A very generous customer and his wife (a very good cook) organise an annual charity dinner – For Christian Aid – each year. The wines come from their own wonderful cellar with one generous contribution each year from an American friend of theirs who flies over every year for the event. I was very lucky to be the Wine Trader asked along to comment on the wines…it was a lot of fun, any evening that has a mix of people, starts with Champagne and ends with a cigar is always good in my book and this was more than just good. I wont outline all the dishes we had with the below as there were six courses, all delicious, fish/seafood twice, duck then beef and pudding then cheese.
Canard Duchene 2004 – this was a first for me, it was good, well balanced neither Blanc de Blancs nor high in Pinot Noir I would say. I was surprised it was as generous as it was for a 2004.
Chevalier Montrachet 1992 Domaine Jean Chartron – this was the only wine with a remote condition issue, our host stated as much and said it was worth a last look, it was not dead but the initial glimmer of full maturity did give way to over maturity in a bit of time, you could still see the breeding but the poise, balance and tautness was a few years behind it.
Corton Charlemagne 1992 Domaine Bonneau du Martray – by contrast (beware of professional bias here) this Corton-Charlemagne was excellent, under stated as Bonneau du Martray often is and all the more drinkable for it. This had real tension and poise as well as great length, still going strong and arguably not quite as it’s zenith, great stuff, more a drinkers wine than a tasters one, of which I approve.
And so we move from white Burgundy to Red Bordeaux, there was no mucking around here this was a classical dinner of “catholic” tastes. The Bordeaux, below, were all double decanted fairly near to serving.
Pichon Lalande 1982 – Previously a glaring omission from my Bordeaux experience and as a result of the hype this wine gets I was worried it would be underwhelming by comparison. I need not have worried at all. A tropical, high toned, exotic but beautifully elegant and balanced claret, very strange in behind youthful and rich but also light and ethereal…a real joy, I want to say it’s a classical left bank bordeaux but it isn’t really, just a great wine.
Cos d’Estournel 1982 – More than any other wine on the night this divided opinion, on the one hand over how good it was and on the other which stage of evolution it was at. I liked it’s masculine classicism and savoury nature initially but it did lean towards iodine and a little bit of bovril over time. I think it is a wine that will hold well but a little like Cos 1986 it may never quite be a charmer. Next to the Pichon it was more weighty structured and masculine. This commentary does not really do it justice. A fine wine but more prop than backrower if that works for you?
Haut-Brion 1978 (double magnum) – This was just lovely, not showy, and not as “good” as the Pichon technically speaking but it has such balance and lightness of touch, a real “magnum between two” sort of wine, nothing forced about it, you could drink a lot of it, refreshing and digestible, very Pessac in style…lovely, no more need be said.
Rieussec 1990 – This great fun, quite flamboyant and rancio in style, lots of toffee apple and tarte tatin. I think I would think it a little older if served blind, I like the Rieussec style but I can see it not being everyones cup of tea. It does not, generally, have the poise and clinical freshness of Climens nor the outright balance and fresh, sweetness of Yquem, BUT given the mess the pricing of it is in these days, worth buying a case or two of the young vintages I recon. I am increasingly enjoying Sauternes.
Graham 1977 – A contentious vintage if ever there was one, some say “great” others say that “from 1971 to 1993 there wasn’t much good port made” (a recent Noval Nacional 1983 would argue with that). I enjoyed this without being knocked over buy it, it had lovely fruit and soft structure and was really drinkable but there wasn’t an added dimension lurking there with a savoury edge, good to very good but not great.
The cigar – a Montecristo No4 from DIC (the factory) 2003 (the year it was put in its box) – was delicious, mellow and aged wonderfully, I so rarely get to smoke inside these days that this was a joy, smelling cigar smoke as well as smoking a cigar is magic in my book. The ageing of the smoke makes so much difference, it was a terrific end to a very memorable evening.
And that, as they (who?) say, was that…wonderful…certainly not my average tuesday!