Dinner with Dear Friends; Chef de Cuisine - Robert Parker

With jumbo lump Maryland Crab Cakes I prepared for dear friends, I served a 1995 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne1997 Kongsgaard Chardonnay, and 1989 Comtes Lafon Meursault. The Coche-Dury is a great white Burgundy that will one day flirt with perfection. However, the Kongsgaard Chardonnay revealed the most interesting development. It began tight and unexpressive, but with air it blossomed beautifully, revealing a striking minerality unusual for a California Chardonnay. The Comtes Lafon was extremely opulent, with a lot of tropical fruit and, to my mind, was fully mature.

The second course was a confit of duck with a gratin of potatoes made in the honor of the famous chef, Pierre Troigros (where I first had the dish). With this course we had a 1979 Domaine Sorrel Hermitage La Méal1978 Chave Hermitage1978 Paul Jaboulet-Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle1961 Paul Jaboulet-Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle, and 1961 Paul Jaboulet-Ainé Hermitage Isnard. The 1978 Hermitage La Chapelle and 1979 Hermitage La Méal were both relatively young wines. The 1978 Chave Hermitage was not a great bottle (even though all these wines came from my cellar). It was riddled with brett, revealed a musty nose (not from cork), and was off-form based on previous examples. The two 1961 Jaboulet cuvées are essentially identical wines. Jacques Jaboulet has told me on several occasions that the 1961 Hermitage Jaboulet Isnard was the same wine as La Chapelle. For whatever reason, the 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle was again a perfect wine, much like the 1978, but more port-like, with an unctuous texture, low acidity, and extraordinary richness. The 1961 Hermitage Jaboulet Isnard, which I had purchased at auction, was more evolved. A potentially perfect wine, the still youthful 1978 Hermitage La Chapelle is not yet ready for prime time drinking.

The third dish was a simple grilled fillet of beef with a highly reduced marrow sauce (sauce Robert). With it we had a 1991 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Turque1978 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline1978 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Landonne, and 1976 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline. Three of these wines are clearly 100-point wines, the two 1978s and the 1976. The 1978s remain the reference points for just how great Guigal's so-called "la-las" can be. The 42-months in oak aging is not evident once the wine is past 8-10 years of age. The 1991 La Turque was wonderfully opulent and flamboyant.

Dessert was chocolate brownies and vanilla ice cream served with Dr. Parcé's 1982 Banyuls Vieilles Vignes. It remains one of the most underrated wines from France, revealing abundant notes of chocolate and brandy-macerated, overripe cherries.

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