Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2006

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de LaLande 2006

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de LaLande 2006

This is a very special wine from my collection that I open today for a very special reason. This was a wine I intended to keep many more years, and share with a new friend and colleague, Jon. We visited Bordeaux together in 2012 on a work trip, and visited Pichon. While we actually visited the brothers’ chateau across the street – Baron de Pichon Longueville, the two chateaux straddle the same stretch of road through the heart of Pauillac, and from my tasting today, the terroir and style of the sisters’ Ch Comtesse de Lalande is a beauty of equal nature. 2006 is aged enough to enjoy, though I have no doubt it would only become exponentially elegant with age. And there’s always more, when I have the money. I had wanted to try theirs as well on the trip, and its close enough for me in regards to the Pichon Baron to drink in tribute for this reflective occasion. That day our group toured the vineyards that stretched on for what seemed like eternity, observed the famous gravelly soils of the region at the roots of the vines, toured the winery, had lunch with the winemaker, negociant and winery manager (drinking plenty of Pichon and their sultry Sauternes the Ch Suduiraut) and then tasted through a vertical of these amazing Bordeaux. While the prices weren’t really easily affordable, I’ve had my eye on these wines at a few local retailers ever since, just in case. And I was lucky enough to receive this bottle for Christmas from my wife and father-in-law.

During this outing, and the rest of the chateaux we visited in Bordeaux, Jon and I became close friends with a strong bond over wine, and later, the Tottenham Hot Spurs who we’d go see together a year later in London. Despite being separated by the Atlantic, we talked regularly about wines, particularly Bordeaux, for which he was a huge fan and collector. We continued to share our love for wine and talked about when we would drink this, and many other of our prized bottles together. And I was doing everything I could to get him a position on my team in the American office so we could one day work together doing what we love.  We spoke up to the last, until I received the unexpected tragic news of his passing just over a week ago while on vacation. It has been a rough go. But I knew one thing for sure, that I would open this bottle as soon as I returned home, and pay tribute to his memory.  Price and maturity were no longer giving me pause – this is a celebration of his life and our friendship and bond over wine.

The color is deep purple with some color variation on the rim from the age. On the nose, developing elegant black fruit abounds, with notes of perfume and spicy French oak, of course! On the palate, while still young, it is an incredibly supple wine with a perfect balance of fruit, tannin and acid which will all mellow in time. The body is of medium weight and it has a nice finish for its age. An excellent wine by any standard, and worthy of such an occasion. I will be pairing it with some steak shortly to much success I have no doubt.

 

 

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Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2006

Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley 2006 Chardonnay

Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley 2006 Chardonnay

Russian River Valley AVA in California makes up about 1/6 of Sonoma County. While producing a fairly large amount of wine, it is also among the most prestigious AVAs, and manages to attain a level of quality that is known the world around. Some are more expensive cult wines, but many are affordable while still being excellent wines. I am a big fan of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, and the cool temperatures along the coastal region of this AVA and its fog make for nice whites too. The cool temperatures ensure a long ripening season. I just picked up a Paul Hobbs 2010 Pinot Noir which I will lay down for a while and keep for a special occasion. Dry Creek Valley AVA, where this winery is located, is part of the larger Russian River Valley region though technically not that AVA itself, which is its neighbor directly to its south. This caused me a good amount of confusion but I can understand the appeal of using the name Russian River Valley where possible due to its reputation. And to be fair the winery is just 5 miles north of the Russian River Valley AVA so the climate is about as close as you can get. Here the climate is the main factor, not the soil. So whereas in Burgundy or Bordeaux you might argue that the soil could be different enough to make a different wine, I don’t think that applies here.

And either way they have a lot to be proud of. The winery started in 1972 and was the first to be built in this valley after prohibition. They initiated the Dry Creek Valley AVA in 1983 and were the first to label a bottle with the new appelation. With their family’s passion for sailing, they have been connected to the sailing world since their beginning, including a special “Regatta” label in honor of sailor Brad Van Liew with some proceeds going to US Sailing. They also made a wine specifically for the 2000 America’s Cup in Auckland, New Zealand called “America’s Cup Reserve.”

This wine differs from a heavily oaked Napa Chardonnay in that while still having body, it had plenty of acidity. This wine was barrel-fermented in French oak on the lees for 9 months, which also explains its richness. It had the creamy, buttery and vanilla and smoke accents you expect in a California Chardonnay but without all the weight.  Lush pineapple and tropical notes permeate the nose and the palate as well as wet soil and earth hints. While most might have drunk this already, it was given to me as a gift just this week and given the high acidity, oak aging and prominent fruit, I wasn’t too worried it would be bad.

As I mentioned earlier, this great Chardonnay is very affordable, at only $16. It got 88 points from both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator and the vineyard has gotten nods from Robert Parker for its ‘elegant, classy efforts’. A great value. I paired it with a homemade Carbonara – it was a perfect pairing.

Visit them at  http://www.drycreekvineyard.com/