50th Reunion Wine-tasting Descriptions
The Class of '69's 50th Reunion featured another hugely successful wine-tasting, organized by Dick Bott, Wayne Wilson, Rich Etlin and Greg Bohart. Below, in alphabetical order by donor, are the descriptions of the wines we tasted. Enjoy!
Faust 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (3)
Rombauer 2017 Chardonnay, Carneros (3)
Kim Crawford 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough (3)
Carpene Malvolti NV Prosecco Conegliano, Valdobbiadene DOCG (3)
Donor: Greg & Kim Bohart
At a large family event at Angus Barn in North Carolina, the group was ordering the very best champagne, and I was asked to recommend the red wine. Not being a red wine aficionado, I suggested a wine I knew to be a favorite of a restaurant owner friend: Faust Cabernet Sauvignon. We drank several bottles, so it was very well received. For my money, Faust is an excellent red that will hold its own against the very best red wines.
Rombauer Chardonnay is a favorite of my wife's. We discovered it maybe 15 years ago when a retired aircraft manufacturer neighbor of ours had us over for his 80th birthday and served it in quantity. My wife and I adopted it, also for a cocktail-hour-stand-alone wine.
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is our other favorite white wine. My wife prefers the Rombauer even with dinner, but I like the Sauvignon Blanc with a meal.
Prosecco....I think of it as bubbly without arrogance. Always refreshing, never disappointing. And a good mixer for several mixed drinks as well. (For example, gin, elderflower liqueur, and prosecco!).
Bott Frères, Crémant d’Alsace, Rosé
Donor: Dick and Marian Bott
About 20 years ago, a friend alerted us to a highly acclaimed Alsatian vineyard with our last name: Bott Frères. We decided to pay a visit and check the place out. In a little village called Ribeauvillé near Strasbourg, the vineyard is very picturesque and offers a full slate of outstanding Alsatian sparkling and still wines. We revisited again a few years later and compared family tree notes. Although this family Bott immigrated to France from Switzerland, there is likely a connection with ours from Kassel, Germany.
Crémant is a sparkling wine made by the same process as champagne but outside the Champagne region. As such, it tastes similar to champagne but sells at a lower price point. Rosé champagne/crémant is a relatively new variety, whose popularity is increasing. Princeton’s Corkscrew Wine Shop just happens to be one of the leading U.S. retailers of Bott Frères wines and the owner, Laurent Chapuis, was kind enough to order this sparkling rosé for us from France. Our hope was to serve this, and some other Bott Frères wines, at our daughter’s wedding on May 4th, but it was not to be: the shipment was delayed at customs and just arrived. So, we will all taste this special Crémant Rosé together. Salut!
2015 Mourvedre, Adelaida District, Paso Robles (3)
2016 Triumvirate Reserve Zinfandel, Paso Robles (3)
2017 Viognier, Hastings Ranch Vineyard, Adelaida District, Paso Robles (6)
Donor: Thacher & Lloyd Brown
We’re particularly partial to the name of the winery. No relation, as far as we know, but the winery is owned by Sherman Thacher, the great grandson of the founder of the Thacher School in Ojai, CA. Sherman previously had been the award-winning brewmaster at Los Gatos Brewing Co.
The family-owned and -operated winery produces 1800 cases annually (only 275 of the Zin), with much of the wine sold from the winery’s tasting room. 2004 marked their first vintage. The 2008 Triumvirate Reserve Zinfandel was the Red Sweepstakes Winner at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
For our 45th, we donated the 2011 Triumvirate Reserve Zinfandel. This year, though, we thought we’d all enjoy a wider range of their wines.
Cain Vineyard, 2014 Cain Five, Spring Mountain District, Napa
Donor: Bob & Angie Buechner
Angie and I belong to a high-end wine club in Cincinnati called Bacchus that has a wine cellar with outstanding wines. While neither of us is a wine snob, we do have the ability to recognize the more interesting, better tasting wines. I prefer a cabernet sauvignon; Angie, a pinot noir.
Cain Vineyards specializes in blending top-quality grapes to make exceptional wine. Cain Five is a blend of the 5 traditional Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot. The vineyards are at the crest of the Spring Mountain District in Napa, which also contributes to its distinctive flavor.
Our good friend, a former CEO of Gillette, introduced us to Cain Five at a recent dinner party. At a smoker sponsored by the Recess Club of the Queen City Club here in Cincinnati, this lush red wine was voted ahead of two of my other favorite red wines -- Lewis Cellars Cuvee L and Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon.
Carl Roy, 2016 East Side Cuvée Proprietary Red Wine, Napa Valley (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Merlot)
Donor: Frank & Chris Camacho
Most of my career was spent in marketing in the travel industry, primarily in hotels. Because of that I was fortunate to spend a lot of time in California sampling wines for our banquet, bar and food service selections. As a result, I have a real fondness for California Cabs. When the invitation to contribute came, it seemed like a natural to try to find something to share with the class from that category. Unfortunately, given my recent move to Florida, finding a wine and getting it to Reunions had some logistical issues. But the Princeton Corkscrew sounded like an excellent source and a way to get it there.
One of the things I learned from sampling many different cabs over the years is that it is really hard to go wrong with a Napa grape. Initially there didn’t appear to be a wine on their website that I’d tried before, but then I was struck by this description: “This is classic Napa Valley, black in color with a dynamic nose of cassis, cedar and chocolate-tinged purple fruit. It is fabulously concentrated with a firm solid finish that will allow for considerable aging. The perfect wine for any season, it will be delicious with steak, lamb or any roast beef.”
So I just decided that this was a wine that I’d personally like to sample and would be happy to share with others for the same purpose. It might be better to wait for a few more years to drink it, but I’ve never been able to do that and our 50th certainly doesn’t seem like a good time to start!
Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc “Les Sétilles,” 2015 and 2017
Donors: Bill and Anne Charrier
The first ‘69 overseas mini-reunion deployment to France in 2010 ended with an optional coda in Burgundy that took 13 of us to the charming inn operated by Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet. Hosted by Patrick Leflaive, for three days we reveled in endless fields of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at harvest time, great food and wine, and a final bonding experience with some of our companions on this magnificent trip. The wines of Olivier Leflaive became favorites both because they are great wines and because they encapsulated such a peak experience.
Fast forward to 2019, just a couple of months ago. Younger daughter Amanda had finally cashed in her PhD “anywhere in the world” trip and we found ourselves in Japan with her and her (relatively) new husband Pablo. Before we left I had been ruminating on what to bring to the Great Class of 1969 50th Reunion Wine Tasting, but these thoughts were completely pushed aside by another fantastic adventure in a place we’d never been.
One of the last sites we visited in Tokyo was Meiji Jingu, the Shinto shrine of the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken. As we were leaving we passed through a walkway with sake barrels on one side and wine barrels on the other. The inscription by the wine barrels reads in part:
The barrels of wine to be consecrated at Meiji Jingu have been offered by the celebrated wineries of Bourgogne in France on the initiative of Mr. Yasuhiko Sata, Representative, House of Burgundy in Tokyo, honorary citizen of Bourgogne and owner of the Château de Chailly Hôtel-Golf. Profound gratitude is due to the winemakers who have contributed to this precious gift to be consecrated here to the spirit of world peace and amity, with the earnest prayer that France and Japan will enjoy many more fruitful years of friendship.
It didn’t take Anne long to spot the barrel from Olivier Leflaive.
The 2017 is more classically styled, the 2015 a bit racier.
Dry Creek Vineyard 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, 45th Anniversary Magnum
Donor: Tom and Mary Cooper
Dry Creek Vineyard is a 45-year old family-owned winery, best known for their Zins, but more recently increasing their cab production along with several whites.
We first discovered them in the 90’s while driving up to Sea Ranch on the Sonoma Coast. We had stopped for a sandwich at the Dry Creek General Store and decided to cruise over to the winery in hopes of finding a picnic table and maybe a glass of wine. We found both and much more: we’ve been Club Members ever since.
The winery hosts a variety of dinners and other events throughout the year. Our favorite is their annual Summer of Zin featuring the Sun Kings, a Beatles knock-off band. It all starts with the audience sitting on the grass in front of the bandstand sipping Dry Creek wine and listening to familiar songs, but soon everyone is up dancing. The band really gets into it – one year one of the guitarists got so carried away he fell off the bandstand. No serious injury, we helped him up and he continued with the concert.
This magnum is a special anniversary bottling: too bad it wasn’t bottled in time for our 45th!! We’ve both added 5 years of maturing since then. Enjoy!
Solitude 2014 Chardonnay, Carneros
Donor: Tom & Dorie Culp
I have always enjoyed wine, but thanks to two very good friends, I have substantially improved my appreciation of it in the past few decades. Tom Cooper ‘69 and I have ventured forth from his home in Sonoma to enjoy and learn about the wines of Sonoma and Napa Valleys. My long-time neighbor and good friend Peter Utsinger, an officer in the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin for several years, has shared remarkable tastings with me. Great ways, you’ll admit, to continue developing my wine knowledge and appreciation.
I enjoy drinking Chardonnay, and my favorite is Rombauer. I couldn’t readily find it from the Princeton sources. I did, however, find Solitude Chardonnay, which has many of the qualities of Rombauer Chardonnay, if we can trust this review about Solitude:
“Rombauer Chardonnay Fans will totally be pleased! Fruit source 100% from Sangiacomo Family Vineyards the same vineyards used by Rombauer, and winemaker Richard Litsch who previously was working at Rombauer! On the nose, rich tones of honeysuckle, pear, coconut, and vanilla. On the palate, tropical notes backed with lively acidity. A beautiful creamy vanilla-oak finish!”
I’m just as excited as you are to see how well this wine lives up to the press. But we won’t be drinking in solitude, that’s for sure. Cheers!!
Starlite Vineyards 2017 Viognier, Alexander Valley
Donor: Don and Betsy Dixon
Betsy and I discovered this young, family-owned vineyard in Geyserville, not far from our ranch in Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. The vineyards are nestled on a hilltop close to the Russian River, where proprietors Arman and Rina Pahlavan, along with their sons Spencer and Theodore, have produced wines that are artful expressions of their lives.
Their mantra is “to strive to make wines with fruit-forward flavors, floral bouquets, and elegance. That is why we have some of the most aromatic and luscious wines in Alexander Valley.” They make only 3 varietal wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Viognier.
We particularly love their Viognier, of which they make only 250 cases. It has spectacular aromas, fragrant fruit, well balanced acidity, and a crisp finish. The Viognier has received acclaim from the sommelier community as one of the most beautiful expressions of that varietal from California.
Ettore Germano, Barbera d’Alba Serralunga, 2017
Donor: Bill & Linda Earle
Why did we choose this wine?
When drinking wine in the afternoon, an ideal location would be sitting in the shade of a tree on a hill in Italy in the foothills of the Alps with friends and family enjoying the view and bonding. A nice Italian Barbera would fill one’s mouth with fruit and earth, and its taste would linger on the palate. The wine is nothing spectacular in and of itself, but overall it helps create an outstanding moment in time. It would seem like the troubles of the world no longer exist, and the sunset would go on and on. By selecting the Ettore Germano - Barbera d'Alba Serralunga ‘17, we can imagine being in Italy with no cares in the world, as we sip wine beneath the Gothic towers of Princeton, this pleasant afternoon the last day of May fifty years out from graduation.
Cameron Hughes 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lot 200, Napa Valley
Donor: Rich and Robin Edwards
I was first introduced to California wine (Gallo Pink Chablis) by roommate Dave Swartling in the “Hamilton Horde”. After graduation, I was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and offered a teaching position at the Nuclear Power School in Vallejo, CA. I jumped at the opportunity to move to CA; Robin and I were married that summer; and we lived frugally on military pay in Berkeley, where she attended law school. In those days wine tasting at the few wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties was FREE, so that became an “educational” weekend destination.
Over time, we came to love Napa cabernet sauvignons (and still prefer these richer, fruitier cabs to Bordeaux wines). Nearly ten years ago we bought a case of a delicious 2008 Napa cab from Cameron Hughes, an excellent négociant who specializes in discretely purchasing and selling excess "juice" from some of the regions' best wineries. About this wine, Cameron wrote: “I truly believe Lot 200 is one of our finest values, if not our best deal ever. The winery we sourced this from is one of Napa’s greatest wine estates, with plenty of 100-point scores.”
We have been saving this case for a very special party, and this is definitely it!
At age 11 years, this cab is drinking beautifully. We toast my classmates and their families and give a heartfelt cheer of thanks to Princeton for bringing us all together that first freshman day in September 1965 -- the beginning of many good friendships and shared experiences along the way.
Cuvée Pierre Rouges, Domaine Laurens, Marcillac, 2016
Gold Prize, 2017 Concours International Gilbert & Gaillard
Donor: Rich Etlin & Beatrice Rehl
I have been told that Marcillac is the smallest Appellation d’Origine Controllée (AOC) in France.
The grape is the "fer servadou," which is specific to the Marcillac wine, although a variant, called “Braucol” is often present Gaillac wines, where it is blended with other grapes.
The earth is in the Marcillac region in southern France is bright red – thanks to the high iron content ("le fer") – which gives a distinctive flavor.
When Professor Bates called me into his office during our sophomore year to inform me that the Princeton in France Program had a wonderful assignment for me, I responded, wow, am I going to Paris? “No, Mr. Etlin,” he responded, we are sending you to Périgueux.” “Périgueux, Professor Bates, where is that?” “You will like Périgueux,” he responded, “because it is the capitol of the Périgord, located close to Bordeaux wine country.” After my first introduction to French wines that summer, I made it my life’s work to sample every single French red grape varietal. Marcillac is one of my favorites and this one is done with a manual harvest.
O'Dwyers Creek 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
Donor: Martha and Rod Ferguson
Not sure just how long ago I found the plethora of Napa Valley wines overwhelming, but Bermuda, being a Commonwealth Country, was selling a lot of wine produced in Australia and New Zealand -- and the choices were not so frightening. In local restaurants I was ordering Babich or Waireau River wines. Then a good tennis friend of mine introduced me to The Wine Society in England from which a select group of Bermudians orders two containers of wine per year at fabulous savings.
About that time my local wine of choice was Dogpoint, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This is still Martha’s and my favourite wine...even better than Cloudy Bay without the Cloudy Bay mystique and high price. We now source this through the Wine Society.
It all boils down to the Marlborough region at the northeastern tip of South Island in New Zealand. They have been unable to produce a bad sauvignon blanc. Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc, so popular and broadly distributed in the U.S., is from Marlborough. For the Reunions party, we are gifting the only one from there featured by Corkscrew.
If you like dry, if you like crisp, and if you are into white wine...this should wake up your taste buds. Martha and I are looking forward to tasting it as well. Enjoy!
Henkell Trocken - Classic Sparkling Wine from Wiesbaden
Donors: David Fisher & Étel Rauhof-Fisher
Wiesbaden, where we have lived since shortly after graduation, is the gateway to the famous vineyards of the Rhine Valley (one good reason to stay here). 69ers who participated in the mini-reunion in Germany might remember an imposing Neoclassical building we passed on our way to the banks of the Rhine with the words “Henkell Trocken“ in big letters on the roof. That is the home of this light cuvée which established itself as Wiesbaden’s party wine of choice already by the end of the 19th century. Prost!
Château Puech-Haut Prestige Rosé, 2017
Donor: Mike and Lor Gehret
In 2016, Lor and I joined four members of the Class of 1965 and their wives on a barge trip on a stretch of the Canal du Midi from Béziers to Carcassonne, and then back to Marseillan on the edge of the Camargue. The southwest of France was not an area that we had visited before or knew much about.
French barge cruises are noted for their food, and the Athos was certainly no exception. We ate exceptionally well, and drank well, too. It was on this barge trip that we were introduced to the wines of the Languedoc region, and especially the rosés. We have always enjoyed a glass of chilled rose in the summer, and the Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige Rosé was one of the wines we especially enjoyed on that trip.
Wine-maker notes: Another outstanding find by importer Eric Solomon, the Château Puech-Haut was formed in 2000 by Gérard Bru in the foothills of the Cevennes. There wasn't a single vine in the soil until Bru planted one but he was convinced that the terroir, covered in olive trees and wild herbs, would be conducive to spectacular wines.
A darling of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, the wines from Château Puech-Haut have been on the critic's radar for years. Sourced from 75- year-old vines in southern France, this property has employed world--famous winemakers Michel Rolland, Claude Gros and now Philippe Cambie. Philippe crafts a brilliant Rosé that captures the unique qualities of this region by blending Grenache with Cinsault. Here elevation and limestone soils combine to make wines of incredible freshness and balance.
EmeritusVineyards 2015 “Hallberg Ranch” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Donor: Randy and Mary Hack
Brice Jones, founder of Emeritus, was my section mate at Harvard Business School in the early Seventies. He had an unconventional background for a wine maker. As the son and grandson of West Point officers, he entered the Air Force Academy in the early Sixties with the third class admitted. Pilot training followed and then a two-year assignment to Vietnam as a fighter pilot. During a tour in Europe Brice discovered wine, and he returned to the States in 1966 to find the American premium-wine industry just beginning to develop.
In 1972 Brice graduated from HBS and set out to create his own vineyard and winery enterprise. A handshake on the corner of 57th & Lexington in New York secured financing for the fledgling Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards. After a successful 25-year run, Brice sold Sonoma-Cutrer, but his love affair with wine was far from over. After nearly five years of discussion, Don and Marcia Hallberg finally agreed to sell their spectacular 115-acre apple orchard near Sebastopol, California to Brice. That land, known as Hallberg Ranch, is today the home of Emeritus Vineyards. With Brice’s passion to create an iconic Pinot Noir, the Emeritus project took off and reflects Brice’s commitment to quality.
My own knowledge of wine is minimal, but I am confident that my ’69 classmates will relish this Emeritus Vineyards “Hallberg Ranch” pinot noir. Enjoy!
Mixed Case of Reds, Whites and a Rosé
Donor: Dan and Leigh Harman
This mixed case was a case assembled by Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop. It includes 7 red wines, 1 rosé wine and 4 white wines. The comments below for five of the wines are those of Laurent Chapuis, the proprietor of Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop as I believe that his insights are of much greater value to my Classmates than mine. Enjoy!
Domaine des Geais, Côtes du Marmandais, 2016
The 2016 Côtes du Marmandais pours a striking dark purple in the glass with garnet highlights. On the nose, enticing aromas of plum, blackberry and tobacco waft from the glass. Perfect for those who enjoy big wines with a complex mix of flavors.
Fabrice Larochette, Mâcon-Fuissé, 2017
The Larochette family has been in the wine business for four generations. Fabrice uses their 10+ hectares of land to produce white Burgundies exclusively. It is his true passion in life, and I have met few winemakers more devoted to the cause of terroir-driven wines.
Bovio Dabbene, Dolcetto d’Alba, 2017
While everyone wants to drink Barolo and Barbaresco from Piedmont, I have a slightly different take on the region. Now don't get me wrong, I love to drink these wines also, but they are too expensive to have every day. In the vineyards of the Langhe — where Nebbiolo doesn't fully ripen — you'll find Dolcetto (the little sweet one), which makes the most under-appreciated wines in the region. These wines are deep in color and highly aromatic with pure dark fruit flavors and a soft, round mouthfeel with mellow acidity — perfect to drink in any circumstance. Dolcetto is what the winemakers in Piedmont drink, since even they can't have their Nebbiolos every day!
Olivier & Lafont, Ventoux Blanc, 2016
Ventoux, an appellation in the southeastern corner of the Rhône Valley, was named after the mountain that dominates the region. Mont Ventoux provides a significant cooling effect over the vineyards and also protects the vines from the fierce Mistral that can ravage other vines in the region. This results in wines that are lighter and fresher than many of their Rhône counterparts. White wine accounts for under 4% of the region's wine production, which makes finding such a well-crafted white like Gérald's Ventoux blanc a special treat.
Strehn, Zweigelt, 2016
Zweigelt — a cross between Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent — is the most planted red grape in all of Austria. It produces fruity, well-structured wines that drink beautifully in youth, but increasingly have the structure and intensity to age and develop quite well. Strehn's Zweigelt is one of the most enticing examples of the grape that I've ever tasted. Violet in color with brilliant ruby highlights, the wine shimmers luminously in the glass. Aromas of sweet cherries, ripe raspberries intermingle with allspice and licorice, creating a complex bouquet that effortlessly plumes from the glass. Flavors of sour cherry and blueberry explode on the palate framed by sleek, mouth-coating tannins. The mix of savory spice and concentrated fruit is enchanting as it lingers on the refreshing finish. This Zweigelt has an international flair to it, familiar to lovers of Pinot Noir or Sangiovese, but distinctly Austrian in its sensibility and flavors.
Port of Leonardtown Winery, 2015 Barbera Reserve
Boordy Vineyards, 2017 Chesapeake Icons Chardonnay
Great Shoals Winery, 2018 Hard Strawberry
Donors: Peter Hooper and Nancy Sullivan
Rod and Barbara Matheson
The region around the Chesapeake Bay has a climate similar to the Loire Valley -- but for its humidity, long a challenge to viticulturists. Over the past several decades, the development of hybrid grapes that flourish in the Maryland climate, along with the exodus of tobacco farming, spawned a revolution in Maryland winemaking. The International Wine Review and JamesSuckling.com now rank Maryland-grown wines among the best in the US.
The first and third wines above finished at the very top of the Maryland Wine Association’s 2018 Governor’s Cup competition as Best in Show; the second won the Gold Medal. The Port of Leonardtown Winery is a cooperative of 12 southern Maryland vineyards in 4 counties. Boordy Vineyards is prototypical of the best of the “Chesapeake Loire.” Great Shoals Winery makes both traditional red and white wines, as well as hard ciders and fruit wines. We love the off-dry flavor of the hard strawberry, with its balance of sweetness and acidity.
Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2015.
Donor: Curt & Vicki Kehr
As a golfer Ernie Els traveled throughout the world and was exposed to the great wines of the world. Through this experience he became passionate about wine and in 1999 decided to funnel that passion into creating a vineyard. In golf he pursued perfection and developed a classic swing. He talks about the same pursuit of perfection in developing a vineyard based on the classic Cabernet Sauvignon grape. The elements of success are the same: dedication, detail, persistence. A classic golfer produces a classic wine.
For us a great wine brings back memories of a beautiful place and fun times. Stellenbosch is the prettiest wine country we have ever seen. We spent several magnificent days there and enjoyed the great wines of the region. Love Africa, love Stellenbosch.
Eyrie Vineyards (3 bottles each):
2016 Oregon Pinot Blanc
2016 Oregon Chardonnay
2016 Oregon Pinot Gris
2015 Oregon Pinot Noir
Donor: Chris & Rick Kitto
Chris and I spend some time in Oregon every year and we’ve grown to enjoy its wines. Eyrie Vineyards was founded by David Lett, often referred to as “Papa Pinot”. He planted the first pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay grapes in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1965, the year we all entered Princeton. From these rather humble beginnings, the Oregon wine industry has grown and thrived based on a lighter style of wine due to its cooler climate.
Eyrie is still a family business, now run by his son Jason. They have an extremely unpretentious tasting room in McMinnville which kind of resembles a garage, taking one back to the early days of the Willamette Valley wine industry.
Our donation is a sampler of the three grapes that David first planted as well as a pinot blanc, a varietal not seen so much in the U.S.
We hope you enjoy them all!
Lamole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, 2011
Donor: Jim & Judy Kuzmick
Sticking with my tradition of bringing wines from Tuscany, this case of Lamole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is made in San Casciano, a town 6 miles south of Florence, using grapes from the smaller town of Lamole about 11 miles further southeast in the heart of Italy’s Chianti region. Judy and I first tasted this quintessential Chianti in May of 2005 on our first of several Italian walking tours. It’s pure Sangiovese grapes - dry, very flavorful, with nice dark red color but not overly heavy with tannins. The Gran Selezione designation is fairly new, and denotes a wine superior even to Chianti Classico Riserva, with grapes from a single vineyard and at least 30 months in the barrel. I hope you like it, and it’s pretty widely available at $25 to $30 per bottle for the 2011 vintage.
Here is a photo from our first Lamole tasting on May 13, 2005:
Château Le Prieuré, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, 2016
Donor: Chris and Cathy Milton
Our love for Saint-Émilion goes back to the days when we buying most of our wine from the $1.99 at the Campus Corner convenience store in Ann Arbor, Michigan as graduate students at the University of Michigan. On a particularly important anniversary of our relationship, we dined at the “Gandy Dancer,” then regarded as the best restaurant in town, and the sommelier introduced us to Saint-Émilion. The rest is history – we have enjoyed much more than our share over the last 48 years or so since that dinner….
Larue 2013 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County
Freeman 2015 Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir, Green Valley
Long Meadow Ranch 2015 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
Donor: Kathy and Duncan Moffatt
Kathy and I have lived in CA for the last 41 years and we wanted some Northern California Pinot Noir wines to be represented at ‘69’s Reunions wine-tasting. The Freeman and LaRue selections come from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County – the most famous California region for Pinot Noirs, with a long list of great wines. The third selection, Long Meadow Ranch, comes from Mendocino County – the area just north of Sonoma County famous for its superior cool-climate wines.
We are particular fans of Pinot Noirs and trust they will be popular with my fellow 69ers.
Dauntless Wine Company, 2018 Rosie the Riveter Pinot Noir Rose, Jesse Estate, Willamette Valley, OR
Donor: Jesse Okie & Mary Harrington
We were introduced to Dauntless Wine Co. last year by our son-in-law, an ex-Marine who is a member of the non-profit organization Team Rubicon, which “utilizes the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams around the world to provide immediate relief in disasters and humanitarian crises.”
Dauntless Wine Co. was founded by three Iraq war combat veterans (to quote their website), “whose mission is to serve the veteran community through charitable contribution. Located in the northern Willamette Valley, our goal is to craft Premium Oregon wine while helping veterans transition from the battle field to the home front…by giving veterans a professional alternative through viticulture and enology - allowing them to decompress from the stresses of post-war life.” One of the founders of Dauntless wine company is also a member of Team Rubicon.
"Rosie the Riveter is a tribute to all those women who took over factory production during WWII and “contributed their own blood, sweat, and tears to victory!" A majority of the large bombers and small fighters were built by women, and our superior airpower was key to victory.
Not too sweet, and not too dry: the perfect wine for June!
J Winery 2015 Chardonnay, Bow Tie Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Donor: Clint and Chris Oster
We were visiting the J Winery Bubble Room, having been plied with ‘bubbly” for quite a while, when Chris mentioned to the server that she really loved their Chardonnay, the one that is available in Montana. The gal replied, “If you like THAT one, wait until you taste THIS one.” And she brought her a glass of the 2015 Bow Tie Chardonnay. It brought tears to her eyes, and now it is part of our lives. Although it is a very delicate wine, there are many complex flavors going on.
The J Winery Bow Tie vineyard is located on the Western bank of the Russian River along Westside Road in Healdsburg, CA. Aerially, it looks like a bow tie, and we were told that Judy Jordan gave the area this name because her grandfather always wore a bow tie. Judy founded the J Vineyards and Winery in 1986 as a partnership with her father, Tom Jordan, founder of Jordan Vineyards and Winery. After several years, Judy took ownership of the winery. We hope you enjoy it!
Oliver & LaFont Tavel Rosé, 2017, and
Muri-Gries Alto Adige DOC Pinot Grigio, 2018
Donor: Ron and Jody Prusek
First, I am no sommelier, in fact, my level of expertise is limited to “I like it” or “I don’t.” So, when I decided to donate some wine to our wine-tasting event, I called upon the able folks at Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop (recommended by our President and my roommate Rick Kitto) and asked if they could recommend a Rosé or a Pinot Grigio. Why those wines? After meeting and marrying my wife, Jody, we found that we both liked a simple, dry, easy drinking wine to enjoy before dinner or to pair with light summer foods. Summertime, it seemed, was the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy a lighter refreshing beverage that would go nicely with salads and grilled, baked or poached fish. Chardonnays began tasting too oaky, or seemed to have way more than just a “hint of vanilla.” Jody, not a big fan of tart grapefruit, felt that the fruit forward citrusy tang of Sauvignon Blanc didn’t fit the bill either.
Pinot Grigio soon became the light aperitif or the beverage of summer. Because it was so popular, Santa Margherita from Italy was the reference point from which to compare new finds as “better than” or “less than” a Santa Margherita. We can do better than that here.
The Muri-Gries Pinot Grigio comes from a vineyard in northern Italy built around a 11th-century Augustinian monastery. It is recommended for its full body and structure, hints of fruit and herbs and a slightly buttery (emphasis on slightly) nutty taste. I hope it lives up to its advanced billing and that it is something that most of us can enjoy. It should go well with cheese. The Rosé comes from the southern Rhone Valley. Here, they specialize in dry red or pink wines, and I am told that the Oliver & LaFont is one of the best. I believe it will be full bodied, full of fruit, yet bone dry.
Looking forward to raising a glass or two with everyone.
Wines from Andrew Will Winery
Donor: Steve Ramsey and Ann Jones
We have adopted Washington State as our home. In so doing, we have attempted to get to know some of the wines of Washington. Washington is a fabulous wine area and is home to vineyards such as Leonetti, Quilceda Creek, K Vineyards, Woodward Canyon, and Andrew Will to name a very few.
I love California cabs. But the purity and depth of the juice, the straightforward approach of the wine maker which allows the terroir and characteristics of the grapes to come through, and the accessibility of Washington wines to the wine drinking public at a fair price, which makes it a favorite. There is a great website and lovely person, Wendy, who will help you find what you need.
The four Andrew Will wines I have chosen are:
2010 Mays Discovery: a 100% cabernet. An entry level cab but lots of fruit and good structure.
2009 Ciel Du Cheval: a Bordeaux blend primarily from Red Mountain grapes, Look for earthy tastes and dark fruit.
2008 Champoux: a Bordeaux blend of dark fruit, spices, and perhaps earthy and leathery notes.
2009 Sorella: the top wine at AW. Silky. Fruit driven, well structured. Named in honor of the owner’s sister; my favorite. Takes time, but well worth the wait.
SIXTY-NINE WEIN AM RHEIN, aka Riesling, 2017Mellifluous Elements, from Weingut Eva Fricke in Eltville, Germany
Donor: Sheldon Reaven
Tasters will discern in today’s wine a blend of notes of Richard Wagner and notes of the Class of 1969 Rhine Valley Mini-Reunion of 2013. This heady admixture is not apparent from the label!
Our Rhine Journey took in the great Riesling estates along the Middle Rhine. Today’s Riesling, 2017Mellifluous Elements, comes from Weingut Eva Fricke in Eltville – one of the becastled storybook towns we visited in the Rheingau. Eva is an acclaimed rising star of the ‘new German winemaking.’ Her wines have won an astonishing array of awards. See for yourself at www.evafricke.com The website says Mellifluous Elements is a QbA dry Rheingau Riesling with “notes of peach, apricot & mirabelle, crystalline, dry finish.” Try, and decide for yourself.
The website leaves out the notes of Richard Wagner and ‘69 Mini-Reunion. I’ll fill you in. In 1966, David R. Lenson ’67 and I founded the Wagner Society of Princeton University. My passion for Wagner’s music-dramas has grown and deepened with the decades. When it comes to notes, after all, Richard Wagner is nonpareil. On our Rhine Valley Mini-Reunion I gave an on-site multi-media talk, “Richard Wagner’s Rhine” – next door to where Wagner composed his Meistersinger prelude -- and generally coached our group on matters Wagnerian in our travels from the Lorelei to Worms.
This is the land of epic legend, of Das Nibelungenlied, of Siegfried, Hagen, and Kriemhild -- and of the intertwined history, especially in Worms, of Charlemagne and the Burgundians, and the Hun invasion (yes, we’re talking Attila). This is the magic land of the whole Ring Cycle: Siegfried and his Rhine journey. Brünnhilde, Valhalla, and Fafner the Dragon. I took great joy in preaching to my Classmates and their spouses all about these musical and dramatic and scenic wonders.
Forget about your J.R.R. Tolkien, your George R.R. Martin, your J.K. Rowling!
Dick Bott knew full well, when I volunteered a wine, that it would be German, a Riesling, from our treasured Rheingau – and full of Wagnerian footprints. You see, Eva is the young heroine of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Gottlob Frick was a great Wagnerian bass. And our own Frick Chemistry Lab? Surely no coincidence. Voilå!
Château Donjon de Bruignac Premium, AOC Bordeaux Supérieur Red, 2016
Donors: Heinz and Martha Schmidt
The site of Château Donjon de Bruignac has a long history, dating back some 5000 years. Here, a Gallo-Roman villa flourished from 1 A.D.-3 A.D., followed by the current castle and dungeon, which were erected in 1300. The property has cultivated vines since the year 1000. This Bordeaux Supérieur vineyard site is planted to 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, creating a structured wine, loaded with supple tannins & silky dark fruit and cedar notes. Verve Wine, the U.S. distributor, is located in Manhattan. https://www.vervewine.com.
The chateau and adjacent vineyard are currently owned and operated by Denis Collart, whom we first met at the University of Michigan in 1969, and wife Louise-Aimée Dufour. We thank them for their ongoing friendship and this opportunity to share their award-winning wine with the Class of 1969. A votre santé!
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin NV Rosé Champagne
Donor: Randy Shepard & Amy McDonell
Veuve Clicquot Champagne is a theme in this wine tasting—witness the boxes that guided you in. Veuve in France means widow and Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot became the Veuve Clicquot when her husband died in 1805. He was the son of the founder of the Clicquot champagne company. Only 27, she became the CEO and led the company to great success. She became known as La Grande Dame de la Champagne.
Among her contributions was the introduction of the riddling process for clarifying champagne. She also produced the first vintage champagne in 1810 and introduced blended rosé champagne to the market in 1818. She marketed the product extensively and supposedly said “I want my brand to rank first, from New York to Saint Petersburg.”
Veueve Clicquot has the famous orange-yellow label that makes Veuve Clicquot the “Princeton champagne.” Since 2012, it has been the second best selling champagne in the world.
Today we get to taste the modern version of that rosé champagne first introduced by Mme Clicquot over 100 years ago.
1982 Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux: Château Cos D’Estournel, St.-Estèphe ; Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Paulliac ; Château Prieuré-Lichine, Margaux ; Château La Tour Haut-Brion, Graves ; Château Montrose, St.-Estèphe; and Château Talbot, St.-Julien
Donor: Lynn Shostack, W ‘69, H ’69, in remembrance of David Gardner ‘69
In 1970, fresh out of Princeton, David entered Harvard Business School. I too enrolled in HBS; one of 16 women in a class of 800 men. At the end of our first year, David, who sat behind me, asked where I was going to work for the summer. I said I wasn't sure. He said that he and two friends (one of them Jack Meyerson '69) would be working in New York. They had rented a large apartment with extra bedrooms and the rent was cheap, so if I got to New York, I should give him a call. That summer I got to know this gangling boy: the love of my life.
Always the astute investor, David read about the expectations for an extraordinary 1982 Bordeaux harvest and bought futures for around $10/bottle. After many years of enjoying these fabulous wines, these priceless remaining bottles have lain untouched to this day. Enjoy!
Lakewood Vineyards, 2017 Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
Donor: Jim Shuey and Kathleen Hursh
Lakewood Vineyards, Watkins Glen, NY, is on the SW shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes. We’ve seen them grow & prosper over the last 30 years, with 3 generations now working together to create award-winning wines. We find the Winemaker Chris and his wife Liz totally charming.
Cab Franc is one of the 5 classic grape varieties blended in red Bordeaux wines (For wine geeks, you probably already know that the other 4 are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot.) It turns out that Cab Franc thrives in the cool climate of New York's "Finger Lakes" appellation.
It's been a favorite of our family 'cuz it's somewhat hearty, and you don't often see it bottled alone. It goes great with grilled steak, as well as dishes seasoned with black pepper and smoked cheeses. It reminds us of the beautiful Finger Lakes.
Here’s to great memories, wherever they find us!
Cana’s Feast 2015 Joie de Vivre (Rhone-style blend), Destiny Ridge Vineyard, Columbia Valley, WA
Donor: Dave & Barbara Swartling
Joie de Vivre: what a memorable label to celebrate a gathering of beloved friends in honor of the 50th anniversary of our graduation from Princeton. Indeed, together we will toast the Joy of Living!
Being a former denominational executive of the Lutheran Church who now resides in the Pacific Northwest, I am particularly drawn to this Carlton, OR winery’s name, Cana’s Feast. Changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana was the first miracle of Jesus described in the Bible. And, digging deeper, it is a profound lesson in celebrating great events with friends, finding joy in the unexpected, saving the best to last, and enjoying God's abundance.
Joie de Vivre is an unexpected, multi-dimensional delight. While Washington state has gained a world class reputation for its Bordeaux varietals, this wine uses the less known varietals from the Rhone region in southern France. The cornerstone grape is Syrah, and with apologies to France and Australia, Washington state now produces some of the best Syrah in the world. Taken together, the blend is bold but nuanced, beginning with a velvety softness, that turns lively on the palate, with hints of berries (especially boysenberry) and soft herbs; and the finish is satisfyingly elegant.
Truly, Joie de Vivre!
Bodegas Valderiz Ribera del Duero, 2015
Donor: Jim and Mickey Warden
Wine Spectator rated this wine 94 and ranked it #26 in its 2018 Top 100 with the following comment:
Rich and focused, this red delivers ripe fruit flavors of currant and blackberry that mingle with espresso, mineral and licorice notes. The firm tannins are well-integrated and crisp acidity keeps this focused. Concentrated and harmonious. Drink now through 2030. 2,500 cases made, 1,007 cases imported.
Our comment: Even though this wine is still young, it is wonderful now and such a good value that it is almost impossible to resist. On the other hand, it should still be good for our 60th.
Beringer 2017 Luminus Chardonnay, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley
Donor: Wayne Wilson
At Princeton, I remember Mateus Rose and cheap Italian Chianti in wicker baskets, both of which doubled – empty -- as candleholders. Moving to Berkeley for grad school in Russian and Comparative Literature, I started out with Red Mountain Burgundy and Red Mountain Chablis. Some Annie Green Springs sprinkled in.
Fortunately, Berkeley, as in cuisine, was also a leader in learning about wine and in home wine-making. I didn’t try to make wine, but enjoyed (mostly) the fruits of my friends’ labors. More importantly, the East Bay was less than an hour away from Napa and Sonoma, where we often spent weekend days at free tastings.
Over time, I received an almost infinite exposure to wines, especially Northern California. Finally, the Millenium happened. Software clocks didn’t go crazy, and I moved to Sonoma County, where I still reside. Although I don’t have a great palate, nary an evening passes that wine isn’t part of my meal.
There are so many delicious wines today. I chose Luminus Chardonnay to contribute to this “luminous” weekend. Much to celebrate and enjoy. Let memories and camaraderie radiate. As they say in my old major: