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1983 Leoville Las-Cases, 1995 Calon Segur, 1999 Pichon Baron…

August 19, 2012

Some brief notes from a dinner at the reliable Restaurant Ember, 18 July 2012, on the occasion of a farewell dinner for LW before she leaves for sabbatical. As usual, when we’re out of ideas, it’s always Bordeaux. All wines were aired in bottle on site, and tasted simultaneously.

2007 Ch Mouton Rothschild Aile d’Argent (courtesy PS). I wasn’t aware that Mouton made this, a blend of sauvignon blanc, muscadelle and semillon, hence accounting for its light golden color with aromas of fig, white flowers and traces of honey, supported by clear crystalline minerality. Yet to shed its vanilla coat. Not quite as full on palate, although it became weightier over time, taking on a mildly austere note. Interesting, but I think I’ll stick to white burgundy.

I didn’t have high hopes for the next wine, a 1999 Ch Pichon Longueville Baron, finding it woody and bereft of quality fruit last time I had it over a year ago. On this evening, it had the most promising bouquet of raspberries, dark and red berries with a plummy note, complete with the dryish Pauillac character although, as expected, it was a letdown on the palate initially, the fruit seemingly having thinned out alarmingly. What I hadn’t expected was the dramatic turnaround after it had been aired for well over an hour, when it suddenly transformed into a wine of considerable presence and weight, beautifully integrated, rounded and balanced, fleshing out with red fruits all the way. Quite lovely, really, if not exactly lush.

The 1995 Ch Calon Segur (courtesy Hiok) that followed had an abundance of largely red fruit, warm, ripe and highly inviting, the supple cabernet structure lined by silky tannins that caressed the palate with a smooth and easy touch, with some of the dry overtones of neighbouring Pauillac creeping in. This is probably the third time I’ve had this wine in as many years, with consistent notes each occasion. Excellent.

I recalled the last time I had a 1983 Ch Leoville Las-Cases (courtesy KP) was back in Aug 2006, where I remembered it to be soft, pliant and relaxed, seemingly entering into its autumnal phase after obviously having been quite gorgeous at its drinking peak. On this occasion, this bottle was quite consistent with my previous impression, although I felt that it was livelier and fresher, fully matured with a generous effusive glow of an aged claret, lush and utterly seamless with just a trace of ferrous minerality to remind you of its Saint Julien origin. Beautiful.

Finally, we rounded off the evening with what was perceived to be a heavyweight, the 2003 Clos des Papes CdP (courtesy Vic). It lived up to expectations, a dark impenetrable red, coming across with loads of redcurrants and ripe brandied cherries, topped off with rich medicinal overtones. I can’t really say I like CdP enough to enjoy it, but I think it deserves to be left untouched for another 8-10 years.

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