This was a private Bordeaux tasting hosted by Hagit and Noam Koren, at their home in Haniel. A a great evening on their front porch, our wines accompanied by roast beef, lamb chops and a horde of invisible, yet quite audible peacocks.
Zind-Humbrecht, Rangen, Clos St. Urbain, Pinot Gris, 1995
Uncorked spells relief. Since the last bottle of this wine that I had brought was corky, this time I didn't care what shape it was in, whether it was good or bad or old, I just wanted it to be TCA-free. In the event, I think this particular bottle was towards the end of its drinking window. Deviously mature on the palate, in fact, but the nose was so enticing and ever changing, complex and rife with entwined phrases of beeswax and peaches, it was like watching a short movie through the nostrils. The palate took off nicely then coasted to an abrupt landing, betraying all the complexity of the nose. Robert Parker scored it a 95 and maybe, just maybe, it was a 92 some three years ago. Now it would just about score a 90.
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien, 1992
The nose was nice enough, fresh and fairly complex, to raise hopes, which were then smashed upon the first sip. Not that it's all that bad, Ducru-Beaucaillou did manage to pull something from a vintage that even I - whose current knowledge of Bordeaux can be engraved on the head of a pin - know was as glamorous as a graying spinstress. A pleasant food wine but simple and midly dilluted. I've heard that in the off years, all you can get out of a Bordeaux is the nose and this is a fine example of that observation.
Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion, 1990
When does a wine die? Hovering slightly beyond the cusp of its downhill glide to the claret boneyard, this was nevertheless the most interesting wine of the evening. The nose seemed at first so fragile we were wary of swirling our glasses, but it gained force and presence, its fruit growing sweeter while still maintaing the grace of its age and maturity. The fruit was just austere enough on the palate to make the wine an intellectual pleasure without becoming a liability.
Chateau Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac, 2000
This is an excellent food wine, drinking great for those who own a bottle two. I didn't commit enough of its impression to memory for a tasting note but it's so typical Pauillac even I recognized the AOC.
Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeliere, St. Emilion, 1998
Hats off for the wine of the night. Parker scored it a 93, which is just about right. Expressive, smoky red fruit, cranberries and such. Effortlessly structured, elegant, smooth and long. I I'm going to leave the craft of fishing out suitable descriptors - which this complex wine truly deserves - to the professionals. If someone shoved a glass of this in your face, all you'd want to do is sell off your kids' toys and used clothes, the wife's jewlery, your mother's house - and figure out how you can drink Bordeaux all the time. And the terrific thing (or sad, depending on how you look at it) is, I think this isn't even a really, really great Bordeaux, just an average great claret, with all the balance and harmony everyone has come to expect.