embarrassment of riches abounded at Chez
Ellis hosted ever so graciously by
Greg & Tami Ellis,
(Greg Ellis, left) as the shoot out
prelim for the
Rednecks & Red Rhônes
got underway Saturday, February 18.
organized the afternoon culinary events as I pulled the first wine
as a run up to the evening got underway. Didier Dagueneau pulled off
the pole in the Buisson Menard, Pouilly Fume 1999
Find this wine. But for the
pale yellow gold color, you’d have sworn it was a ruby red grapefruit -
intense and focused on the nose and palate from attack to finish.
Elements of petrol, minerality and some smoke kicked in along the way.
Excellent mouthfeel with some weight. If you bothered to wait to be
asked to try it, it was gone. This wine doesn’t get any better than
We bumped a Dehlinger Chardonnay out of the way, pushing it into
the wall as we made our way to a Ch. De Beaucastel Chateauneuf de
Pape Blanc Vielles Vignes 1994
Find this wine. A deep honeyed gold with beeswax and
honey comb, lanolin, tangerine zest, almond and anise on the ever
developing, ever evolving nose.
“Classic aged Rousanne,”
Bob, and of course he’s absolutely
correct. Big on the attack then fading to a gentle citrus, bitter almond
and anise finish.
Steve & Barb South
averted a gap in the wine grouping by pulling a J.L. Chave Hermitage
Find this wine. It seems this had inadvertently sat in a parked car with
unseasonably warm weather for two days. Something had to be done to
assure it wasn’t cooked. Someone pulled the cork. Straw yellow. Tight on
the nose, but still giving off some honey, honeysuckle and orange
blossom. Very tight on the palate (paralleling the nose), but delivers a
wonderful mouthfeel. Somewhere in the midpalate and through the finish
it gives up an almost creamed corn element. This doesn’t suck.
The arrival of special guest
and the couple with pending nuptials, Michael Ross & Adair Sigmon called for
something bubbly. Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru 1996
Find this wine and some Krug Grand Cru NV
Find this wine. The Egly was the gentlest mousse some of us could
recall yet with concentrated, tiny bubbles. Green apple and lemon, but
yeast and biscuit notes as well. As it opens, some almond chimes in,
then some baked apples. Tiny, gentle bubbles. Tart, focused flavors.
This is one “oh-my-gosh!” kinda wine. It just kept getting better and
bigger. In fact, it became a contest as to which had more yeasty
elements, the Egly or the Krug. The color of the Krug was lighter than
the older Egly, but it had - at least at first - more yeast along with
almond and lanolin. The biggest difference was the mousse. The Krug’s
was huge. Excellent minerality. Perhaps some coconut kicking in along
with toast and some nuttiness on the finish. So very big, so very dry,
so very Krug.
As we had a shortage of chicken wings we had to make do with assorted
stinky cheeses followed by seared scallops with scallions and bacon.
kicked up the food a notch with Greg’s fresh baked baguettes, spring pea
soup and beef tenderloin as we got well underway with the main focus of
the evening, a line up of Haut Brion Blanc and Haut Brion
And what better way to start off the main portion of dinner than with a
Haut Brion Blanc 1985
Find this wine, unless of course, it’s a Haut Brion Blanc
1985 that is corked . Bob was wounded. (Being open minded and just a tad geeky, we tried the plastic bag in the wine. It didn’t help. But then,
this was badly corked.) We recovered with a Haut Brion Blanc 1999
Find this wine.
Yellow only to the extent it had to be for it to be a white wine. Mineral (as in wet
limestone), anise, lanolin and beeswax on the nose. Initially this was
not as enticing as it was a year ago, but as it opens and warms a tad it
showed signs of last year's ethereal self.
Michael observes that it is
transitioning from fruit to its secondary bottle sweetness. And when
Michael makes an observation about Haut Brion, you can bet the race on
it. After two hours, it opens and opens beautifully with smoke, beeswax,
anise - all with razor sharpness. With a touch of the
crottin de chavignol, it’s an existential experience. This is indeed
HB Blanc. (My white of the night.)
The Haut Brion Blanc 2000
Find this wine
showed better at least at first than
the ‘99 with its smoke, mineral, limestone, white flowers, anise and
nuttiness. Mouthfilling and rich. Initially this blew the ‘99 away with
its abundance of fruit. But while it is beautiful now, it will certainly
be one to enjoy years from now.
Haut Brion Rouge 1982
Find this wine. Brick on the rim with magenta core. Soft
nose of pencil lead, cassis and cedar that invites you into the glass,
but along with something funky - almost a band-aid like quality.
Whatever it was, it didn’t carry through on the palate and disappeared
behind all the pencil lead, cassis and cedar that mimics the nose with
intensity. If they allowed drinking in the Baptist church and used this
for communion, there would be shouts of "Jesus
take me now.”
Haut Brion Rouge 1986
Find this wine. Bricked on the rim with maroon core that
later turned more to a blackberry core. Sweeter than the ‘82 on the nose
with graphite, tobacco and cigar ash. Much better focus than the ‘82.
Excellent structure, but somewhat light on the mouthfeel. Loads of cigar
and cedar and.....cocoa. Some very slight sediment.
Haut Brion Rouge 1992
Find this wine. Barely bricked on the rim with deep maroon
on the core. A very big nose of graphite followed by cassis and some
slight tobacco. The nose is somewhat muted, but develops. Good balance with
smokiness (like a light flavored cigar.) A touch of cocoa fills in the
finish. The tannins are not yet resolved.
Haut Brion Rouge 2001
Find this wine. This was the only Haut Brion we decanted
and it needed it. Magenta on the rim with a core of deep purple. Bam!
goes the fruit on the nose with blackberry, dark fruits, plum and maybe
some truffle. Chocolate and cassis sweetens the nose. What a tight wine!
Yet it shows up some plum, chocolate, cassis, blackberry and plum
flavors. This has excellent potential for aging with loads of tannins.
Rich and minerally. And did we mention the graphite? Yeah, it’s all in
What do rednecks do when the Haut Brion runs out? They pop the Virginia
swill that I brought. This time it was the Chrysalis Petit Verdot
Hollin Reserve 2002
Find this wine. This decanted for 4 hours plus some. It is a
tannic monster, and unfortunately for us it's in a bit of a dumb stage.
(I swear this was better and loaded with fruit two years ago, but
everyone thinks I was just too far gone at the time.) Alcoholic and out
of balance with some plum, cocoa, band-aid and black fruit. This is a
hugely tannic wine that just needs to slumber for a few more years.
To rescue me from being tossed out on a cold and dark street and save
the evening from a sour palate, someone pulled a Rausan-Segla 1990
Find this wine.
Tobacco, tobacco and some more tobacco on the nose. Cassis, blackberry and plum
round out the nose. Chocolate, cassis, tobacco, blackberry and plum on the
palate. A good wine on its own, but lacks the depth of the Haut Brion.
Drinking this now is kinda like following
Ricky Scaggs at a bluegrass
contest. As good as you might be, you’re not gonna be good enough.
gluttons for punishment (not to mention just plain gluttons) and
throwing abandon to the wind or simply not caring how we might feel the
next morning, Bob
opens not one, but two ports - Taylors Vintage Port 1966
Find this wine
Vintage Port 1977
Find this wine. The Taylor is older than either
Michael or Adair.
This is the last bottle from the cellar of Bob’s father. A toast to the
memory and foresight of Mr. Cuozzi... and to Bob’s generosity.
Not being the brightest
bulb in the pack, when I beg help for port descriptors,
correctly observes, “It’s port; just
shut up!!” Be that as it may, we
did secure some descriptors, such as: tremendous nose of raspberry,
chocolate, mocha, blackberry and blueberry. Silky smoothness with a
strong licorice finish all held in perfect balance. .... a nearly
perfect port. The Graham’s 1977 delivered a nose of licorice, mocha,
blackberry and blueberry with a deep and full palate. The Graham’s
absence of 10 years of development was apparent in comparison with the
Taylor as this is still young, slightly sweet. A loong and complex
At this point, some of us were a wee bit woozy, the group toddled home
and prepared for the big event tomorrow....chicken wings and Boone’s
Farm wouldn’t be on the menu, but through the haze of the evening we
rather relished the idea of Red Rhones and Rac’n!
On to the main event ====>>>
Intro | Saturday Night
Qualifying | Race Day |