Cindy Wolf’s cuisine was as spot on as it always is – light, intensely flavorful and beautifully presented. Moreover, she seems to magically give you just enough food to be satisfying, without making you feel you need a forklift to get home. It’s a balancing act that Chef Wolf pulls off better than just about any other top chef I know.
The wines started with a very good, but relatively uninspiring Champagne from one of the great young vintages of recent years, 2002. The Laurent Perrier 2002 Brut Champagne was crisp and full, and like many 2002 vintage Champagnes, somewhat unevolved and backward. We followed that with wines that I brought from my cellar, including the Michel Niellon 1995 Chevalier Montrachet, which I looked forward to with great anticipation. However, it was disappointing. It is not oxidized, but it was just dull, with a medium gold color and no expressive aromatics, which made me think it could be a cork problem. There was fine fruit on the palate, but the wine never provided much excitement. I am about to give up completely on white Burgundy except for the less expensive whites from the Maconnais region south of the Côte d’Or.
We then moved to three fully mature red wines. The 1989 La Conseillante exhibits notes of mountain laurel, lavender, cedar, tobacco leaf, plums and black cherries. Medium to full-bodied and made in an elegant style, it appears to have shed most of its baby fat and is now at a magical plateau where it should remain for a decade where well-stored. This bottle of the nearly perfect 1989 Haut-Brion seemed more evolved than others I have had. Still a magical wine, it offers lots of licorice, unsmoked cigar tobacco, plum, black currant, kirsch, scorched earth and graphite notes. This extraordinary, full-bodied, opulent effort is one of the greatest wines made in the 20th century. We finished with a dense, burly, nearly fully mature 1990 La Mission Haut-Brion. More densely colored and fatter than the 1989 Haut-Brion, but not as noble as that wine, it is wonderfully rich, chewy and fleshy. It is everything La Mission Haut-Brion should be, offering plenty of tobacco, scorched earth and black fruit characteristics. All three of these reds were opened and decanted for about three hours before the meal.