Dinner with friends in Bordeaux

A delicious sea bass that was cooked perfectly was followed by a tasty, garlicky, intensely flavorful leg of lamb roasted on a spit.

The wine selection started with a superb 2002 Dom Perignon Champagne, which remains young, vibrant and citrusy, as well as a tropical fruit-scented, opulent, unctuous 2009 Smith Haut Lafitte white wine. The latter exhibits tremendous richness and glycerin for a dry white Bordeaux, but that is the vintage character in 2009.

The red wines began with a 2009 Château Villemaurine, an estate with a fabulous terroir that is on its way back in quality. Previously one of St.-Emilion’s most notorious underachievers, it is being resurrected by its new owners. Its vineyard is located near the walls and the famed moat where the St.-Emilion Jazz Festival is routinely held. This 2009 performed well, displaying more concentration than any previous vintage I have tasted. It was soft and round with plenty of black currant, spicy oak and licorice notes. We followed that with three legendary wines, two of which were perfect and the third was close to perfection. The 1998 Ausone, a tour de force, is one of the vintage’s great wines. Its dense purple color is followed by notes of camphor, crushed rocks, spring flowers, black raspberries, blueberries and black currants. This full-bodied 1998 still needs another 5-6 years of cellaring. It should prove to be one of the vintage’s longest-lived wines. I expected the 2000 Lafite Rothschild to be much too young, but I was blown away by how it performed at this meal. A classic Lafite with notes of lead pencil shavings and black currants as well as a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, it possessed striking intensity as well as aromatics. The wine seemed more evolved than I remember, but it is still an adolescent in terms of maturity. This beautiful, rich, full offering is a stunning achievement. A wine that can be perplexing to taste is the 1982 Léoville Las Cases. I purchased a good bit of this wine as a wine future in 1983, and rated it 100 points early on. But I have rarely had a bottle from my own cellar that performed that well. Two recent examples, this one and one in Asia, were clearly as profound and compelling as any Léoville Las Cases could ever be. At this dinner I had several glasses from different bottles, and the wine was always extraordinary with a dense purple color that is just beginning to lighten at the edge, and lots of lead pencil, sweet black and red currant, cherry, dusty loamy soil, new saddle leather and spice box characteristics. This full-bodied, opulent, rich 1982 is a killer example of Las Cases. Virtually all of the bottles from my cellar still display a tannic, firm grip and have not performed this well.

More articles from this author