When you've been holding a wine for 30 years, you can expect some variation from bottle to bottle within the same vintage. That was our experience for this year's Boxing Day dinner at Philander Hall in Dixon, IL.
Oh please don't ask me where is Dixon. Suffice it to say that my friend Curt has a "cellar" there that still has a fine collection of Bordeaux from the 1980s. While my wine cellar is a closet - and I mean that literally - Curt's wine cellar is a crawl space at Philander Hall, his home/art center in Dixon. The temperature in his crawl space is a fairly consistent low 60s, so temperature fluctuations aren't an issue for him like they are with my closet. But he does face problems from time to time with humidity variances. That was evident when we opened the two 1982 St. Julien he brought out for dinner, as the corks fell apart in both bottles.
But I am getting ahead.
We enjoyed two classic wines on Boxing Day that I must say performed exceptionally well given some of the tasting notes I've reviewed on the web.
It was a fabulous dinner that began a sumptuous lobster pot pie served with a reduced cream and white wine sauce. This was paired with the 1993 Clos Windsbuhl Tokay Pinot Gris from Domaine Zind Humbrecht. It was a deliciously creamy wine that paired excellently with the lobster pot pie, and I think we might have been exceptionally lucky with it. Some tasting notes described this wine as being "over the hill" and "tired." Not ours, however; it was succulent with delicious and juicy fruit.
The next course was a salad of mixed greens with seared duck breast, Roquefort, and some pomegranate seeds.
Selected to go with the main course was the 1982 Chateâu Gruaud Larose, which was paired with quail stuffed with foie gras and morel mushrooms, with a side of polenta made with shaved black perigord truffles; all presented in a Madeira sauce. We had two bottles of the Chateâu Gruaud and while they were both 1982s, each was distinctly different.
The first bottle has a definite blackberry nose, but that was gone in minutes to be replaced with more earthy scents of leather and anise. Its color was a brick red, almost prune-ish. The wine had a light mineral quality and a finish that lingered on and on and on.
The second bottle had much more fruit and its nose more floral; it was altogether a different character with different color as well, a deep garnet, almost ruby red. Even with the more fruit, the second bottle still had that delicate essence of a wine cellared for 30 years. And the tasting notes on the web suggest this wine can still be held for another 20 years! However, I do think the first bottle was caught just in time.
I will score both of these wines with a 9 using my scale at the left.