Tin Soldiers

Quick notes of a few of these since people have asked…

Tyler chard and Bourgeois Les Baronnes open on arrival as samples… both clean and nice: the former a tightly-wound COMPLETELY un-slutty version and the latter an equally un-(insert typical SB descriptor which I refuse to stoop to) version, all clean with slight grass and alpine acidity.

17 Ancient Oaks RRV was full and beautiful, but kinda stood out in this crowd (there was also a Chablis open) as a rich lollipop. Over and over throughout the night, I had to keep saying, “Come on… it’s Russian River Valley! That’s what you get!” While not ridiculously oaky, it had a full, round malo and barrel patina crammed with oily spice and rubenesque charm. By itself, it would have SHONE, and here-in lies a flaw with line-ups if fundamentals are lost sight of: There’s too much *comparison* going on, and why I almost completely refuse to participate in #winebro’s constant WHAT WAS THE BEST WINE??? fascination. This is a luxurious Chardonnay, and none of the other whites would I characterize that way.

The 17 Cigalus was not blind, but I am unfamiliar with this wine–though I saw Gerard Bertrand on the cork coming out. So I knew it was south France–and white–and because it was south France, gave up on guessing the variety after about 5 minutes because South France… I mean: it could be ANYTHING. When the blend was revealed…. yeah… I mean… what are you gonna say about that? Chard-Viog-SB THERE’S SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY HERE! Very nice “White Wine”. And loyal readers will know that is how McConnell calls something boring. It’s beautiful wine. Gorgeous. But it’s just beautiful white wine. That’s it. You know what I’m saying.

Those of you who continually scoff at my Korbel Natural infatuation need to just skip this part. File under: *Never explain yourself: your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway*. And while I don’t tell stories, THESE are the kind of stories I love to tell. Those who follow my every move will remember we opened 3 champagnes Sunday afternoon. The NV Laurent-Perrier was the only one finished, and the half-bottle of 2002 Thienot was gassed, capped, and refrigerated. The half-full 2013 Korbel was removed to the KITCHEN–right next to the Easy-Bake Oven–where it sat UNCAPPED. WIDE OPEN. until the cook brought it out Thursday evening asking if he could use it for sauce. “Give me that!” I said. Instant light mousse and even a wisp of trailing streams. Even at 70°, beautiful crisp nose, lovely gushes of apple and pear and pale almond–ALL following through into the taste alongside careful spritz. NO ONE could fucking believe it–including myself. A pall of silence cast over the room as I poured it into eye-rolling glasses–forcing samples on the heathen. Stunned silence and dumbfounded looks while several proclaimed it WOTN. BEYOND gorgeous, and rather un-explainable. The Thienot was produced from the fridge where it had performed predictably–dull and flat and chubby–but not really fair, considering it IS 20 years old with sketchy provenance. I’m tellin you, people: Korbel Natural is the real dealio–and I paid ELEVEN NINETY-NINE for this.

2018 Pape Clement opened like battery acid. Ridonculously tight and rigid. Several dissed it as just a little TOO unforgiving but I insisted it be decanted. An hour later it had rounded nicely, showing quite a bit of fruit though nowhere NEAR fleshy. A couple named it WOTN, though personally, I feel 18 should be a bit chubbier. It felt like a 15. I think it could go 30-40 nicely and 20 with ease, but maybe 15-20 is hot-spot for a satellite–even an expensive one.

Another one slow to open from the recently-famed 2011 and Mastroscheidt, 100% DCV cab with a lot more sunshine than the BDX but taking its grand old time impressing the palate. But when it happens: a steely, concentrated black cherry pudding surfs in on minty, dusty waves. Thin and delicate of texture while packing a wallop–just a STUNNING cab at 10. Twelve-point-MF-seven.

2006 Melis was first red opened–pristine provenance since release and totally dry cork which exploded into dust and required careful surgery of me. I think by itself this might have been WOTN (wait, how can it be WOTN by itself, McConnell?) It really was gorgeous, FAR more age than anything on the table and somewhat in it’s own class of richness and patina. Tiny bit of brett maybe, oxidation definitely a consideration in the next 10 years, the fruit had a thin, meager characteristic to it: hiding behind grainy remnants of powerful structure. Felt a little warm and toasty. 15-5 and no indication of blend so I’m gonna go with cab-carignane-syrah though could probably swap the caboose for garnacha.

We were blinded the 17 Barnett, it was not the sole ME–Scheidt had brought a 17 Sonoma of his and I opened a 13 SCM from Burrell School–and it was basically the last wine opened. In retrospect, I should have KNOWN it was merlot, but kept going back to Syrah and old-world, and although I DID suggest Pomerol once or twice, kept trying to find “a really ripe Cotes du Rhone?” in it. An unmistakable sharp cinnamon and nutmeg on initial nose, settling down into a thick melange of dark berry wrapped–not so much *inside*, but–in-and-throughout MASSIVE structure. But not green tannins: just a concrete blockbuster wall of chocolate, licorice, and black walnut structure. For me it was WOTN, but you have to remember I LOVE MERLOT, and I like them cab-like. THIS is a wine you pour for your loser friends who think ME is a second-fiddle to cab–laughable to even compete. No, don’t do that. Don’t waste it on them. Buy a case and drink one a year. 14.5

That’s all folks.

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