So we gathered for my fourth Bring A Special Bottle Night at Crown Wine Cellars on Friday 14th June. Due to a slight diary hiccup on my part it was also my wife’s birthday and I don’t think she was too amused at my absence on this special occasion.
As it turned out she was in fact stuck in the rain in a taxi-less Central and would probably have missed any dinner plans we may have had anyway. I certainly needed a drink when I got to CWC and luckily there was a delicious, full bodied glass of Jacques Selosse Version Originale NV (my own score: 16/20) waiting for me on arrival. This is a blend of 3 vintages of Chardonnay from specifically chosen terroir that Anselme Selosse blends every year.
Then on to the whites, just two this year. First up was a peachy, bright and lively dry white from Coutet, Opalie de Coutet 2010 (15.5/20). I was told this was their first vintage, made to compete with Y (Ygrec) de Yquem, and a useful addition to the portfolio of a Sauternes estate for years when the botrytis doesn’t materialise.
Then an oaky, rich Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Boudriotte from Ramonet from the 1999 vintage (16/20). Our host brought this and he was relieved it showed no signs of premox that some other bottles had in previous months. An excellent wine that is now ready to go and like most 1999s at 14 years of age from this relatively forward vintage requires no further time in the cellar.
We then moved onto an impressive array of reds and started off with, as we have done before, the older, “˜likely to be quite delicate’, ones. A 1929 Châteauneuf de Pape Chatel du Roy which I had had before was still quite vibrant for an almost 85 year old bottle but in pure wine terms for enjoying now it is getting long in the tooth (15/20).
We then had another wine I felt has probably seen better days, a 1937 Hermitage Montee de Sizeranne from Chapoutier (13/20) and a very tired 1970 Gevrey Chambertin “Clos de Varoilles’ from Domaine de Varoilles which wasn’t much fun (12/20).
Then the two brightest stars of the first flight, a delicious Clos de Tart Mommessin 1982 which was a lovely surprise, light in colour but still structured and alive and kicking on the palate, lovely pure Pinot (17/20) and then a majestic 1989 Meo Camuzet Cros Parantoux. This wine is still a baby, but it is stunning, and was the clear winner of the first flight (19/20).
Next we headed to Bordeaux. A quite brilliant, lovely, long and youthful Lafite 1986 lead the way (18/20) which if tasted blind could have been from the late 1990s, and then a much lighter Lafite 1966, which in my view is now in decline and a wine to consume or sell if you own it (15/20).
Then a fabulous Leoville Barton 1961 (18/20) and my wine, Gruaud Larose 1982 which is a reliable offering from this great vintage and once again showed very nicely, plenty of life ahead (18.5/20).
Interestingly the Leoville Barton went on to be voted WINE OF THE NIGHT in a fairly complicated and rather unscientific voting procedure, and whilst it wasn’t my choice as the best thing we drank it was an exceptional bottle in tip top condition and we toasted the great Anthony Barton, even though he didn’t actually make that wine! Uncle Ronald made the 1961.
We then headed to Spain for a 1948/1952 double act from Rioja. The 1948 was actually not officially a Rioja, but a Bierzo from Palacio de Araganza while the 1952 was a Rioja Berberana Grand Reserva, and both defied their age tasting much more youthful than their 60+ years and I gave both 16/20.
The next flight was a bit more eclectic, and exciting for me as I tasted the greatest wine yet from my vinously miserable birth year, a 1968 Inglenook Napa Cabernet Sauvignon which was lovely, although fully mature, with lots of dark fruit and plenty of structure (17/20).
This was served alongside one of my favourite wines of the night, a 1974 Bosche Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (18/20). This was a legendary Napa Cab, with lots of sweet, ripe fruit and a long complex finish. Still youthful.
We then had an excellent 1978 Gaja Barbaresco (17/20), good acidity (hint of VA?), soft, and very approachable, not a wine to leave a lot longer in the cellar. Finally a bright, lively Ravenswood 1992 Zinfandel (16.5/20) which, like others, tasted a lot younger than its 20+ years of age.
We then had a one wine flight, a double magnum of the Parker 100 point Pegau CNDP, Cuvee de Capo. Firstly this wine was nothing like I expected, it had balance, and finesse, great purity, lovely gentle acidity and a long and complex finish. I had always expected this cuvee to be an overly concentrated Parker wine, but it is not, and while I would not give it 100 points or equivalent, it nailed a cheerful 19/20 on the TSS score chart. And interestingly and always a sign of a great wine, even in this company, it was inhaled very quickly. Mr Parker’s score is in my view perfectly understandable.
Into the final stretch now and we were treated to a Gilette, “˜the best a man can get’ double act. Crème de Tete 1976 and 1967. I preferred the pure indulgent enjoyment of the 1976 (17.5/20) to the structure of the 1967 (17/20) but both wines were excellent, and I think the room was split on a preference between the two. Finally we had time for the 1963 Cockburn Vintage Port. This now quite light, but with lots of interesting dried red fruits and a spicy finish (17/20).
A great and hugely enjoyable night accompanied by a terrific menu from the Crown Wine Cellars team in Shouson Hill.