1974 and 1996 red Burgundies
I had dinner on SAT with a good friend, a big fan of old wines as well. We spoke about our meeting a few days in advance and knowing what the wines and the vintages will be, my expectations grew by the hour. I was eager to get to my friend’s house as early as possible to uncork the wines and prepare them for drinking using a slow oxygenation in the bottle for a few hours.
I arrived around 7 pm, a bit later than initial planned, uncorked the wines and while we prepared the meal, left the wines to slowly breathe and open up. The meal was not a Pinot Noir classic dish, but it paired fairly well with the wines. We prepared foie-gras poele as my friend had an entire foie-gras ready to be fried, with medium rare veal steak, Basmati rice mixed with French butter with Piment d’Espelette (a variety of chili pepper that is cultivated in the French commune of Espelette, Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and a mix of green salads. Comfort food for still a cold day in Bucharest.
We had two Burgundies: a 1974 Clos de Vougeot and a 1996 Corton.
It was a bit of a challenge to uncork this wine. I cleaned very well the head of the bottle as there was plenty of dirt under the capsule, tried to use the corkscrew, but the cork was easily pushing down the bottle when I attempted to stick the corkscrew in the cork. As I was afraid the cork would go in the bottle, some different approach had to be taken. So the solution we found handy, was to use a regular screw to somehow mobilize the cork and then use the corkscrew. The solution was efficient and as much as the cork was completely soaked with wine and it actually broke in two, I managed to pull out all the remaining pieces without any drops in the bottle. A successful extraction that took about 15 min.
1974 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru Jean Grivot
This bottle had an absolute perfect fill level, a bit unbelievable I would dare to say. There was no sign of being corked either.
Ruby red with an orange-brick rim color and cloudy. Completely developed and mature nose, there are only tertiary aromas left, the fruit is completely gone and smelling this wine you cannot think that you are already too late. There are aromas of coffee, old leather, tobacco, sometimes dried figs, but quickly vanishing and tar. Medium to full body, the wine confirms again that is completely mature and on a downhill slope for several years, with completely integrated and dissolved tannins, it is only the acidity that still keeps this wine together. The finish is short to medium, with pronounced flavors of tobacco, black tea and Ristretto bitterness, and a drying mouth sensation. This wine passed its peak many years ago and it is now just a modest shadow of a potentially good wine that it might have been once. (83/100)
There was absolutely no problem uncorking the 1996 Corton.
1996 Corton Grand Cru Louis Latour
The fill level was flawless. Clean, ruby red, cherry color. Well developed and mature nose, with aromas of sour red cherry, new leather, green coffee bean and mint, adding earth and tobacco as it aerates. The nose has a decent complexity and is rather ethereal. Full bodied, the wine has a high acidity that provides structure and makes it very easy to drink, completely dissolved tannins, a lively palate and a medium finish with flavors of light sour red cherry, coffee bean and earth. This wine is now almost completely losing the fruit and evolves towards more pronounced tertiary aromas. The mint takes on the front stage on the aromas profile. It can still last 5-7 years easily but probably with no more fruit. (86/100)
We also had some appetizers that were served with a small 0.375 cl bottle of 2007 Joseph Drouhin Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons that, when too cold, seemed a bit monolithic but, as it got warmer, it started to develop very nice chalky minerality mixed with chamomile, lemon and a bit of honey aromas. A pleasant acidity and a fresh, lifting finish. (87/100)
As much as the wines did not put an unforgettable show, it was a great evening spent with friends and we will always remember the trouble of how we opened the 1974 Clos de Vougeot. It’s all in the details.
We finished the evening with a glass of 1998 Chateau de Laubade Armagnac to clean all the grease of the foie-gras poele.