Dinner/Tasting of the Baltimore Chapter of Les Oenarchs

At a dinner and blind tasting of my local wine group, the first flight, served with foie gras, was sweet Sauternes. Not surprisingly, the 1989 Château Yquem took top honors. All of these 1989s were brilliant examples that remain infants in terms of their development. The best buy was the 1989 La Tour Blanche, an estate that is making better and better wines. There was also a vertical blind tasting of Le Tertre Rôteboeuf, one of the so-called "garage" wines, although their production is bigger than that. All of these wines improved dramatically as they sat in the glass, making me think that they probably should have been decanted at least an hour before they were served. As the scores indicate, there was no surprise as to the top vintages ... 1995, 1990, 1989, and 1988. Perhaps readers will be surprised by the strong showing of the 1988, a somewhat under-rated vintage vis à vis the more renowned years of 1989, 1990, etc. The other interesting observation was how structured and classical Le Tertre Rôteboeuf was. When young, these wines tend to be overwhelmingly fat, ripe, and fruity. These older vintages revealed wonderful delineation and structure, characteristics not always apparent when baby fat is hanging on the bones. In great vintages, this estate, one of the most exciting in St.-Emilion, produces a thrilling, exotic yet classic wine. Of course, it's mostly Merlot.

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