The previous renditions of this “20 years on dinner”, created by Mike Laing, were all a great success and can been seen here: 1996, 1997 & 1998. The 1999 format was to be different though, with two dinners. A Burgundy one and an “others” evening. What I am writing up here is, as will be obvious, the “others” dinner.
We gathered in the traditional spot – Medlar – and had the services of Didier the Sommelier for the evening. Mike had sorted the terrific tasting card as above. The food was very good indeed. Two choices for each course – some pics at the bottom of the post.
All wines were all served blind. So often when tasting blind the first thing you try to assess is age but that has to go out the window on a night when you know the age of everything! I will include the 1999 vintage in all the wine names below purely for “search-ability”.
Champagne started us off. Deutz “Cuvee William” 1999 – I thought this had nice richness but not without good drive. In a really delicious place now, yellow fruit and a gentle maturity. A good start and slightly odd that we didn’t have another fizz as most of them were made.
Whites generally, not only fizz, were in short supply. Obviously white Burgundy is often prevalent and that will come later, but no Germans (surprisingly), no Alsatians or white Bordeaux either. The two whites we did have though were excellent and the very sorts of wines that this sort of evening can/should be about.
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – was first and I was instantly into the idea that this could be Cotat or Vatan, it had that cool but not extrovert Sauvignon nose. The bottle shape (not Vatan-ish) and lack of yellow wax (Cotat) left me realising I was probably wrong on the detail. Having got that is was Sauvignon I shut up whilst I was “ahead”. It was a brilliant that it was Cloudy Bay, a wine that used to have a cult following that anyone under 35 probably thinks is nonsense. The wine was under a normal cork and showed a lovely refinement.
We stayed in ANZAC territory with – Yattarna 1999 from Penfolds. A nose of lanolin and toffee apple, whisky-ish (Laphroig). The fruit is degraded and mature but broad and good. This is fully ready but enjoyable.
And with that it was all red ahead!
Roc de Cambes 1999 – A nicely rounded appeal here, soft but not overly so, balanced with a nice herbal edge. Very good.
L’Evangile 1999 – We tried to taste around the corkiness here but we couldn’t.
Trotanoy 1999 – This was one of the most primary/young of all the wines on display. Following on from the epic Trotanoy 1998 and before the very good 2000. Good fresh intensity and latent power. Could have handled a couple of hours in a decanter nicely. Classy.
Pichon Lalande 1999 – This was just the other side of the readiness curve from the Trotanoy, youthful but not too young, with a nice luscious fruit grip. Simply put it is exactly what you would hope it is at this stage.
This saw the end of the Bordeaux phase. I like many others have often thought Bordeaux 1999s were a little lean and mean and may be just a bit sub-par but the reality is that they seem to be maturing well and giving pleasure. Proper drinkers wines.
Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red 1999 – Varnish and warm prune fruit, rich and bold and in honesty lacking a bit of freshness, a little glupey. There is an element to which this is a little OTT but it is good and does what it should.
Pergole Torte 1999 from Montevertine – Quite big and bold. A little mint then a proper Italian feel with a moreish tannin and slight saline side. Impressed by this. A great surprise that it is the only Italian in this line up. Probably my fault.
Montebello 1999 from Ridge – Pungent and quite intense with a certain bold focus. I liked this, in some ways it was less typically the mellow restrained character I expect of Montebello but all good.
Finca Dofi 1999, Alvaro Palacios – A little “blocky” by which I mean slightly impenetrable and a little blunt. All this sound negative, it shouldn’t as this is a nice wine it is just a little stuck – short of maturity but arguably without a sweetness to support its passage forward to degraded development. Impressive at 20 years of age but where is it going?
Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1999 – This was really something of a treat, I was writing less notes by now but very much enjoyed this.
Yarra Yering Dry Res No1 1999 – Sadly very corked.
Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Mon Aieul 1999 from Pierre Usseglio – This was one of the very few disappointments. It was as it is meant to be. Herbal initially with some spice, a little syrupy and quite pungent. There is a slightly shrivelled feel to the fruit.
Killibinbin Shiraz 1999 – Not a wine I have ever had and one that became something of a novelty. Menthol and some trademark eucalyptus on the nose. A good texture here and a fun wine.
Hill of Grace 1999, Henschke – Arguably one of Australia’s top pair of wines. This was very good, impressive but not just for heft. A richly textured wine with good balance and a nicely expressive feel. Deep fruit and only a bit of age showing. This will age very well.
A really splendid evening with a suitably late finish. Bring on the 1999 Burgundies. Thank you Mike for the organising and everyone for their bottles.