The “Shelfie” to end all…

As a break from the rigours of tasting the En Primeur 2015’s we got a very kind invite from a friend and customer who lives in St.Emilion a fair bit of the time. He’s no stranger to these blog pages either. Having been once before we knew it would be a treat, especially when combined with Ian’s brilliant cooking. We were ten in total with half that number being colleagues, there also being a rather famous Danish winemaker…by the name of Peter (no prizes for guessing that one) in attendance.

To kick off it was Pol Roger Cuvee “Sir Winston Churchill” 1996 En Magnum this was delicious with Anchovy and onion tartlet. The wine is clearly all the younger for being in magnum, I would have said far younger if served blind. There was a toastiness but not a heaviness that you often get with “Winnie”. Blind tasting became a theme from here with every other wine except the Sauternes served in blind “themed” pairs! 

Pair 1 – whitesThe first theme was the vintage – 2010. I had remembered a discussion with our host so had a firm feeling that there would be a Raveneau and there was, the Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre 2010 being simply delicious, just entering drinking territory with that lovely beeswax and stones nose…I loved it. The next white producer I have been expecting was Roulot but with the theme being 2010 and the way the Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru En Remilly 2010 from Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey En Magnum tasted I was fairly sure it wasn’t Roulot as that would have been like a rapier. Joe (Muller) got the producer, the C&B team groaned as we’d be hearing about this forever. The En Remilly was delicious, open, generous without lacking drive at all…very fine with a long life ahead of it.

Pair 2 – first Reds
The vintage was again the theme but already there were disputes over right bank of left bank. I suggested we nail the vintage first. Clearly it was set as a trap because it was one of those vintages known to be good on one bank over the other but the wines from the “wrong side of the tracks” was clearly an over performer. We reduced it down to being 1996 (left bank vintage) or 1998 (right bank)…wrongly we went 1998 first as it was 1996. The two wines being  – Palmer 1996 and La Conseillante 1996. The Palmer was simply superb, primary in a way, just what it should be, dense floral fruits and exactness, a lovely wine to drink over the next two decades. The Conseillante was impressive, a lovely opulence, not the depth of the Palmer but that would be unfair. A nice pair.

Pair 3 – two younger reds
Now we were firmly put on the spot with two glasses in front of us and a “right then, what are they?”, all we were told was that there was a theme and they were younger than the 1996’s. Nebbiolo got a shout, Burgundy was certainly in the mix. Possibly fortified by the delicious Chicken liver parfait my competitive – “can’t let Muller win the day” – nature kicked in and I decided to follow a hunch and said Red Burgundy on the left and Brunello on the right…I was correct and should have stopped there. I then said so it is 2001 or 1999 – right again! I went for the hat-trick and said 1999 but alas it was 2001. I did though get that it was Poggio de Sotto. There was then a battle for the red Burgundy, Joe and Peter ganged up together and were fairly sure there was a de Vogue mark on the wine, they were right and eventually got the Bonnes Mares.  So the two wines were:

Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2001, De Vogue – so very elegant and primary, pretty, good acidity, red ripe fruit, long, moreish and so blooming drinkable!

Brunello di Montalcino 2001, Poggio de Sotto – a cracking bottle of wine, such lovely gentle but vibrant red fruit with little black cherry, great acidity and lift and a tiny dash of Saline. Wine of the night for one of our number not known for his love of Italy (he’s learning).

Pair 4 –  the pair that wasn’t
There had been a fair bit of chat through the dinner about the fun one can have with genuinely “off” vintages – even Marsan 1991 got a mention (do some research!) – so our kind host decided it was time for one last pair with the delicious wine friendly (not easily done) cheeses. The first wine was delicious, lovely right now, not dense but mature and complex, it was Haut Brion 1993…alas it’s partner in crime, Latour 1993, was corked. The Haut Brion alone though made the off vintage case very well. Terroir shows as much, if not more, in the lesser, more difficult, vintages. There was another bottle grabbed and served. It confused us because we wondered if we were still supposed to be on the “off vintage trail”, the confusion coming from the fact the wine was so good. It Lynch-Bages 1982 and clearly we were NOT on the off vintages. I had the very wine from magnum recently and this was every bit as good!

A stunning lemon and almond cake followed for pudding and with it the Coutet 1988 worked a treat, a great time to drink this with just a bit of development showing…and with that we had to head back to Bordeaux…to have taken a break from the tasting to drink these great wines with lovely food and great company was a real treat. This is the finest wine drinking address on the right bank! Thank you!!