Members of several forums had met yesterday by Brasserie Dauphin in Paris. We met once again for a dinner by restaurant Laurent. The weather is so hot that when I open the bottles which were brought in advance, they are immediately put in a cool place. I decided to enlarge my contribution for the dinner for two reasons. One is that a woman of our group, who dislikes Burgundy, was impressed by the Richebourg 1973. It was a motivation to try to convince her definitively. The second reason was that a photographer had made many pictures in my cellar. As he was preparing all his instruments, I had time to wander in my cellar. I had seen a bottle with a low fill. Instead of throwing it, why not using it for pedagogic reasons.
While I was opening the bottles, I composed a menu with Philippe Bourguignon, taking into account the warm weather and the wines. Here it is : volaille de Bresse et foie gras en gelée au vin d’Arbois / filet de saint-pierre, moelle, rôtie, sauce matelote / agneau de lait des Pyrénées, épaule confite aux épices d’un tajine, côtes caramélisées et bayaldi d’aubergines / bleu de Sassenage / clafoutis aux cerises. It has been very delicate, adapted to the wines, extremely proper.
The Vieux Château Chauvin 1998 does not talk to me by the first sip. I am so afraid to find a modern wine in what I drink. But when it is opened, I feel a certain intelligence, behind a modern style which is not for me. On the contrary, the Château Léoville Las Cases 1997 is absolutely charming to me. And even more as it is associated with the 1998. Light, airy, all in suggestion, I adore its distinguished appeal. Why should we always drink wines showing their muscles? I had associated on the first course the Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1978 and it was a good choice. Its colour has already evolved. But the wine sings its balance, and does not appear as an “old” wine when drunk with the two others? A very successful wine of 1978. This wine performs always well, as it did with its miraculous 1961.
La Mission Haut-Brion 1985 in magnum has been decanted. The first image which comes to me is the one of a student who has so well worked during the year that he got the best notes during all the scholar year. But when the final exam comes, he panics, and forgets completely all what he knew. Contrarily to the American Cavalry, this wine will come after the end of the film. Of course, when one is patient enough, all the greatness of this wine appears with evidence. But it is too late. On the contrary, the Château La Lagune 1982 imposes respect. This wine is the pure definition of what a Bordeaux wine should be. It is, at this precise moment of its history, of a perfect balance. It is so good that it is impossible to find any default. But, but, but, the Château L’Eglise Clinet 1964 corresponds exactly to my taste for old wines. This wine sings, is full of joy, not very conform to the idea I have of a Pomerol. La Lagune is obviously better built. But Eglise Clinet is more seducing, more charming.
Now, our group of 11 people counting American people from Texas, Florida and Bordeaux (!), Hollander, Swiss, German and the only French being me, is going to approach my three Burgundies. The Chambertin caves Nicolas 1953 is too cold when it comes, as it was in a cool place, due to the warmth in the lovely garden of restaurant Laurent. When it develops in the glass, it is a gentle happiness. It is a little strict as Burbundies can be, has not the nobleness of the greatest Chambertins, but is really adorable. The lady sitting next to me whom I wanted to convince of the greatness of Burgundy begins to consider that there is certainly something to study. It’s a good sign. The Volnay Santenots Lucien Chouet 1966 is largely more civilised when it arrives in our glass. Very complex, very interesting, it cannot fight against the Chambertin when the Chambertin has put the full gas to impress us.
Now comes the surprise on which I said that I do not pretend that it could be good. Instead of throwing away a wine which has lost too much of its volume, why not giving it a try? The Beaune Marconnets Remoissenet 1937 should have been thrown away. Immediately, the nose shows that the wine is drinkable. At the first sip, caramel, torrefied coffee indicate the tiredness of the wine. But in the glass, by the same phenomenon which allows an office clerk to become Superman, or an honest citizen to become Hulk, we have seen the rebirth of a wine that I do not hesitate to qualify as immense. Of course, I do not dream. The wine has still wounds. But the impression is extremely exciting. It is certainly the most noble of the three Burgundies that I had opened, and, probably to thank me to have given it a chance, the wine gave me the last drops of a pure pleasure. If I had opened it before the cork made it evaporate, many around the table thought that it would have be a monster of greatness.
It was easier than I would have thought to come back on Earth with the Clos Vougeot Henri Rebourseau 1998 was immediately pleasant for everybody. While I was enjoying its blackberry taste, with pepper, I was thinking that it is obvious that complexity is obtained with old wines. Despite the wounds, I am happy to explore the ancient wines. The complexity is worth the trip.
Our friend who had brought the Clos de Papes Châteauneuf du Pape 2003 offered one more bottle to-night. I will not comment again, but I must say that getting used to it, I liked it more.
The Château Filhot crème de tête 1990 is a curiosity, as it is not usual that Filhot makes a creme de tête. The colour is abnormally brown, which is explained by the density of the wine. It is spectacular. Astonishing. It is so swet and sugar thta it makes think of an Essencia. The combination with a blue cheese id magic. My personal taste goes more with lighter Sauternes. But it is a very great wine.
I had asked Philippe Bourguigon to make “clafoutis”, this cake with black cherries. And I am happy because it works marvellously with the Porto Taylors Flagdate Vintage 1977, creating a great excitement. The Port is heavy, invading the mouth and as an unequalled charm.
To vote for such different wines is uneasy. I would put first the l’Eglise Clinet 1964 as it is rare to find a Pomerol so full of joy. In second, the Chambertin 1953, because the emotion is great. In third the Filhot, due to its taste of a rare seduction. And then La Lagune 1982 for the precision of its definition. So, it is : 1- L’Eglise Clinet 1964, 2 – Chambertin caves Nicolas 1953, 3- Château Filhot crème de tête 1990, 4- Château La Lagune 1982.
On two days, friends of forums living in very different places have enjoyed nice wines, very different, have exchanged passionate anecdotes.
It is a great success for the international friendship created by internet.
Old wines are younger than what is generally considered