January 3, 2010 3 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

West Coast Holiday Wine-uh-pa-looza…

West Coast Holiday Wine-uh-pa-looza…

Good readers,

I would like to give you a gift: the gift of knowing what I was able to drink this past xmas and new years, share with you my thoughts and then give you a little indication as to what is ahead in 2010 with The Noble Rot. It’s so damn exciting, let’s just get into it. We’ll use photographs to guide our blogging journey.

First, below is a pictograph of me admiring the sunset over the Pacific Ocean on xmas eve:


Green sweater courtesy of Banan Republic - sunset, xmas eve courtesy of Pacific Ocean

The sky looked like this about five minutes later:


Five Minutes later - like this! - the sky!

Then, not five minutes later we were about to indulge in these:

1995 Cheval Blanc, 1995 Chateau Pavie Decasse, 2001 La Serena, 1994 Sassicaia

1995 Cheval Blanc, 1995 Chateau Pavie-Decasse, 2001 La Serena, 1994 Sassicaia

So, left to right we have:

1995 Cheval Blanc. This wine is a Premier Grand Cru Class of St-Émilion. Wine guru Hugh Johnson tells us that 1995 is a vintage ready to drink and the wine is loaded with a high percentage of Cabernet Franc (60%). Cheval Blanc is held in very high regard by those serious wine-folk who collect and are rather fond of French Bordeaux wine. In fact, I read recently in Wine Spectator that there is a man out there nick-named “Mr. 47″ for his love of 1947 Cheval Blanc, a year which even Hugh Johnson will tell me nothing about. Turns out Mr. 47 may be a counterfeiter! (see story on Bill Koch’s crusade in Dec 09  WS). Well, this bottle was no counterfeit. It was delightful and I took no notes, just going off sense memory: dangerously smooth, exhibiting irreproachable fruit flavor, as if various berries from the vineyard were latching onto my tongue for dear life, clinging desperately to their life as Cheval Blanc rather than a mish-mash of game hen and alcohol within mine belly.

1995 Chateau Pavie-Decesse. Brother to first growth “Pavie,” and brother was it delightful. In fact, we may have enjoyed it more so than the Cheval Blanc. I remember it tasted of cherry-cough-syrup and dirt. Or perhaps I am recalling parties from my days in the frat-house. True, I never was in a frat and went to an Art School, but the mind plays many-a-trick, it does indeed.

2001 Brunello Di Montalcino La Serena. Tasted like thick and delicious Italian Countryside. Rich with Sangiovese, this wine aged well and probably could have aged a bit longer, but we needed to drink it.

1994 Sassicaia. This was something I’ve been wanting to taste for 30 years (I’m 27, almost 28). And we let it open a good two hours. I think. Maybe an hour. This Italian Super-Tuscan is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. Twas delightful, but did not live up to the hype which is loud and like an impromptu Madonna Concert in Chelsea on a Tuesday night in January. That being said, it was good. Very good. I tend to prefer the Cabernet grape and it is quite unique with the way it takes hold of Italian dirt and imparts earthy characteristics unlike any Cabernet you’ve drunk from California or Stellenbosch, but more akin to something French and spicy, like a spicy meat-a-ball.

And there’s more:

1998 Williams Selyem, ???? Marcassin, 2003 Williams Selyem - Pinot Noir Land

1998 Williams Selyem, ???? Marcassin, 2003 Williams Selyem - Pinot Noir Land

1998 & 2003 Williams Selyem – Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I’m not what one would call a “fan” of the pinots, however these take the ice-cream-cake. Yummmmm. This cult-wine, is fascinating. And you can’t buy it. You can sign up to be on their private mailing list, however you won’t be able to buy a bottle until someone gives up their spot and that wait is about 9-12 months. Even then you can’t gobble up a great deal of their precious wine at first, but according to their website, “consistent purchasing patterns over time lead to increased quantities and selections in the allocation.” So get out that American Express card and be American, but you have to wait on line and the wait time is not like a 45-minute Disney Land ride wait. I did a simple calculation and figured, you’ll be waiting on line for 525,600 minutes from this point. Bring the Rent soundtrack and go nuts. Oh, the 1998 was better than the 2003, but only by a little.

Marcassin, forgot the year. This is a Helen Turley wine. She makes 2,500 cases a year of this baby. It’s fabulous. It’s beyond fabulous, it’s basically fabulous times way beyond fabulous. Hugh tells us, “Worth so much at auction that few ever drink it.” Well! Well… paaaardon me! Guess we didn’t read the headlines. Guess we thought it was just another Pinot Noir from the movie where one guy doesn’t drink Merlot with dinner! Woah! We went crazy Hugh! Why weren’t you there to save us from the scrumptious, delectable — I haven’t brushed my teeth since — Helen Turley masterpiece of the century, you dirty rat!

1999 Guilliams, 1988 Mersault, 2005 Chateau Montelena, 1989 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet

1999 Guilliams, 1988 Mersault, 2005 Chateau Montelena, 1989 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet

I know, I know, it goes on. But read with me brave soldier(s)!

1999 Guilliams. Only 1,000 cases made yearly, 2,000 feet up on Spring Mountain in the old Napa Valley. Yay! Yum! Tasty! Blueberry? Burberry?? Boysenberry!?!?!

2005 Montelena. I finally visited this historic vineyard, famous for helping put Napa on the map when it’s Chardonnay came in first place during a blind tasting in Paris in 1976. Beautiful grounds, delicious wine. A truly delightful example of a refined Cabernet.

Now, let’s talk French: 1988 Mersault. When a French wine bares only the name of the vineyard, that means, you’ve got the real deal – a usually small plot of land that is famous and known for its gems, and this is a Burgundian chardonnay that is one of them. I was lucky to taste this sucker. However this sucker was corked. The cork had leached, was possibly contaminated since bottling, but whatever has happened in the 22 years since it’s bottling, the wine was wet cardboard and left a sour sensation in the mouth. The 1989 long-winded name of a large village at the south end of the cote de beaune is an area of pleasure and delight, I imagine, though I’ve never been – only tasted it’s organic material! And this organic material was DELISH. WOWY. Tasted great! A white with a bang! After 21 years in the bottle, the smooth savory nuttiness of it all went straight to my head.

And it doesn’t stop there. BUT first, let’s talk about the NOBLE ROT and 2010. Our website is totally revamped, so check it out: thenoblerot.com

We are planning lots of exciting events as we redefine ourselves as a traveling wine saloon. Our first event will be the last weekend in January with Napa Valley winemaker Jeff Morgan. Jeff has a very impressive resume and laundry list of accomplishments. I would encourage visiting his site here.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of some other wines I was able to taste as well as an overall CRS Rating of my Holiday-Wine Experience: Honorable Infinity!

I thank kindly those who shared their rare and delectable gems and would encourage everyone out there to start putting away your wine NOW so you too can share with those who will appreciate as the wine itself appreciates with tastiness.

1998 William Deutz Cuvee

1998 William Deutz Cuvee

Opus One. 1983. Was supposed to bad a pretty bad year, however this little number tasted great with a bit of decanting.

Opus One. 1983. Was supposed to bad a pretty bad year, however this little number tasted great with a bit of decanting.

1996 Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva Ducale

1996 Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva Ducale

1997 Hospice De Nuit - French Pinot Noir

1997 Hospice De Nuit - French Pinot Noir

And Finally……



DISCLAIMER: All these wines were not drunk in one sitting, though you can bet the pony I wouldn’t have minded.


  1. Jonny Cigar

    I’ll make a deal with you: If you tell me the year of the Marcassin, I not only will give you credit, I’ll even post your picture and a small bio — is it a deal?!!


  2. Pingback: Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Alexander Valley, Russian River - WINETOLOGY

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