Kinkead's, Washington, DC and Little Saigon, Northern Virginia

A luncheon double header, we began with a quick bite at Kinkead's, whose fried Ipswich clams are as good as fried clams can be. I hadn't had them for several years, so it was time to indulge. They were fabulous, and matched beautifully with two completely different, both wonderful wines. The 2002 Nikolaihof Riesling Smaragd Im Weingebirge from Austria was crisp, dry, and surprisingly powerful. Even more impressive was the 2002 Boillot Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes, a wonderfully elegant yet powerful and concentrated wine with plenty of fruit, structure, and muscle. Although still young, it is already impressive.

We then hopped in the car and drove to Northern Virginia to one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the Washington, DC region, Little Saigon. With the wonderful rice wrap called Bo Bia, we had the 1989 Closel Savennières Cuvée Spéciale. Still a young wine, it reveals great minerality along with lovely pear and orange notes with a steely edge. Crisp and medium to full-bodied, it is a great example of how special these dry Chenin Blancs from the Savennières appellation can be. They remain incredibly underrated wines.

We next moved to five great Bordeaux. Sadly, a 1985 L'Evangile, which I had brought, displayed a slight mustiness that was probably due to a bad cork. In the mouth, one could detect considerable texture and richness. It was a shame that the nose was tainted enough to make it an off bottle. We recovered with a spectacular 1982 Talbot, which for me, along with the 1986, is the finest Talbot I have ever tasted. The fully mature 1982 exhibits a slight amber at the edge along with a voluptuous, expressive nose of cassis, earth, licorice, dried Provençal herbs, and new saddle leather. Full-bodied, succulent, and fleshy, it is a beautiful effort that is currently running on all cylinders. More classic, delineated, and backward, but incredibly pure with crème de cassis flavors as well as a beautiful black currant-scented bouquet, is the full-bodied 1982 Grand Puy Lacoste. One could go back and forth as to which is the best drinking Grand Puy Lacoste over the last twenty-five years, 1982 or 1990, but for my money, the 1982 has even more concentration than the great 1990. We'll see how the 1995, 1996, and 2000 fare with more bottle age, but the 1982 is a fabulous wine. I remember buying it from Washington, DC's Calvert-Woodley shop as a wine future for a whopping price of $72 a case!

One of the other guests brought bottles of the two greatest Clinets made to date, the 1989 and 1990, both produced by Jean-Michel Arcaute, who died tragically in a drowning accident long before his time. It was sentimental to go back and look at these two brilliant wines, as I liked and admired Arcaute. The seductive 1990, which is on a much faster evolutionary track, boasts a spectacular perfume of flowers, red and black fruits, truffles, and caramel. Full-bodied, opulent, and complex, it possesses a velvety, seamless texture, tremendous length, and a finish that lasts for nearly a minute. It's a stunning wine. Still tightly knit, the 1989 Clinet is a bigger, more concentrated effort. While potentially the superior wine, at present the 1990 outclasses it because it is more evolved with more projected aromas. Nevertheless, the 1989 Clinet exhibits a denser ruby/purple color to the rim, with only a touch of lightening, phenomenally concentrated flavors, tremendous power as well as intensity, and a long finish. It is a prodigious wine, but it needs another 3-5 years of bottle age. It should last for another 2-3 decades.

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