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Humbrecht, Prieur, Opus, Dominus and 1977 Taylors


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Dinner with friends and some delightful wines.

1999 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Heimbourg – fair bit of colour to the wine, and with an apple/pear sort of nose. Sweet entry, fair balance, good length, but tasted on its own it had just a bit too little acid to really shine (We always taste without food first). Then with food, the wine just blossomed and took on a richness it hadn’t exhibited before.

with seared Quebec foie gras beside croutons spread with goose liver pâté mixed with truffles and thin slices of pear sautéed in balsamic vinegar and Calvados.

1991 Jacques Prieur Beaune Prem Cru Clos de la Feguine – an earthy slightly barnyard nose but with lots of good fruit just under the surface. Lots of acidity here – almost to a fault in my opinion, though others were fine with it, and a good persistent finish. Once again, the food improved this wine, blunting the sharp edge of acidity. Surprised that this one held up so long.

with sweetbreads and pine mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce with ‘stained glass’ onions on top

1987 Opus One – I guess I should preface this note by saying that I have never been a big fan of Opus. Touted as the best of two worlds, it raised expectations to a level rarely met by the wines, which to my mind are not vins de garde but rather drink well in relative youth. Interesting then to taste this one from such an excellent vintage against the Dominus, which I have always preferred and found to be much more Bordeaux like. This bottle was out of my cellar. The wine was dark with edges browning slightly, with a very good briary nose, nice entry, some soft tannins, a very slight hollowness in midpalate and a soft mellow lengthy finish with good balance. Unlike the Dominus, a bit of air time did this wine significant good. It developed an even better nose, though not one I’d ever mistake for Bordeaux. It filled in that little hollow bit nicely, and developed a black currant thing in the finish that was most pleasant.

1990 Dominus – natural to compare the other top end Bordeaux lookalike to the Opus. The nose was bigger and plumier, the colour a tad lighter, not quite as brown on the edges. This wine was smoother on palate and elegant, being as expected, more like a Bordeaux. While people will want to know which wine was better, on this night, with this food, I am calling it a tie, which I rarely do. Both were really excellent.

Served with tenderloin of beef stuffed with morels, spinach and shallots, with a morel sauce (veal reduction). The servings were suitably sized to give lots of time to compare the wines, that is – large!

with cheeses:

1977 Taylors Port – medium colour, showing a slightly hot nose with a bit of date or fig, and warm fruit on palate and very good length. This wine is just getting into prime drinking time and has years to go. One taster commented that it was almost sweet enough to be a Grahams. but I thought it fell a tad short of that (and besides, the 77 Grahams has consistently disappointed me, until most recent tatsings). Definitely on the high sweetness end for Taylors, though.

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