My Wife's Birthday Dinner

I  believe in the late Richard Olney's advice that great wines require simple food. The meal, prepared at home, included simple soft shell crabs meunière, followed by aged strip steak served with spinach-stuffed tomatoes and some roasted potatoes. I love the effort that goes into highly reduced sauces. I started off with 20 or so pounds of marrow bones and vegetables, reducing it down to the pure essence, and then refrigerating it over night, skimming off all the fat, putting it through a strainer, and voilà! The result is a remarkably concentrated essence of marrow bone with most of the fat removed. Then that sauce was infused with some Madeira and served with mushrooms and steak.

The wines all showed magnificently. I don't know how much longer the 1990 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne can hold at its magical level, but it is a great blanc de blancs at the peak of perfection. I'd had the Laville-Haut-Brion eight months earlier at the meal of my lifetime at Daniel, and wanted to have another one for this meal. It is a stunning white Graves, and probably has 40 years of longevity, but this was my next to last bottle. A wine that is fully mature and really needs to be drunk over the next five years, as it seems to be just one the verge of losing some freshness, is the 1985 La Conseillante.

To no surprise, the 1982s all were magnificent. The 1982 Trotanoy is fully mature, sumptuous, rich, and clearly the best Trotanoy between 1961 and 1998. It can last for at least another 10-15 years. The brooding, behemoth 1982 Gruaud-Larose is fabulous to drink if decanted about two hours prior to consumption. The wine, throwing a huge sediment, still has a dark plum/garnet color, knock-out aromatics of meat, herbs, licorice, jammy black fruits, and leather. It is sensationally rich and concentrated, and to my mind the greatest Gruaud-Larose after the 1961. As I have indicated many times, the most evolved and mature of all the Médoc first growths in 1982 has been and continues to be Latour. The wine always tastes perfect, always fragrant, rich and unctuous, with a style much like the 1961. What is remarkable is that there were about four ounces left in the bottle with some sediment that I found about 36 hours later, and when I tasted it, there was no trace of oxidation - rather remarkable for a wine that, at the time, was nearly 20 years of age.

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