My wife and I hosted a dinner party for ourselves and another couple a little while back, with wines chosen from our cellar to go with each of the delicious courses prepared by my wife.
1999 A. R. Lenoble Champagne Gentilhomme Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru. This is extremely vibrant, fresh and lively on the nose, showing off taut but exuberant aromas of pear, mixed citrus, schist, botanical herb and pretty apple blossom. It is refreshing, lithe and clean on the medium-bodied palate, but it’s also generous in its pear, citrus peel and mineral flavors. It turns increasingly creamy-textured as it comes up to temperature, but always stays fresh and gently tangy underneath the fanned-out fruit. I like its sense of fine-tuned balance and drive, and find it to be drinking nicely right now.
2003 Peter Michael Chardonnay La Carrière Knights Valley. There’s an absolutely beautiful bouquet to this wine, with luxuriant and exciting scents of roasted hazelnuts, lemon oil, mineral salts, soft oak, exotic brown spices and salted butter absolutely coating the aromatic senses and pulling one back time and again to take it all in. On the palate, the rich, languid and draping mouthfeel is wonderful, especially with the panoply of hazelnut, nutmeg, papaya, lemon rind, butterscotch candy and mineral flavors that are mellowed by age but still deeply rich and expansive. It has killer length and persistence, with the flavor intensity carried along effortlessly by the fleshy, leesy texture and gentle background acidity. I’ve drunk a whole lot of Peter Michael Chardonnays over the past three or four years and this ’03 La Carriere is right up there as one of the very best.
1995 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Landonne. This was decanted several hours before dinner. When you stick your nose in the glass, you immediately sense a masculine, earthy, dark-toned bouquet full of iodine, dried blood, tapenade, seaweed sushi wrapper, potting soil, black leather, fireplace ash and deep blackberry fruit. In the mouth, it is much more sleek, polished and sexy in tone, but still showing a muscled, chiseled sort of undercarriage. Flavors of sweet blackberry and black currant fruit sit at the core, with savory bits of iron, blood, animal fur, seashore, dark earth and exotic spices swirling around that center. For all that, it feels totally unified and impeccably balanced. The finish is nice and juicy, and really doesn’t suffer much at all from any tannic bite. There’s a sneaky power to the wine despite the obvious polish, and I would have to say this is in a great early portion of its drinking window it you like the yin-yang of dark fruit and savory bits this has to offer. I was really pleased with this showing.
1979 Château Rieussec Sauternes. We served this from a 375 ml bottle. The color is perfect, showing a bright but deep golden hue at the core. On the nose, it displays a surprising amount of intensity and liveliness to the aromas of apricot preserves, candied peaches, clotted cream, toasted orange peel and rich botrytis spices. And in the mouth, it is still powerful, driven and intense in its flavors of mandarin oranges, apricots, iced tea, brown spices and dark caramel. It certainly tastes much younger than its age, with a fantastic bolt of acidity running all the way through it. One concession I’d make is that it isn’t quite as unctuous or mouthfillingly dense as some, but I really like its energy and purity.