I can’t think of any better way to start the Goedhuis 2011 range of wine dinners than with Thomas Dô Chi Nam, wine maker of Ch Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, and the amazing selection of wines he chose for us to enjoy at Hibiscus last week.
Comtesse de Lalande has always been very close to my heart, ever since I tasted a most exquisite bottle of 1976 when I was relatively new to the trade. It expressed the characteristic sweet core of fruit with classic depth and structure that one only gets from the very finest Pauillacs. This is very much the property’s style. Whilst it is quintessentially Pauillac, representing the robustness of fruit that one searches for from the appellation, the strong proportion of Merlot in many of the vintages provides a succulence and femininity that makes it stand out from many of its famous neighbours.
Before dinner, Thomas talked us through the merits of three very different vintages, 2006, 2003 and 2001, and it was wonderful to see the differing opinions of all our guests. As always with wine there is no right or wrong. For current drinking, the opulence and ripeness of fruit in the 2003 vintage made it unquestionably the most approachable and drinkable, the 2006 exuded class and whilst still very young it is undoubtedly a great wine in making, but for me the surprise package was the 2001- a vintage which is so often overlooked. Whilst very much in the middle of its ageing process having moved on from the striking currant flavours of youth and not yet fully developed, it had immense brooding power most probably due to the Petit Verdot which forms such a large part of the finished blend in the vintage to create a very complex wine indeed.
During dinner we started with the 1996 and 1995 vintages side by side. Both were exceptional, but for my palate I loved the freshness of fruit and wonderful life and intensity of strong cabernet flavours in the 1996 in comparison to the slightly bulkier and weighted 1995. More importantly, two more classic examples of the vintage styles one could not find.
We followed this by a lovely and fully mature 1986, quite rightly a highly regarded vintage and a year which is reaching optimum maturity and very much entering its peak of maturity. But wow what a way to finish- the final wine was the truly glorious 1982 in Magnum. Famed for its 100 point Parker score and considered one of the all time great wines of the last century, it not only lived up to expectations but went way beyond…It is almost impossible to use words to describe it. It was so deliciously gorgeous with lovely opulence of sweet dark truffley fruit, great richness and layers upon layers of textured flavours. There is no doubt that this will remain with me as one of my truly memorable vinous experiences as I am sure it will do for everybody else who was lucky enough to be there on the night. To drink the 1982 in such lovely circumstances was a chance in a lifetime.
To conclude on behalf of all of us at Goedhuis and Co. a huge thank you to Thomas for a very special evening indeed.