Good Friends, Champagne and Old Wine

My friend Albert and I were planning to have lunch at restaurant SD26 in NYC recently. He told me he wanted to bring a bottle of 1966 Chateau Ausone and said that he also had another ‘66 and a ‘62. When I mentioned this to Irwin, a member of my wine group, he said that Ausone is his favorite wine. Then he said that if I would organize a dinner with Albert and the Ausone, he would bring a 1996 Champagne Krug and a 1931 Chateau Latour. Two other members of the wine group, Travis and Nicole, said they would come and bring some older wines, too. I could not wait to arrange this dinner. SD 26 was closed for an event on the night that we could all get together. However Tony May the owner said we could have one of the small private rooms and it was perfect.

The Wines

Champagne Krug 1996  Made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, the percentage of each variety depends on the vintage. The wine is aged in used barriques. Full bodied, complex and dry with a hint of toast. This wine will last for many years. This is a great wine in an excellent vintage. Is there any better way to begin the evening than with Krug Champagne.

Grand Vin Chateau Latour 1931 Pauillac, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdpt.  Made from old vines in the 47 ha of the original Enclos. Today there are 10,000 vines per hectare but I do not know if it was the same 80 years ago. I believe 1931 was not a great year in Bordeaux but Latour is known for making great wines even in off years.  The wine is 81 years old and it was in great condition, good color, no signs of oxidation, elegant and balanced — a classic Pauillac.

My first experience drinking Latour was with the 1963 vintage, a very poor vintage. The year was 1969 and I paid $3.99 a bottle for the wine in a store in Brooklyn. The wine was wonderful and Chateau Latour became my favorite Bordeaux.

Barolo 1931 100% Nebbiolo. Borgogno This was the only disappointment. The wine was starting to come apart with celery aromas and high VA. We could not drink it.

Chianti Vecchio Della Fattoria Santa Christina 1943 Cantine del Marchese Ludovico e Piero Antinori
The wine was mostly Sangiovese with some Canaiolo and Colorino, and two white grapes Malvasia and Trebbiano.  Most likely the governo method was used. The wine was in perfect condition.  There were hints of fruit and the aroma of sunshine on the Tuscan pines.
On the neck label it reads: “Consortium for the defense of the typical wine of Chianti”.

Ask any producer of Chianti today and they will tell you that Chianti made with white grapes and using the governo method will not age. In order to make “great Chianti” they must use international grapes and concentrators and put the wine in barriques. Chianti has lost its identity. I guess the present Consortium does not defend the typical wine of Chianti.

Chateau Ausone Premier Grand Cru, St. Emilion 1962 Made from 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard is only 7 hectares and there are 6,500 vines per hectare. This is a wine with great color and body with hints of leather and cherry and a great finish and aftertaste. It was one of the best St. Emilion’s I have ever tasted.  Then I tasted the Ausone 1966 and it was even better.

Fixin Clos Napoleon 1959 Domaine A.Ligeret 100% Pinot Noir.  The label indicated that it was a special bottling for the Chevaliers du Tastevin. The wine was showing very few signs of age and it was a elegant and classic Burgundy.

This was a very special dinner with good friends and great wine.  I cannot wait to do it again. Albert still has some more Ausone and Travis said that he had another Borgogno Barolo 1931.



Filed under Antinori, Barolo, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Chianti, French Wine, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian Wine

4 responses to “Good Friends, Champagne and Old Wine

  1. Tom Maresca

    An enviable tasting, Charles. You have very good friends.

  2. Love the fact that you tasted out the 1943 Chianti. Even nicer to know that the wine is in great shape.

    Great comment about older wines with white grapes not being able to age- the proof is when you open the bottle!

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