Birthday Dinner, Chez Parker

Some spectacular food included terrific salami from Salumi (the father of Mario Batali) and the great Spanish black ham from Joselito. With respect to the wines, the surprise of the evening was a magnum of 1969 Veuve Clicquot Rosé we opened to celebrate both my birthday and our 36th wedding anniversary (although I'm a lot older than that Champagne's vintage). It was in great shape. Although it faded about an hour after opening, there wasn't much left, so no harm. Wow, certain Champagnes have amazing longevity. We moved directly into red wines with a glorious flight of Châteauneuf du Pape's great 1990 vintage. This vintage has always been a sprinter compared to the glacial pace of the 1989's evolution. Most 1990s are fully mature, and probably will not get any better over the next decade. At the same time, the 1989s appear to be gaining in quality and vigor, and are just beginning to open. The 1990 Rayas in regular bottle can be variable, but this was a nearly perfect bottle. It was nearly equaled by a stunning bottle of 1990 Clos du Mont Olivet Cuvée Papet, one of the great wines of the vintage that seems to have more longevity than the Rayas. However, neither of these wines hit the heights of the 1990 Les Cailloux Cuvée Centenaire. I had purchased a case of this beauty, and every bottle had been spectacular. Sadly, this was the last soldier. It was a riveting example of wine at the peak of perfection. We ended with a glorious, young 1998 Pégaü Cuvée da Capo, another perfect wine with two decades of life remaining.

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