Lunch at Blackbird

Tasting of Fine Southern Rhone Wine

Saturday, March 02, 2002

Chef Paul Kahan &  Wines by VE Manfred Raiser & Chevalier Pete Stiles


A Chicago Tasting Tour Of The Rhône Valley

By Jane Tracy, Vice-Chargée de Presse

Ah! The Mistral of the Rhone Valley, whipping up the dry, sandy particles of sand, dirt and dust, its low humidity protecting the health of the vines, its vigorous speed stinging the faces and bodies of the vigneron who tend them. The Chicago Chapter’s Ordre Mondial group held two tastings addressing the special and unique Côtes du Rhône. Two separate events were organized by Vice-Echanson Manfred Raiser, Chevalier/Commandeur Pete Stiles and Vice-Chargé de Missions “Mon” Roldan. The first session took place in the private Art Gallery of NoMI restaurant at the new Park Hyatt Hotel on Michigan Avenue and addressed the Northern Rhônes and its top vintages from the finest vineyards of the region.

The whites included:
2000 Texier Cotes du Rhône, Brézème - 100% Roussanne. Nutty bouquet.
2000 Gailliard Côtes du Rhône La Cote Bellay
Pure Viognier. Long. Five barrels only/year
2000 Guigal, Condrieu

Hors d’Oeuvres were served with the above wines

Flight No. 1
1988 J. L. Châve, Hermitage
100% Syrah, full-bodied with a somewhat tannic yet superb concentration.

1989 Paul Jaboulet-Ainé La Sizeranne
Ready for drinking now. A cassis bouquet provides the lead in to discover a powerful and succulent wine.

1989 Paul Jaboulet-Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle
This proved to be a lot more tannic than anticipated despite its color and opulent mouth.

1990 Paul Jaboulet-Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle
A superb wine with possibly the long-term potential of being the best. It was black in color, and powerful in the way that the finish went on for ever.

Then came the Superstars and with it the second flight of reds and a selection of cheeses added to the experience.

Flight No. 2

1987 E. Guigal, Côte Rôtie La Mouline
This fourteen year old sensation from the three and a half acre Côte Blanc with 11% Viognier content, displayed how Marcel Guigal had totally revolutionized the Rhône Guigal wines after he inherited it from Etienne in 1966.

1991 E. Guigal, La Landonne
From the 6.2 acre Côte Brune developed in the 70’s, producing 800 cases in a good vintage. Exhibited impressive splendor and variety in the form of a many layered experience full of balance and power.

1997 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie La Turque
Added in the mid-80’s on two and a half acres of the Côte Brune producing 400 cases. A concentrated wine despite its youth with a surprising structure and richness.
There was no one constant moment on the palate. As it changed, so did the wine in the glass. These were two moving elements, constantly shifting, yet the particular strength of each wine remained static.


The second session, weeks later, addressed the Southern Rhônes and took place at Paul Kahan’s Blackbird Restaurant. It was a Saturday lunchtime affair with a menu designed to show off the wines as well as promoting discussion as to how impressions changed when taken with food or without food.

Flight No. 1 - Châteauneuf du Pape Blancs:

1996 Château de Beaucastel, Blanc
A very big, complex white, with tones of cinnamon, flowers and anise. A deep yellow in color, full-bodied and chewy.

1998 Château L Nerthe, Blanc, Clos de Beauvenie
Hint of fennel, violets in nose and a pale gold in color. An intense and concentrated dry white.

2000 Domaine du Vieux-Télégraphe, Blanc
A pale gold wine with an anise element to the nose. The characteristics of citrus, butter and pear lingered on the palate. An excellent wine

1999 Château de Beaucastel, Blanc, Vielles Vignes
The standard for all Rhone wines. Pale gold. Well-balanced, harmonious and complex. There were flavors of toasted oak, coconut, grapefruit, lemon, peach and honey with a refreshing acidity nevertheless. This dense and super-concentrated wine was faithful to its terroir.

Group ranked best wines

WITH FOOD : 1998 - 2000 - 1999 TIED
Flight No. 2 - Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf du Pape

1983 Château de Beaucastel
Seductive and complex in nose and taste. Beautiful leather, mushrooms, game, mint and red ripe fruits in the bouquet. Well balanced on the palate with a long finish although still quite tannic. Went very well with the food. Slightly brick red tinge at the rim, with the main body of the wine still being very deep red in color.

1985 Château de Beaucastel
Less complex than ‘83. A full and evolved nose with some iron, raisin, herb and caramel aromas. It was firm and balanced on the palate and possessed distinctive, sweet caramelized flavors with rich black fruit. This wine drank well but was still aging.

1988 Château de Beaucastel
Very nice bouquet although somewhat musty and closed but nevertheless presented clean young fruit, minty, chocolaty and a burnt toast character. This wine was tannic, dry and rich on the palate with bright cheery fruit and a slight licorice finish.

1989 Château de Beaucastel
Lots of flowers in nose, as well as ripe black cherries, eucalyptus, coffee and leather. Beautiful fruit in taste with an elegant and well-balanced structure. The palate is very rich with layers of ripe fruits, firm tannins, and spices. Harmonious, complex, rich and delicious.

Group ranked best wine

WITH FOOD : 1983 and 1985
Flight No. 3 - The 1995 Reds

1995 Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf du Pape
Complex, rich - its full-bodied and super concentrated structure made it a class act. This classic wine presented itself as very thick, rich and juicy and, after time in the glass, revealed a nose of red and black cherries and raspberries, roasted coffee, earth and smoky complexity. A spicy, alcoholic beautiful wine.

1995 Domaine du Pegau, Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Reserve
A very big, classic and peppery example. Lots of fruit and layers of smoke, peppers and spice on the palate, the greater intensity being due to the higher concentration of Grenache. There were leather and lavender nuances in the nose and its opaque black/purple color made it a pleasure to drink.

1998 Chapoutier Beaumes de Venise
Lots of floral notes (violets, orange, honeysuckle), spices in nose. A delicate light gold in color and possessing a classic fresh palate. Very unusual flavors of pineapple, peach and citrus blossom accompanies an opulent finish.
This concluded a stunning double event of one of the greatest and more outstanding areas in the world of wine growing, and an area that is somewhat neglected at that. The reds, overall, exhibited immense character, with soft velvety texture and dark fruit bouquets.