After a quiet week recovering from the flu, my birthday week got off to a grand start: The Historical Bordeaux tasting at LearnAboutWine. Ian outdid himself with this line-up, and JD and I were thrilled to be among the 20 or so guests who were privileged to taste these wines.
There were 3 welcome wines - all tasted blind, and everyone got a chance to guess:
1. 2006 Chablis Premier Cru 'Les Vaucopins' - Domaine Long Depaquit. I recognized the nose and taste, and thought it was something by Jim Clendenen, but it was truly French! Embarrassing - I have this in my own cellar!
2. Chateau Brown White Bordeaux - somehow didn't get the vintage. A lovely golden blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
3. 2004 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc, Napa. We all agreed it was Cab Franc, with some thinking it was Old World and others thinking New. Not many people liked it. I think the bottle was slightly corked.
The welcome wines were paired with glorious appetizers made by Matt Poley of Heirloom Catering. Butternut squash ravioli made a delicious sweet and savory combo. Matt also served a duck confit in a lettuce wrap, guinea hen with sausage and arugula (my fave!), and parmagiano/reggiano cheese balls with red pepper sauce. Yum!
Then we got serious:
1986 Chateau Cheval Blanc, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux – 92RP - $600 value. A blend of Cab Franc and Merlot; the percentages change every year. Medium tannins, black cherry, rich, intense wet earth. Drink thru 2012. A delightful way to start the tasting!
1983 Chateau Latour, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 94WS - $500 value. Beautiful cherry nose, chocolate and meat (yes, meat!) blended with fruit and tannins. Elegant, soft structure. Wonderful.
1995 Chateau Margaux, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Margaux, 100pts WS - $750 value. Unfortunately, slightly corked, which got worse as the wine opened up. Interestingly, Ian showed us how to eliminate corkiness in the strangest way: Pour the corked wine into a bowl or container lined with plastic wrap and swirl the wine so that the plastic wrap touches all the wine. It removes the cork taint! I would not have believed it if I hadn't done it myself. Note to self: Always make sure to carry plastic wrap!
2005 Chateau Calon Segur, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe - 94RP - $125. Still really closed and young. This wine is made in true Robert Parker style - big, tannic, damp earth, black cherries, asian spices; big structure, short finish at the moment. Parker says to drink from 2020 - 2050. I liked this wine and hope that I will still be alive to enjoy it when it reaches its' full potential!
2003 Chateau Calon Segur, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe - Not a great year. Full-bodied with some exotic softness, similar to the 1982 (say Ian and Martin Weiner, both of whom know these things).
2000 Chateau Calon Segur, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe - $125 value. Opaque purple, nose full of creosote, cherries, cassis, licorice, and hamburger. Well, cooked meat. Not my fave.
The following wines are all Chateau Montrose - a truly historic vertical tasting:
2003 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe, 100WS/RP97+ - $450 value. How do you even discuss a wine rated 100 points? Dense, black purple in color, tasting of scorched earth, blackberries. Not a lot of joy right now. You can appreciate it, but it's tight and shut down. Drink from 2010 - 2035.
1996 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe, 92WS/RP91 - $200 value. Wow! What a nose! Crushed berries and vanilla. Drink now, by all means!
1994 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe - Non-classic vintage; rained heavily that year. Still sweet blackcurrant, very pretty and drinkable right now.
1990 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe, 100RP - $575 value. Big, meaty, very extracted fruit, a huge blockbuster of a wine. Inky ruby in color, black licorice in large amounts. Did I mention Robert Parker rated it 100 points? Whew!
1989 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe, 97WS/98RP - $400 value. A completely different wine from the 1990. Seems soft compared to it. Sweet nose of minerals, black fruit, cedar, wood; highly extracted fruit, low acid; somehow more evolved than the 1990. Completely drinkable right now, but I'd like to see it in another 5 years.
1982 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe, 96WS - $295 value. This was the flagship wine for many years. Kirsch, currant, spice, velvety tannins, long finish. Delicious. Much joy.
1970 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe, 92RP - $295 value. Had a bit of a scare trying to remove the cork. Martin, a true wine expert/educator, confirmed that the wine had been perfectly stored and was in excellent condition. Earthy notes in the nose, as well as dried/stewed fruit and tobacco. Softened up quickly. Lovely and amazing to drink. Still youthful, dark and astringent (in a good way).
1959 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe, 96WS/RP95 $300 value. The corks were getting very scary at this point, but the wines were still astonishing. Wow. Mushrooms in the nose. A lovely old wine with light fruit, soft tobacco and tannins that softened very quickly.
1899 Chateau Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estephe, 97 point vintage - valued at $2500. Tasting a 100 year old wine is a special occasion. Not all wines can make this journey, but a great house like Chateau Montrose may. This bottle is a great specimen of history, but it only lasted a few moments once open. Amazingly, the nose and body still had fruit for several minutes. The color changed from amber to dark brown within a few minutes of exposure to the air, and the taste changed from moment to moment. One interesting note: The bottle had no seam - it was hand-blown; something that doesn't happen anymore.
The experience of tasting a wine this old is rare, and Ian had no idea how this bottle would respond to opening, but loving wine as I do, I found the experience to be very inspirational, and definitely qualifies as one of life’s great moments!
We finished the evening with a 1995 Chateau D'Yquem, "Lur-Saluces", Sauternes, – Valued at $300+. D'Yquem is considered the greatest dessert wine in the world. At the Classification of 1855, D'Yquem was put in a class by itself - partly because it wasn't a red wine, but mainly because it was like no other wine. 1995 is said to be a good, not great, vintage, but this gorgeous amber/gold wine was the perfect end to a thrilling evening.