Monday, March 16, 2009

Martinez Vintage 1927

Kevin, the dude at the cheese shop, warned us off Stilton. He was bored of it. To be fair, we were bored of it. I think everyone's bored of Stilton after Christmas. But Kevin had an alternative. An exquisite goat's cheese called St Maure de Touraine. I was sceptical, but trusted him. He is, after all, the dude at the cheese shop.

Old coffee, cold coffee - the colour is discouraging.

The nose, however, is alive. Spiced blueberries, heather, underbursh and bramble.

I cannot fathom this being 82 years old. Layered, fresh and confit fruit - brambles, blueberries, blackcurrant and a touch of plum. Unbelievable with the cheese - they play off each other - fireworks. It brings the weight and the structure of the wine and tones down the heat a bit. Such a marriage of cheese and port I've never enjoyed so much. Divine.


Tasted 1/1/09 at Naughton

Chateau Suduiraut 1967

There are wines whose names are spoken in hushed tones, with looks of wonder on the faces of those dorky enough to care (guilty as charged). They are on some manner of list, or perhaps several, be it 'Greatest Wines of the Twentieth Century' or 'Wines to Try Before You Die' or some such arbitrary honour roll of wines too expensive for normal wine geeks such as yours truly to be able to afford. Biondi-Santi Brunello 1955, DRC 1959, Mouton 1945, Palmer 1961, Yquem 1921... they're wines that billionaire collectors share with the upper echelon of wine writers in the name of hedonism and posterity. And validity. They need the writers there to assure them, to assuage their egos that yes, spending the annual wage of your butler on a case of wine was indeed worth it.

Well, the Naughton Dining Club managed to get a hold of one of these legendary wines. The only wine writers present were myself and Pete. No billionaire invited. Had they arrived their price of entry would have been one magnum each of the above listed wines.

The colour is luminous - vivid polished brass.

Quite closed on the nose to start with, but opens beautifully - hints of mint and dry grass, that musk of wild honey, roasted lime peel, honeysuckle, peach pits and apricots. Almost overwhelming.

Like the nose, the palate is slow to open. As it does however, all the nose promised comes through and more. The texture itself is remarkable - gripping and layered, providing structure for all the riot of flavours - roasted stone and citrus fruit, confit fennel, honey and mint. Incredibly intense and lasts forever. I don't know if it's a wine of the century, but it's fucking amazing.

Delighted we have another bottle in the cellar.


Tasted 1/1/09 at Naughton

Rousseau Mazy-Chambertin 1995

You say Mazis, I say Mazy... such peculiarities in wine make it that much more engaging. And confusing.

Deeper and broodier than the '93 Faiveley - far more intense on the nose as well. Classic FM in the background gives it a touch of bombast.

Palate is savoury and rich. Is it over the hill a touch? Perhaps a bit of stewed stone fruits but still wonderful. This may have been a 5 star wine 6 or 7 years ago. Touch short on the finish. Still lovely, but a touch past it.


Tasted 1/1/09 at Naughton

Ducru Beaucaillou 1966 (again)

I love this wine. I always have. The fruit is berry and stone. It is still at its peak: sublime, subtle and lingering. That perfection of textures - leather, mahogany and cedar wood. Utter comfort and delight.


Tasted 1/1/09 at Naughton
My other tasting note on this wine is here.

Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin 1993

Disaster struck the meal. I dropped the whole stew pot onto the kitchen floor. This was not a 30 second rule situation. This was an oh-my-god-I've-just-ruined-dinner situation. Fortunately, we had a contingency plan. A tasty one. Still stew, but roe deer instead of lamb. No harm, no foul. We opened the two Burgundies. One needed to decant for awhile.

Beautifully rustic Burgundian tint - I hold it against the candle light to see that incredible brilliance and clarity.

The nose is strawberry, heather and leather.

All of the nose comes into the palate in sort of a compote - youth and grip on the finish with that savoury, soft leather and a touch of meatiness right in the centre. Excellent with the food, a touch ephemeral and certainly at its peak. Shame it's my last bottle.


Tasted 1/1/09 at Naughton

Chateau Palmer 1973

Six or seven or so years ago the founders of the hibernating Naughton Dining Club outdid themselves on birthday presents. We found bottles from birth years - brilliant bottles from some of the greatest names in the wine world - Krug, Dom Perignon, Pol Roger, Chateau Palmer & Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou. Sadly, not all of us were born in brilliant years, and our knowledge of vintage gems was not as encyclopaedic as it is now. All but one of the bottles has been opened now. Memories of my '76 Dom Perignon are still fresh and fizzy in my head. The pen-ultimate bottle, the Palmer '73, was cracked open New Year's Day.

Rusty on the eyes, stewed on the nose.

The palate is aged, pleasant but no great thing. It's tired, but charming.


It's probably only one star to be honest, but it brought on such a tempest of chat and reminiscence - when we all started off in the trade, those first days of discovering fine wine and the blistering enthusiasm we sought to learn everything we could. To score it only one star would be criminal. A bottle of wine is no more just about how it smells and tastes than it is just fermented grape juice.

Tasted 1/1/09 at Naughton

Moët & Chandon 1959 (from magnum, disgorged '08)

New Year's came a day late in 2009. I had to work New Year's Eve, so my celebrations were put off a day. They were, however, worth the wait. A remarkable selection of fine wines, the best of friends and some spectacular food. The table crackled with banter, some shedding their hangovers of the night before, some suffering but surviving. The last of the bleary departed at the sound of a champagne cork popping.

Stunning colour - fresh, green gold. No brass. Fifty-years old and it certainly looks fresh and inviting.

Very wild & chestnut mushroom on the nose, followed by the creaminess of melted butter soaking through toast. Then there's a hint of green - apples, perhaps? The balance of freshness and maturity is remarkable.

Rich, luscious, decadent and fresh on the palate - the mousse is almost like the crema on a good espresso. Soft, gentle with fine hallmarks that would be noticeable only by there absence. Everything fits here - the structure and elegance provide a balance and completeness that forbids nitpicking the details. Exceptional, at its peak and while it may last a few more years, you probably ought to drink it now.


Tasted 1/1/09 at Naughton