The League of Gentle Men
The day before our latest dinner, one of the members asked if I could come before our meeting to taste a bottle of wine. It was an older vintage and he wanted to try a bottle before investing in a whole case. He had visited the producer and had a special fondness for his wines.
I arrived early and sitting on the table was a bottle of 1969 Bonnes Mares from Domaine Leroy. The bottle came from a case that had been recently opened. It appeared to be pristine and the fill was very good. The cork was also in very good condition and was removed with an Ah-so opener. The color of the wine did not give away its age; it looked like a much younger than its years. The bouquet and taste did not reveal any signs of age and it had all the aromas and flavors of a great Burgundy. I thought it was one of the best Burgundies that I have ever tasted, or should I say drank. Since the wines we were having with our dinner were a horizontal of Cos d’ Estournel, we debated for a few minutes whether we should finish the bottle with so many good wines to come. But before we knew it, the whole bottle of the 1969 Burgundy was gone. I advised my host to buy the rest of the case.
We have a tradition of starting off our dinners with Champagne, usually Krug, and this night was no exception. We began with 1989 Krug in magnum. At our last meeting in July we had a 1990 Krug also from a magnum. There was a vast difference between the two. The 1990 was fresh and bright and could last for many more years. The 1989 was very toasty and tasted like a much older wine and should be drunk now.
There were 7 of us at the dinner and we had eight bottles of Cos d’ Estournel (St.-Estephe) 55-60% Cabernet Sauvignon,35-40% Merlot with some Cabernet Franc.
The vintages were 1966, 1975 1978, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1990.
We decided to start with the oldest wines first to give the young ones time to open up.
All the wines showed very well and none of them were displayed any signs of age.
It is interesting to go back and read some of the comments written about this wine in 1966. The opinion seemed to be that the wine would not last into the 1990’s but here it was 2009 and the wine was still in great condition. 1975 was a vintage that most believed would never really mature because there was so much tannin that it would out last the fruit. The wine has matured very well. The tannins have mellowed and the fruit was still there. It was the surprise of the evening. 82’s were given very high marks but the 1978, 1985, and 1988 were drinking much better. It was not that the 1982 was not good, it was just not as good as the others. I had the 1990 two weeks ago and it is a big wine with a lot of tannin and fruit and needs much more time. The 1990 we had this night did not change my opinion. There was also a 1996 but because the 1990 was not ready to drink we saved the 1996 for another time.
Once again it shows how long great Bordeaux can age and that sometimes the vintages that get all the hype are not the best in the long run.
Michele and I are teaching at De Gustibus at Macy’s on Thursday Dec 3, 2009 For information & tickets 212-239-1652, www.degustibusnyc.com Italian food&wine