My problem with birthday wines is I do spend a disgustingly large portion of my waking life planning, purchasing, contemplating and anticipating the year's lineup. I confess that at times it seems like a recipe for grief, because the buildup virtually guarantees disappointment. I manage to avoid that by aiming high and backing my aim with wines of proven quality and solid provenance. This year, I varied the approach. The champagne I opened with my family at home on my actual birthday was a spur of the moment choice, hence no buildup. It doesn't hurt that it's very hard to to go wrong with a Special Club, especially with a great vintage like 2008.
A. Margaine, Special Club, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Premier Cru, 2008
Margaine is truly the epitome of grower Champagne, a grower's grower, if you will. It's a classic rendition - nutty and mushroomy - yet so full of zest, vibrancy and lithe power that you just can't imagine your bottle had spent its infancy in a room full of tens of thousands of other bottles. 2008 is considered a great vintage, and, like all great vintages, it's probably evolving slowly. So, at nine years of age, the nose is starting to show the character of maturity, if not yet the full complexity thereof, while the palate is not yet beyond the throes of adolescence. (Jul. 19, 2017)
Then there was the more or less monthly outing with my wine buddies, a week after. I brought the Vieux Chateau Certan and, to tell the truth, my expectation was to get a solid Right Bank performance. I wasn't reaching for more. I'd spent almost a decade's worth of birthdays building up to last years fiftieth and to tell the truth, I wasn't looking for fireworks. The Vieux Chateau Certan wound up exceeding my conservative expectations. It wasn't fireworks, exactly, more like a ray of sunshine, and a really, really fun night out. I don't want to sully my image with saccharine Hallmark sentiments, but you really can't beat a table with five friends.
Le Domaine d'Henri, Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume, 2014
This shows the same high level as 2012. Gorgeous, with a persistent, yet graceful cut, a Chablis cut from Puligny cloth.
Jean Grivot, Vosne-Romanee, 2012
Still nubile, displaying the power and length of a Premier Cru, but lacking the complexity of one. The core of it is red fruit laced with iron and the exotic spices typical of Vosne, morphing into black as the wine airs. Despite its youthful attack, it's sensual enough so you can't put the bottle down.
Vieux Chateau Certan, Pomerol, 1996
Even though 1996 is not a great Right Bank year, this was a really great bottle, obviously not a young wine, yet still showing youthful vigor. It's an earthy, leathery wine, with succulent black fruit, a muscular facade and a mellow, inviting core, its the rusty tannins adding force on the finish without being too dry.
Chateau Calon-Segur, Saint Estephe 3me Cru, 1998
Round, yet muscular. My first impression is that it is more iron laden than the Vieux Chateau Certan, but that's just on the surface, it really is softer less profound, and, furthermore, afflicted with a modest dose of brett - it's not an awful stink, but still it lends a rather tepid tone.
* Feldstein brought a couple of his wines, but I covered them in a separate post.