Californian Wines

5 April 2011
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee



I love mature wines and during one very decadent dinner with friends, we enjoyed several mature Californian wines as well as several vintages of Colgin and some Burgundies to start. At Lei Garden in Hong Kong, the food was fantastic but wine service was slow and did not keep pace with the sequence of the food.


I threw out trying to match the food with the wines at the table. We drank what we liked with whatever was being served to us. The most wonderful evenings are when the conversation and laughter flows so effortlessly that the great wines trickle in and out of our conversation and enhance our enjoyment of the entire evening rather than dominating it. This was such a night.


Wines were placed on the lazy susan so that we helped ourselves rather than risk having the serving staff pour the wrong wine into the wrong glass. All worked out well as the food was excellent and the wines showed beautifully except for one corked Coche Dury, luckily we had two bottles!


1.1999 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet (2 bottles) – Complex, intricately detailed, very long. This is a stunning wine that is feminine and lacy but with intense minerality and subtle power. A fantastic, impressive wine that is just beginning to peak. (97)


2.1999 Coche Dury Meursault-Perrieres (2 bottles) – Amazing intensity, almost like a red wine in its muscular structure & concentration; great length, incredible depth with layers and layers of flavours. This is a phenomenal white that will last another few decades. (98)


3.1976 Remoissenet Grand-Echezeaux – Surprisingly fresh, seductive, more like a wine from the late 80s. Charming, balanced Grand-Echezeaux that took a long time to come around but is now giving much drinking pleasure. A red Burgundy at this age is so finely knit and gentle that its texture is like chiffon. (93)


4.1975 Ridge Monte Bello – A disappointing bottle. When it was opened, it smelled of mature Barolo, with hint of dried flowers and a tarry, earthy note. Even for lovers mature wine like myself, this bottle was too evolved. After about an hour, the little fruit that was there started to fade and only the skeleton of the wine remained. Levels were high and it was hand-carried back from the cellar of an American wine collector. (87)


5.1978 Ridge York Creek – After the disappointing 1975 Ridge Monte Bello, this bottle was a stark contrast: The leather, tobacco flavours were lovely, supported by firm tannins. It was an elderly gentleman that was clearly once a handsome young man. Very enjoyable and holding up well. (91)


6.1978 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – A fantastic wine that is just slightly past its peak but still offering plenty of fruit that reminded me very much of Chinese dried red dates. Generous, lush and fairly long. A great bottle and a wonderful example of how deliciously Napa Valley Cabs can age. (94)


7.2001 Colgin Cariad – Appears restrained, Bordeaux-like at first, but opens up in the mid palate & finish with great depth of flavours; Incredible grace and balance in this young wine, still half-youth, half-adult. Cariad has a haunting minerality and restraint which makes this an alluring wine. (94)


8.2005 Colgin IX – Love this wine for its poise, despite being so youthful with blackberry, plummy fruit. All the vintages of the IXs are consistently fantastic with ripe tannins & concentrated flavours (I enjoyed a vertical of Colgin IX going back to its first vintage 2002 in August 2010), all of its elements are in balance. A powerful wine that will require at least another 5 plus years to open up. (95)


9.2007 Colgin Syrah – Very impressive Syrah with gamey, spicy, meaty flavours surrounded by cashmere tannins and ripe dark berry fruits in the background. The only thing that says its from Napa vs Northern Rhone is its rich texture and plush tannins. May qualify as the best Syrah from California or at least among the top ten! (95)


10.1996 Chateau d’Yquem – Not a rich unctuous wine but rather a subtle Yquem with layers of delicate floral, honeyed flavours which caress the palate. The long length and finely etched flavours are classically Yquem. (94)