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2003 La Mission H. B., 1994 Haut Brion, 1982 Grand Puy-Lacoste, 1990 Lynch Bages, 2001 & 1985 Mouton Rothschild

September 16, 2013

These are notes from a dinner hosted by Ms Angelina Teh of Bordeaux Index in April 2013 at Jade Palace, where Angelina had kindly proferred a 1985 Mouton Rothschild, which meant that the rest of us had to up our ante as well. All reds were decanted on-site. Daniel started us off with a 1994 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru that seemed rather flat and angular initially as a result of being served at too cold a temparature, though one could discern the delicate citrus and flinty minerality beneath all the superficial restraint, topped by creme de la creme. Top flightThe wine seemed to broaden over time and with food, developing greater depth along with some attractive intensity at the sides, finishing with a trace of sweetness although it could certainly do with greater fruit density and concentration to overcome the opague sheen that stubbornly remained.

Next came a pairing of the stalwarts of Pessac-Leognan. The 2003 Ch La Mission Haut-Brion (courtesy Pipin) displayed an abundance of ripe dark berries, smooth and rounded, laced with sweet velvety tannins without any trace of burnt, drinking absolutely well, very well-balanced but just coming up a bit short at the finish, and lacking in layering at this stage. The rusticity of La Mission of old has now been replaced by an unprecedented level of sophistication but at the expense, I fear, of losing its identity. However, no fear about that when it comes to its big sister Ch Haut-Brion, where the 1994 (courtesy PS) turned out to be very open and surprisingly aromatic, medium-full, vibrant with sparkling minerality, superbly harmonious and positively glowing with sexy tannins and overtones of tobacco and dried leaves, refusing to fade away long after its finish. Beautiful.

Next up came a pair of Pauillac that may qualify as the poor man’s First. The 1990 Ch Lynch-Bages, dark inky red, is still a tightly-knit wine offering a superb bouquet of graphite minerality and notes of rich black fruits, mocha and dark chocolate, displaying great intensity and layering, cloaked in sweet seductive tannins that ensured a superb mouthfeel. Utterly complex, opulent and powerful, supremely confident without the fireworks. Still yet to peak and will match up to any premier cru. Outstanding. Not to be outdone, the 1982 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste (courtesy John) offers any top-flight Bordeaux a run for its money, imbued with an abundance of mature ripe fruit possessing attractive sweetness, velvety tannins,1985 & 2001 Mouton Rothschild superb richness and concentration, a wine that remained open without any danger of fading, absolutely wonderful and lovely by the end of dinner.

And, finally, the piece de resistance, a pair of Mouton Rothschild. The 2001 Ch Mouton Rothschild (courtesy Kieron) was, predictably, hedonistic and full-bodied at this stage, the vanilla note from its new wood still very much in evidence, still undifferentiated and youthful but saturated with mocha, dark chocolate, toffee and graphite that led to a bittersweet finish, mellowing a little over time but still quite unyielding at this stage. In contrast, the 1985 Ch Mouton Rothschild (courtesy Angelina) is a prime example of Mouton at its best, beautifully balanced with notes of old Chinese tea leaves, dried tobacco and cigar, underscored by lovely sweetness and a dash of prunes, this bottle being much livelier than I remembered it to be when I last had a 1985 Mouton at Hiok’s place about 8-9 years ago. A tour de force to bring this beautiful dinner to a close, and my heartfelt thanks to everyone for their outstanding contributions, and to Angelina for dinner.

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