Monday, February 9, 2009

Mount Eden '80s Retrospective Dinner 6/14/08

This was an '80s Chard and Pinot themed dinner that Paul Homchick organized as a follow-up to a '70s dinner held previously. An absolute honor to have been invited. Held at the fabulous Plumed Horse in Saratoga (which now has a Michelin Star) and featuring wines brought mostly by Mount Eden winemaker Jeffrey Patterson.

Richard Jennings' photos are here: And you can find his tasting notes by searching the wines at Our group's preference varied greatly, which I'll highlight by listing his scores. And note that I'm a harsh rater.


'86 Chateau d'Yquem (Sauternes)

Nose - sulfury botrytis, subtle mandarin.
Orange marmalade, waxy, clove, mandarin, cinnamon. Very concentrated. Lingering tingling sensation, very rich, not particularly sweet. (94pts) RJ95

1st flight:

'82 Chardonnay Estate
Nose - delicate brown spice, hint of botrytis?
Watery red delicious apple, brown spice. (90 pts) RJ93

'83 Chardonnay Estate
Nose - thin, lemony.
Brown woodsy lemon. (89 pts) RJ94
(I believe this was the group's favorite Chard.)

'84 Chardonnay Estate
Nose - rich, spiced frosting.
Delicate, viscous. (89 pts) RJ92

Okay, so those 3 were well balanced and enjoyable, but didn't thrill me, but the Burgundy fans loved 'em.

2nd flight:

'85 Chardonnay Estate
Nose - rich, brown spice, hints of lemon, some cardamon.
Rich red delicious, cardamon, good intensity and acidity. Nice. (93pts) RJ92

'86 Chardonnay Estate
Nose - Corked! Musty, some barnyard.
Concentrated, rich, musty lemon. This would have been excellent, maybe 93-94.

'87 Chardonnay Estate
Nose - spicy, woodsy, austere fruit.
Tight, concentrated, lemon, mature fruit, cardamon. Lovely! (95 pts) RJ93

This flight was more to my liking and there was less disparity of opinion on them.

3rd flight:

'80 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - dark, balsa, austere.
Soy and rice vinegar, stemmy, cherry, egg shell, toasty oak, thin finish. (90 pts) RJ82

'81 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - Rich, iodine.
Brown, musty dusty tannins, cardamon, roast plum, cranberry, watery finish. (87 pts) RJ86

'82 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - lighter, redder, balsa.
Tart, pert red cherry, dusty, cherry plum, sandalwood, a little musty. (88 pts) RJ87

'83 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - outhouse, iodine, warm, rich.
Rustic, rhubarb, dark, toasty, heavenly, long finish. (95 pts) RJ93

4th flight, tasted blind:

'84 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - light bretty Burgundy.
Thin, tart, musty, lemon, cranberry, dusty tannins. (86 pts) RJ92

'85 Forey Pere et Fils Vosne Romanee

Nose - rich, warm, portapotty.
Really nice velvety red fruit, strawberry, cranberry, some sweetness. (90 pts) RJ91

'86 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - warm, frosting, red fruit.
Simpler, but rich, round, balanced. (88 pts) RJ90

'86 Faiveley Clos de la Roche
Nose - Light, sweet, VA, sickly.
Cooked, tart. (76 pts) RJ87

5th flight:

'87 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - warm, dark, portapotty.
Awesome, dark, rich, velvety, roast plum, quite tart, smoky. (94 pts) RJ92

'88 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - rustic, rich dark fruit, frosting.
Lighter body, dark roast fruit. (91 pts) RJ95

'90 Pinot Noir Estate
Nose - warm, rich, concentrated, barnyard.
Rich, tart, dark fruit. (92 pts) RJ93

'81 Congress Springs Pinot Noir (St. Charles Vyd.)
Nose - warm, high-toned, hint of solvent, sweetish.
Tart, dusty, red fruit, solvent, a bit astringent, balsa. (80 pts) RJ88
I brought this. This winery was owned by Daniel Gehrs and Merry Edwards, and is in the same area as Mount Eden. The location is now Savannah-Chanelle. The vineyard was one of the old Novitiate properties in Los Gatos. I think most people agreed with my assessment - well past its prime.

Cabernet flight:

'73 Gemello
Nose - smoky, flinty, roasted plum.
Dusty, dark, mature fruit, tobacco, iodine. (90 pts) RJ83
I brought this, too. Most or all Saratoga fruit, previous vintages also contained Monte Bello fruit, but I didn't taste any here. The Ridge partners sold Gemello all their fruit until they were bonded, then continued in diminishing quantities for at least a decade. A few old-timer eBobbers each have listed the '60 & '70 as the best California Cabernet they've ever had.

'78 Mount Eden Cabernet Estate
Nose - Lighter, but more ethereal.
Roasted plum, lavender, smoke, velvety, rose, breaking up a bit on the finish. (87 pts) RJ94

With desert:

'76 Doisy Vedrines
Nose - Round moderate botrytis, apricot, white peach.
Austere, orange marmalade, bitter finish. Well past its prime. (82 pts) RJ92

Sorry about the embarrassingly sparse notes, but the conversation and the food took precedence. The notes were more highlighting the contrasts of the Mounte Eden wine, while ignoring the given qualities.


Tim Corliss said...

I think this is the first time I've seen someone us "portapotty" as a descriptor. The '87 pinot sounds great otherwise!

What a great event!

Wes Barton said...

Portapotty - there's a certain chemical smell of that blue fluid, plus maybe a bit plastic-y, that helps create this composite signature for me. It wasn't offensive. (I'm used to the well maintained ones behind our building at Laguna Seca.)