So a WhatsApp comes in from Halifax. Can you make a dinner a week on Friday? Now, this is always going to be a yes. The theme it transpired was Lafite and then Ducru got added. I asked what could I bring? A bottle of white Burgundy was the answer. It certainly felt like I was going to get more out of this evening than I was putting in.
Even better when the venue was announced to be Noize Restaurant – essentially my favourite place to eat and drink great wine. So after meeting Halifax at the pub and having a warm up pint of Doom Bar we were seated down stairs at Noize. I’ve put a (B) after wines that were served blind.
Champagne to start and that was served blind, it was delicious, serious, came across as structured and lowish in dosage too. Savoury and complex with a little yeasty edge but focused too. It was Billecart-Salmon Clos Saint-Hilaire 1995, Blanc de Noirs (B) – I have only ever had this cuvee twice, but never this vintage, before and one of them was HERE. A very good start.
Next up we had a pair of white Burgs – first was my bottle the – Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru 2013, François Carillon (B). A wine that was only made 6 times from 2010 to 2015. It was quite opulent and charismatic, a dash of exotic fruits, quite high-toned but in an extrovert way, delicious, I was pleased, certainly belied the reputation of the vintage but then I feel 2013 is a very misunderstood vintage. Then we had an example of Halifax at his most mischievous. He had know what I was bringing (nobody else did) so he then served another Carillon blind alongside. Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes 2011, François Carillon (B) was his choice. From Francois Carillon’s second vintage. It was more focused and restrained than the Chevalier, classy and moreish, a lovely contrast and like many white Burgundy 2011s drinking really well now. A good trick to have played, both wines were very popular and pleasing.
But now we were onto the meat of the evening. Two flights of four Clarets, all were served from the bottle having been opened and checked. It is especially interesting as both of these estates, in contrasting ways, are to my mind, archetypal Cabernet Sauvignon properties.
Ducru Beaucaillou flight:
I was very intrigued by this as I often taste the En Primeur vintage but don’t actually come across it at lunches/dinners very much thereafter.
Ducru Beaucaillou 1961 – Spiced and rich, with a dollop of bacon fat and decadent opulent fruited aromas. Intense and frankly a bit of a knockout, succulent and overt. Exactly the experience you want from a 1961.
Ducru Beaucaillou 1962 – A wonderfully balanced and moreish nose – very proper, not the extrovert of the ’61 but so good and so balanced, bovril and sherry, luscious but kept in check with good acidity.
Ducru Beaucaillou 1971 – A tad simpler than the ’61 & ’62 – more savoury but with good energy, I liked this more and more as time went on. There is a really complete side to this wine, a joy!
Ducru Beaucaillou 1983 (B) – A more herbal nose, really very good if a little bellow the others in profundity. No rush but I doubt there is much more to come. Might have been the one wine that would have suited decanting.
If there was a conclusion I can draw from the four wines it is that there is a lush, textured decadence to this estate. It is pleasing to see the DNA is still there today.
Lafite-Rothschild 1978 – A really proper wine this, superb, soy and a certain salinity, fruit density too, “very hard to write about” (really helpful note to find in my notebook!). Resolved and very long on the finish.
Lafite-Rothschild 1979 – Classic Pauillac Cabernet. Pencil lead and some cedar, mid weight and a certain gentle balance, less dense than the ’78. A little teriyaki character to the end of the palate. I liked this.
Lafite-Rothschild 1995 – It is quite some time since I had a left bank 1995. I found this to be a wonderfully confident wine, youthful for sure but no waste to have it now. I loved it more and more, there was an intensity and a seriousness to it. If you own it you should be excited.
Lafite-Rothschild 2001 (B) – I’m a big fan of almost all 2001s (my son’s vintage so there is some good old fashioned bias to that). This is a wine that even at 20 years old is only really just hitting second gear. The sublime texture lets you know that absolutely everything is here. The nose is tight but just showing enough. The palate is exactly what you want and expect. The length and finish are just starting to be show the quality – quite something.
There is, cliché though it is, an aristocratic air to Lafite – a “profound, modest confidence” might be the best way to put it – it fears nothing.
Yquem 1990 from a half bottle – this was exactly as you’d expect, rich but with some good energy. I think the 1990, at 31 years of age, probably varies a fair bit from bottle to bottle – some more energetic than others. For me this is superb now and if I had any I’d drink most of the bottles I had in the foreseeable future. I say this mainly because I prefer the energy to show through.
What a splendid evening and to think every bottle did it’s thing! A joy – thank you to all involved!
Brilliant food and service as ever. A Couple of food pics are below: