Two friends from Singapore had treated my wife and I very generously on our visit to that country, and we wanted to reciprocate on their trip to Maryland, thus our dinner at Charleston. Baltimore’s top chef, Cindy Wolf, had the night off, but she did stop by to say hello, and the cuisine didn’t miss a beat given her stringent demands and the excellent training of her staff. As always, the wine service was impeccable. I had pulled the four Bordeaux out of my cellar early that morning and double-decanted them at mid-day. By the time we sat down they had had seven hours of aeration, from which they all benefitted enormously, especially the Cheval Blanc and the two 1982s.
The first wine, the 1996 Coche Dury Meursault Perrières, is the kind of white Burgundy that can turn one into an addict. It offered extraordinary minerality along with buttered hazelnut, marmalade, honey and nectarine characteristics. Unctuously textured with great acidity as well as significantly more concentration than many of its peers, it is the finest 1996 white Burgundy I have tasted. Moreover, it has another 10-15 years of life ahead of it.
The two 1990s were contrasting St.-Emilions. The Cheval Blanc comes from the sandy, gravelly soils on the Pomerol border, and the Beauséjour-Duffau is a tiny jewel of an estate situated on limestone hillsides. The fully mature Cheval Blanc exhibited soaring aromatics (in fact, it was the most aromatic of all four Bordeaux), beautiful silky flavors and gorgeous fruit, richness and intensity. It is a seamless example of haute couture that should continue to drink well for another 10-15 years. The 1990 Beauséjour-Duffau was denser as well as more concentrated and tannic, revealing a liqueur of minerality along with blue and black fruits, and massive concentration. It appears to be 5-8 years away from prime time drinking. Two magnificent wines that benefitted from their aeration, the 1982 La Mission Haut Brion and 1982 Mouton Rothschild, are both perfect expressions of Bordeaux that were bought by me as futures and stored perfectly for over 25 years. These wines still have youthful ruby/purple colors. The La Mission is a classic example of the graphite, tar, cassis, black cherry, and smoky barbecue/burning ember notes that have made that estate so famous. The 1982 Mouton will one day rival the 1945. Deep ruby/purple to the rim, it exhibits notes of crème de cassis, cedar, and bay leaf along with a full-bodied mouthfeel with great acidity. It still has some tannins to lose, but it reveals striking purity and richness. These sensational wines were a real treat to drink with the superb food from Cindy Wolf. My favorite courses included the tuna with picholine olives, the squab, and the cornmeal-crusted deep-fried oysters. She is the master deep fryer.