A brief taste

Beaulieu Vineyards George de la Tour 2007 is the best version of this wine I’ve had in years. Some of the greatest California wines I’ve ever had were BV George de la Tour’s, albeit the 1968, the 1970, the 1975 and such. The 1990’s were not so kind; there were some issues with cellar taint and the wines just never seemed right. But all that has been fixed, and last night’s bottle of 2007 had all the richness I expect from that vintage as well as an almost shockingly soft finish. I’m not sure I believe this wine has a long life to it (not like the ’68 or ’70 did) but as with so many wines of this style, I’m not sure I much care. It’s delish.

But because caveats are the bread and butter of the wine writer’s meal, I’ll note as well that the alcohol was a bit too much for one of my sensitive breeding. Okay, yep, there’s self mockery there, but I’m not much of a fan of 15% alcohol dry wines, though some handle the octane better than others. The 2007 George de la Tour is not too hot, but a bit warm from all that alcohol nonetheless. I’m not quibbling; I’m just forewarning any drinkers out there.

When Darrell Corti brings the wines

Darrell CortiI'm giving a talk at UC Davis and the remarkable Darrell Corti is speaking as well. And as great as it is to hear his lucid views, the bigger feature for me was one of the lovely bottles that he brought along for the conference. It was a bottle that he bought back in 1959 and just happened to have around the cellar: Isaias Helman Angelica 1875 with the label identifying it as coming from the Cucamonga Vineyard in San Bernardino County, bottled in 1921. Angelica was once incredibly popular American fare: basically a Vin de Mutage created by combining Mission grape juice with brandy. And still carrying fresh fruit flavors. Did you read that, cuz I just wrote that. Still fresh fruit flavors. Freak show.

Caramel, nuts, raisins, cooked yellow apples, hints of toast, spice and balsamic vinegar, smells of walnuts and old furniture. The mouth had much the same as well as figs, cinnamon sticks, honey, tobacco, black pepper, caramel, molasses and most importantly, lots and lots of citrus. The finish was all of those things but a mix of orange and lemon candies too, and something like peppered, cooked pears.

If you find yourself in Sacramento, go to Corti Brothers Italian Grocery Store and see the handiwork of the Indiana Jones of the food and drink business, Darrell Corti. I regret to tell you that you are unlikely to find an 1875 Angelica but you can ask when you get there.