My Birthday Dinner with Friends from France

I was born in 1947 and have a handful of bottles from that vintage left in my cellar, but I decided to go with youth. A magnum of 1990 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blancs de Blanc was as brilliant as ever. This precise, elegant, light yet intensely flavorful 100% Chardonnay is as good as it can be in 1990. The tar, gravelly, scorched earth, plum, and black fruit-scented and flavored, open-knit, soft 1990 La Mission-Haut-Brion is approaching full maturity at a relatively swift pace. Nevertheless, it possesses enough stuffing to last for another 15-20 years where well stored. More youthful is the finest vintage I have ever tasted of Troplong-Mondot. The 1990 boasts a dense purple color as well as a gorgeously sweet nose of licorice intermixed with black cherries and cassis. This medium to full-bodied effort is just emerging from a gawky, adolescent period. I have no doubts about the 1990 Montrose, a concentrated, velvety-textured monster. It is still very primary, but, wow, what aromatics, ranging from crème de cassis liqueur, to new saddle leather, roasted meats, and loads of black fruits. This sublime wine should hit its plateau of maturity in another 4-5 years, although who can resist it now, especially when it has been decanted an hour or so in advance.

This was another perfect showing for the 1991 Dominus. I wonder how long it can remain at this magical peak. The biggest surprise was the 1990 Dominus, which was performing nearly as well. More earthy and leathery, but not as supple, the beautifully made 1990 is a brilliant Dominus. We finished with a silky 1947 Bas Armagnac. Admittedly, I rarely drink liquor, and, while I love the aromatics of great Armagnac and Cognac, I rarely consume it. I did have a taste of this offering and was impressed, but I'd rather keep drinking red wine.

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