A few weeks back I hosted a dinner at 67 Pall Mall that was a reunion of the “Winning team” from a dinner we threw at work for Clos de Tart Day. I say winning team because this was the table that had correctly tasted and deduced their way to spotting that a mystery vintage of Clos de Tart was indeed the 1988. As the hosts we committed to get a dinner together to drink said wine again. Six out of the eight, 75% being quorum in my view, managed to make it. The brief was a simple if dangerous one – bring a magnum. With a few emails back and forth we ended up with a splendidly balanced spread. At one stage a magnum of Port looked likely but that was sensibly, this was a Thursday night, “turned into” a bottle of Port and a bottle of Sauternes.

Stories flowed as they do at these things and we were eventually turfed out through a rather empty club. So to the wines.

Salon Le Mesnil 1997, En magnum, many of you will be aware that I know 
Salon rather well. Probably my favourite “recent” vintage for drinking right now is the 1997. It just has a lovely blend of freshness with the whiff of maturity, energy but not overly so, all in all a cracking start. Thank you Emlyn. Should all Champagne just come in magnums?

Chateau Laville Haut Brion 1996, Pessac-Leognan, En magnum was sadly the only victim of the night in terms of condition, ironic given that it came directly, in original individual wooden box, from the cellar of none other than blog stalwart Halifax. It was not corked and it was not undrinkable but a bright example of that it should be it wasn’t either. Halifax being the man he is was straight into the list and got us onto a bottle of  Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines 2011 from rising/risen star Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey. A nice tie-in as Fiscali and I (anonymously in my case) had visited a few year earlier during A very special trip – Burgundy May 2014 and the wines this modest man produces are getting every bit of acclaim they should. The wine was a classic example of a 2011 white Burgundy when the winemaking is refined, drinking now, very little oak influence and a lot to like.

The sommelier made a call next having tried the wines and suggested we go to Bordeaux with Fiscali’s kind contribution, Chateau Leoville Poyferre 1996, Deuxieme Cru Saint Julien, En magnum. I think he was proved correct this is just delicious, certainly developed but not in anyway more than a twenty year old magnum should be. It was gentle and perfectly balanced, the classicism of 1996 with none of the over bearing tannins you can find. It seemed to rather fly down. It’s a left bank Chateau that you can pretty much buy blind, never lets you down. If ever you see the 1990 you MUST drink it.

We returned to Burgundy next and had the bottle that brought us together – Clos de Tart 1988, Grand Cru Monopole, En magnum – Now it has to be said that the 70s and 80s weren’t the sweet spot for Clos de Tart (that’s being diplomatic) and the improvements made by Sylvain Pitiot who was in charge from 1996 until 2015 have been well documented especially if you look at 2001 onwards. BUT this was a delicious and “a point” example. There is a bit of everything here, sweet fruit, a little early development with secondary and tertiary elements but a good if melded structure, just spot on for now and as with everything we had this evening very moreish!

And back to Bordeaux but a property that slightly stands apart from the “Shirt and tie brigade”. Those that have met Francois Mitjavile will know exactly what I mean. Tertre Roteboeuf 2001, Grand Cru Saint Emilion, courtesy of JT is one of those wines you just can’t own/drink/buy enough of. It is vibrantly young but also delightfully ready right now. Degraded fruit and a tiny bit of sweet tobacco…a joy.  

Then we were onto two classic examples of wine styles that don’t seem to get a fair bite of the cake these days. Both courtesy of MGC. Suduiraut 2001, 1er Cru Sauternes is both young and ready in much the way as TRB 2001 was before it. Energetic but complex, a delight now and will be with increasing richness for the next three to four decades (and beyond). Despite all the glorious wines before I had been almost the most excited about Graham’s 1970. For several reasons really, I love Port, I recently visited (staying at Graham’s) as documented in Back to beginning Port and Douro magic and also you just don’t get to have it as much as one could (“should” in my view). The 1970 is just perfect now, rich but mellow and developed, a little marzipan and some nuts but mainly mulled red and black fruit, balanced and persistent.

A splendid evening…thanks to all for their bottles…we need to find another excuse to do this again. Hopefully “Dusty” and “Cross-Channel” can join next time so we can be an Epic Eight…