Thursday, October 7, 2021

Birthyear Bordeaux bottle celebrates new grand-daughter

Birthyear Bordeaux bottle celebrates new grand-daughter - welcome Lavender !

First family photo with Lavender
Celebrating the birth of our granddaughter Lavender, to son Sean and daughter-in-law Michelle, we pulled a birthyear bottle for toasting with some artisan cheeses and fruits. 

I pulled from the cellar a St Julien Bordeaux from one of the producers we visited during our trip there back in 2018, Château Gruaud Larose

Those wines we tasted then (from the barrel) are now being released and we've acquired a flight of those labels to commemorate our memorable trip in future tastings. This also extends our vertical collection of these wines.

One of the highlights of that trip was a tour and tasting at the magnificent estate of  Château Gruaud Larose on the outskirts of the village of Beychevelle St Julien

Linda and Rick at
Château Gruaud Larose
We hold more than two dozen vintages of this wine dating back more than three decades including birthyear bottles of our kids' vintages, taking advantage of the long term cellaring age-worthiness of this producer. 

We opened bottles of this label last year celebrating Sean and Michelle's wedding, and three years ago leading up to our trip to Bordeaux. 

Tonight's tasting was consistent with those most recent tastings, showing the progression of aging and the differences between aging in a magnum, standard and split size bottles, the larger bottles aging better and showing slightly better as well. 

This release was awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator, 92 points by Neal Martin's Wine Journal, 91 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, and 90 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.

Tonight we tasted this from a 375ml small format split (shown left), ideal for simple casual sipping with cheeses and snacks, but less than ideal for aging / cellaring. Its time to drink these up, they are still holding on at 36 years, amazingly, but past their prime, showing their age and continuing to diminish from aging. 

The fill level was ideal for its age, to be expected, near the bottom of the neck, the label and foil were in good condition, and the cork was also ideal, especially for its age. 

My notes from last year - tasted from a magnum: "Dark garnet colored, medium to full-bodied, a bit closed and slightly subdued complex, ripe earthy blackberry and black current fruits with tones of tobacco leaf, truffle, hints of cassis and spice box, turning to slightly tart black cherry on the long floral full tannin laced finish."

And, my notes from three years ago, in 2018, tasted from a standard size bottle:

Showing its age a bit as the fruit has fallen off a bit and the dark ruby garnet colored is showing a bit of brickish rust color with a bit of opacity - medium bodied, this opened with a hint of that fragrant floral bouquet which is giving way to more earthy leather and tones of mushroom and tapenade.

Earthy blackberry fruit is overshadowed by tones of tobacco leaf, truffle, mushroom and spice box, turning to slightly tart black cherry on the long floral full tannin laced finish.



Dehlinger Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2017

Dehlinger Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2017

We opened this Chardonnay for dinner with ham and potatoes and haricot verts, then a day or so later for casual sipping with some artisan cheeses, crackers and jelly with olives. 

Founded in 1975 by Tom and Carol Dehlinger, it remains a family-owned and operated vineyard and winery in western Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley

After obtaining his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in biochemistry in the late 1960s, Tom Dehlinger studied Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis when the program was just being established. After jobs at Beringer and Hanzell, he founded Dehlinger Winery in remote Sonoma County in 1975, long before it was recognized as a wine producing area.

Today, two of their daughters Carmen Dehlinger and Eva Dehlinger, oversee day-to-day operation of both the winery and the vineyard.

They have a forty five acre site planted to fourteen acres of Chardonnay, located on Vine Hill Road just north of the town of Sebastopol, west of Santa Rosa, 13 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Dehlinger produces a single Estate Chardonnay bottling each vintage, sourced from their estate Chardonnay vines planted between 1975 and 1988. They were one of the early pioneers to plant Chardonnay in the cool climate area of western Sonoma County with the cool breezes and fog from the ocean. 

They also produce estate grown Pinot Noir from twenty five acres planted between 1975-1989, and a second site planted between 2011-2014, some Syrah from three acres of vines, and are one of the few vineyards in the coastal Russian River Valley that grows Cabernet Sauvignon, grown on four and a half acres of the variety planted in 1982 and 1983.

We toured the area during our Sonoma County Wine Experience back in 2017.

Dehlinger has been bottling its Chardonnays “Unfiltered” since the late 1990s in order to capture the full flavor potential and most pleasing texture possible. The winemaker's tasting notes refer to "Aromas of lemon custard and white peach, flavors of lime zest and toasted hazel nut. Excellent length, fresh, flavorful."

Very pleasant drinking, with its full boldness it is best with some food rather than standalone. This release got 92 points by Vinous and 91 points by Wine Spectator.

Golden colored, medium bodied,  round, rich, full, bright and expressive, Vinous describes it as 'racy and luscious', notes of citrus, apples, and hints of pear fruits with mineral and tropical sprites and lemongrass on the crisp finish. 

RM 91 points.