2015 – A Year in Wine

2015 has been an exciting, delicious and intense year.
Let´s have a brief look back with some of our most memorable tasting experiences:

IMG_2609The wine year 2015 started fantastic as we had the pleasure to taste
1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild in early January.
Indeed, the wine was pure perfection and met our highest expectations: First very dark and even grim with aromatics of leather, earth, barnyard and autumn leaves with only little baking powder sweetness, but opening up with time and air. Dark berries and cherry fruit, herbs of all kind, pencil lead, tobacco, florals and coffee packed in a healthy, yet smooth and silky textured, finely structured wine with all components in place. Perfect harmony without any edges, great enjoyment, length and complexity. While I can´t imagine this wine getting any better, there are no doubts about its magnificient future potential.

IMG_1968It´s no secret that we´re huge fans of Dunn Vineyards.
Over the last year we tasted, as always, many bottles of Randy and Mike´s wine. Among the many beautiful bottles, the 1987 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon stuck in our minds and is my wine of the year! Shining velvety colored. Fine red fruit of cherries, berries and little strawberry on the nose with filigree, multi-layered aromatics, beyond fruit, with beautiful sweet vanilla, cloves, dark chocolate, leather, almond paste, cinnamon, lovage and the coolness of freshly-cut herbs. Velvet, smooth and intense on the palate with dark berries, leather, little earth, hints of coffee and fresh spiciness of fennel. Finest tannins and acidity round up the perfectly structured, harmonious and elegant package of presence, density, length and finesse. Intense, yet delicate, ultimately complex and sophisticated wine that was best during its first two hours in the decanter. A timeless classic!

IMG_3006Another winery that went with us through the year was Chateau Magdelaine. We tasted many vintages and have never been disappointed. Especially the wines from the period between 1964 and 1982 showed exceptionally.
Here´s a note from a legendary evening when tasting 1982 and 1970 side by side:
This bottle of 1982 was more youthful and even tight compared to the bottle we had a few months ago. Full of dark and ripe fruits, tobacco, leather, florals (violets) and fine sweetness. Present, harmonious and of great flavor-depth, delicate acidity, dusty tannins and lots of juice. Finishes long with dark fruit and spicy minerality. Great wine of complexity, charm and pure joy. 1970 needed some time to open up beautifully. Fresh aromatics of red fruits, florals, spices, autumn leaf and tobacco. Relatively lightweight on the palate, but vital, complex and intriguing. Still fruit-driven with some herbs, earth and truffles. Good finish with peppery spiciness, cedar and fresh fruit. Perfectly balanced, fresh and multi-layered wine of sophistication.

IMG_3753ÄAmong the many great Burgundies we tasted,
Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier 1998 Musigny certainly stood out.
A rare and special wine starting with the whole spectrum of red fruits – mostly red cherry and strawberry. Fine perfume, earthy notes, fresh herbs, licorice spiciness and chalky minerality join the party. Later with notes of sweetness and cookies. Intriguing while constantly evolving and best after 2+ hours in the decanter. Light-weight and elegant, but very present on the palate with pure fruit, little herbal spiciness, earthy notes, autumn leaves and minerality. Fine acidity and delicate, yet present tannins prove youth and potential. An ultimately complex and fine wine where elegance and drive meet like in no other terroir. Showing the greatness of Musigny with purity, finesse and fascination.

IMG_9169Tasting with Bruno Rolland at Chateau Leoville Las Cases (09/2015).

Definitely among my highlights of the year is our extensive visit at Chateau Leoville Las Cases in Saint Julien and tasting many back vintages as well as 2014 from barrel with winemaker Bruno Rolland.
On other occasions we also tasted 1982, 86, 88, 89 and 1990, but the best Leoville Las Cases in 2015 to me was the 1975, which we tasted multiple times as well. This was the best bottle:

Dark velvet, dense and brilliant colored with fine and sophisticated aromatics of berries, sweet cherries and little plum. Shows light and fresh with pinewood, mint and dried herbs, iron and dark nuances of earth, tobacco and leather. Inviting sweetnees of pastries. Medium-bodied, silky and very alive on the palate. Finishes long with licorice and herbal spiciness, precise and of gentle power. An elegant, vital and complex wine that is excellent now, but good for many years, due to solid, yet approachable, tannins and present acidity. A perfect bottle and, by the way, the best (out of three) we had from this wine over the last year. One of the stars from a vintage that favored Pauillac and Saint Julien.

IMG_3060I´m looking forward to 2016 with WineCellarTV as well as to many exciting tasting experiences with the MunichWineClub.

Enjoy the holidays, be safe and see you next year!



Tasting Note: Dunn Vineyards 1986 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


1. Introduction:
There are few wineries in the world that are surrounded by true individuality, authenticity and originality like Dunn Vineyards.
Located in the Napa Valley appellation east of St. Helena on Howell Mountain in the town of Angwin, the estate was established with the first harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes by Randy and Lori Dunn in 1979. At that time Randy was still winemaker at Caymus Vineyards.
After a healthy evolution, Dunn Vineyards produces about 5000 cases of their two labels, “Howell Mountain” and “Napa Valley” (both 100% Cabernet Sauvignon), at present.
In 2000, Mike Dunn, Randy´s son, joined the winemaking and took over more responsibilities over the years to be in full charge of winemaking today.
While the “Howell Mountain” Cabernet always contains 100% Howell Mountain fruit, the “Napa Valley” wines usually include little Napa Valley floor fruit (~15%) with the remainder of the fruit coming from Howell Mountain. In recent vintages the “Napa Valley” was often made from 100% Napa Valley fruit as well.
The wines are famous for their ageing potential and moderate alcohol levels.
This is already our third full tasting note of a Dunn wine in this Blog.

Bottle and cork of our 1986 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon are in perfect condition. 13% alc.

2. Appearance:
Velvet to Dark, Blood-red and vital, but decent brightening.

3. Nose:
Integrated, finely spun, almost homogeneous aromatics Fresh Red Fruit with Red Currant, Cedar and Raspberry (!) Decent Stewed Fruit.
Ashes and Forrest Floor plus inviting Herbs (Sage!), Florals (Violets) and Dark Chocolate.
Little Vanilla and Minty Freshness.
Reluctant and elegant, but highly complex and intriguing!

4. Taste:
Harmonious, round and with Darker Fruit on the palate with Ripe, Dark Berries and Fruit in Rum. Mocha, Earthiness and Dark Chocolate.
Fresh and smooth mouthfeel with ultra-fine acidity and little, easy tannins.
Finishes medium-long with decent Bitterness (Crushed Peach Stone), drive, Ripe Fruit and Anise spiciness.
Vitality, amazing elegance and complexity!

5. Opinion:
Medium-bodied, alive and fresh, but fully integrated wine showing impressively what Old School Napa Valley Cabernet is capable of – after 28 years!
There are no bold, excessive attributes, no screaming for attention, but sophistication and silent fascination in a great wine!
Drink now.

1986 Napa Valley Cabernet shining in the glass.

Tasting Note: Dunn Vineyards 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


1. Introduction:
While most valley floor wineries gear up with optical sorters and other high-tech equipment, Dunn Vineyards stays true to traditional, old ways of winemaking.
Randy & Mike Dunn´s wines are not of an easy style and need time to develop- first in the cellar and then, after opening, in the decanter. Even though their recent releases, especially of the Napa Valley Cab, changed to a maybe more approachable style compared to the ones back then. Nevertheless, the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and (even more!) the Howell Mountain Cab are both made in an Old World style for long-term cellaring with firm tannins and great structure.
Today we taste the 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet made from parts of Howell Mountain estate fruit and from purchased Napa Valley grapes.
Bottle and cork flawless. 13% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deepest Dark-Red/ Crimson with no signs of any visual aging.
Very dense and vibrant!

3. Nose:
Classic aged Cabernet aromatics with lots of Dark Fruits-
Driven by Cassis, (Black) Cherries and Cedar.
Multi-layered with a sophisticated play of secondary & tertiary characters of Leather, Earth (!), Tobacco and some Cocoa.
Mint, Anise and Dried Herbs in a fine cloud of (Sweet) Vanilla with very little Oak.
Very present, powerful and complex!

4. Taste:
Intense, but perfectly integrated flavor components of Dark Berries with Harmonious Earthy Elements, Leather and Tobacco. Dark Chocolate.
Very long finish with Ripe, Dark Fruits, Fresh Mint, Herbal Pepperiness and Comforting Power.
Velvety mouthfeel, a lot of power served with great finesse and balance.

5. Opinion:
A mind-blowing exceptional wine and one of the best wines we had this year! Period.
Amazing intensity, perfectly integrated with great complexity, finesse and harmony.
You can´t ask for more in an aged Cabernet and – yes I´m really excited – peaking now.
I simply can´t imagine how this wine could get any better. Cheers!


Tasting Note: Dunn Vineyards 2000 Howell Mountain


1. Introduction:
Dunn Vineyards produces wines that express their origin, the Howell Mountain region, and which are able to age gracefully over decades. They are famous for their Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, which is made of 100% Howell Mountain fruit and comes with a beautiful hand-dipped wax capsule.
Besides, they produce a second wine which is usually lighter and less tannic. This wine, the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, is made mostly of Howell Mountain fruit, but is blended with (Napa) Valley fruit as well.
Our 2000 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was cellared under perfect conditions and had a healthy cork under its wax capsule.
We decanted the wine gently.

2. Appearance:
Deep crimson. With hardly any signs of aging. Dense and vital in color.

3. Nose:
After decanting the aromas were still locked. It took two hours until the wine opened up and presented its amazing line-up of aromas.
Graphite and Mineral Characters. Parsley and other Herbs. Decent fruit, as Dark Berries. Freshly ground coffee. Some Tar and Floral characters.
Enormous diversity served with great finesse!

4. Taste:
Earthy and Mineral characters. Cacao, Toasted Oak, Cloves with hints of Eucalypt. Beautiful Green facets. A little Fruit, Dark Berries and Cherries.
Finishes medium-long with vibrant Acidity and present Tannins.
Beautiful texture and mouthfeel!

5. Opinion:
If you are patient, you´ll be rewarded.
The wine needed time to open up and to show itself in an extraordinary way!
This is not the “normal” fruit dominated Napa Valley Cabernet.
Beautiful complexity and balance.
Drinks really well now, but has definitely not reached its peak yet.
Hold and enjoy in 5 to 10 years. Cheers!

Tasting at Dunn w. Mike Dunn, August 2012