Vérité is one of the iconic wines of California, and even though the focus this evening should be one different wines, from different regions, then the star of the evening was Vérité! The official theme for the evening was a Winemakers Dinner with Pierre Seillan, an amazing character and amazing winemaker in three different regions; Tuscany, Bordeaux and Sonoma. Pierre Seillan is definitely a very interesting man, with a huge passion for the wines he make!! The dinner was held at Restaurant Victorian and considering 1 Michelin star, they didn’t perform at best.
Pierre has been making wine in many regions, for a lot of years, but in 1998 he moved to Sonoma where he started this adventure. He started working with Jess Jackson, who owns a few different high profile wineries in California, and beyond.
When Pierre Seillan accepted Jess Jackson’s invitation to come to Sonoma County more than a decade ago, he was inspired by the region’s exceptional terroir. “Jess said he wanted to make a Merlot as good as Petrus,” says Pierre, “and I took one look at Sonoma County soils and said, ‘Why not better?’
This attitude shines through the whole evening, we are not ashamed to have high ambitions. For me that is ok, as long as the wines in the glass, keeps that level of quality. All wines this evening was at a very high level. When Pierre tried to explain this hope, to make a better wine, he talked about how the opportunities here in Sonoma are more complex, than those in Pomerol. You have several different soil types and microclimates, so combining them in the right way, should make you able to make a more complex wine, than any from a single terroir. We did not taste Verité Vs. Petrus this evening, but we heard good stories about those who did. I can only say that these wine in general, was very complex, but without being overpowering anything. Finesse, terroir and nice elegant fruit acidity was shown in most glasses. According to Pierre Seillan, Sonoma has the potential to be the most interesting wineregion in the world, within 15 years.
Before we were seated we started with one of the most consisting Champagnes around:
Gosset, Grande Reserve Brut, Champagne – after a long day of tasting at Prowein, this was a perfect palate cleaner, fresh acidity, green grass and nice autolytic complexity.
A small starter; lobstertail and some funny puff candy on top. Funny and very tasty.
First course: Wild pigeon and quail – black olive chutney – morel espuma. Made as a pate and the combination with black olives worked really well with the first two wines:
The first wines were from Tuscany, where Pierre Seillan produces wines on classic Bordeaux varieties.
2007 Valadorna, IGT Toscana – 64% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 90 Point.Wild red cherries, basil, blackcurrant leaf, licorice on the expressive nose. The taste is mellow with a nice red fruit palate and perfumed flowers. Notes of yoghurt and almonds gave the edge to this wine. Medium + tannins and acidity gave good balance. This tasted the most Tuscan to me, but dominated still by the plum notes from the Merlot.
2007 Arcanum, IGT Toscana – 51% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. 91 point. This smelled more of Cabernet Franc, than of Tuscany. Dark fruit aromas with sweet tobacco, strawberries, tar and herbaccious notes. On the palate this wine is fully balanced with high fruit intensity and sweet spices.
Second course: Baked oxtail with poached codfish – parsley root purée – beetroot juice Extremely tasty and the combination of the delicate fish and the baked oxtail was a very good match with the wines.
This set of wines came from Saint Emilion, where the family owns a part of the Cote Pavie. Here both Chateaux are situated in on large block. These wines were served in glasses that smelled of wet tissues – big mistake for a restaurant at this level. We rinsed the glasses and the wines showed so much better.
2005 Chateau Lasségue, Saint Emilion Grand Cru. 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon 93 point
Very closed in the beginning This showed out to big a huge wine, which is still in its early part of life. When it opened up it showed balanced fruit aromas of blueberry and blackcurrant. Good complex notes of leather and chocolate also played a crucial part. I will look forward to taste this wine in 5 – 10 years.
2006 Chateau Vignot, Saint Emilion Grand Cru. 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon 90 point.
Easy to appreciate with more open fruit components. A very mineral driven wine with a dusty note and nice fresh fruit. Already a pleasure to drink this wine. Medium body with soft sweet tannins and an elegant finish.
Third course: US filet of beef – red wine spinach – celery purée – black currant. Maybe the best piece of meat ever. Perfectly roasted with juice and very dangerous combination with both spinach and celery. We concluded that when the wines are at this level, they can work with even the most challenging food combinations.
The wines were the 3 different cuvees from Vérité in the very good vintage 2009. All Sonoma county AVA, from selected vineyards, and in different grape compositions. Very young wines, but developed beautiful open style in the glass over an hour or so.
2009 Vérité, La Muse, Sonoma County. 85% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. 96 point.
Open nose with purple tones. Notes of sweet tobacco and plums. Very full on the palate with intense fruit and warm mature strawberries. A large scaled wine, with all components in balance. Ready to drink, and very much a pleasure. This wine showed all the facets of Merlot in a mature and soft manner.
2009 Vérité, La Joie, Sonoma County. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec. 99 point, but very close to getting the 2 digit score.
Pure and balanced with perfect blackcurrant focus! Very broad spectrum of red and black fruit notes. This wine keeps giving you more in such a seductive manner. The fruitacidity is perfect in balance with the tannins that cleans your palate. This wine is alive and so fantastic. The freshness in the wine just makes you want more. Fortunately we found half a bottle so we could re-taste this a few times. It only got better!! My WOTN.
2009 Vérité, Le Désir, Sonoma County. 74% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec. 96 point.
Herbaceous character along with dark black cherry. This wine was hiding for a while, and then it showed the most interesting development of all 3 wines. Huge fruit power on the palate, along with black schist minerality. This is true blooded Cabernet Franc with an edge to it. Gets a little dry at the end.
Amazing how all 3 wines were so different, but still true to the Vérité level of quality. I’m sure they will all develop in to outstanding wines.
Fourth course: selection of cheeses. Served on an ice cold stone plate. These cheeses had no character and I was so disappointed with them. Serving cold dry cheese? But why? The only good thing was that they didn’t ruin the noses of the last 3 wines. Now we got the opportunity to taste the Vérité line with 5 years more in the bottle. Thank you for this lovely treat.
2004 Vérité, La Muse, Sonoma County. 86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. 91 point.
Brown and secondary notes very much in place on the nose. Mature plums and blueberry. Soft and creamy texture with notes of blueberry ice cream, milk chocolate. Very mellow with medium acidity and soft mature tannins. This has developed in a good manner, is ready but will last another decade. Typical Merlot and I would like to drink at this age.
2004 Vérité, La Joie, Sonoma County. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot. 95 point.
Red currant, focused with typical Cabernet Sauvignon character. Pencil and tobacco showed as well. This is a power wine that has put on that extra layer of a great wine. The sweet spice from the oak plays a beautiful game with the intense fruit. Could have been my favorite, if it wasn’t for that little extra edge in the last bottle:
2004 Vérité, Le Désir, 49% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Malbec. 97 point.
Here it is. The way Cabernet Franc develops is amazing. You can still sense the spicyness, but now it has also gives room for more tobacco and chocolate on the palate. Very intense fruit with balancing tannins. The combination of pure fruit and that little spicy edge from the Cabernet Franc was just the way I liked it.
Thank you to Pierre Seillan and all the nice people from Jackson Family Estates that invited us to this amazing tasting and dinner. Thank you especially to Julia Jackson for joining us and representing her family in such good manners. I will look forward to tasting the Vérité wines with a bit more age, and in as many vintages that my budget can afford.
All the wines from Vérité can be bought at Otto Suenson Wine, where I work.