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Notes from a special dinner - Saturday, February 10, 2007, at Pinot Provence Restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA. Our party of forty-five got together for an eagerly awaited series of wines, each of which was made by winemaker Mark Aubert. The wines presented here were of both recent and past vintages. The Peter Michael and Colgin wines were made by Mark during his tenure with each of these wineries. His own Aubert label is very low production and mostly sold by mailing list, or to restaurants - though some do find their way into the market via transactions from their mailing list customers. So, you want to get on the Aubert mailing list? Well, there's a waiting list to get on the mailing list.

My Favorites

2004 Aubert Lauren Chard
2003 Aubert Quarry Chard
2004 Aubert Reuling Pinot
1997 Peter Michael Les Pavots
2000 Colgin Herb Lamb
2001 Chateau d' Yquem

Speaking of mailing lists, the very purpose of this event was a continuation of the "pay it forward" concept of those who are on the mailing list, sharing some of their wines with those who are merely on the waiting list. All that was asked, was that those not contributing wines to the event were to organize similar events for other mailing lists. What a great concept. Many thanks to Jeff Nowak, Dave Nerland, Mattias Jannson, Greg Wright, and of course Jay Selman, without whom none of this would be possible. I can't say enough about how thoughtful and generous the Arizona contingent has been. Hot on the heels of the SQN event last year, these guys have outdone themselves. Two examples: upon hearing that one of our Colgin bottles was corked, Jeff Nowak went upstairs to his hotel room to secure an exact replacement! And then, just when everyone's mouth was watering for the '02 Chateau d'Yquem, we let it be known that Dave Nerland had also brought an '01 Chateau d' MAGNUM!

Overall impressions: first, On the face of it, tasting 10 Chardonnays in one evening certainly set a record for me. And I must say, each and every one of them was excellent. In fact, all of these wines were in the excellent to outstanding category, though they were each different and likeable on their own merits. Oh, and the '98 Dom Perignon Champage worked wonderfully as a starter.

Tasting Notes

1998 Dom Perignon Champagne
Beautiful aromas of light citrus and toast, witha juicy acidity and seemingly fantastic balance. Just delicious!

First Flight

1st course - sashimi of big eye tuna, dungeness crab, blood orange, shisho sprouts.

2001 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay - Touches of toast and caramel accent the lemon-lime nose and mouth. Smooth, rich, very nice acids - with some nice edges on the palate. Beautifully smooth with the tuna course, which seemed to intensify a butter quality in the wine.

2002 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay - Very similar to the '01, but seems much bigger in the nose and yet less forward in mouthfeel. Hint of prickly on the tongue, nice finish. Nice, but the '01 gets the nod here.

2003 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay - Nose of citron and lemon-lime, with just a bit of toasty oak. Full in mouthfeel - more than both the '01 and '02, and seems to carry a nice hint of ginger throughout.

2002 Aubert Quarry Chardonnay - Lots of buttered toast in the nose - plenty of fruit there too! Pretty and elegant initially on the palate; seems to pick up more spicy overtones with the tuna, and even a bit of heat noted on the back end.

2003 Aubert Quarry Chardonnay - Wow! Nose of ginger, lemon and lime and just a wiff of toast. Creamy and rich in mouthfeel, lovely concentration, mouthfeel and finish. Very, very nice, and my favorite of the flight.

2003 Aubert Reuling Chardonnay - Seemed a bit closed or restrained in the nose, with citron-like fruit and a faint touch of petrol. Good balance, seemed a bit tight in mouthfeel, with more of an apparent mineral bent.

Second Flight

2nd course - lobster poached buree fondue, mascarpone risotto, Oregon white truffles, Terre Bormane olive oil

2004 Aubert Ritchie Chardonnay - Nose of lemon-lime and touch of sweet grapefruit. Somewhat soft in mouthfeel, and a bit sweeter than the previous Chardonnays. Fantastic with the risotto, as were all of these Chards.

2004 Aubert Lauren Chardonnay - Wow! Gorgeous, elegant, very well balanced, and delicious! This wines was seemless on the palate and just beautiful and my favorite of this flight - and maybe of all the Chardonnays.

2004 Aubert Quarry Chardonnay - Fascinating ginger-spiced lemon and lime, with just the barest hint of mineral. Chewy in mouthfeel, excellent balance and very long finish. 2nd favorite of the flight.

2004 Aubert Reuling Chardonnay - Interesting. This wine almost seemed to mirror the Quarry, but for the additional nutmeg/cinnamon spice toward the finish of the wine. 3rd favorite of the flight.

After 10 Chardonnays, it was time to move on to the flights of red wines, begining with the Aubert Pinot Noir.

Third Flight

3rd course - grilled duck breast, seared La Belle Farms foie gras, wild mushrooms, bing cherry foam

2004 Aubert Reuling Pinot Noir - A beautiful showy wine - this is very forward in both nose and mouth. Lovely dark cherry fruit mingled with a bit of spice, impeccable balance - full and fruit-driven throughout. My favorite of the flight.

2004 Aubert UV Pinot Noir - Deeper, darker and more brooding than the Reuling, with more loamy qualities and a chewy finish. Marvelous wine - just needs some time.

Fourth Flight

4th course - braised Wagyu shortrib, seared Wagyu flat iron, cipollini onions, sauce merchand de vin

1996 Peter Michael Les Pavots Cabernet Sauvignon - Lots of perfumed cassis and a touch of cigar box on the nose. Lovely mouthfeel, very accessible, nice dark fruit, and long finish.

1997 Peter Michael Les Pavots Cabernet Sauvignon - Wow! Well, whatever the '96 might have promised, this one delivered in spades! Beautiful cassis-laden nose, with the just a touch of toast and dark chocolate. Lovely mouthfeel, fine-grained tannins still perceptable through the chewy fruit. Excellent balance and very long finish. All of this going for it, but I didn't think it went all that well with the dish. Rather than blending with it, it seemed to fight it.

2000 Colgin Tychson Cabernet Sauvignon - Gorgeous clove-scented nose of cassis, light herb, and toast. Lightly chewy mouthfeel, fabulous balance, and seamless finish of fine-grained tannins.

2000 Colgin Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon - Similar to the Tychson, but with loads more espresso, coffee/mocha aromas, along with a whiff of dill. A bit thicker and richer in mouthfeel, lots of flavor - a wine to sit and talk about.

2003 Colgin IX Cabernet Sauvignon - Still understandably tight in the nose and mouth, but with obvious dark fruit partially hidden behind a wall of tannins. Big and chewy in mouthfeel, the palate does yield up some nice fruit and one gets a sense that this young wine will grow into its shoes with a few more years in the bottle.

Fifth Flight

5th course - apricot macaroon, vanilla Devonshire gelato, apricot confiture

2001 Chateau d'Yquem - Stunning! Just absolutely stunning! Seemed completely integrated - no edges here - with an amazing seamless texture on the palate, and a staggeringly long finish. Something approaching a creme brulee/lemon custard/caramel tart. Wow!

2002 Chateau d'Yquem - Slightly edgier than the '01, with more of a caramel and light lemon note. More fruit-forward, as well.


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