This was my third ‘bring a special bottle dinner’, dinner hosted by one of HK’s most generous and enthusiastic wine collectors in the library at Crown Wine Cellars in Shouson Hill (the last time I saw him he was accompanied by 6 vintages of Guigal’s La Turque).
As we gathered we were treated to a positively delicious magnum of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque 1990 (yet again making the case that magnums of vintage Champagne are the way forward, not only because they last longer and preserve the freshness but how often do you open just one bottle of Champagne?) and a lovely, ‘mushroomy’ Henriot Vintage 1964 which was in great condition. Sadly I was not focused enough on either as was trying to make sense of the order with which the Pandora’s box of offerings would be served.
We kicked off with ‘really old stuff in Burgundy shaped bottles’. 1929 Chateauneuf du Pape Chatel du Roy was still going strong, hints of orange peel but plenty of fruit and grew in the glass. Not too shabby. An early contender. We then had an ullaged 1959 Corton Patriache which I thought was fading but had plenty of support in the room, a 1984 Chambolle Musigny Roumier which got better and better. We then had a totally knackered, rose coloured 1967 DRC La Tache which we all agreed would make a delicious and interesting (and cheap) salad dressing. Lets not tell Aubert.
Then onto ‘really old Bordeaux’. 1966 Leoville Las Cases (Nicolas bottling) which was lively, and tasted like something made in the 80s (due the the very cold cellars at Nicolas in France I am reliably informed), a 1949 La Tour du Mons which got better and better and was really impressive and then a 1909 Latour, stored in a very cold cellar in Perth (Scotland not WA) which was, if we are being polite, low shoulder but amazing. I dont drink 100+ year old wines very often, and as a merchant I would not have touched this bottle, but not only was it not oxidised but it had that salty Pauillac minerality and was relatively fresh. Quite an experience.
Down to Pessac Leognan for 1961 Haut Brion and 1953 La Mission Haut Brion. Great flight. I preferred the 1961 HB but the 1953 LMHB had many supporters in the crowd. I found the HB relatively closed and the Mission a bit leafier. Two great wines neverthless.
The off to Napa and Spain. Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon York Creek 1984 blew away a sadly oxidised Beaulieu BV 1984. The Ridge was simply mind blowingly youthful, and compared to many recently tasted 1982 Bordeaux, looked positively youthful. George Hamilton in a glass? Young, impressive, long intense and persistant. We added to this flight a quite brilliant Vega Sicilia Unico 1985, put simply my red wine of the night. Lively, long and complex, my tasting note simply read, “brilliant”.
Then off to Italy where sadly my bottle (when I say my bottle we had two bottles of most wines so I am referring only to what I tasted) of 1966 Barolo Fiorina was oxidised (others enjoyed a better bottle) but the 1989 Barolo Sperss was fantastic, a Barolo in perfect harmony in terms of age and harmony.
Then back to Bordeaux, Pichon Lalande 1979 (great example of the best of the vintage), Talbot 1986 (best ever Talbot?) and a slightly leafy, fading Pichon Baron 1986 (nothing like what they make these days).
Next another flight of Bordeaux: A triumphant Beychevelle 1989, really what Beychevelle was all about prior to the leafier 1990/2000s, a fading, but neverthless delicious Haut Brion 1982 and a very austere Ch Latour 1986. It mellowed over time (4 hours) but its never going to be ‘elegant’.
Onto an emotional Ch Clarke 1998 and then to a ridiculous Ch Margaux 1978 DOUBLE MAGNUM, again making the argument for the larger format. I’ve had this in bottle but this was sensational in double mag- long, rich and delicious. A 95 pointer? (I don’t really score and dont like 78s). Ridiculous in the generosity of the provider.
Home run now – a perfect 1945 Doisy Daene (my wine of the night – just brilliant in that elegant style with loads of acidity, and life ahead rather than the “Blow the f…ing doors off” style that global warming currently encourages) and then a quite lovely Warre 1977 vintage Port. This is a Port to consume now.