Our Eastside Tasting Group met this week for our annual holiday get together. The theme was Bordeaux and Burgundy, but on this night, nearly all participants decided to bring along bottles of Bordeaux.
One of our members owns a wine shop attached to a wine bar next door that has a private room, The Grand Cru Wine Shop, in which we met. It was the perfect size and provided enough privacy. We had some delectable appetizers and some hand-made pizzas which sated our appetite and we got down to some fine bottles. This was one of those rare nights where every single bottle showed at its best. I only wish it happened more often, but on this particular evening it was fully appreciated!
We started off with a fine Blanc de Blancs, the Pierre Peters' Le Mesnil sur Oger, which offered toasty notes with green apple and lime crispness.
Although the Champagne made for a nice warm up, the next wine was a rival for WOTN. The 2002 Hubert Lamy Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet was gorgeous but did not show the love early on, but enough so that I allowed my glass to remain for nearly four hours and it just continued to get better and better. Great white Burg nose with some smoky nuance exhibiting a bit of oak up front which seemingly integrated into minerality, butterscotch and sumptuous mouth feel. It's next to impossible to find this but is worth the search. Loved it!
Time for some red wines:
1970 Chateau Canon - leather, smoky, spicy, ox-blood and still quite lively, from a perfectly stored bottle. Red fruited and still showing signs that it has yet to fully peak, it provided the stuffing and at 39 delivered a fabulous showing for Canon.
A tough act to follow but the next entry was the oft revered 1983 Chateaux Palmer. I've had this a bunch of times and always find it one of the greatest examples of the 1983 vintage, although I also find Margaux marvelous and Cheval Blanc quite delicious and I'm a fan of the Gruaud Larose as well, although it is in a different league. This bottle was more earthy and dry, with graphite, black olives and underbrush funk which added great dimension. The finish was extraordinary and this bottle revelatory.
1986 Cos d'Estournel was filled with tobacco, juniper and cedar notes up front, tapenade and offered up black plum and tar in a smooth and mouthfilling, fruit laden and long lasting impression. I've had lots of Cos in the past, but don't remember ever having the 1986 before. A nice well-defined version with dominant cassis flavors. Still has a few years to flesh out but it is nearing maturity.
1990 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande was one of my bottles (along w/dessert) and it was also showing beautifully after two hours of decanting back at home to liven things up. I don't get why this is such a controversial bottling as I find it to be youthful, concentrated, balanced and a classic Pauillac.
1990 La Fleur de Gay - wonderful nose of flowers, red cherry, graphite and leather. Very round and easy in the mouth with sophisticated acidity and still primary flavors, even though it drinks like a mature wine it is still really a baby and should drink well for many years.
Talk about youngsters, the next bottle rocked but was so young comparatively: 1999 Lynch Bages - although I've had the bookends (1989-1990) many times and love both, this was the first time I've had this young vintage. Purple goodness, perfectly balanced and although possibly a bit too oaky at this young stage, the structure and fruit are solid. Some mint and blackberry steal the show along with a hint of cedar and herbaceousness, this is a solid 90 pointer.
One long Burg showed up, but a stellar bottling: 1999 Truchot-Martin Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes - plenty of oak showing in the early going, but this was less prevalent an hour in. Leafy, compost, dark fruited and toasty. The palate was even better, tight in the early goings but as it emerged, the lip-smacking flavors framed by tart, earthy ripe dark cherry and a gorgeous, velvety body. I am a sucker for Clos de la Roche but more so, when bottled by Ponsot. This '99 was a seriously good bottle though.
A great and focused tasting and one that I truly enjoyed. It was time for dessert and I had brought something "on theme" to share at the end of the night and so the 1990 Doisy-Daëne Sauternes … actually, a Barsac was presented. Vibrant and amber colored, with lush notes of apricot, pineapple, coconut and delivering mouthwatering crisp acidity along with the flavors, this bottle showed better than either of the last two I had opened in recent years. Lots of botrytis and elegant too, this was a really fine way to end such a fun night shared with good friends.
Next up, a great and focused evening of Chateauneuf du Pape.