The second set of wines was matched to a tasty suckling middle white pig porchetta (a boneless pork roast – who says wine requires translation?). And here we got stuck into the serious (oops red) wines. The first was the Chateau Les Clauzots “Cuvee Maxime” 2005 from Graves. I’ll say it again, buy anything from Bordeaux from 2005 that costs more than about $25. Seriously. I’ve reviewed this wine previously and liked it very much. The next wine was Chateau Chasse Spleen 2005 from Moulis-en-Medoc. This would be an insider’s wine, were in not for the fact that it is well known and not generally cheaply found in Australia. It had a developing aroma of fruit cake, cigar box, black fruits, and on the palate good length, quite pronounced tannins at this point, and perhaps, I thought, a touch of extraction. It’s very good though and will last years, and I have a few of these stashed away. The third wine was Clos du Marquis 2005 from Saint Julien – the second wine of the esteemed Chateau Leoville Las Cases. Blackcurrants and slightly surprising buttery popcorn like oak were there on the nose. On the palate, which shone brighter, it had quite pronounced length laced with blackcurrants. Undeniable quality there.
The third set of wines introduced the star of the show, and was set to red wine braised beef cheeks with “reform” garnish. I can’t explain that one. This dish looked nice, but since I’ve formed the mostly unfashionable view that I in fact don’t like beef cheeks very much, I prodded it studiously. I am very fortunate to have tasted the wines in this bracket. First, we met Chateau Leoville Barton 2001 from Saint Julien. 2001 is often rated as highly in France as 2000 for the vintage, an observation I have found valid to this point, so I looked forward to this. It disappointed a little: an aroma of capsicum and varnish, with more than medium tannins and medium acidity is all I wrote down. My expectations of Leoville Barton may be a little high, as I wasn’t convinced with their 1996 either in an earlier review. The second wine, Chateau Leoville Barton 1989 was much better, performing with ease at 22 years old. It surprised me how plausible it seemed to simply pop the cork on a Bordeaux from 1989. The wine had a towards light fragrance of cigar box, herbs and a balanced palate with blackcurrants, medium acidity and length. It would have been the star of the show, except that next to it was a Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1989 from Pauillac. First growths have a certain magnetism. More than one person wrung the bottle. The wine itself had an aroma of utterly vibrant blackcurrants and oak, with a pronounced intensity and a timeless quality. The palate soared with long length and blackcurrant flavours. If I am to be a little pernickety, it perhaps lacked a little stuffing and raw power in terms of overall mouthfeel, but its balance, length and aroma were sublime. An outstanding wine.
Reflecting writing this, the wine world can do a good dinner.
Disclosure: I attended this dinner as a guest of the importer, Bordeaux Shippers.