Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A divine meal with divine wines

I don’t expect there will be many times I will be able to enjoy classic wine with friends served with a delicious meal cooked with care. Just such a time occurred when Curt, Tim, Todd, Dan and I enjoyed a stunning meal, prepared by Tim, complimented with equally stunning wines, the 1989 and 1990 vintages of Château Lynch-Bages, a Sonoma-Cutrer 2009 Chardonnay, and a 1986 Sauternes from Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey.

Both of the Lynch-Bages vintages are highly-rated, but each is distinctly different from the other. The 1989 is subtle, the flavors nuanced and delicate: there’s tobacco followed by a long finish that continued to deliver surprises. The 1990 has firmer tannin, the fruit more noticeable with cassis, blackberry. They were served with delicious beef tenderloin and roasted Brussels sprouts. Initially I thought the 1990 was pairing better with the beef, but as the wines continued to take shape, it became clear the 1989 was the star performer.

Wine Spectator’s tasting notes show that both these wines still have a lot of time left on them.

WS notes on 1989 (from 2010): Delivers so much blackberry, leather and dried fruits on the nose. Full-bodied, with ultrapolished tannins and a silky mouthfeel. The palate turns to leaves, cedar and dried berries on the finish, which goes on and on. This is still reserved for the vintage, suggesting a long life ahead. Just coming around now, but will improve many years ahead. I have always loved this Lynch.

WS notes on 1990 (from 2007): Aromas of tar, currant and berries follow through to a full-bodied palate, with silky tannins and a long, long finish. Still not completely ready, but so good anyway. Age this as long as you like.

For me, the 1989 was clearly a 10 using my scale at the left, and I would rate the 1990 with a 9.5. Both wines were classic.

The earlier course of the evening was a cocksnail, a preparation of mashed potato mixed with a bit of wasabi and white truffle piped into a martini glass upon which was a prawn poached in court bullion made with vermouth, and snails. With this we had a Sonoma-Cutrer 2009 Chardonnay that was light and crisp, showing a character very similar to a white Burgundy. Definitely very easy drinking. I rate this wine a 9 using my scale at the left.

For dessert we had a fruit galette paired with a 1986 Sauternes from Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey. We had this same wine the prior evening, served on its own with some shortbread cookies. At that time it was rich, creamy and buttery like flan. Served with the fruit pastry dessert, however, it was delightful, light, the richness still present but without the deep flan character. Delicious.

WS rated this in 1989 with score of 86, and remarkably noted that it was, “Drinkable now or in the next three to five years.” Clearly this wine had much more life to it than was thought back in 1989, and I would rate it much higher with a 9.5 using my scale at the left.

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