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Northern Rhone offline at Wig & Pen (Sheffield, UK)
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Wow, what a great evening! Thank you, Richard, for organizing yet another successful Sheffield offline. Ashley and I had a wonderful time with everyone – both familiar faces and new, alike.

As has already been mentioned by Damian, Richard, and Simon: the wines were – across the board – fantastic. I don’t think I can recall any other offline I’ve been to where each and every wine served cleared as high of a qualitative bar as the ones did at our N. Rhone event this past Saturday.

Our event was book-ended by bottles of the 2006 Guigal – Condrieu, which I enjoyed very much. This took me by surprise, as Condrieu and I don’t typically get along (I usually find them to be too alcoholic, and mostly devoid of fruit). This Guigal was stunning, and is possibly my favorite non-Late Harvest Condrieu I’ve ever tasted. Those book-ends supported 11 chapters of Northern Rhone Syrah goodness, each chapter with its own interesting story to tell. While I enjoyed each and every chapter, the qualitative stand-outs for me were the Allemands and the Plessy Cote Rotie. The mystery 1961 Hermitage was a blast to taste, and surprisingly still full of life. Similarly, I am very thankful for having had my first ever opportunity to try a Verset --- and it did not disappoint!

Before I get on with my notes, I’d just like to say that I’m already looking forward to our next event!

2006 E. Guigal Condrieu - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Condrieu (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 30 min. --

NOSE: expressive tropical aromas of papaya and lemon pith; quite engaging, and much fruitier than I’ve come to expect from Condrieu; develops a slightly waxy oxidative edge with time in the glass.

BODY: golden yellow color of moderate depth; medium to medium-full bodied.

TASTE: richly-fruited --- moreso than what I’ve come to accept as typical for Condrieu; orange blossom and papaya flavors with a moderately strong mineral support; oily mouthfeel; richly flavored. This manages to escape the “minerals and alcohol” plague that, to my palate, seems to infect the vast majority of Condrieu wines. While this is lovely now, I would love to taste this with 5 more years on it --- will easily go longer than those 5 years, if you want it to. Maybe the best non-late-harvest Condrieu I’ve tasted. Very nice.

EDIT: I noticed, as I went to put this note into CT, that I tasted this wine nearly four years ago: this wine has improved significantly since that time, with much more fruit flavors now than in February of 2009.
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2006 Jeannine Boutin St. Joseph Parcelle de Jean - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 30 min. --

NOSE: big and ripe; floral; slightly meaty; atypical, as it is devoid of the St. Joseph pepper.

BODY: dark garnet-violet color of great depth; medium bodied.

TASTE: red-fruited, with a hint of dried herbs; not peppery, leathery, or funky --- again, where’s the pepper?!? Slightly spicy; tart; good acidity; alc. not noticeable; easy drinking; atypically modern, but still very good as long as you’re not needing a traditionally-styled St. Joseph.
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2006 Thierry Allemand Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (11/10/2012)
-- decanted for one hour 4 hours before the event, then double decanted back into bottle --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 2 hours --

NOSE: quite floral, with herbs and tart red fruits; “cool”; black licorice; slightly horsey after a couple hours in the glass; seems to be holding back, despite the ample air this saw both before and during the tasting; classy.

BODY: magenta-tinged garnet color of great depth; medium bodied.

TASTE: very spicy/stemmy, with flavors of loganberry and cigar wrapper; fine tannin; great acidity; long finish of moderate intensity; a touch fresher than the ’07, which was tasted alongside; 13.5% alc. is not noticeable. Not shut-down hard, but definitely reserved right now; requires air, patience, and an imagination if tasting right now. It took me all night to decide between this or the ’07 vintage of the same as my WOTN: I eventually settled on the ’07, but I could have easily gone either way ---- this might be the better wine 10+ years down the line, or maybe not -- both are excellent. Exudes class. Hold.
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2007 Thierry Allemand Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (11/10/2012)
-- decanted for one hour 4 hours before the event, then double decanted back into bottle --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 2 hours --

NOSE: spicy; crushed rocks; musky perfume; cinnamon; dark red fruits; noticeably riper fruit aromas than the ’06 vintage of the same bottling. The Nose on this wine is just so incredibly spell-binding that it’s almost easy to forget to actually drink it!

BODY: violet color of great depth; medium-full bodied.

TASTE: ripe red berry flavors – raspberry dominates; not over-concentrated or over-extracted; a touch leathery; fine tannin is very drying; great acidity; 13.5% alc. is not noticeable; perfectly balanced; expressive and showy, even at this infantile stage of what will certainly be a long life for this wine; I would bet on additional complexity with additional cellar time; this narrowly edged the ’06 vintage of the same as my WOTN: this is noticeably riper and has a “warmer” personality, but is undoubtedly a very serious and complex wine. Laughably good.
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2004 Delas Frères Côte-Rôtie - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 30 min. --

NOSE: tight, and red-fruited – perfumed cherry – with a hint of stinky cheese – brillat savarin, perhaps?

BODY: warm ruby color; medium bodied.

TASTE: firmer structure than the ’04 Delas Hermitage “Bessards”, which was tasted alongside; good acidity; 13% alc.; needs more time; I really like this, and prefer it to the aforementioned Hermitage.
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2004 Delas Frères Hermitage Les Bessards - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 30 min. --

NOSE: “lighter” Nose than the ’04 Delas Cote Rotie, which was tasted alongside; strong dill scent; smells like the fruit and vegetable section of a grocery store, with aromas of warm red berries intermixed.

BODY: warm garnet color; medium bodied.

TASTE: smoked bacon; smoky; oak; very smoky; juicy; moderate-to-strong acidity; moderately drying tannin; tastes at least twice as old as it actually is; this bears a strong resemblance to a Rhone-variety wine from Paso Robles; very good, but also disconcertingly advanced. I preferred the aforementioned Cote Rotie to this wine.
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1961 Mystery Producer - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 20 min. --

NOSE: gives an overall “woody” impression --- walnuts, with a little bit of fruit still hanging on; fades in the glass.

BODY: mahogany-ruby core lightening to tawny at the edges; medium-light bodied.

TASTE: and here’s the surprise! smooth, clean, and slightly sweet; leather; earthy/leafy; good acidity; the Nose seemed to suggest a wine that was further past its prime than this; certainly in its twilight days, but still lots of pleasure in this bottle; this was a real treat to taste this evening.
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2001 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Petite Chapelle - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 20 min. --

NOSE: rich; pepperoni; rich, dark red-fruits.

BODY: dark red-purple color; medium bodied.

TASTE: ripe red/purple fruits; a bit smoky; decent acidity; a touch muddled, and still too young.
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1999 Noël Verset Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 30 min. --

NOSE: really interesting Nose on this: teriyaki-flavored soy sauce; crushed rocks; grainy whisky; green pepper.

BODY: dark color; medium-full bodied.

TASTE: smoky whisky --- single malt island whisky; still young; great acidity; alc. not noticeable; tight; red-fruits; strong crushed rock/mineral note. Needs more time. (MedocMad's bottle, which his 11/12/2012 is in regards to)
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1999 Domaine Jasmin Côte-Rôtie - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 20 min. --

NOSE: scent of petrol/oil/tar dominates the Nose; a bit tart smelling.

BODY: muddy dark garnet color; (forgot to note wine’s weight --- seem to recall it being about medium bodied).

TASTE: ripe fruits, but well-balanced; tarry; plum; dark red berries; 12.5% alc. is not noticeable; requires more time; I seemed to like this more than most other attendees did.
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1998 Gilles Barge Côte-Rôtie Cuvée du Plessy - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (11/10/2012)
-- decanted for 2 hours before the event; tasted approx 2 hours into the event --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 40 min. --

NOSE: expressive; leathery, purple-fruited, and slightly minty.

BODY: opaque garnet color; medium bodied.

TASTE: stemmy spice; fresh red fruits; smoky; leathery; smoked bacon; earthy; very tarry; old-world; 12.5% alc. not noticeable; fine tannin; good acidity; very well-balanced; drinks well today, but I believe this will improve with additional cellar time; I loved this wine, and it was one the standouts on a table of excellent wines.
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1995 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage (11/10/2012)
-- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour non-blind over approx. 20 min. --

NOSE: very rich loganberry syrup; slightly smoky and leathery; moderately expressive.

BODY: dark bloody garnet color of medium-deep depth; (forgot to note weight of wine --- seem to recall it being about medium-full bodied).

TASTE: spicy; slightly floral; still very tannic; good acidity; red-fruited; still needs time. (MedocMad's bottle, which his 11/12/2012 note is in regards to)
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