Last night, D came round for dinner. We'd been requested to provide 12 similar wine glasses, so guessed that some sort of comparative tasting might be in store, and I'd made an emergency Riedel purchase earlier in the week to bring stocks up to the necessary level.
We weren't disappointed. After a bottle of 2002 Castelnau blancs de blancs champagne (which I think we all enjoyed - it was light, elegant and creamy), it was time for the main event. D had brought four half bottles of 1970 first growth claret: Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour and Margaux.
It was amazing to get to try these four fully mature clarets side by side, especially for me as I don't get to drink much claret (with the exception of my Latour habit).
We tasted them in alphabetical order, as good as any! The Haut-Brion was very smooth and had a lot of mint and even eucalpytus - a good wine to clean the tubes out. I thought it must have a high percentage of cabernet sauvignon to be having that effect. G described it as "bewitching" and it certainly was superior claret.
The Lafite was a noticeably lighter colour than the others, and was more austere. It seemed to have an edge to it. I have actually drunk 1970 Lafite before and found it vaguely disappointing; again, this evening, we felt it was in last place.
The Latour had that powerful Latour nose and was big and majestic. To start with, I found it a bit too much, and after the first round of tasting I moved it to the end, to stop it interfering with my impressions of the others. As time went on, I found it more pleasurable, but it was a wine I was happy to only drink a glass of as opposed to half a bottle. Whereas the others were mature, it felt as though this had some way to go (cue G telling story about the 1937 Latour only being ready in 1999).
Finally, the Margaux. This was more feminine and sensuous, coming after the Latour, with fleshy red fruits. "Hello sailor!" was one comment. It had an amazing finish and I liked it very much. But we did think it was a "pop and pour" wine, as it started to go downhill first.
Finally, with the cheeseboard, G produced this 1963 Sandeman port. It had been double-decanted at 2.30 and now it was 9.30. I'm not sure what went wrong during those seven hours but this port, although drinkable, had faded considerably. At first we thought perhaps it was suffering from coming after the first growth clarets, but even after some cheese had been eaten it still didn't pick up. A shame, but these things happen. It didn't stop us getting through a fair bit of it!
And on that note, I must finish, since I have an important occasion to attend, also involving fortified wine! More to follow at the weekend.