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Old 02-11-2003, 06:13 PM
Bill Spohn
 
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Default Bordeaux Notes 1982 - 1998

Notes on a Commanderie de Bordeaux dinner Nov. 1, 2003

Held at the Four Seasons in Vancouver.

Krug Grand Cuvee - this NV Champagne has wine as old as 6 years when it is
blended and bottled, and this one was at least 3 years old, so we were looking
at perhaps up to 10 years in total. This was evident in the nose, which showed
some nice yeasty complexity. It seemed to have some colour to it, but the
lighting conditions were inadequate to allow me to say for sure. A very
enjoyable Champagne that merited better than the "shrimp or some sort of
seafood in a tart shell" amuse bouches they paired with it (they had more
Costco than Cannes to them).

The first course was to pair two wines from Lurton, which it did, but not the
intended wines as instead of a Rochmorin we received a Couhins Lurton. I told
the cellar master, who was sitting at my table, that he had committed a
'Graves' error, but he adeptly passed the blame on to the former cellar master
(also at my table) by saying that the cases had somehow been mislabelled.

1998 Couhins Lurton - a Graves made from 100% sauvignon blanc, it showed some
ripeness in the nose, and some flavour interest, but was a bit acidic at the
end.

1998 Ch. La Louviere - this wine outclassed the other one (as one would expect
based on price). Very smooth and bright in the mouth, much softer than the
previous wine. I enjoyed this quite a bit, and more so as the nose started to
open up a bit in the glass.

The cellar master pulled out a brown bag and poured something blind for our
table. I guessed a sauvignon blanc based wine with a nice lemony nose, but
thought that it could be an Antipodean offering given the balance and high
level of acidity. When advised that it wasn't from New Zealand, I guessed a
2001 white Bordeuax but could venture no further than that. It turned out to be
2001 Ch. de l'Hopital, and very decent it was.

Served with a decent crab salad with thin slices of lobster (mis)labelled as
'carpaccio'.

1990 Haut Marbuzet - this St. Estephe was quite delightful - all of the wines
were very good for this event. A lush nose of oak and sweet fruit, and rich
and plush in the mouth with good flavour and very good length. The tannins are
soft and this wine is ready to go - it won't improve with ant further age.
Tasty!

1990 Phelan Segur - this was also a very good wine, in a slightly leaner style
with slightly harder tannins, and so it suffered a bit in comparison - I think
most of the tasters would have given the nod to the first wine, but this wine,
served on its own would have provoked no complaints at all. Perhaps a slight
an unobjectionable very slightly green note on palate.

These wines were served with a red wine braised monkfish, about which I have a
couple of comments. First, people insist on trying to be au courant by serving
fish with red wine. IMHO, you can achieve a match that is fairly inoffensive to
both wine and fish, but it is still, at best, like going to the senior prom
with your first cousin. The sin was exacerbated in this case by the kitchen's
apparent inability to cook a piece of fish until it was merely tender. They
soldiered on until it took on the consistency of chicken. Bad show.


1982 Branaire Ducru - the lighter of this pair in colour, with a warm vanilla
nose showing no particular single fruit note, but rather a homogenised generic
mature Bordeaux sort of nose. Very soft in the mouth and medium long in finish,
a claret on the plateau of drinkability.

1982 La Lagune - I have this in my cellar and was interested to see what it was
doing. There was some bottle variation, and maybe one corked bottle, but I
managed to get a glass from a good bottle, and very good it was! Darker by a
considerable margin, it showed much sweeter fruit in the nose than had the
Branaire, and a juicy sweet impression on the palate that was most welcome.

Served with a duck breast on a pear/potato gratin. I had been preparing myself
for further gustatory mediocrity, after the kitchen's fumble with the fish
course, but was absolutely delighted to find that this course was perfectly
prepared (the duck breast was more tender than that monkfish had been) , very
tasty, and complemented the wines wonderfully.

This delight was somewhat balanced by the first indication of a deficiency in
wine service. I had noted the rather clunky glassware and forgiven it as
something that one puts up with at large hotel restaurants, but when I went up
to do duty at the decanting table (the benefits of sitting with the cellar
master are that you get to taste a few other wines; the burden that comes with
that is that you are commandeered into helping with wine service), all was not
well. They were only able to muster 5 decanters when we were serving 6 bottles
of wine (disgraceful in a major hotel, IMO), the person in charge of serving
the wine once I had decanted it showed a dismaying inclination to amalgamate
part decanters together without a thought for tasting to see if one or the
other were cork tainted, and they had no method of labelling decanters to be
sure wines were poured in the correct order. In fact I was directed to pour one
wine and after I had done a couple of bottles was told that it was the other
one that was needed first. I lined the ones I had decanted up in front of their
respective bottles, but even so had to grab a wine waiter as they just picked
up the wrong decanter and went to pour out of order.

I also had the opportunity to taste some of the blind wines that were offered
up to the candidates for four inductees to the Commanderie (I didn't get to
taste the New Zealand Cabernet that our diabolically tricky leader had given to
one poor chap).

1986 Grand Puy Lacoste - what a lovely wine, and what better counterpoint to
the 82 to be served with the next course? I got cedar and vanilla in the nose,
a very well integrated wine with good balance, and the tannins surprisingly
soft for the vintage, though they could do with maybe 3 more years. Good show!

1982 Canon - this St. Emilion was a hard one to guess blind. My friend the
inductee offered me a taste in return for some opinion on what I thought it
might be. He was touting for an 86 or 88; I responded that I didn't think the
tannins were as hard as that and suggested maybe an 89. We were both very
surprised when it was revealed to be a 1982! The sweet fruit, the vanilla and
cedar and the good body were no surprise, and the colour might have been a hint
had we had sufficient lighting to evaluate it, but what was surprising was the
structure of this wine - it seemed still youthful and clearly has a long future
ahead. A real treat to taste this one.

We then went on to the next course - and more incompetent service. The waiter
was running low when he came to me. Instead of pouring the last of the decanter
into my glass and getting a new one for the next person, he (presumably on
autopilot, in "make the bottle go around the table" mode) poured me a half
glass and gave the other half glass to the next person. While he went to get
another decanter, I gave the wine he had poured a sniff. He returned and
proceeded to pour the other half glass into my glass of the OTHER wine, and
when I advised him that he had just mixed the two wines in one glass, he blamed
me for having my hand on the other glass. To top this off, he had advised the
table that the wines were switched around when they weren't. May Bacchus (I'm
not sure if there is a deity of proper wine service, so he will have to
suffice) save us from such incompetence in future!

1982 Grand Puy Lacoste - for me this was the wine of the evening. Smoke and
sweet currant in the nose, with excellent concentration of flavour in the mouth
and a firm but supple tannic backbone. No rush, but lovely now. I was delighted
to see I have a couple of bottles of this in the cellar, and maddened at what
kind of idiot I am to have only bought two when the price was $21! I should
have laid down cases of this!


1982 Montrose (from magnum) - interesting nose, almost Rhonish, with leather
and salty/herbal elements. The wine is perfectly mature, but has time left and
drinks very well right now.

Served with cheese.

1989 La Tour Blanche - this wine seems not to have moved an inch (that's for
the Americans - we would of course say 'a millimeter') since the last time I
tasted it about 4 years ago. It is perhaps showing darker colour today, but the
honey and nut nose with a hint of fig is the same, and the sweet but not too
sweet medium to heavy weight in the mouth hasn't changed. I wish I had some in
my cellar!


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Old 05-11-2003, 08:35 PM
Dale Williams
 
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Default Bordeaux Notes 1982 - 1998

thanks for the notes. I had the 1990 Haut Marbuzet about 2 years ago- already
maturing, but nice wine (that didn't cost a lot!).

The 1982 Branaire Ducru shocked everyone at the Bordeaux Wine Enthusiasts
convention during an '82 blind tasting by coming in second (after Mouton) -
ahead of Ducru-Beau, Cos, LLC, etc. Not that it was neccessarily better wine,
but it was ready and quite nice.

The 1982 Grand Puy Lacoste is indeed quite nice, And now enough people keep
saying it that it's no longer thew bargain it was.

Great notes. Too bad about the service!
Dale

Dale Williams
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Old 05-11-2003, 11:06 PM
Mark Lipton
 
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Default Bordeaux Notes 1982 - 1998



Bill Spohn wrote:

These wines were served with a red wine braised monkfish, about which I have a
couple of comments. First, people insist on trying to be au courant by serving
fish with red wine. IMHO, you can achieve a match that is fairly inoffensive to
both wine and fish, but it is still, at best, like going to the senior prom
with your first cousin. The sin was exacerbated in this case by the kitchen's
apparent inability to cook a piece of fish until it was merely tender. They
soldiered on until it took on the consistency of chicken. Bad show.


LOL!! Bravo, Bill! I just had a similar experience where our waiter at an
otherwise fine restaurant tried to pawn off a softish Syrah as an accompaniment to
roast monkfish in a tomato/garlic/something sauce. And I have sworn off the
Vancouver Four Seasons as a dining destination...

Great notes, as usual. There were several "old friends" in that lineup. Thanks
for the update.

Mark Lipton


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Old 06-11-2003, 07:12 AM
Xyzsch
 
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Default Bordeaux Notes 1982 - 1998

982 Grand Puy Lacoste - for me this was the wine of the evening. Smoke and
sweet currant in the nose, with excellent concentration of flavour in the
mouth
and a firm but supple tannic backbone. No rush, but lovely now. I was
delighted
to see I have a couple of bottles of
this in the cellar, and maddened at what
kind of idiot I am to have only bought two when the price was $21! I should
have laid down cases of this!


I wish I had done the same thing, Bill. We just drank my second (latter) bottle
of 82 GP Lacoste last week at a party. Alas, I have no more.

I'll post my notes separately.

Tom Schellberg




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