Private Dinner in Bordeaux

This was a dinner and blind tasting with the famed Bordeaux group Les Oenarchs. The meal, prepared by Chef Frances Garcia, formerly of Chapon Fin, included a salad of lamb sweetbreads followed by suckling filet of veal with morels.

The blind tasting was a match-up of 1978 versus 1988. The 1978s all seemed either fully mature or past maturity, the only exceptions being Château Margaux and Latour. The 1978 Ausone was decrepit and virtually undrinkable (a bad bottle?). No one had anything good to say about it. The 1978 Cheval Blanc was cedary and herbal, with a good attack and bouquet, but a short finish. Latour's 1978 was fully mature, rich, and complex, but cedary. The Mouton Rothschild 1978 was undistinguished. Château Margaux's 1978 was rustic for this property, but dense and flavorful. The 1978 Haut-Brion was an off bottle.

The 1988s performed well. While not a great vintage, it produced classic wines revealing good density, and reasonably well-integrated tannin. The wines at this tasting were consistently excellent to outstanding, if short on flamboyance and super-ripeness. Haut-Brion was the most complex aromatically, followed by Cheval Blanc. The most concentrated was Mouton-Rothschild. Château Margaux and Latour were both competent, but unexciting.

The lesson for owners is to drink up the 1978s as they are not going anywhere. The 1988s are still in the late adolescent stage of development.

The meal ended with a chunky but rich 1978 Yquem, and a glorious, complex, botrytised yet still infant 1988 Yquem.

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