This is still a work in progress as I upload tasting notes and wine labels from as far as 1999... Check back once in a while to get the updates.

August 27, 2010

California Screamin'

Dinner at Brian's in Tokyo.

1997 Marcassin Chardonnay Gauer Vineyard Upper Barn - I was hoping that the wine would not be overly oxidized and over the hill, as several mid-90s Californian Chards I've tasted recently have been. I wasn't happy with the wine at first - nose of orange marmalade, white flowers and clearly oxidized. Initially the finish was a little tart. I decided to cool the wine further in the ice bucket, and the wine improved markedly. The floral notes became more prominent, and that nice buttery nose I love about Chardonnays came out.

1996 Dalla Valle Maya - I decanted the wine early and it had been in the decanter for about 2 hours before we starting drinking it. Nose was alcoholic, with prunes and pine needles. Still pretty concentrated and full-bodied. Room temperature was definitely too warm, so I dunked the decanter into the ice bucket for a while. The wine tasted much better at the new, cooler temperature. Lots of spices like star anise came out, and it was even a little smoky. Definitely a little funkier than your typical Cali Cab, thanks to the 45% Cabernet Franc in the blend.

1995 Bryant Family - the wine smelled incredible when I was decanting it, and the nose remained the most Californian throughout the night. Lots of tropical fruits, coconut butter, sweet and a little bit of caramel. Definitely alcoholic, but very smooth on the palate. It's been a while since my last taste of Bryant Family, and I was the beneficiary of H-man's generosity.

1997 Screaming Eagle - this, of course, was the wine that we'd all been waiting for. I couldn't believe my ears when H-man said last week that he wanted to open this up. I'd drunk plenty of good wines, but I have only ever tasted one vintage of Screaming Eagle... and 1997 is THE Screagle!

Nose was smoky, fruity with coffee notes. Like the other two reds, the alcohol was evident in the nose. Surprisingly the nose didn't smell very Californian to me at all, but rather muted and subdued. There is no doubt that this was a beautiful wine, as it was extremely well-balanced on the palate, and a little sweet.

1998 Mr. K Eiswein - this wine was made at Sine Qua Non by two wine personalities I respect, Manfred Krankl and Alois Kracher. There was never any doubt that the duo would produce anything short of spectacular. I was amazed at the viscosity of the wine, plainly evident as I was pouring it. Nose of peach, pear, banana, apricot and botrytis. The wine was slightly carbonated, which meant the wine was nicely balanced between the acidity and the sweetness. So glad I brought this wine...

We'd definitely have had too much wine by this point, but I couldn't pass up taking a few more sips. I received my shipment of Bijofu Yuzu Liqueur (美丈夫ゆずリキュール) today, and couldn't wait to let the others have a taste. It was as refreshing and fragrant as I remembered fromlast week, and definitely blew away its siblings made with lemon and Chinese honey orange (ポンカン).

Full post on dinner is here.

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