My Birthday Dinner - A Quiet Evening at Home

While it may have been eclipsed by their newest release, the 1996, the 1990 Dom Pérignon, is a beautiful Champagne with more force and flavor than usual. Honeyed brioche notes mix with copious quantities of fruit as well as superb delineation. A still too young, but virtually perfect wine is Coche-Dury's 1995 Meursault Perrières. A spectacular effort, it reveals a liquid minerality infused with plenty of honeyed fruit, and a tight yet expansive character that must be tasted to be believed. I doubt this wine will hit its prime for another 3-4 years, but I can't resist it. Sadly, this was the last bottle in my cellar ... but it was still consumed with no regrets.

I decanted the two Bordeaux about four hours before dinner as both of them revealed surprising amounts of sediment, especially La Mission Haut Brion. Both are 100-point, still youthful Bordeaux that are a treat to drink. Efforts such as these reinforce the view that Bordeaux produces the world's greatest red wines. Possessing extraordinary elegance as well as longevity, the only possible criticism is that they often take too long to reach their peak of perfection. The last vintage under the old regime, the 1982 La Mission is a blockbuster. Its dense plum/garnet/ruby/purple color is followed by an extraordinary nose of fresh black truffles intermixed with hints of road tar, black fruits, camphor, and flowers. It has an incredibly voluptuous, full-bodied palate with some tannin still to shed, but the wine's silkiness and flesh are unbelievable. No other recent La Mission vintage reminds me of the 1982, although its texture is similar to the 1989. The 1959 comes to mind most often when I taste the 1982. I bought the 1982 La Mission as a future in 1983, and it still has at least another 20-30 years of life ahead of it. The same thing can be said about the 1990 Beauséjour Duffau, which tasted like a 3-4 year old wine. An inky/ruby/purple color is accompanied by an extraordinary perfume of crushed rocks, acacia flowers, blueberries, and raspberries. With massive concentration, an unctuous texture, and a spectacular finish, it is still extremely youthful. Only God knows just how long this wine will age, but it is a modern day legend. I still believe it is a contemporary version of the surreal 1961 Latour à Pomerol.

I order New Zealand langoustines from a Georgian company called Bimini Seafood. They are shipped frozen, which is against all my basic rules for buying seafood and shellfish, but they are spectacular, large langoustines. It makes me wonder, if they are this good frozen, how sublime are they fresh? When thawed and grilled with a touch of olive oil, they are a sensational match with a full-flavored white Burgundy.

No one in America has better beef than Lobel's. They have a new source for the renowned Kobe, or Waygu, cattle that produce beautiful marbled steaks. This is an American farm, and these are outrageously expensive steaks (over $100 for a 16 ounce steak), but they possess spectacular flavor as well as texture. Fabulous raw materials, prepared simply, and eaten with great wine is a formula for a perfect birthday dinner ... and that's what it was.

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