Good ‘n Stank-eee!

french-feet-2.jpg Folks who love pretty, floral and delicate may not be enchanted by this entry. If you like chintz, peacocks, and the scent of lavender then you should stop reading NOW. This entry is for people who appreciate the phrase “it smelled like a Frenchman’s toes”!! which is ripe ripe ripe cheese for gourmands like us.
stinky-cheese-1.jpgIf you are someone who appreciates the path less traveled, or who ascribes to the maxim “I will try anything twice because I may not like it the first time” then the following may satisfy your hunger for something different.
In wine tasting there often comes a point when one’s allegiance switches from cabernet – which along with chardonnay, are the two wines on which most if not all Cali snobs cut (inked?) their teeth – to pinot noir. I am not suggesting that novice wine aficionados inevitably develop a taste for pinot noir (we do). That would acknowledge that pinot noir is capable of complexity that cabernet simply cannot attain (it is with the caveat there is always an exception like the 1982 Mouton Rothschild). Some folks never manage to leave the cabernet camp. I am not suggesting that pinot noir is the summit of wine tasting (having fallen from this summit, like the Beatles’ disenchantment with the Maharishi). In fact, it may be that one must pass through the cabernet and the pinot stages in order to find palate freedom. Forget the higher level innuendi. For some, cab and pinot are like Alcatraz – an iconic tour but I wouldn’t want to live there.
Once these stages have been completed it is likely even greater pleasure will be experienced when one returns to tasting the world’s two most popular fine wine grapes.
Let’s talk about the two pinot noir wines I had the other night at Saddlepeak Lodge. They are Burgundies. Some folks like to say French Burgundies but that is redundant isn’t it? The good Dottor√ɬ© dottore-burging.jpg is usually quick to point out that someone who has tasted enough premium burgs and California pinots (such as himself) can always pick out the domestic from the international wine. I agree and these two pinot noirs from top level Burgundy vineyards, made by top level winemakers, and bottled by two premium producers prove that point. Nothing from Cali (or anywhere else) tastes like this. It does not get any better on a wine-for-wine basis. Here they are.
1999 Comtes Lafon Volnay-Santenots-Du Milieu: Big fruit, strong tannins, all on the nose. Dark red color with tinge of purple. Big flavor, not massive, not overwhelming by any count. Expertly balanced. Solid fruit core. Luscious, even toned and voluptuous (think Heidi Klum or Gabby Reece). Remained like this for 2 hours. Never changed. The Derek Jeter of red Burgundy.
1990 Comtes de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny: As I was saying about stinky cheese…this wine had a funky nose. Not barnyard. Not le merde. Young Runki San runki-san-burg-nite.jpgnailed it – truffles. Now I have had truffles on eggs (didn’t get it), and on pasta in Italy (umm good). It is difficult to get to know truffles because they are so hard to come by good ‘n fresh. And forget tasting them in truffle oil or any other truffle product that can be purchased off the shelf. I once had an all-truffle meal at Valentino’s in LA and never got it. I don’t eat there anymore. But this 1990 Chambolle was truffles on the nose, truffles in the mouth, truffles all night long. If you can appreciate exotic, slightly dank and stank-eee aromas, and flavors, then you know what we were tasting. Sounds gross? Made us dingy. Like catnip. Color was red brick. Even perimeter. Consistent flavor. The wine will go another decade I would guess. 13.5%. A very unusual wine for Mr. <$20. As memorable and as spectacular as the 1995 Dehlinger Reserve noted in our first entry. Except that wine was definitely barnyard (i.e., poopy).
A word on great wines: One of the most memorable wines I ever tasted was an early 80s La Landonne. I forgot the producer although I could find out by asking the man who brought the wine to the holiday tasting about 15 years ago. I can tell you I instantly made a note to capture La Landonne wines whenever the right conditions prevailed. The aroma and flavor of this wine that was probably 15 years old at the time? Sour buttermilk. Sounds disgusting and I would never drink sour buttermilk; however, in the glass, red and perfect, it was absolutely strange and
La Landonne is expensive. After all it is the most famous and revered vineyard in the Cote Rotie. The vines are 100% syrah and the slope is 45√Ǭ∞! There are only a couple producers who bottle wines from this vineyard. Sometimes I wonder how collectors who pursue trophy wines would like an aged La Landonne from a great vintage. Any perfectly aged bottle would cost as much as but not more than what one pays for a “must-have” new release Screaming Eagle.
Mike-waits.jpgGreat wines should be enjoyed with a great meal in a great dining room with terrific service. We made sure all conditions would be met by sharing our wines at Saddlepeak Lodge. Our server was the peripatetic Mike who has his own blog Gary, I mean Mike, was ably assisted by Terry the manager, formerly of the Wolverine Marching Band. Saddlepeak is the finest restaurant in the Conejo-Calabasas micro-region. They are famous for game. They did not disappoint. Thank you guys.


  1. Wavatar
    Dionysus says:

    Can’t wait till you’ve posted your next entry. Don’t really need to look at the Frenchman’s stinky toes anymore.

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    vive la france!! says:

    stinky toes…”gout de merde” (poking friendly fun at fancy wine saying for flavors of the land/region “gout de terroir”…stinky cheese…is Gallic just another word for poo?

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    dottor?ɬ© says:

    Why do I love NBWC? Perhaps it’s because I purchased 6 bottles of Rose, 4 bottles of Syrah, 1 bottle of Dolcetto, 1 bottle of Barbera for $204. Including shipping.
    Will arrive next Thursday or Friday.
    Wine intelligence rules!

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    Angie says:

    I really enjoy this site. I plan to share it with a few wine (and sports) lovers. I have to learn the lingo.

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