No matter how many times I dine at Baltimore's finest culinary destination, Charleston, I am never bored. The food is always brilliant and the service impeccable at this wonderful restaurant. This dinner began with the just-released, exquisite 1996 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blancs de Blanc, an ethereal, delicate, nuanced, light-bodied Champagne made from 100% Chardonnay. It is always amazing that so much flavor can be packed into something so light and delicate. Although it is not quite as riveting as the Dom Pérignon, it's very close. Following the Champagne, we had two white Burgundies, ten years apart in age. The finest white Burgundies age extremely slowly, often better than most red Burgundies. 1995 was a terrific vintage for Burgundy's top producers, and Michel Niellon hit some home runs in this vintage. His premier cru, the Chassagne Montrachet Les Vergers, offers beautiful, pure, citrus oil, lemon, and honey notes, wonderful acidity, big, medium to full-bodied flavors, and surprising intensity as well as richness. The wine is still young (it came from my cellar) and has at least another decade of life ahead of it. Comte Lafon's 1985s have always been among my favorites of that vintage, and they show no signs of early demise, even at age 21. The 1985 Meursault Les Charmesrevealed beautiful notes of honeysuckle and buttered nuts, a deep gold color (much younger looking than its 20 years of age would suggest), good acidity, full-bodied flavors, and a thrilling unctuosity and freshness. The wine got even better with airing ... surprising given its age.

Two of the three bottles of La Mission Haut Brion, 1982 and 1975, were decanted at my home about six hours before dinner, then put back in the bottle after the hefty sediment was washed out. I was hesitant to decant the 1959 for as long a period, so I took it to the restaurant and had it decanted when we arrived. All of these wines flirt with perfection, with the 1982 the most opulent and closest in style to the 1959, with loads of glycerin and fruit. Still a youngster in its evolution, it has at least 20-30 more years of life remaining. It appears to be about five years away from its apogée. The massive 1975 tastes like a liqueur of minerals and tar. It is a quintessential expression of La Mission, but is almost too intense to appreciate. Massive tannins and concentration as well as stunning aromatics remain in this wine, but the tannins still have a certain bite, which may be why it never lives up to the perfect score I once gave it. Nevertheless, it is an utterly profound wine that should last 50-100 years. The fully mature 1959 exhibits considerable amber at the edge. This bottle, which had the original cork, was from the famous Nicolas Collection that was largely sold off about a decade ago. It offered romas of sweet tar, cedar, blackberries, and cherries as well as a style reminiscent of the younger 1982. By Bordeaux standards, it possesses lofty alcohol in addition to loads of glycerin, low acidity, wonderful freshness, and a full-bodied palate.

As usual, Chef Cindy Wolf's cooking was "in the zone." I chose some of my favorite dishes, and left the restaurant totally satiated.

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