Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting December 2, 2015

Another year is fast coming to a close. In reviewing the notes for the past year, we certainly are fortunate to have shared some wonderful wines and more importantly, some truly outstanding company during the past 12 months. We are lucky to have such a great bunch of guys to gather together and share wine, food and camaraderie.

This 2015 Christmas Bash was another outstanding evening. Unfortunately, two of our members were unable to join in the festivities but the ten members attending were treated to fine collection of show off bottles. We all heard lots of oohs and aahs as we moved through the glasses. Every offering was special and a fine example of quality red wine.

red wine tasting

In our preference poll, there was a first place tie, with the 2005 Napa Valley Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon (Don O) and the 2009 Susana Balbo Brioso Bordeaux Blend (Norm) each receiving 17 points. Jay’s 2009 Opus One and Steve’s 1990 Dominus rounded out the Bye winning bottles. I believe the
Opus may have been a bit young to reach a First place level. And the Dominus, I think, would have fared better is the wine had a chance to reach a better temperature. The damn New England weather chilled it while Steve sat in traffic. It certainly opened up as the night progressed.

Unfortunately, Vincent’s 2000 Altesino Brunello was just a bit overripe, it was still scrumptious but had lost most of its fruit. Don L brought an interesting 2011 Syrah from Force Majeure. Lots of comments focusing on the spicy and hot nature of the offering. Perhaps a few more years in the
cellar would be helpful. Rick’s 2008 Napa Keenan Reserve Cab was another hit, but surprisingly only gathered 3 points in the poll as the wine certainly fit the favor profile the club often enjoys and rewards with votes. Tom treated us to a 2004 Masi Amarone, which was the only wine the
club identified 100% correctly but again, it did not fare well in the poll only collecting 3 points as well.

And special thanks to Ray for sharing another fine bottle of Heitz Angelica. We are being spoiled as Ray shares his collection!

The food, as always, was great. Everyone went with the Rack of Lamb which was excellent. The private room at the Aurora club was great but may be a bit tight for 12 people.

red wine tasting

Here are the reviews for each of the wines we shared on the Christmas Show-off Evening.

red wine tasting

2005 Seavy Cabernet Sauvignon – $84.99
95 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
The densely black/purple-colored 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon has the telltale burning ember, blackberry, and cassis notes, with hints of underbrush, espresso roast, chocolate, and subtle oak. A large, full-bodied wine of admirable intensity, terrific length, and no hard edges, this is a beauty that has put on weight since I tasted it in barrel and immediately after bottling last year. It should evolve effortlessly for 35+ years. As I said last year, there is a strong argument to be made that this is the most underrated great Cabernet Sauvignon produced in Napa Valley. (RP) (12/2008)

93 points Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
Good deep ruby-red. Explosive, very ripe aromas of currant, black plum, tobacco and mocha. Lush and silky on entry, then sweet and spicy in the middle, with flavors of redcurrant and medicinal cherry. A bit less complex in the mouth than on the nose, but then this wine will not be released until the fall and will need several years of additional bottle aging. Finishes with substantial ripe, building tannins. 93(+?) points (ST) (6/2008)

red wine tasting

2009 Opus Red Wine – $198.99

A collaboration between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi, Opus One arose, like any great work, out of passion. The wineries goal is to create a wine of ultimate quality that reflects the traditions and innovations of both founders. French in style but Californian in execution, Opus One is produced with uncompromised attention to detail: from the manner in which our vineyard is planted and maintained, to the quality of the cork that seals the bottle.

STEVE TANZAR REVIEW: (a blend of 81% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc, 5% petit verdot, 4% merlot and 1% malbec): Full medium ruby. Wild, flamboyantly expressive aromas of black raspberry, crystallized blackberry, smoke, leather, licorice, bitter chocolate and cedar, lifted by violet and spices. Smooth, mouthfilling and decidedly dry, with a lightly dusty character to its flavors of dark fruits, minerals and game. The broad, very long finish features building tannins. Quite different in style from the higher-pitched 2008, which was tighter and more floral at the same stage of its evolution.

WINE SPECTATOR REVIEW: This bold, rich and assertive Opus is firm and concentrated, displaying a mix of dried currant, blackberry, wild berry and spice flavors, ending with loamy earth and melted black licorice notes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec. Best from 2014 through 2025.

red wine tasting

2009 Susana Balbo Brioso – $43.99
Deep, brooding and intense garnet color with deep aromas of cedar and cocoa powder framed by light French oak. Big, lush and concentrated with a core of red and black currant fruit. It has a range of layered flavors including tobacco, black tea, and classic Cabernet pepper with a good grip on the finish. Big and refined all at the same time. It will drink well now with a nice meal, but should improve over the next 5 years. Pairs well with beef, pork, lamb, squab, quail and duck.

91 Points, Wine Spectator, 2013
“Dark, with good cut to the ripe candied black cherry, cassis, licorice, spice and light underbrush notes. Full-bodied, offering a rich, mocha-accented finish.”

red wine tasting

1990 Dominus Estate Red Table Wine – $195
RP 95 – The Wine Advocate – “In a blind tasting, both the 1990 and 1991 wines were identified as being French by all eight tasters. I pulled these wines from my cellar to insert as ringers, so I was particularly miffed at not getting their origin correct. In retrospect, I suppose I was somewhat surprised by just how great the 1990 performed in comparison with the profound 1991. I mistakenly thought the 1990 was a Medoc, with its cedary, spicy, tobacco, blackcurrant-scented nose, sweet, full-bodied flavors, high tannin, and low acidity.”

ST 93 – International Wine Cellar – “Deep red-ruby. Knockout, Bordeaux-like aromas of cherry syrup, plum, chocolate, mocha and brown spices, plus a faint vegetal complexity. Sweet, smooth and ripe, if not quite as dense as the extraordinary ’91. Excellent acidity gives the flavors lovely clarity. Finishes firmly tannic and very long. Extremely suave wine.”
2008 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon – $44.99
94 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 76% estate fruit and the rest from Napa’s Pope Valley. Its black/purple color is followed by abundant aromas of cassis, licorice, underbrush and graphite. Full-bodied and impressively endowed with stunning concentration, this may be the biggest, richest regular Cabernet Sauvignon Keenan has yet made. It should age effortlessly for 15-20 years. (12/2010)

91 points Wine & Spirits

A rich, mountain-grown cabernet packed with high-toned fruit scents, this is focused on its formidable black tannins for the moment. Those tannins yield spice and smoky fire-pit scents along with an opaque minerality that shields the fruit. Built for the cellar, this should reveal more flavor complexity as the tannins begin to mellow. (6/2012)

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

Bright ruby-red. Aromas of cassis, plum, mocha, menthol, licorice and fresh herbs suggest a wide range of ripeness. Subtly sweet and supple in the mouth, with good herbal lift and intensity to the currant, chocolate and licorice flavors. Finishes with rather serious tannins that turned a bit dry with air. (5/2012)

red wine tasting

2000 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino – $70
90 Wine Spectator
Gorgeous aromas of raspberry, flowers and mineral follow through to a silky palate, with lovely tannins and a medium finish. Very fresh and fine for the vintage.

red wine tasting

2011 Force Majeure Syrah – $56
“Coming all from the estate Force Majeure Vineyard, the 2011 Collaboration Series Syrah displays the earthy, savory side to the variety with plenty of tobacco leaf, underbrush, black pepper, currants and damp earth on the nose. A rich, full-bodied effort that defies the age-old, old-vine marketing you often hear (it’s from fourth leaf vines), it is beautifully concentrated and rich through the mid-palate, has a fleshy, weighty texture and a great finish. I can’t wait to taste it from bottle, but I suspect it will be reasonably approachable on release and have a 12-15 years of prime drinking.”
Reviewed by: The Wine Advocate – 94 to 96 pts

red wine tasting

2004 Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron Amarone Classico – $75
A property steeped in history, this wine estate has remained in the same family for 21 generations. It was purchased in 1353 by the son of the poet Dante and remains in the care of his descendants. In 1973, Count Pieralvise Serego Alighieri revolutionized Serego Alighieri’s production by forming an agreement in which his family’s estate would make and age the wine. It would then be bottled and sold by Masi Agricola, freeing up the estate’s winemaking team to focus on grape quality. In addition to a variety of internationally recognized red and white wines, Serego Alighieri produces a grappa of Amarone as well as olive oils and honey. The 2004 Vaio Armaron Amarone Classico is a rich, dark, serious wine. On the nose it features cooked black cherry, black plum and vanilla. Up front, there are black currant and dark chocolate syrup flavors as well as a bramble note that carries throughout. Toward the back, the cherry and plum notes return with lingering vanilla and cinnamon on the finish. Try it with pasta dishes in a classic tomato sauce. A complex wine, it would also work well with simple foods like venison sausage or roast chicken. Those with a sweet tooth should try it with dark chocolate.

red wine tasting

1974 Heitz Cellars Angelica Dessert Wine – $89.99
A fortified wine made from Mission grapes, this very special Heitz is California history in a bottle. From wine writer Richard Jennings: “93 points. Dark brown color with yellow meniscus; toffee, salty, dried fig, root beer essence, fig sauce nose; tasty, dense, rich, complex, dried fig, rich Christmas pudding palate; long finish (bottled in 1991)” (, 10/2011) The winery offers the following description: “This 1974 vintage year Angelica dessert wine is made Mission grape variety, the same grape the early California missionaries used to make the highly respected original Angelica. Made in the tradition of its California heritage, we believe this is undoubtedly the best Angelica Heitz Cellars has ever offered. A luscious dessert wine, sweet on the palate, complexed by time and mellowed by oak wood aging. After 17 years of slowly aging in a cool stone cellar and then bottled in 1991, this flavorful amber colored wine is ready to enjoy. May we offer you our cellar treasure Angelica, truly an ambrosial drink, fit for the gods.” (09/1991)

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