This event was a follow-up to a tasting dinner last year in which we investigated the 1995 Bordeaux anticipated to be more forward and drinkable. This time we wanted to look at more backward representatives to assess readiness and likely future potential. As you will no doubt gather from the menu, the event took place at an Italian restaurant.
We started off with a smoked salmon/mascarpone blinis topped with steelhead caviar, with:
1995 Veuve Cliquot Reserve – citrus nose and the theme followed through with lots of acidity on palate giving a clean, refreshing presentation that nicely complemented the food.
With smoked trout on endive and radicchio, with tarragon/white wine vinaigrette, with braised fennel and pink grapefruit (a sort of trutti frutti?)
Ch. Carbonnieux blanc – showing a fair bit of colour, and hold the phone – someone marinated a log in this one! The nose was mucho oako with only a hint of fruit peeking out from under and while it had a soft entry and smooth feel, it ended with caramel and far too little acidity. Makes one wonder if they weren’t hosting a winemaker from California or Australia that year. Not my idea of a white Bordeaux, I’m afraid.
With papardelle in rabbit ragu:
Duhart Milon – this Rothschild wine is high in cabernet and proved to be the best drinking wine of this flight. Good dark fruit nose, juicy fruit on palate and well balanced, medium length and elegant. Damn – should have bought some of this.
Pontet Canet – the nose on this simpler fruit, but alarms go off as one tasted it – an instant spritz along the sides of the tongue, green tannin and a medicinal note at the end. Much of this blew off with time, but disquieting nonetheless. Other bottles showed better.
Lafon Rochet – we switch to St. Estephe for the next wine. A good classic nose, on palate, fairly tannic still but well built. My concern was whether the fruit was sufficient to see the tannins out – only time will tell.
Pape Clement – a very interesting wood smoke and tomato nose, good fruit in the middle and classy, if still tannic presentation made this wine the clear winner of the flight for me.
With seared duck breast with blueberry-barbera reduction and asiago potato gratin:
l’Arrosee – this St Emilion was almost unknown among wine writers and reviewers when it first began to show up in BC, but over time, starting with the 1961 vintage, local aficionados grew attached to it, and the wine began to pick up attention internationally although still hardly a household word. Pleasant nose - almost Burgundian. The wine is clean, crisp, elegant and drinks well now and no doubt for a few years yet.
Grand Mayne – my ears pricked up at this as I own a few bottles. A closed dusty nose with some decent fruit showing and only medium levels of tannin make this a decent drinker now. Medium length and the nose opened up nicely with time in the glass.
La Fleur Petrus – oh my! Nice sweet raspberry fruit with a smoked meat element – lots of interest in this nose. Softer than the previous wine with a slight bitter hint near the end. The amazing thing about this wine was how it just kept changing and building in the glass. By the time I finished it, the nose had transformed into a real classic, the slight bitterness had become a definite virtue and the wine had smoothed and lengthened into something special. No rush on this wine, which many of us declared the wine fo the flight, which may surprise you in light of the final wine in this flight.
Petrus – a (very) early look at this monumental wine. I felt that the nose was a bit closed, but nonetheless it showed as a ripe extracted wine with a hint of cinnamon. Very concentrated in palate, and quite sweet in the mouth with an exceptionally long finish, yet the wine was clearly brooding now and had so much more to show in the future that for drinking today the La Fleur was the better bet.. If you tasted both blind, not able to be impressed by name or standing, and were asked which one you’d rather drink with your dinner today, a sensible claret drinker would most likely opt for the La Fleur and stick the other wine away for a decade or two.
With rare grilled beef tenderloin with radicchio/balsamic mash:
Branaire Ducru – slightly green cabernet nose, then on entry a sweetness in this relatively simple medium bodied, medium length wine, only a little hard at the end. I was a little disappointed, but it might show better one another occasion. Plus is did have a pretty challenging act to follow.
Ducru Beaucaillou – this one was a pure pleasure and earlier drinking than many vintages of Ducru . It showed a nice sweet custardy nose, was concentrated on palate and had very good length. Not too hard now, it offers excellent drinking, and was my tie for wine of flight.
Leoville Poyferre – this was not very expressive in the nose at this point, but it did have good concentration of flavour in the mouth, was still firm and had decent length.. I dare say it could show better a different time and a different bottle.
Leoville Barton – my other choice for wine of flight –this one to be laid back down and the Ducru to be drunk while waiting for the Barton to mature. This had a really great nose of cedar and vanilla with dark fruit, and was almost elegant in the mouth with excellent length. Give it another few years in cellar and it should really sing.
with some sort of cheese and chocolate concoction (you may gather that I am not a big fan of sweet desserts :in wine dinners when a lump of cheese would be so much better):
1980 Offley Boa Vista Port – I had some of this off-vintage port from a sort of second house and very sensibly drank it up some time ago. Sweet hot and spicy nose, but the heat followed into the mouth and between that and the slight harshness in the finish we agreed that this port just wasn’t offley nice.