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76 Eltz, 95 Prado Enea, 96 Vega Sicilia, 70 Taylor


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Notes from a dinner with friends.

1988 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Brut Rosé – the colour of this bubbly is no longer pink, it is amber with a faint pink highlight. The nose would delight any English Champagne geriatric fancier – a hint of maderisation showing age and possibly less than perfect cellaring (anyone had this lately in better shape?). Surprisingly dry in the mouth with a bright flash of acidity right at the end.

with a large sautéed scallop and rare seared ahi.

1976 Schloss Eltz Eltviller Sonnenberg Riesling Beerenauslese (full bottle) – I brought this and vetoed the plan to serve it with salmon. It had, as expected, lost some sweetness over the years and was now the colour of Madeira. The nose was fascinating with great depth , featuring raisiny petrol and fresh prunes. Probably showed the RS of a recent vintage of Auslese but much more weight on palate, almost thick in body. It had just exactly enough acidity at the end to balance it and the most remarkable thing was the length of the finish, measured in minutes. You could still taste this 5 minutes after you had last sipped it. It had a relatively high alcohol at 12%, so you can imagine what the must weight at harvest must have been. No wonder this (with 1971) was the best vintage for late harvest wines of the decade. This has been in my cellar for over 20 years – and still bears the price tag of $6.99 from Safeway in Bellingham WA where they had mispriced it (my question “Do you happen to have any more?” was unfortunately met with a negative). The only food I could think of that might work would be a simply seared bit of foie gras, but I’m not sure – any suggestions? Probably best we had it alone and early so we could appreciate it.

2002 Jean Marc Brocard Chablis 1 cru Montmains – clean, with a lemony nose with perhaps a hint of salt air, crisp and clean in the mouth with an impression of stones, and oddly a hint of perfume not in the nose but on palate!

with steamed mussels

2002 Chartron et Trebuchet Meursault – perhaps a bit too much wood in the nose for my liking and not well integrated, but otherwise pretty good with a fullness in the mouth the Chablis had not shown, and smooth across the tongue.

with skewers of seared halibut and cantaloupe (try it, you might like it) followed by nicely cooked Copper River Spring salmon.

1995 Prado Enea Rioja Gran Reserva – wow – this 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, Mazuela, and Graciano wine had a lovely big not too woody nose, with lots of fruit, dark colour, warmth and vanilla, and on palate was well balanced and quite long with moderate tannins. Excellent now and will hold over the long haul.

with roast pork tenderloin

1996 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 – this was the reserve wine, one step below the Unico and a step above the ‘3’. Great timing as I’d recently tasted the 1990 Unico. Sweet oak nose, tannins still firm, good fruit, a bit more acidity than the 1990, and good length. All in all a clone of the 1990 we’d tasted. Very good.

with rabbit

1970 Taylors – best darned Port I’ve had in some time! A dusty warm (but not hot) nose, with figgy vanilla and maybe a hint of cherries, elegant wine now coming into good drinking territory, oddly sweet for a Taylor – more like a Grahams, mellow and smooth right to the end of the long finish. Wish I had some in the cellar! Impeccable balance.

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