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WTN: Haut Stuff

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WTN: Haut Stuff

by Jenise » Thu Mar 30, 2006 3:02 pm

My wonderful, precious husband just passed a milestone birthday, so we've been enjoying some pretty good wines over the past week in celebration (we don't have BirthDAYS, we have Birthfortnights). Haven't taken any written notes, so it's time to get the mental sketches I've collected posted before I forget everything. Here are the best of the reds so far:

1953 Lafite
Saturated cork, perfect ruby-garnet color. Cedar, berries, tanned leather and dried nectarines with a flash of butterscotch tailing the finish of silky tannins. Unmistakeably Lafite, and the wine didn't change much in the glass, so this wine would eem to have years ahead of it. A privilege to drink. WOW.

1979 Haut Brion
Another wow. Lots of minerals and rust among the berries. Gorgeous wine, best '79 I've had. The first sip made me double over, eyes closed, in pleasure. Served it with lamb shanks in an onion sauce over lightly braised rappini, which was a stellar wine-food match.

1979 Gruaud Larose
Better than the last bottle (which was totally OTH) we had, but the wine inched toward death in our glasses, the initial roses/berries/spice turning murky and astringent.

1986 Gruaud Larose
Delicious! This wine was still rustic in overall presentation but the chunky tannins of the several bottles we've had in the last five years were not evident here. All cedar and cassis.

1991 Spotteswoode Cabernet, Napa Valley
A stunner. Powerfully elegant and very Bordeaux-like for a Californian. Black fruit, some licorice and toasted barrel, but classy.

1985 Groth Reserve, Napa Valley
This was the first California wine to get a 100 pt score from Parker which made it particularly interesting, especially as it followed all the wines above which set some pretty high standards. I've not had the wine before, any vintage. Served it with a California riff on a French classic of steak & frites, where the steaks were pan-sauteed with butter, garlic and green onions. Anyway, the nose and the taste of the wine were a non-match. The wine smelled cedary, black fruited and structured, but in taste it was a jammy bomb of juicy red and black fruits where the red fruit predominated in the cherry-boysenberry-raspberry arena. A Tonya Harding of a wine--a big performance, but flashy in a cheap way compared to the Spotteswoode's Nancy Kerrigan.

1998 Les Forts de Latour (magnum)
Served (along with the next two wines) to accompany dinner-for-14 of smoked prime rib with horseradish mashed potatoes. Decanted for six hours, and lovely to drink at that point: beautiful structure with dark berry fruit and that herbaceousness I so love in Latour. This wine has a solid future, and 750's should be drinking well now.

1997 Leoville Barton (magnum)
I know, that dreaded vintage. Doesn't have the lavish fruit of a 99 or 00 or the muscularity of a vintage like 2001, but this wine has lost the disagreeably savage green qualities it had in youth and is showing beautifully right now.

1997 Jaboulet Hermitage "La Chapelle" (magnum) Surprisingly mature, though not at all lost to time. Bright red with some orange fading at the rim, strawberry/raspberry fruit with dried lavender, red rose petals, orange peel, and an appealing date bar flavor in the finish.
Would have been better suited to a roasted chicken than the prime rib, but it was an interesting counterpoint to the other wines, and most of my guests had never had an aged syrah. Interesting, it divided the room down gender lines, too--but for me, the women all preferred this to the cab-based wines.
Last edited by Jenise on Thu Mar 30, 2006 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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James Dietz

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Happy Birthday to Bobarino!!

by James Dietz » Thu Mar 30, 2006 3:09 pm

I guess Bob hit the big __??? Send him my best...

I have a couple of bottles of the 97 LB, which I know was not a good year... I have been hankering to open one lately.. so.. maybe this weekend is as good a time as any!!

I don't know about wine line up.. I mean how is this fortnight any different than other similar periods of time... don't you always have wine of this caliber.. ??? :mrgreen:
Cheers, Jim
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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Jenise » Thu Mar 30, 2006 6:38 pm

If you open a bottle this weekend, be sure to post back. I'll be interested in hearing how the 750's are fairing, I have one or two myself. And I'll pass your message on to Bob, thanks.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Marc D » Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:41 pm

Happy B Day to Bob!

Nice lineup for the fortnight too.

I know you've tried a number of 86 Bordeaux, was wondering if you have tried the 86 Leoville Barton recently.
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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Jenise » Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:45 pm

Marc, no help on the 86 LB, sorry. An anniversary wine?
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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Marc D » Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:58 pm

An anniversary wine?


Yes, we have our 20th coming up this summer, and MJ surpised me with a magnum of the LB. The last note I could find on it called it very backward and tannic.
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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Bob Ross » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:01 pm

Great wines, Jenise. Sounds like the birthday fortnight was a great success.

And I know the food exceeded all those great wines! :-)

Regards, Bob
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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Jenise » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:07 pm

Bob Ross wrote:And I know the food exceeded all those great wines! :-)


Bob thanks, but it's not over yet--five more days! On deck: 66 and 70 Palmer, some old Laurel Glens, 89 Pegau, 86 Chave Hermitage, and some others. Bob is so not going to want to go back to pre-birthday conditions.

Me neither.
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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Bob Ross » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:43 pm

My heart, Jenise, my heart ... :-)

Happy Birthday to Bob.

Regards, Bob
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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Jenise » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:56 pm

Marc D wrote:
An anniversary wine?


Yes, we have our 20th coming up this summer, and MJ surpised me with a magnum of the LB. The last note I could find on it called it very backward and tannic.


That's right, our anniversaries are very close to one another's. Happy Anniversary in advance, in case we don't get back to this topic. Anyway, from what I read and have experienced, "backward and tannic" is very typical of many 86's, but that Gruaud which has also been very backward and tannic suddenly calmed down--or we had an unusual bottle--I would hope similar for yours. You might end up having to wait a little for it, though. Timing these things right is sure a lovely little pain, isn't it?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Mike Filigenzi » Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:17 pm

Um, my birthday is in September.

Just sayin'....



Happy birthday to Bob! :D

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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Otto » Fri Mar 31, 2006 5:17 pm

Jenise wrote:1997 Leoville Barton (magnum)
I know, that dreaded vintage. Doesn't have the lavish fruit of a 99 or 00 or the muscularity of a vintage like 2001, but this wine has lost the disagreeably savage green qualities it had in youth and is showing beautifully right now.


Great notes as usual, thanks! Just a few interesting points: your note for the 97 LB reads like mine for the 98! I remember the 98 was savagely green when young but has calmed down, but I don't remember the 97 being like that all. Rather it was soft, strawberryish and elegant à la Margaux, with fine acidity. Hmmmm. How odd.

Do you have much experience with 1979s? I just ordered a Batailley 1988 (probably my all time favourite Claret vintage which I have any degree of experience in) but was unfortunately sent the 1979 and now they're out of the 1988. Any idea how it still is? Batailley hasn't really seemed the longest lived Claret IMO - I even think it's time to drink up the ever delectable 1988 now.

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Re: TN: Haut Stuff

by Isaac » Fri Mar 31, 2006 5:22 pm

Mike Filigenzi (Sacto) wrote:Um, my birthday is in September.

Just sayin'....



Happy birthday to Bob! :D

Mike
Hey, I hit a milestone soon: I turn 50 in April!

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