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81 Lafite, Haut Brion, Chevalier, Huet Constance,


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Notes on some really fabulous wines from the last lunch of 2006.

1982 Bollinger RD – showing some colour and a lovely nose, complex and toasty, with the smooth toasty element following into the mouth. Marvellous wine in great shape. I often prefer the RD to the Grand Annee.

2003 Vergelegen – this wine is just named after the producer and is a Semillon sauvignon blanc blend. Very clean citrus nose with crisp minerality, nice complexity and good length. Classy wine, and a great ringer for a white Bordeaux tasting.

1995 Huet Vouvray Cuvee Constance – I am a big fan of this producer yet this was the first time I’d tasted this reserve cuvee. It showed an amber colour, an uplifting nose like orange marmalade with some honey and botrytis. It was long and smooth, with significant residual sugar but so well balanced that it was impossible to say just how much. It went very well with food, and had a lingering finish. Wonderful wine and a real highlight of the tasting.

1998 Panther Creek Freedom Hill Pinot Noir – some didn’t go straight to pinot with this one, but I felt it was quite typical, with an earthy pinot nose, not heavy on the usual cherries. Good weight with significant tannins – a bit assertive and dry, which left me wondering what the future would hold for this. Nice now with food.

1996 Dom. Lamarche Vosne Romanee Les Chaumes – slightly stinky Burg nose nicely scented with fruit and a touch of mint, tannins to the front, good now with food.

1981 Haut Brion – OK, I admit that this lunch wasn’t 100% blind as one attendant at the previous lunch had indicated that he had this wine he’d been wanting to try, a 1981 Lafite, and a couple of us said we’d try to complement it. This was the first of three 1981 Bordeaux. It had a sweeter nose than the Burg, with some interesting complexity, and as light greenness and some earth. Fully resolved, ready to drink, smooth and a bit lighter than I’d have predicted.

1981 Dom. de Chevalier – I had to either join in the 1981 program or run and hide by bringing something totally different. I opted to bring this wine. It had a nice limpid colour, darker than the others, an excellent sweet nose with some spice, though not quite as complex in that way as the other two, and was much brighter and younger in the mouth than the Haut Brion, in fact seeming the youngest of the three. Glad I hadn't made a 'graves' mistake!

1981 Lafite – sweet luscious nose with bits of fruit, cedar and pipe tobacco, again, medium weight in the mouth, with excellent length and a good backbone. No rush. Many people will not know the 1981 vintage, living as it has in the shadow of 1982 and 1983, but I have had some wonderful wines from this year and would probably take it in preference to most 1979s. What a nice trio of mature Bordeaux!

1976 Martin Ray Cabernet (California) – another rarity, from the original Martin Ray winery. When I nosed this it had another mature Bordeaux nose and I wondered if we had the fourth in a series, but when I tasted it, the full bodied tasty fruit and the structure headed me back across the Atlantic. I was thinking early 80s, but one person went right to 1976 – full credit due there! Excellent length, another piece of history.

1995 Cousino Macul Finis Terrae – the select cuvee of this Chilean producer, it was all powdered sugar and cocoa in the nose, and some mint, and full and smooth on palate. Nicely made wine.

2000 Dom. du Pegau Cuvee Reservee – we realised we’d got something completely different here! Dark, cassis, cocoa, black pepper, smooth in the mouth with lots of soft tannin, and with very good length. No rush on this, but it drinks surprisingly well at this young age.

1981 Bertani Amarone – this is a favourite producer for me although I do not cellar this vintage (I did offer to bring out the 1974 or 1971 for a friendly match some time). Hot rich ripe nose, with a hint of sherry, though certainly not indicative of any maderisation. As expected, very long with a hint of bitterness at the end. Great finishing wine with cheese.

1977 Dow – the nose on this threw me – it was unusually floral although clearly Port. I was surprised to hear it was the 77 Dow as the last bottle I tasted had a completely different nose! Only slightly warm nose, and excellent on palate, seeming to be still young, just coming on line and with a long future ahead.

2005 Orofino Ice Wine – small BC producer making small amounts of pinot/merlot based ice wines. Pale colour, grapefruit and rhubarb nose, sweet but not cloying – unlike almost all other Canadian ice wine (fit only for anointing flapjacks IMHO) this had good balance and was actually pretty interesting.

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