A Dinner Party with Friends in Baltimore

Drunk with an excellent catered meal, the stars included the elegant, quintessential Blancs de Blanc Champagne, the 1990 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne. I don't know how much longer this wine can hold its surreal level of quality, but it is a brilliant 1990. The 1990 Pol Roger Brutwas very good, but one dimensional. Chapoutier's 1994 Hermitage Cuvée l'Orée is still tight, but promising, with that elusive minerality super-imposed on a powerful wine with tropical fruit. The highly acidic 1990 Louis Jadot Corton Charlemagne was disappointing in the context of the producer and vineyard. It revealed too much new wood and acidity as well as emaciated flavors, although meager quantities of this vineyard's great complexity were apparent in the nose. Is it going to develop? Possibly, but I don't think so. Another profound bottle of the 1982 La Mission Haut Brion was pushing perfection with its huge tar, cedary, fruitcake-scented nose, and opulent, powerful, rich flavors. It appears to be close to full maturity, but will last for another twenty years. Christian Moueix's Napa venture, the 1991 Dominus, merits a perfect score. The 1994 may be a close second, but the 1991 is a brilliant, seamless, full-bodied effort with a provocative style that takes advantage of California's ripeness, but with the complexity of a top Bordeaux. It is remarkable how this wine's flavors and aromas are so Bordeaux-like. The youthful but staggering 1990 Jaboulet-Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle is undoubtedly the finest La Chapelle since the 1961. Thick and juicy, with huge quantities of fruit, it is still relatively primary, even though it is over ten years of age. Lastly, the unreal richness, unctuosity, sweetness, and aromatic fireworks of the Australian fortified wine specialist, the non-vintage William Chambers Special Tokay, was a huge thrill to taste.

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