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Chateau Margaux 1985 & 1999

July 10, 2011

PS and I hosted an exclusive private dinner at Au Petit Salut, helmed by the ever reliable Karl, on 22 June 2011 for some close friends, spouses included, to mark our respective career milestones. As PS would be bringing a 1985 Ch Margaux, I decided to match it with a 1999. Before all that, we began with a 1996 Henriot Cuvee Des Enchanteleunes (courtesy PS) that was very lovely with plenty of perfumed smoky fragrance, complex yet subtle in minerality, coupled with excellent presence and balance in the mid-body that’s typical of this outstanding vintage for Champagne. It was difficult to compartmentalise the wine, truly a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Superb. The 2002 Domaine Louis Jadot Meursault les Charmes 1er Cru (courtesy Kieron) that followed was clear golden with a generous bouquet of apples, white roses and citrus laced with sweet tropical fruits, somewhat earthy with a mild musty pungency on the palate, supported by stony minerality. It developed greater depth over time, becoming more buttery, broadening and gaining weight, highly complex at the finish.

 The 1999 Ch Margaux was very lovely, deep ruby in color with an earthy pungency punctuated by the floral fragrance of violets and roses, well replicated on the palate where blueberries and dark cedar dominate, perfectly balanced against the salty minerality, framed by tightly-knit tannins, finishing with a bit of burn. A wine of great finesse and elegance in spite of its concentration and depth. Compared to the 1999 Ch Palmer, also possessing similar traits with a tad more exuberance, the 1999 Ch Margaux is more understated in power, where less is, indeed, more. Superb.

The 1985 Ch Margaux (courtesy PS), equally deep in color but a tad more evolved, exhibited a highly developed glow of blueberries and violets on the bouquet and palate that still retained wonderful ripeness and freshness even after a quarter of a century, underscored by a trace of sweetness. Very similar to the 1999 in style, but as a fully mature wine at its peak, I fancy it possessed more power and precision, fully developed and infinitely complex with a salty note of minerality in the mid-body. Perhaps not quite as complete a wine as the 1983, but it is the epitome of finesse, elegance and refinement. Outstanding.

We ended the evening with a 2005 Gunderloch NP Riesling Auslese Gold Kap (courtesy PS). Clear golden with a placid bouquet of apricot and nectar but concentrated with an explosion of colors of tropical fruits on the mid-palate, the subdued acidity allowing the lovely complexity to shine. A glorious end to a lovely evening.

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