Dinner with Friends in Bordeaux

A stunning meal centered around the wonderful black truffles of Périgord began with scrambled eggs (one of my favorite preparations), followed by whole truffles poached in red wine (not bad), and a magnificent capon stuffed under the skin with what must have been a kilo or more of black truffles. It was simple but superb food with the emphasis on fabulous raw materials and simple but perfect preparation.

The wines began with a 1971 Laville-Haut-Brion, which exhibited the deep golden color of an aged Sauternes, and a honeyed, buttery style. Although a bit of a heavyweight, what it lacked in finesse, it made up for with muscle and flavor. I never quite appreciated this wine as much as I should have, particularly when drunk next to an absolutely prodigious bottle of 1961 Haut-Brion-Blanc. Crisp and elegant, with notes of fresh figs intermixed with sealing wax, honeyed grapefruit, and citrus, it was hard to believe this brilliant offering was 44 years old.

We then did a mini-horizontal of the five first-growths of the 1982 vintage. Haut-Brion seems to get better and better every time I taste it, leading me to believe I under-rated it. I am beginning to agree with Jean Delmas, who has always compared it to the 1959, a wine I have consistently rated (at least from pristine bottles) 100 points. The 1982 Lafite Rothschild was dense, tannic, and the least distinguished of this quintet. While the bottle seemed fine, there was a certain ruggedness to the tannin, and the wine never really sang. While it is certainly a great wine, it seemed very young, and in need of another decade of cellaring. Latour's 1982 has always been a sumptuous, extraordinarily concentrated wine that has a lot in common with the 1961. Again, it is was velvety-textured, opulent, rich, fleshy, and super. It can be drunk now or cellared for another 20-30 years. Margaux is the most inconsistent of the 1982 first-growths, and this bottle revealed some earthy, truffle notes (again, this could have been from the food since there were so many truffles on the table), along with loads of licorice-infused black fruits, a slight Amarone-like character, and a full-bodied, fleshy finish. The last several times I have had the 1982 Mouton-Rothschild, it has been prodigious, and is clearly one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted from Bordeaux. After having it in Tokyo at the famous hedonist dinner sponsored by Joël Robuchon in December, this bottle was also out of this world, and perhaps one of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted. However, it is the most backward of all the 1982s. This bottle was pure crème de cassis with a celestial display of aromas as well as remarkable purity and density. It is a candidate for another 30-40 years of cellaring. We finished the evening with a marvelously sumptuous, port-like 1947 La Mission-Haut-Brion that was still wonderfully fruity, rich, thick, and unctuous. That was followed by the extraordinary finesse, nobility, and complexity of a deep golden-colored, beautifully rich, powerful 1967 Yquem. This was one amazing night!

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