Few impressions from a casual dinner at Triomphe.
1985 Henri Sorrel Hermitage
Seems to be past its best years but there's still some enjoyment here; green olives, red fruits and tarter citrus flavours framed with leather and developed sous bois elements on a gentle, lightweight frame. The tannins are fully integrated and it's a little soft in the mouth but certainly quite a pleasant drink if not compelling.
1971 M. Chapoutier Côte-Rôtie
Perhaps the best wine I've had from Chapoutier, and very different from any of the dense, modern wines I've seen from the estate in recent years. Fully mature but still drinking nicely with gentle red berried fruit beneath layers of mature bloody, meaty, iron and earthy elements; there's a sense of real polish and harmony on the palate with the flavours coming together seamlessly and good acidity still keeping it fresh and lively.
1989 Robert Michel Cornas La Geynale
Tastes like generic old red wine. Every now and then there's a suggestion of something meatier or forestal beyond faded red fruit, but there's nothing of interest here. A shame considering just how good recent bottles of the '90 have been.
1985 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde
1987 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Mouline
Still shows signs of its oak with sweet licorice, cedary and exotic spicy elements framing bright red and dark fruited flavours and a savoury roasted meaty character. Very polished in the mouth, medium weight with the tannins mostly integrated and conveying its range of flavours with a sense of seamlessness. A bit more modern in style than I'd normally like, but still very nice.
1985 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle
Fantastic stuff. Incredibly complex and layered, seamlessly combining waves of red fruits, sauvage meaty and leathery flavours and other savoury tarry, smoky and earthy elements into a fragrant, polished whole. There's great balance and depth here, a sense of elegance and refinement to the texture and good persistence - just a superb wine to sit down with and enjoy with food.
Sadly, a bottle of the 2000 La Chapelle at the same table was the complete opposite - massively oaky, modern and (for my tastes) really unpleasant. Sigh, La Chapelle used to be such great wine once...