Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best of the Best, 19th December

A few years ago, ACC's Christmas wine tasting became an annual highlight, and many rare and wonderful wines were consumed. It's quite an eye-opener to go back and look at the gems we drank and laugh at the prices back then.

This year N kindly offered to host an informal gathering and six of us got together at his house, each contributing a top bottle from his or her cellar. This promised to be a very interesting occasion and I stayed sober at my office Christmas lunch the day before - the sacrifice! - to ensure that I was in tip-top condition and fully able to appreciate what was on offer.

G provided the first wine, a Salon 1996 champagne. This wasn't the sort of meal where one made detailed tasting notes so I'm working from memory. It had come on a long way from the previous time we tried it in around 2008 when notoriously we failed to identify it in a blind tasting line-up of about 15 various fizzes. This time it was mature and wonderful.

H provided the still white, this Chateau-Grillet 2008 from the Rhone. I wasn't previously familiar with this wine but found it fascinating, unusual and delicious. It seemed ready to drink and I'd never have guessed it was only 4 years old. Memo to self: look into white Rhone, as I have very happy memories of Mule Blanche which we used to drink at the Elizabeth restaurant in Oxford.

ACC provided the first of the reds - a 1959 Santenay 1er Cru Comme from Domaine des Hautes-Cornieres. This was a revelation. Before it was opened I wondered if it might be over the hill but it confirmed that 1959 was one of the great vintages for Burgundy. It had so much going on - it was a lively colour and had a nose of tinned strawberries - but faded within the hour as you'd expect. So, that was the summer of '59, a song by Bruce Springsteen according to ACC. Hmm.

I provided the second red of the evening - a 1969 Chateau Latour. Latour is my favourite claret - I love its rich and powerful cabernet sauvignon style - but I might not have chosen this vintage had I read Michael Broadbent who apparently says it's terrible. Fortunately it seems that he tasted it some time ago, and as with the 1978 clarets, it may have been awful 20 years ago but now it's drinking well and the verdict was positive. Phew! Sometimes it pays not to do your homework.

An extra photo to show the dreadful glue-banding on the label.

The sweet wine was provided by O (as were some cakes from Ladurée which went down a treat). This was a Chateau Rieussec 1998. It was a beautiful golden colour, extraordinarily botrytised and quite shockingly sweet. Nectar but type II diabetes in a bottle. One small glass only. Well, maybe one and a half...

The last wine of the evening was provided by N and was a 1966 Taylors port. He told us that this was laid down by his grandfather and hadn't moved until it was brought down to London for this tasting. So this was about as perfect a bottle of port as you could get. It was very fine and classic and G considered it his wine of the evening. I didn't have a wine of the evening, as I found it too difficult to compare such different things, and they were all excellent examples of their type.

Here's a photo of the cork which was in excellent condition.

And finally, the complete line-up. What a great range of lovely things. Thanks to everyone involved and particularly to N for hosting. We must do it again next year!

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