Ah, the joys of a wine cellar. You get to go in and play, reliving history, and relishing in the past while looking forward to what's to come. My most current experience surrounds the 1999 vintage where a group of us decided to go to dinner and test out the new chef at Roy's La Jolla. John Sloan. Sloan, as he's tabbed by Operating Partner Brian Lee, was the chef at Ponzi up in Oregon, came to San Diego and was the Sous Chef at Roy's downtown location ---the same location I helped the Roy's team secure, with the deal for the lease actually starting at my birthday dinner some five or six years ago at Arterra, and taking so long you would have thought the lawyers were trained in Provence.
Anyway, after a warm up with of a lovely 08 Tavel Rose, then four whites, a lovely Spanish Albarino from Galicia whose name escapes me two from Oregon superstar Chehelam, the 08 Pinot Gris, a to die for 07 Dry Riesling that was as dry as any German trocken white, followed by the almost ethereal 07 Fin Gris, made only from Sauvignon Gris, from Chevalier-which Sloan delightfully paired with yellowtail sushi and grapefruit, …..then we went red starting with the 1995 Domaine du Cayron-think sauvage, animal, all enveloped in a gorgeous blackberry, kirsch and blueberries. I matched that with the 2000 Clos du Mont Olivet CdP, winch was on target, and soft, nicely paired with a lamb chop that was cooked sous vide, in herbs and crusted with black peppercorns. Of late I've now tasted the 00 Texier CdP and 01 as well, realizing how nice the 00 vintage is aging and seeing no rush, meaning my overstock of 89-2000 CdP's require a more regular study!
But back to 1999. It seems the cryogenic nature of the Cellar Sud du France here under the house has done it's job here in Del Mar. 1999 La Tour Du Bon Bandol was at a perfect point in time, and was a lovely pairing with Surf and Turf, Lobster and Rib Steak, as the Mourvedre was just spicy, and lush enough, but the 1999 Pibernon, stole the show. This was hands down the table's favorite as it was as silky as ever, and showed zero oak or tannins. They were preceded by a grouping that pal Juan Sanchez of Fish la Boissonerie in Paris would savor, the 1999 Clavel La Copa Santa, 1999 Lascaux Les Nobles Pierres, and the perfectly aged 1999 Clos Marie, L'Olivette. The Clavel wine was the winner as the black pepper and blueberry of the Syrah was best with the lamb, but surprisingly the other two Pic Saint Loup reds were almost interchangeable, with the Garrigue aromas still there and by no means past their prime showcasing delightful GSM fruit (Greanche, Syrah and Mourvedre) all melding nicely together with ripe fruit and long, elegant finishes.
Great wines, overshadowed only by the company, and of course, the new kid in town...and is he ever on fire.