My wife and I were really pleased to be able to celebrate a friend’s birthday a little while back at her house where her husband cooked a delicious meal and offered us all some delightful and memorable wines.
1988 Henriot Champagne Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut. This was served from magnum. There are clean, fresh aromas of flint, lemon peel and herbs on the nose, but also deeper tones of yeast and baked bread down deeper. In the mouth, it is still displaying plenty of tension, grip and structure, but feathering out across the palate with rich creamy fruit and finishing with a tingly, zesty aftertaste. Apple, flint and smoke tones are nice all the way through and finish up with nice focus and lift. It really seems to be in a perfect spot right now from this format. A great way to start the festivities!
2005 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo. Although it is still wound a bit tight at times, one can clearly sense the layered aromatic complexity of this fantastic wine coming through in its wild notes of lanolin, gravel paving stones, marijuana, fireplace ash, beeswax, peach, mango and papaya. In the mouth, it is certainly young, but already attacking the palate in waves of round, big-boned fruit supported by crisp acidity and a minerally underbelly. Distinctive flavors of citrus peel, botanical herbs and lemon oil are only hinting at what this will have to offer in another 4 or 5 years, I would say.
1962 Domaine Leroy Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru. This was slow oxed for about 4 hours, from an auction-purchased bottle that had a good-looking fill into the neck. The cork was completely saturated, but came out intact. Appearance-wise, it is a light, translucent and faded garnet color that looks pretty healthy given its age. Indeed, the nose is the next indication that the bottle is quite sound. It doesn’t smell particularly deep, but it is still wonderfully sweet, pungent and earthy in a light-toned way, with all kinds of wilted red flower petals, cinnamon, autumn leaves, dried cherries, iron, old leather and faint caramel aromas gently wafting out of the glass. In the mouth, it is lighter-bodied, with a little twist of soft acidity giving life to a surprisingly intense shot of tangy cherry and softly-sweet strawberry fruit that has solid staying power. The finish is mellow, fanned out and gently aged, but also very nicely balanced and in keeping with the airy framing of the wine. It is a delight with the food, holding up nicely despite the lack of any noticeable tannin support. I was really glad this showed so nicely.
1985 Château La Conseillante Pomerol. This was also slow oxed for 4+ hours. It’s still dark and opaque in appearance, and the nose is sweet with dense and lovely aromas of macerated cherries, tobacco leaf, menthol, limestone and soft cedar wood. It is languid and pasty-rich on the palate, with tons of cassis and black cherry fruit flowing along easily and filling the mouth without the shy tannins becoming particularly noticeable. It finishes smooth and generous, and just feels like it’s in a fine drinking window right now.
1993 Disznókő Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos. We finished the evening with this sweet wine that is full, bold and intensely aromatic on the nose, featuring rich but lifted aromas of dried apricots, molasses, maple candy, sweet iced tea and candied ginger. In the mouth, it features rich, oozing flavors of apricots, cherry paste, sweet tea and steeped lemon that are beautifully sweet but also piquant and driven. It does a really fine balancing act and pulls it off with great success.
After hours, another bottle was opened in the kitchen. It was the 2001 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard Napa Valley. Perhaps because we’d been drinking Old World wines all night, the bouquet of this wine just hit me as being a big moose of a wine—featuring big-boned aromas of blackberry, plum and toasted oak. It is very dark-fruited on the palate, too, with black currant fruit morphing over time to take on more of a briery wild blackberry tone. It is smooth and polished in texture, but with obvious tannins in play. It is pretty good in the end, but just doesn’t seem fully-formed yet, needing a few more years in the cellar.