The Bernard Roth Archives
We are happy that Bernard, who has sampled so many wines, has shared his notes with us. We do have, or have had for sale a few of the wines Bernard writes about, and we include a link to our stock page whenever it is a producer we carry (but since the stock page is kept up-to-date and the wines are sold, don't expect any but the newest of wines to show up in our stock!). Mostly though, since we specialize in County of Santa Barbara Wine and Central Coast Wine, we don't carry a lot of the wines Bernard writes about. But we think it is important that you be able to have an idea what they're like in case you are planning to buy some somewhere, or have them in your own collection. Enjoy.
Here are Bernard's notes from November 15, 1997:
Dinner at David's
The seven survivors gathered at Todd's before Dinner. We got to meet Todd's lovely wife Lisette who could not join us for the tastings because she is expecting a Todd-ler.
We had already
had 33 wines over the course of 4 hours and were in need of a pick-me-up.
|Todd got us going with a 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurz
Wintzenheim. This was the first Z-H for some of the folks. Anyone unfamiliar
with these wines ought to try them at least once to see what all the fuss
1994 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurz Wintzenheim--Spicy, gingery nose. Razor sharp acidity, intense fruit. Tastes very gingery, like gingerale, but with substantial lychee, peach, pear flavors.Perky finish leaves tongue singing. (These Z-H TNs will get redundant after awhile.)
We then headed over to Redondo Beach to a Restaurant called "David's" after the chef-owner David Slatkin. David cooked at a trio of Miami's top restaurants (Mark's Place, Chef Allen's, and Yucca) and some of his food preparations reflect that New Floridian background. Todd, sly as ever, showed David the wines and asked him to just send out some food to go with the wines. We did not yet know what we were in for.
Around the table were: Der Spiegel, VinPaysDoc, Yours truly, Bruce L., Shelby, Todd S. and Seth R. Sitting in the middle of the table were a few bottles of wine that were not so sucky that we'd turn our noses up at them.
To whet our (rather substantial) appetites:
1994 Z-H Gewurz Herrenweg Turckheim--Bright, lemony, spicy, gingery nose. Sharp, piercing, intense. High acid, very concentrated. Spice, lychee. Long finish.
I had brought along a bottle of 1994 Qupe Bien Nacido Hillside Syrah because of the controversy on the Syrah Boards over the differences between the 94 and 95 versions. Todd and Bruce L. had wanted to try it. We opened it early in case the wine needed to breathe. It didn't.
1994 Qupe Bien Nacido Hillside Syrah--The bouquet leaps from the glass. This is the biggest bouquet of the 44 wines we'll have tried by night's end. Huge, voluptuous blackberry nose. Wave after wave of lush, ripe fruit aromas. In the mouth, very smooth, round. Solid acid around a ripe fruit core. Medium-low tannins. Finishes long.
The first course of food came to the table: Chicken and goat cheese potstickers with a spicy-hot eggplant relish. Apriori, I'd expect the Z-H to match very well with the potstickers. It went fine, though it would be better with Chinese or Thai cuisine. But, the Qupe Syrah was a sublime match with this dish. The food had a moderating effect on the acidity of the Qupe. The smokiness from the chicken brought out a similar quality in the wine. The whole was bigger than the sum of the parts.
Time to open another wine:
1995 L'Ecole No. 41 Merlot Seven Hills Vyd--This is their reserve level Merlot. Inky purple. Big, opulent nose. Floral, briary, cassis. Round, opulent, incredible fruit. Sexy. Intense. Balanced. Very fine tannins. Long, long finish. Fabulous. Integrated oak, blueberry, cloves. Very highly recommended.
Course 2: Sweetbreads on a filo nest, citrus cream, aged balsamic vinegar. The merlot went great with this.
94 Leonetti Cab--Inky black. Sublime, Very fine cassis/cheery/lead pencil nose. Fantastic in mouth. Plush, vanilla, blackberry, lovely sweet oak. This is one oak-dominated cab in which the oak is so perfect with the fruit that it truly harmonizes. Not clunky. Great wine.
93 Stag's Leap Petite Syrah--A black hole. No light emerges. No color. Good berry bouquet. Smooth mouthfeel. Still a very tightly wound wine.
Course 3: The others had a rock lobster dish. I had a grilled chicken breast with spicy hot mole, black beans, mango chutney and rice. This is a dish that could have come only from a chef comfortable with both the Floridian and California/Southwest cooking style. Very top notch flavors. Classy mole. This dish showed the Petite Syrah off very nicely, and it also worked with the Qupe Syrah. The smokiness and spiciness of the mole matched well with the intensity of the petite syrah.
At this point, David Slatkin came out from the kitchen to forwarn us that another 4 courses were on the way. To clear the palate, some grapefruit sorbet came out from the kitchen. For the fish course, we needed a sauvignon blanc (the Z-H was gone). We took the chef's recommendation and ordered:
1996 Honig Reserve Sauvignon Blanc--Pale straw color. Lite citrusy nose. Slight vanilla flavor, melon, pear, pineapple. Simple, short finish. This was undoubtably Todd's favorite 85 point wine of the day. Astorman would have approved.
Course 4: Chilean Seabass with pepito (pumpkin seed) crust, Artichokes and an herb-buerre blanc. I normally don't care for Chilean Seabass beacuse it can have a gelatinous texture. This was the best I'd ever had! Very delicate meat. Sublime flavor. David Slatkin is a miracle worker. The wine kind of got lost on this dish. A bit too simple. Oh, for a Didier Dagueneau Puilly-Fume...
Course 5: Lamb rib on garlic mashed potatoes, grilled yellow bell pepper, wild mushroom empanada, onion essence with 40 year balsamic vinegar and a mint buerre blanc. Finally a dish that would show off the Leonetti.
Course 6: Angus Filet steak w/ avocado, tomato and grilled portobello mushroom on onion-flavored mashed potatoes, balsamic reduction and aspargus.
OK, Chef Slatkin, we give!!!
Course 7: A trio of homemade ice creams.
94 Z-H Gewurz Grand Cru Hengst VT--Botrytis city! Tangerine, banana. Serious razor acidity. Viscous, bracing. Lychee, mandarin orange, ginger, cloves. Bitter almond and mineral finish. This is a Parker 99. It's not for the faint of heart. Brilliant wine, redefines the genre of late harvest Alsacien gewurz. It's way over the top by old standards. And it's quite OK if purists object. That just leaves more for Todd, and I, and other aficianados of the Z-H wines.
Now we're hauling towards the grand finale...
Chambers Special Tokay--Great nose of raisins, brown sugar, some volatile alcohol. Liquid brown sugar. Modest acidity. Very thick, oozing vanilla, candied orange, black walnut.
The Chambers matched very nicely with
Course 8: Cocoa souffle and chocolate syrup mit schlag.
The damage, including tax and tip, came to $60 each. We were very generous in sending wine samples to the kitchen and did not get charged a corkage. If you happen to be in the LA area, David's is very highly recommended and very good value! Thanks, Chef!
At this point, Bruce L. and VinPaysDoc headed off and the 5 remaining gluttons went back to Todd's for two more treats:
Todd served this blind. I got pretty close, guessing that it was PX from either Alvear or Lustau, but I thought it was very young wine because it did not seem overly madeirized. I had had another Alvear PX last year, not a vintage designate, that had much the same attributes.
Alvear's 1830 Pedro Ximenez--Incredible intense raisins, burnt caramel, good acid, smooth finish. Thick as motor oil, literally. A half ounce goes a long, long way. A real treat.
To cleanse the palate before bed:
Blandy's 15 year Malmsey--I hardly remember it and did not take notes. Sharper acidity than the Alvear. Pretty decent finish. Another Todd favorite that doesn't suck.
Echoes from the asylum: This was very decadent. Let's hope Todd doesn't organize another one of these days of debauchery...at least til after the new year. If we can get a few more imbeciles to ante up some big gun wines, maybe we can do 100 wines in a day. Any volunteers? I hear the next big tasting might be Parker 99+.
Thanks again to Todd Serota for organizing the tastings. He was very generous with his time and wine. Thanks to all the participants who pitched in with their own wines. It was great to meet a bunch new wine-obsessed folks, and I hope some of you will become good friends.
It was a real pleasure and treat.
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