There were just six of us for our most recent regular group tasting dinner held at Gerry and Sue’s house, with a general theme of Bordeaux. As usual, Gerry cooked an amazing meal and everyone brought great wines to drink. None of the wines were tasted blind, and they were generally decanted a few hours before dinner.
2002 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. Although this is fairly tight-knit on the nose, it still seems more giving than it was 2-3 years ago—coming across again as powerful and direct, yet turning more elegant now in its aromas of apple, pear, lemon oil and minerals. In the mouth, it’s a similar story—direct, powerful, cool and sinewed, yet with elegant top notes of lemon, apple, nutmeg, nut and mineral showing a lot of straight-ahead drive but ocassional pauses to flesh out a bit through the mid-palate. It’s refreshing and still somewhat angular at this stage, but it seems to be coming around--with plenty of time left to unwind some more.
1985 Château Certan de May Pomerol. This wine is a fairly pale shade of garnet at this stage of its life, with some moderate browning at the rim. It’s really pretty on the nose, starting out with fine scents of red currants, cherries, spices, old leather, light tobacco and background menthol notes that really work in unison quite nicely. Over time, it takes on a streak of smoke, and the berry fruit just deepens and sweetens to the point where it’s just lovely to sit and smell. In the mouth, it is delightfully feminine and almost Burgundian in structure with its super-smooth texture, fine acidity, lifted red fruit flavors and light to medium weighted framework. Yet, there’s sneaky concentration and sweetness to the slinky, finely-resolved, and softly-spiced red berry and cherry fruit that just works wonders with this beautifully-etched and easy-flowing Pomerol.
1988 Château Beausejour (Duffau Lagarrosse) St. Émilion. This has a darker, much earthier bouquet to it, with more depth and richness to the aromas of raspberries, baked cherries, licorice rope, leather, green pepper, charred campfire wood and occasional hints of animal hide. In the mouth, it’s weightier than the previous wine, showing solid fruit, with a dense sweet core of cherry and raspberry fruit that expands nicely in the mid-palate and delivers a long finish with some grip and whispers of tannin still hanging around. It’s maybe not as unique or memorable as some of the other wines in the line-up, but it stays solid all night long and delivers a really pleasing drinking experience.
1986 Château Talbot St. Julien. This is just absolutely classic Bordeaux on the nose—showing a moderate streak of barnyard funk settled in below lovely aromas of black currant, lava rock, smoky peat, menthol, dark leather and sliced peppers. It’s dark, masculine, savory and even a tad primordial at times, but overall it’s highly appealing to my sensibilities. In the mouth, it’s muscled, earthy and a bit funky in style, but surprisingly ready to drink—showing virtually no tannic interference at all and coming across as adroitly-balanced and very well-made. The smoky, leathery overtones to the gently-spiced red currant, raspberry and cherry flavors are joined by a judicious streak of acidity that carries through to the fine finishing kick. This is showing great, in my opinion, and I see little reason to defer enjoyment any longer.
1990 Château Palmer Margaux. This beautiful wine shows off a warm, ripe and sexy-styled bouquet redolent with aromas of pressed flowers, cocoa powder and red fruit, but also more savory edgings of limestone and foresty plants. In the mouth, I find it to be just perfectly-pitched, smooth as hell, wonderfully pliant, and gorgeously warm-fruited. It’s loaded with ripe red fruit flavors that expand out to all corners of the mouth, but it always feels controlled, fine-tuned and harmoniously-balanced. My notes twice use the phrase “an effortless beauty”, so I’ll just leave it at that. My WOTN.
1996 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac. This wine opens up with a truly classic Pichon Baron nose in my experience. It’s sleek, slinky and sinewed, with sneaky intensity and admirable purity to the beautiful aromas of blackberries, black currants, sweet creosote, graphite powder and cedar shingles. It’s black and purple-fruited on the sweet and smoky palate, with tons of drive and energy and a wonderful sense of both breadth and tight forward flow in its spherical mouthfeel. I like this a lot, but it will be even better in a few years’ time.
1986 Château Cos d’Estournel St. Estèphe. This is still pretty tight and coiled on the nose, with a cool, dark and smoky personality to the aromas of tar, charcoal, scorched earth, toasted herbs, limestone, pencil shavings and blackberry fruit. In the mouth, it’s certainly the most tannic wine of the night by a good stretch, though I don’t find the tannin to be overly problematic to my tastes. Still, it has a rather gripping and almost sticky feel to the texture at times, but the pure flavors of currants and dark raspberries, with a little twist of sour cherry, are real nice. I’d say it needs another 5 years or so, but the stuffing is certainly there.
2000 Château La Louvière Pessac-Léognan. The first bottle of this was CORKED, so Andy opened up his back-up bottle. It looks to be the darkest, most opaquely-colored wine of the evening. The nose seems a bit obvious relative to the wines that came before it--with thick and bulky aromas of plum sauce, blackberries and grilled wild herbs leading the way. It’s loaded with blackberry and blueberry fruit on the palate, with a pasty feel to the classic Cabernet Sauvignon flavors. It’s pretty big, bold and tarry, with a hint of alcohol showing through from time to time. It’s just young and fairly primary, exhibiting a direct and pushy character that makes me think another 5+ years are needed.
With an assorted blue cheese plate and some baklava dessert treats:
2001 Château Rieussec Sauternes. This wine features a pure, lovely nose of botrytis spices, burnished nectarine, cream and honey with some smoky, tangy overtones that accentuate the exotic and expressive nature of its personality. In the mouth, it’s super-creamy, fresh, tangy and zesty. It has lots of baked apricot, poached peach, liquid caramel, candied lemon and baking spice flavors that are driven and lively, yet luscious and languid-feeling. It’s drinking beautifully and caps off any evening in style.