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Mr. & Mrs. Whine-oh hosted a wonderful event last night with no shortage of great wine, great food, and great people. Spo's pizza, the "Carlsbad Crack" Tri-tip, and my wife's Caprese were the edible highlights for me. Java (the group's appointed judge Cool) couldn't make it, so no voting this time.

- 2012 South Coast Winery Sauvignon Blanc (Musque Clone)

Both of the Sauv Blancs were served blind, and this was the first one I poured. Light straw in color, with nice notes of fresh-cut grass & grapefruit. Simple, but fresh on the palate. Everyone seemed quite surprised when this was revealed. A nice buy from Trader Joe's, and among the few wines I might actually seek out from my neck of the woods (Temecula). (89)

- 2010 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc

Served blind, yet Whine-oh praised some of the more "astute" guests for pegging this as the Merry Edwards Wink. Deeper in color than the South Coast, with an uncommon level of viscosity in the glass. A nose dominated by notes of coconut, vanilla, and as one guest described, gooseberries. Seamless on the palate, with the stuffing to go a few more years. Fantastic juice, and still my favorite domestic Sauv Blanc. (93)

- 2005 Schramsberg Vineyards J Schram

Light gold, with a minute bead. On the nose, pronounced notes of yeast, toast, and baked apples. Silky & expansive on the palate, with more notes of yeast, brioche, and red apple. A 30+ second finish. I'd love to stick this in a tasting of Champers, as there's no way I'd peg this blind for a domestic sparkler. Gorgeous wine that will evolve through the next decade. (95+)

- 2006 Philippe Colin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers

I came to this one later in the night, though it probably should have followed the SB's. Deep straw in color, oily in the glass. A nose with pronounced notes of vanilla, oak, and lemon curd. Huge on the palate, and perhaps a little heavy-handed with the oak treatment. Still, a well-crafted wine and a nice contrast to the other whites served. (90)

- 1969 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha's Vineyard

Treating the group with this gem, SD-Wineaux's generosity never ceases to amaze me. It was noted that the cork came out clean, and the wine was not decanted. Amazingly youthful in color, with a ruby core and only the slightest tinge of burnt orange on the rim. Ridiculously fresh nose of eucalyptus, mint, leather, tobacco, and dark fruit. Just as fine on the palate, with totally integrated tannins and fruit. (45) second finish. I agreed with SD Wineaux in the only thing not making this a perfect wine was the eucalyptus/mint aspect SLIGHTLY tipping the balance. A treat and an experience, this will undoubtedly be a front-runner for my WOTY. Easily WOTN for me, and from what it seemed, WOTN from the group. (98+)

- 1983 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain

As noted by Whine-oh, the wax capsule had essentially disintegrated during a car ride home from the auction house. As such, it didn't provide much of an issue! Though I didn't get an exact time, it was stated that the wine spent a while in the decanter. Deep maroon in color, with no noticeable signs of bricking. On the nose, pronounced notes of anise, Asian spice, cedar, and even some chili-mango Big Grin. An absolute monster of a wine on the palate, with more notes of black cherry and tobacco. Everything was in check here, with tannins that still need resolution. At age (30), there is absolutely no signs of slowing down. A great showing last night, but I think the best is yet to come with this wine. (96+)

- 1987 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain

The top-half of the wax had crumbled during shipping, exposing the cork. Like many of these older Dunn's, the cork came out in more than one piece (even with an Ah-So). Double-decanted with about (2) hours of air before serving. Deep garnet core, with only a slight fade on the rim. Gorgeous and brooding nose of dark Howell Mountain fruit, aged tobacco, leather...and yep...some more chili-mango Razz. Smooth as silk on the palate, with integrated fruit & resolved tannins. This is my favorite vintage of this wine, and I've had it a number of times. This is the first time I have noticed any bottle variation. I have rated the '87 much higher in the past, as this wine IMO has the potential to reach perfection. Last night however, the finish was noticeably shorter than previous bottles I have had. Still, a magnificent wine nonetheless. I was on the fence for a while between this and the '83. Based on this particular bottle, the '83 edged it out by a hair. (96)

- 2004 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova

A sharp contrast following the group of older Cabs. Almost opaque in color. The nose is guided with notes of cherry, mocha, and maduro. Very nice on the palate with noticeable, yet tame tannins. Long, sweet finish. Drinking very well now. (92)

- 2007 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard

A bit cloudy in the glass, with a medium ruby core. Probably the most interesting nose of the night, with rustic notes of dirt, spice box, and locker room (...but I liked it). On the palate, it was a completely different vibe, with prominent flavors of hibiscus and dark fruit. Medium-plus finish. A beautiful, complex, and unique Oregon Pinot. Definitely a nice step back from the typical Cherry Cola. (92+)

- 2007 Larkmead Vineyards Firebelle

Merlot takes up the bulk of this blend. Hot On the nose, with stewed fruits. Nice texture, especially on the mid-palate. Coming across a tad artificial, with a lot of wood. It's a well made wine for the style. (Score withheld)

- 2007 Corliss Estates Cabernet Sauvignon

Fantastic, modern nose of black fruits and cassis. Very concentrated and extracted on the palate, with explosive flavors of blackberry, cinnamon, and vanilla. A little tight, with some noticeable tannins. (30) second finish. Awesome Washington wine. (93+)

- 2006 Denner "The Ditch Digger"

Very dark and viscous in the glass. On the nose, rich & ripe black fruit, espresso, and allspice. The palate reveals additional notes of boysenberry, plum, and pepper. A nice wine, albeit somewhat simple. (90)

- 2009 Keplinger Petite Sirah Sumo Shake Ridge

Pretty much black in the glass. The nose is dominated by notes of clove, pepper, and rich dark fruit. Incredibly lush on the palate with flavors of blueberry pie and french vanilla. Impeccable balance, with enough stuffing to go the distance. Exceptional wine. (94+)

- 2006 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel

I didn't get to this one last night. I've had several vintages of this, and it's always a performer. The group seemed to concur.

- 2005 Joseph Phelps Eisrébe

Deep straw & oily in the glass. Luxurious nose of honey, lavender, and tropical fruit. Nice balance & minerality with more notes of vanilla ice cream, honeycomb, and apricot. Falls a little short on the finish. Scheurebe is one of my favorite varietals, so it was interesting to try a domestic expression. (90)

- 2005 Château Guiraud

Lighter in color than the Phelps, but more viscosity in the glass. Powerful nose of crème brûlée, roasted almond, and brown sugar. Super rich on the palate, with an expansive texture. Everything is here, yet it remains aggressively cloying in its youth. This will be a blockbuster in (15-20) years. IMO, this is one of the best values in the wine world today. (93+...for now)

Again, another huge thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Whine-Oh for hosting this event. Looking forward to the next one!
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I gave the 1969 Heitz MV exactly the same score in 2011 -- also from SD-Wineaux's cellar. I remember the menthol nose being nearly overpowering, but the fruit kept the upper hand. Glad to know it's still showing well. A great line-up and great notes. What happened to SD-Wineaux's ballot sheets and 5-3-1 weighting system? I thought my system had been rejected in favor of the new system. Smile
Awesome evening to help celebrate Whine-oh's birthday. Great people, great food, great wine. Can't get any better. I even learned that there is more than just Legoland in this beautiful place you call "Carlsbad."

Java, it seems that without your presence and voting system, we are but boys lost on an island after smashing the Conch, like in the Lord of Flies. Bring us a conch Java. Bring us a conch.

Actually, for me, Shane nailed it. Great notes, as I had exactly as you had it, minus the Denner (which I liked a bit more than you). The two Dunns and the Heitz were fantastic.

Can't wait till the next one.

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