Article and
Tasting Notes by
George Heritier



After more than a few consecutive years of October festivities, the Merry Meehan family’s “Fall Fest in The Cleve” is becoming something of a tradition. Open not only to Larry and Mary Meehan’s Cleveland area wine tasting compadres, but also to any of the “We Will Always Have Toledo” gang of winos who are able to make the journey from various parts of Big 10 country and western New York. This has become a gathering that is much anticipated as the leaves start to turn and footballs split the uprights throughout the land. I’ve had to pleasure to attend two of these previously, and my better half has done me one better, two years ago, when I was held captive by a brick and mortar retail gig. (Ball and chain was more like it…)

Roland Riesen, Jeff King & Cousin Larry

Happily, circumstances allowed both Kim and this taster to take part in the merriment on both Friday and Saturday evenings this time out, and we had a grand time, as did all. It has often been said of our Toledo gatherings (and truly so) that they’re not so much about the wine, they’re really about the people, and such is the case with Fall Fest as well. Still, this is a wine web site, so here are my snapshot impressions of all the wines I tasted over the two nights, and by no means did I come close to trying everything that was uncorked and poured. Selections are loosely grouped by category; the only real “themes” were on Friday night, those being “palatable domestic Pinot Noir” and (mmm…) Mr. Ridge. A case could be made for a strong Rhone theme on Saturday, but I actually tried so few of them before my buds went dead, I don’t have the notes to back that up.

Bubbles & White Stuff

Champagne Baron Fuente Galipettes Brut NVChampagne Baron Fuente Galipettes Brut NV, 12.5% alc.: Medium straw in color, with very good intensity, zippy acidity, lots of froth in the mouth and lots of chalky red and white apples. Very nice. Find this wine

Champagne Bruno Gobillard Brut Rose “Sophie” NV 13% alc.: Pale pink color, with big mousse and a fine active bead; earthy mineral and under-ripe cherry flavors are bone dry and much to my liking, with good weight and excellent acids. Very nice. Find this wine

1990 Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Millesime, 12% alc.: Pale gold color; a bit sherried on the nose and a little less so on the palate. Good intensity and fairly rich character. Not to the liking of some, and not as intense as the other two Champagnes tasted on this occasion. Find this wine

2000 Francois Chidaine Montlouis sur Loire “Les Choisilles,” 12.5% alc.: Medium gold in color, with lots of stony mineral on the nose and more of the same on the palate, along with an added note of something like petrol over a core of quince and under-ripe green apple. Medium to medium full bodied, with good cut and length. I like this a lot. Find this wine

"White Stuff"2000 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis "La Forest," 13% alc.: Pale gold color, with a chalky mineral nose that carries over onto the palate with bone dry Chardonnay fruit. Classic Chablis, and surprisingly good with sushi! Find this wine

2000 Marc Kreydenweiss Riesling Alsace Clos Rebberg, 12% alc.: Pale to medium gold color, with a good dose of petrol on the nose; nice fruit, but not at all sweet, being reminiscent of mineral laced apple with a hint of apricot. Slightly oily, with good cut, this is some lovely Alsatian Riesling. Find this wine

2005 Lunau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie Clos des Allees Vieilles Vignes, 12% alc.: Pale to medium straw color, all river rocks and under-ripe apple in flavor and aroma; medium bodied and rich, with excellent cut and intensity. Textbook Muscadet, what more could you ask for? Find this wine

2006 Lunau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie Domaine Pierre de la Grange Vieilles Vignes, 12% alc.: Pale to medium straw color; seems a little “creamier” than the Clos des Allees, but still plenty of rich, if under-ripe fruit, some sea air on the nose and of course, the requisite racy acidity. These wines are harder to find fruit descriptor analogies than some, but if you know good Muscadet, than this is for you. Find this wine

2005 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie Granite de Clisson, 12.5% alc.: Pale straw color, and all river rocks on the nose; river rocks and rainwater flavors are a little lighter and less intense that the previous two selections, but still, with excellent cut and character. I wondered if it shouldn’t have been poured before the two Lunau-Papins, but Larry said that this would continue to open and evolve throughout the evening, and later confirmed that. Find this wine

Wyncroft Anyone?

For a full week beforehand, Kim kept asking me, “What wines are we taking?” At first I had no answer, but then, like a sudden flash of a 60-watt Sylvania, it hit me. What did we have that no one else in attendance would? Simple, Michigan’s own Wyncroft, which we’ve reported so positively about on a number of occasions. We opted for a trio of 2003s.

Mark Horvatich2003 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Chardonnay Avonlea Vineyard, 14% alc.: Pale gold in color, with “all that Wyncroft perfume,” showing intense pear and pineapple with a substantial kiss of oak. Despite the impression of sweet fruit on entry, finishes totally dry. This seemed to draw mixed reviews; some, like Mark Horvatich (cringing at left) really liked it, while others, like Cousin Larry were somewhat put off by what they considered excessive oak. Personally, I’m always happy to have another glass of this stuff! Find this wine

2003 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore "Shou" Avonlea Vineyard: Dark garnet color, with rich black currant and blackberry character accented with a subtle green streak that doesn’t detract in the least. Excellent structure for at least three to five years of development, and this more than holds its own against a plethora of “heavy hitters” that were opened on Night Two.  Find this wine

2003 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Pinot Noir Avonlea Vineyard: Ruby red color, with smoky plum and black cherry flavors and aromas, more plum and cherry and very smoky in a really good way. Medium full bodied, with very good depth, structure and length, this is still on the way up, and obviously in no danger of fading anytime soon. This was the best received of the Wyncrofts, as everyone I talked to that tried it was impressed, so it seemed to have made the cut as a palatable domestic PN.  Find this wine

“Palatable Domestic Pinot Noir”

“Palatable Domestic Pinot Noir”1988 Henry Estate Pinot Noir Umpqua, 13.1% alc.: Old wood and smoky plum on the nose; this is more than just well preserved, it’s in a very good place for drinking enjoyment, with flavors of smoky plum, cranberry, black cherry and a hint of beet root, with just a hint of something green, but that’s not a bad thing. Good depth, good length and still some good structure here, this is a nice 20-year old Pinot Noir. Find this wine

1990 Ponzi Willamette Pinot Noir, 12.5% alc.: Smoky garnet color, with smoky plum and black cherry aromatics shaded with some old wood and a streak of green; medium bodied and still possessing a rich core of rich fruit, some good structure and nice earthy undertones. A nice 18-year old Pinot Noir! Find this wine

1994 Thomas Willamette Pinot Noir, 13% alc.: Ruby red color, with restrained cranberry and black cherry flavors and aromas. While showing good structure and depth, it probably suffered some having been tasted in the midst of the Ridges noted below, rather than with the other Pinots. Find this wine

1998 Evesham Wood Willamette Pinot Noir Temperance Hill, 13% alc.: Ruby red color, with an earthy cherry and plum nose; like flavors, with toned down fruit but still significant tannins and acids. Mark H. opined that it would be better on the second day, but whether it made it that far, I do not know. Find this wine

7 from Mr. Ridge

Cabernet, Ridge Style

1992 Ridge Santa Cruz Mtns. Cabernet Sauvignon, 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 13.4% alc.: Deeply, darkly colored, and exuding “Draper perfume” with a note of cedar; rich fruit, with big cassis-black currant underscored with hints of earth, blueberry and of course, more of that signature character known as Draper perfume, although it’s more reserved on the palate. Still plenty of structure, depth, body and length here; really nice, and yet to peak. Find this wine

1995 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mtns., 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petite Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 12.5% alc.: My initial impression reads “big Cab character here, with a hint of Draper perfume,” but in fact, it’s one of only two Monte Bellos ever made that wasn’t a “legal” Cabernet Sauvignon. Though approachable, this needs time; it offers black currant, cassis and earth, with that distinctive “perfume” just peaking out here and there. Full bodied, with big structure and still some years from its peak. Mark Horvatich says that Paul Draper calls this one of his favorite MBs, but it’s more about potential right now. Find this wine

1987 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mtns., 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 11.7% alc.: Cloudy dark garnet color, with cedar and Draper perfume on the nose; the pretty flavors echo, with a well-mannered core of black currant and cassis fruit and what Pam Gillikin describes as a note of iodine. Soft tannins, smooth texture, balanced acids and nice length all make for a lovely Mr. Ridge that’s in a really nice place right now. Find this wine

1992 Ridge Napa Cabernet Franc York Creek, 77% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 14.1% alc.: Good, rich color, with black currant on the nose shaded with subtle Draper perfume. Rich, ripe fruit with earthy undertones and some herbaceousness; just gorgeous, and it blossoms to exude a very pretty perfume with just a little air. Find this wine

Que Syrah, Sirah

1997 Ridge Lytton Estate Syrah ATP, 88% Syrah, 12% Viognier, 14.6% alc.: This glass of ink exudes a pretty Draper perfume that resembles a mélange of black and blue berries, turning darker on the palate with some added black plum. Rich, ripe and dense, but balanced, this likes some air (Mark H. said it was tight a few hours earlier), and a few more years in the cellar won’t hurt it at all. Find this wine

1997 Ridge Napa Petite Sirah York Creek Dynamite Hill Vines ATP, 13.5% alc.: Good dark color, with a big black fruit nose that shows some attractive aromatics, even in what I would have expected to be its relative youth. Not quite as generous on the palate, nor as deep and rich as I would have expected, and slightly green, though not in a bad way. Not bad with air now, but I’m not sure this will ever be a “great” Petite Sirah. Or, maybe it just needs more time, like the next wine had the advantage of receiving. Find this wine

1986 Ridge Napa Petite Sirah York Creek Devil’s Hill ATP, 12.9% alc.: Slightly cloudy dark garnet color, and showing the dark side of all that Draper perfume, with smoky black plum and berry that follow through very nicely on the palate. Mark H. commented that there are “a lot of good things in this; back then, Ridge had a lot of funk in their wines.” He has a point, because it’s so good, it deserves a second pour, and best of all, it’s still not at its peak.
Find this wine

“There’s DRC and there’s BRC, and I could live with BRC.” – Tim Thomas, mooning over a cup of Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream

geo, Jeff Faunce & Amy McClellend
geo, Jeff Faunce & Amy McClellan

1997 Sean Thackrey Orion: Shows a pretty nose with a little kiss of oak, a bit of eucalyptus and a solid core of rich black plum and berry, all of which follows through on the palate with smooth texture and deceptive structure. Rich and just ripe enough to please without going over the top. Find this wine

1998 Paloma Napa Syrah Spring Mountain, 13% alc.: A slightly cloudy glass of ink that exudes a lovely “Paloma perfume;” ripe but elegant plum and berry and a fine example of what Jim and Barbara Richards’ wines are all about. “Not bad for an off-vintage,” quipped Mark H. Find this wine

1992 Topolos Sonoma Alicante Bouschet, 12.2% alc.: Ruby garnet color, with pretty blackberry and black plum nose that follows through nicely on the palate with good depth and structure. Full bodied, but not heavy, this is very nice. Find this wine

I never did get to a number of the big reds on Saturday night, but I wasn’t about to miss these last three.

1996 Ornallaia Masseto, 13.5% alc.: Good dark color, with lovely cedar, restrained sweet oak and rich black currant and blackberry aromatics; the gorgeous flavors echo with a subtle note of leather and a velvet-like texture that belies the still ample tannin and acid structure that will take this several years down the road. Find this wine

1995 Chateau Cos d’Estournel St. Estephe, 13% alc.: Slightly cloudy dark color, with a personality redolent of earth, tobacco and big black currant and cassis; very good depth, structure and intensity, and while it’s drinking well already, it still has many years to go, as the four from the ‘80s tasted in August proved. Also interesting to compare these impressions to those of a little over a year and a half ago. Find this wine

1997 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Justine, 14% alc.: This rare gem comes from a couple of barrels made for Laurence Feraud’s daughter and is ridiculously expensive, according to one taster. It shows good, dark color, if slightly cloudy, and offers a lovely nose of deep, dark plum and berry mixed with earth, iron, hints of cola and some subtle spice. Rich and intense, the flavors echo loudly, with significant structure. A long way from peaking as of yet, this is very nice and a very rare treat indeed. Find this wine

It was a great weekend, although by about 10PM Saturday, I’d had my fill of wine and I raided Cousin Larry’s basement refrigerator for some cold Great Lakes Imperial Dortmunder Lager, as fine a palate refresher as one could hope for, unless of course, there was Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream in the house, and indeed there was!

Many thanks to Mary and Larry Meehan for their warm hospitality, and to all our friends, both old and new, for their many contributions. This is a group that we are always at home with, and we’re looking forward to seeing many of them again relatively soon just outside of beautiful Toledo in early 2009.

Until then, I remain,

geo t.

Other Recent Wine Explorations

It's All Good!

A Southern Rhone Wine Dinner

Finding Hidden Bench

8 from Cono Sur

10 from Arcadian


4 from Cos d'Estournel

New Rieslings from Chateau Grand Traverse & more…

Back to the October 2008 Index

Back to the Underground Index

Back to the Top

© George Heritier October, 2008