I was invited to dinner by a very generous host whom I only met the night before. Say what you want, but folks in
1995 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston
Showed as well as the last bottle. Maybe a bit more structured. Very much in the house style, which is fine with me as I grew up with Pol Roger (dad was a big Churchill buff).
1996 Jadot Chevalier Demoiselles
This wine had come up in conversation the previous evening. Notorious as a victim of the premature oxidation problem, this bottle showed very few signs that it was suffering. Has a real tactile grip and mineral presence. Very, very good.
2004 Jadot Chevalier Demoiselles
Lighter and prettier than the 1996, if less tactile. Bright and snappy and really shows the Puligny-ness of the vineyard. I’m not sure that 2004 has produced wines for the long haul (or that any white Burgundy is a long haul wine anymore) but the racy snap of the vintage is certainly appealing.
2005 Sauzet Chevalier
Not the equal of the two wines before it. Almost a bit too big, enough to make it a tad loose although not sloppy. Nice enough, but didn’t make near enough of an impression for me to pony up the dough for it. Seems to lack the clarity, incision, and presence of the best Chevalier I’ve had. In essence, a wine I’ll drink on someone else’s dime.
1989 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe
We all wondered if the 1989 and 1990 had been switched. This is the prettiest I’ve ever had the 1989 show. It is usually a bit brett-y and brooding. Not tonight. Really lovely ruby color. Pretty nose of desiccating red berries, hints of mushroom, and leather. Enough acidity and remaining structure to pair very well with the food.
1990 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe
And this showed like an 89. Darker color, more tense and full of earthy animal character. In the end, I’m not sure that the decanters weren’t mistakenly switched. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but the wines showed so much like the other, that a rational mind tends towards the logical answer. Either the 1990 has become a brute or the 1989 has become the belle of the ball. Neither seems terribly likely, but I can’t say for sure.
2005 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe
After the 1989 and 1990, this was like a barrel sample. Not much to say, although it did seem a little fluffy for young Beaucastel.
1958 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo
Graceful, expansive, inviting, warm, and silky. Easily the wine of the evening for me. Beautiful aged Barolo in every way in a feminine srtyle. Probably near the end of its drinking window, and maybe at the beginning of decline, but a reminder of why we cellar wine in the first place. It’s amazing how charming and lovely these old Barolo can be.
1967 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo
1961 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
Very, very strange. Completely overwhelmed by VA and some bacterial flaws. Very dark in color. Bizarrely so. I have no idea what this portends to other bottles.
1989 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
A controversial bottle. I thought it was corked, others thought it was just strange and young. It didn’t have an obnoxious corkiness, but something more akin to a bleach smell. Whatever the problem, a shameful showing for a wine of immense pedigree.
1997 Dal Forno Recioto di Valpolicella
Big bold and delicious. While I found this wine to be excellent, if a bit large scaled, I’m not sure it is worth the hype. Not something I would seek out, but a glass at the end of the night was a treat.