. I loved the tap, the bottle was a bit edgy almost like it was still fermenting a bit. I would let them sit a year if you can.
Bruery / Elysian / Stone La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado
Ale brewed with pumpkin, yams, toasted fenugreek, lemon verbena and birch bark. Liked this a fair amount, not super hoppy, lots of malty rich flavors without being over the top. Very balanced, roasted, toasty, caramel, yeasty, woody but all in balance. 5% alcohol.
2000 Lagier Meredith Syrah:
I have always noted that these can be a bit of a chameleon in youth, where they can appear very primary and perhaps more typical of many California Syrahs, but give these some age, (or get lucky), and they start to show a lot of complexity along with their outstanding balance. This is a wine that even Parker said would basically last 10 years and then start going downhill. Well here it is 12 years later and this thing is still on the front side of it's life. My guess is peak will be around a decade from now, perhaps half that but this would surprise me. We had this with the Insignia and this was the unanimous star of the show! Hitting on all cylinders. Rich, balanced, complex, full bodied. I have had and enjoyed this a few times but this was the best I remember, which is saying a lot. Tons of blackberry fruit, some licorice rich herbal notes, cocoa. 95/100
1995 Phelps Insignia:
Great nose, great finish, mediocre attack in the front of the palate. Starts a bit weak and seemed to have a hint of almost candied fruit. Bit of a hole up front that started to go away with air time but never completely went away. I have had much better bottle of Insignia so I had fairly high expectations that were not met. Still this had tons of cigar box character with a very rich palate dominated by the chocolate from the Merlot component. 92/100
2001 Texier Cote Rotie:
I liked this but it was perhaps a slight bit under ripe. A bit lean and astringent in the front end of the palate. Lots of iodine, bloody, meaty character. Fruit was pomegranate and currants. Not real richness. Fairly structured. Not a great showing but still a good bottle of wine. 89/100
2004 Domaine du Vissoux Pierre-Marie Chermette Cuvee Traditionnelle Beaujolais Vielles Vignes
This was awesome on release but it sucked eggs bad. Still had body left but was flawed with head snapping VA. So, I didn't tell Maureen and told her to try it. I was laughing because her head snapped back just like mine had. Super vinegar concentrate. Loads of fruit but it was candied and just horrible. Down the sink!
2005 McPrice Myers L'Ange Rouge Santa Barbara Grenache
I am fairly sure there is some syrah in this as well as Larner Grenache, so it was deep, dark, heavy and robust. Very ripe, almost too much so, but dang this was tasty. It had this unique chocolate marzipan character that is very intriguing. Fruit showed framboise liqueur, fig, prune and blackberry. Some herbal character. Liked it. 90/100
1997 Dow's Vintage Porto
I used to complain about Ports all the time, feeling like they were never ready to drink, always too harsh and never resolved at all. Not sure if this was showing much development but it was tasty over a number of nights. Opened it to make some pork chops that had a reduction sauce made of blueberry, port, balsamic and caramelized onions. Liked it. 92/100
1998 Cuilleron Les Serines Saint-Joseph Syrah
Awesome bottle. High acidity but really great northern rhone character, a little tight and angular but full of iodine, meat, mineral, blackberry, bacon, violets etc. Medium weight. Loved it! 94/100
1998 Michel Bernard Chateauneuf du Pape
Some problems with this. The nose was very oxidized but the cork look very solid. ???? The palate was pretty solid, loads of CdP complexity, herbs du provence, merde, raspberry. Riper than my favorite but still reasonably balance 89/100 Wasn't even this good on day two.
1997 David Bruce Chalone Pinot Noir
This is pretty darned tasty stuff. The nose is very nice, loads of floral character. It shows spicy raspberry fruit with forest floor, mushroomy earth and some cocoa powder like depth that seemed a little odd but very tasty. Very structured with solid tannic strength that stood out a bit. Slightly mouth drying. The cocoa came on strong at the finish and almost seemed to me like some other grape blended in. That seemed odd to me but I liked it. 91/100
2005 Red Car Shake Rattle Roll California
3% Grenache from Stolpman Vineyard. The syrah is from five other sites; 53% Watch Hill, 15% Vivio, 12% Laetitia, 9% Shadow Canyon and 7% Bien Nacido. Loads of high toned smoky oak, I'm guessing Francois Feres. Lots of tar, dark chocolate, licorice and coffee notes. Huge, ripe blackberry liqueur fruit, still has some decent acidity, 15.1% ABV. Showed amazingly well on day 1, but become a bit oxidized on day 2 with the ABV rearing it's head. Pretty danged good, better than I anticipated but still a little over the top. If this had just a bit lower ABV and slightly better balanced, then it would be exceptional. I don't think it is that complex, more direct and hedonistic but still very tasty.
N 8+ P 8+ C 8 S 8+ B 7+ = 91/100
2000 Lone Madrone York Mountain
Pretty tasty, black cherry and cassis fruit, cocoa, coffee, pencil lead, perhaps a hint of herbal character but to me this is still a young and primary wine. Not over the top in terms of ABV which is 14.7% or in ripe fruit character. The structure is fairly dominant with big tannins that have some mouth drying character that lessened on day two, some nice acidity on the finish. Balance is very good, I wasn't quite expecting that from a 2000 Cabernet from this region. A bit shut down on day 1 but really improved big time on day 2. Very nice.
N 8 P 8+ S 8+ B 8+ C 8 = 91+/100