Charleston, Charity Dinner

  • Robert M. Parker, Jr.

  • 06 Dec 2009 | Events

A charity dinner held at Baltimore’s Charleston restaurant began with two sensational magnums of Chardonnay from Marcassin and Aubert. It is difficult to find as well as afford the few magnums that are made at Marcassin, but the 2000 Alexander Mountain Upper Barn was sensational. Notes of lemon, orange custard, and a waxy, leesy character are followed by a wine with a full-bodied texture, a strong underlying minerality, and a fabulous finish. The 2005 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren is out of sight, offering more citrus, lemon blossom and orange marmalade notes intermixed with a restrained wood component as well as a striking minerality. These are two sumptuous, classic examples of California Chardonnay. I can only think of about a half dozen producers who can hit the heights these two Chardonnays achieved.

All 22 of the 1982 Bordeaux came from my cellar. I had purchased them as futures 27 years ago, and for readers’ amusement, in parenthesis, I will list the price I paid per 12-bottle case. The wines have been stored at 55 degrees in over 70% humidity since they first arrived in the United States in 1985. As wine lovers know, when you buy wines as futures, the smartest thing to do is get them in your cellar as quickly as they arrive. This tasting proved not only the greatness of the 1982 vintage, but also what perfect storage can result in. Most of these 1982s were still very young!

Deviating from my regular policy of abbreviated notes for Hedonist Gazette articles, I am providing full text as well as maturity outlines for these wines.

1982 CHATEAU FIGEAC, ST.-EMILION; ($130 per case): This is actually a younger, more concentrated wine than the 1990, which I recently had. A dense plum/garnet color with a slight lightening at the edge is followed by a sensational Figeac nose of mint, fruitcake, Asian spices, gobs of sweet black and red fruits, and a smoky component in the background. Medium to full-bodied with lovely freshness, this 1982 appears to be fully mature, but it tasted the same a decade ago, and it should hold at this level for another 10-20 years.

1982 CANON, ST.-EMILION; ($125 per case): An outstanding, dark ruby/purple-hued effort with little lightening at the edge, the 1982 Canon exhibits plenty of crushed rock, red and black currant, and dusty, earthy, loamy notes. It is a full-bodied, powerful, still slightly austere St.-Emilion with moderately high tannins. Believe it or not, this 1982 is not yet fully mature. It should drink well for another 10-15 years.

1982 CERTAN DE MAY, POMEROL; ($165 per case): I have been drinking this wine out of half bottle, and this was the first regular bottle I have had over recent years. While this Pomerol is loaded, it remains extremely backward - hence the lower score. I would not touch a bottle for another 5-8 years. The half bottles are tasting at least 4 to 5 points better, and are obviously much more evolved. The full bottle exhibited a dense plum/purple color along with notes of cedar, forest floor, sweet jammy plums, black currants, licorice, and tobacco leaf. Full-bodied and powerful with high tannins as well as a rustic, massive mouthfeel and finish, it should be fully mature by 2015, and keep until 2030+.

1982 LE GAY, POMEROL; ($175 per case): Made by the same team that produced the perfect 1982 Lafleur, this wine had been forgotten in my cellar. While it’s clear that the new owner, Catherine Péré-Verget, has made some amazing wines since 2005 (especially the 2008), the 1982 is a wine for the ages. Still an inky/purple color, it boasts an extraordinary perfume of spring flowers intermixed with black raspberries, truffles, and kirsch. Full-bodied with velvety tannins, the wine remains extremely young, but the sweetness of the tannins and the sensational fruit concentration make for a remarkable wine that should evolve for another 30+ years.

1982 VIEUX CHATEAU CERTAN, POMEROL; ($175 per case): Not yet fully mature, this wine reveals some amber at the edge as well as a complex, intoxicating nose of cedar, licorice, spice box, black currants, and cherries. While medium to full-bodied with sweet tannins, and beautiful concentration, it appears to me that more recent vintages are stronger and denser than the 1982. Nevertheless, it is a beauty that can be drunk now and over the next 15-16 years.

1982 L’EVANGILE, POMEROL ($210 per case): A blockbuster, dark plum/garnet-colored wine, the 1982 L’Evangile reveals a decadent, extravagantly rich nose of caramelized fruit, plum, licorice, and toffee. This opulent, full-bodied Pomerol caresses the palate with layers and layers of glycerin and fruit. The tannin is barely noticeable in this massive, rich, gorgeous effort. The complexity of the nose alone is worth a special admission price. It is close to full maturity, and is capable of lasting another 20-25 years.

1982 LA LAGUNE, HAUT-MEDOC; ($65 per case): Unquestionably the greatest La Lagune until the 2005 was conceived, the 1982 exhibits a dense ruby/purple-tinged color along with a big, sweet bouquet of black cherries, licorice, smoky toast, and forest floor, a plush, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and sweet tannin. It is close to full maturity, and should keep for another decade.

1982 CALON-SEGUR, ST.-ESTEPHE; ($110 per case): Like Certan de May, I bought this in both half and 750 ml bottles. Only recently have the half bottles reached full maturity, and the 750 ml remains a massive, backward wine for long-term aging. A dense, opaque garnet color is followed by notes of roasted meats, herbs, black currants, incense, and damp earth. Full-bodied, still extremely tannic (sweet but noticeable tannins), rich, and backward, where perfectly stored, this 1982 will last for another 50 years. The estate has always compared it to their 1947, which is still a vibrant wine, and the 1982 should be just as profound. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2040.

1982 GRAND-PUY-LACOSTE, PAUILLAC; ($85 per case): This is a tour de force, and one of the all-time great Grand-Puy-Lacostes ever produced, as I hope the 1990, 2000, and 2005 will become. This is an inky/purple, beefy, broad, super-rich Pauillac revealing classic crème de cassis notes intermixed with hints of spring flowers and crushed rocks. Full-bodied with sweet tannin, shocking concentration, and layers of fruit, this irresistible 1982 is still an adolescent in terms of its evolution. Anticipated maturity: now-2035.

1982 LYNCH-BAGES, PAUILLAC; ($150 per case): One of the most drinkable, complex, and tasty 1982s of the northern Médoc, this wine is beginning to reach its plateau of full maturity. Still a dense ruby/purple color with some lightening at the edge, it offers up classic aromas of cedar wood, fruitcake, tobacco leaf, and crème de cassis. This full-bodied, opulent, fleshy, sexy Pauillac can be drunk now with great pleasure and complexity, or cellared for another 10-15 years.

1982 LA TOUR-HAUT-BRION, PESSAC-LEOGNAN; ($150 per case): The fruit from this vineyard has been incorporated into the second wine of La Mission-Haut-Brion, so I hope readers do not forget how great many vintages of La Tour-Haut-Brion were. The superb 1982 ranks alongside their great 1949, 1955, 1959, 1961, and 1975. No wine since this 1982 ever achieved this level of quality. Its inky/purple hue is followed by classic aromas of scorched earth, plums, cassis, charcoal, and truffles, powerful, full-bodied flavors, superb concentration, and a boatload of tannin. The wine is so complex aromatically, and the attack is so impressive that I can’t resist drinking it. However, it should be even better in 5-8 years, and should last for another three decades.

1982 BEYCHEVELLE, ST.-JULIEN; ($130 per case): I have noticed serious bottle variation with this wine, but recently it has been consistently scoring in the 94-96 point range. Beautifully sweet, slightly herbaceous black currant, licorice, and earthy notes emerge from this nearly opaque, dark ruby/purple-tinged 1982. Compared to the more elegant, feminine-styled wine often produced here, it is a beast. Dense, thick, rich, concentrated, and impressive, it can be drunk now and over the next two decades.

1982 DUCRU BEAUCAILLOU, ST.-JULIEN; ($155 per case): I have had four or five bottles of this wine, and this is the first that was badly corked.

1982 LEOVILLE BARTON, ST.-JULIEN; ($125 per case): With massive, huge concentration, excruciating tannin, earthy, and meaty, this St.-Julien has everything, but it needs to be forgotten for at least 10-15 years. At this tasting, it did not appear to have budged since the last time I had it, and it did not taste terribly different than it did at age five. While it is remarkably concentrated, it is hard to rate it any higher because it may take another 25 years to reach maturity. Even with this level of concentration, one can never be sure if the fruit will hold. Nevertheless, I have plenty of confidence in it.

1982 LEOVILLE POYFERRE, ST.-JULIEN; ($130 per case): There is no question that Léoville Poyferré was not making wines at the level of quality they have since the 1990 vintage. However, the 1982 is a great wine, no doubt because of the vintage rather than the winemaking at that time. A brilliant effort, it boasts a dense purple color as well as a sweet, flowery bouquet revealing plenty of crème de cassis, plum, and cherry notes, stunning concentration, a boatload of power, sweet tannins (the sweetest and easiest to taste among the St.-Juliens), and a long finish. Although close to full maturity, it has at least 20-25 years of life remaining.

1982 LEOVILLE LAS CASES, ST.-JULIEN; ($160 per case): I have had perfect bottles of this cuvée, from the bottles from my cellar are always broodingly backward and require plenty of coaxing to reveal anything. This huge wine is, in many ways, just as massive as Léoville Barton, but it possesses a greater degree of elegance as well as unreal concentration. The tannins are still there, and, at least from my cellar, this 1982 does not appear to have changed much from age five or ten. One wonders how much patience admirers of this brilliant St.-Julien will continue to exhibit. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050.

1982 CHEVAL BLANC, ST.-EMILION; ($300 per case): During its first 10-12 years of life, this was a perfect wine, but it now seems to be in a stage where the fruit is still present, but the previous exuberance and intensity have faded slightly. There is plenty of amber at the edge, and this medium to full-bodied wine shows notes of menthol, cedar, spice box, plums, and black cherries. Owners of 750 ml bottles should plan on consuming it over the next 4-6 years. Magnums should be less evolved, and merit a score 4 to 6 points higher.

1982 AUSONE, ST.-EMILION; ($320 per case): A pleasant surprise when I think of what proprietor Alain Vauthier has done over the last decade, the outstanding 1982 Ausone exhibits plenty of licorice, fruitcake, mineral, kirsch, and black fruit characteristics. Medium-bodied and elegant with a touch of austerity at the finish, it should be consumed over the next 10 years.

1982 CHATEAU MARGAUX, MARGAUX; ($360 per case): Consistently scoring between 98-100, the superb 1982 Margaux may be slightly bigger, bolder, and more masculine than vintages produced over the last 15-20 years. Its dark plum/purple color is followed by notes of melted tar intermixed with sweet cassis and floral underpinnings. Very full-bodied and dense for a Château Margaux, with a slight rusticity to the tannins, it boasts blockbuster power, richness, and impressive aromatics. It appears set for another 30-40 years of life.

1982 GRUAUD LAROSE, ST.-JULIEN; ($140 per case): A massive wine that is clearly of first-growth quality in this vintage, the 1982 Gruaud Larose remains a youngster. A broodingly dense, thick, unctuously textured, inky/plum/garnet/purple color offers up scents of beef blood, steak tartare, cassis, herbs, tobacco, and underbrush. One of the most concentrated wines of the vintage (as well as one of the most concentrated Bordeaux’s I have ever tasted), it is a huge, full-bodied, weighty, rich wine whose tannins are getting silkier and silkier. It appears set for another 30-40 years of life. This behemoth is a singularly profound example of Gruaud Larose that continues to justify its legendary status. Anticipated maturity: now-2050.

1982 MOUTON ROTHSCHILD, PAUILLAC; ($350 per case): This wine remains one of the legends of Bordeaux. It has thrown off the backward, youthful style that existed during its first 25 years of life, and over the last 4-5 years has developed such secondary nuances as cedar and spice box. The crème de cassis, underlying floral note, full-bodied power, extraordinary purity, multilayered texture, and finish of over a minute are a showcase for what this Château accomplished in 1982. The wine is still amazingly youthful, vibrant, and pure. It appears capable of retaining fruit and vibrancy in 2082. Thank God it is beginning to budge as I would like to drink most of my supply before I kick the bucket. This is a great, still youthful wine, and, on occasion, one does understand the hierarchy of Bordeaux châteaux when you see the complexity and brilliance of this first-growth. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2050+.

1982 LATOUR, PAUILLAC; ($350 per case): Always somewhat atypical (which I suspect will be the case with the more modern day 2003), the 1982 Latour has been the most opulent, flamboyant, and precocious of the northern Médocs, especially the St.-Juliens, Pauillacs, and St.-Estèphes. It hasn’t changed much over the last 10-15 years, revealing sweet tannins as well as extraordinarily decadent, even extravagant levels of fruit, glycerin, and body. It is an amazing wine, and on several occasions, I have actually picked it as a right bank Pomerol because of the lushness and succulence of the fruit. This vintage has always tasted great, even in its youth, and revealed a precociousness that one does not associate with this Château. However, the 1982 is still evolving at a glacial pace. The fruit remains remarkable, and the wine is a full-bodied, exuberant, rich, classic Pauillac in its aromatic and flavor profiles. It’s just juiced up (similar to an athlete on steroids) and is all the better for it. This remarkable effort will last as long as the 1982 Mouton, and will be more approachable and decadently fruity. Drink it now, in 20 years, and in 50 years! Don’t miss it if you are a wine lover.

2006 SINE QUA NON MR. K VIOGNIER EISWEIN: This may be the last vintage produced by the wonderful partnership of Manfred Krankl and the late Alois Kracher, who died prematurely from pancreatic cancer. A brilliant effort, it boasts oodles of fruit as well as an extravagantly-scented bouquet, and great precision and purity. Its sweetness is perfectly balanced by wonderfully fresh acids. I have no idea how this amazing Eiswein will age, but don’t miss the opportunity to taste it.

And finally - a brilliant display of the very talented Chef Cindy Wolfe was offered. Every course was both beautiful to look at and consume.

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