I am always excited by Christmas, a combination of the parent and child in me, seasoned with the creeping realisation that each year is another year to be recalled on the lesser canvass that is memory. Increasingly, it does seem unlikely that time will reach an agreeable stop where all remain forever young, happy and healthy. Part of me still is hopeful.
This Christmas the availability of wines from the superlative Bordeaux vintage in 2009 meant that easy choices were able to be made. My notes on the wines are short, and are more glancing impressions, rather than a structured analysis of each.
Dom Pérignon 2004. Elegance personified. Fine everything – bubble size, mousse, persistence of bubbles. Chardonnay immediately evident, with towards long length and seamlessly integrated yeast characters. A very good Champagne.
Chateau Fourcas Hosten Listrac-Médoc 2009. This is very classic left bank Bordeaux, from an appellation nestled behind Margaux. Cedar, blackcurrant, cigar box and a balance that asserts itself with time in the glass and due reflection. The sort of wine you would be happy to have by the glass at a restaurant and is typical of its style. More current drinking than one for the cellar.
Chevalier de Lascombes Margaux 2009. A most definite step up in quality. Riper fruit, more extract and texture on the palate. This is a very pleasant Margaux indeed.
Goulée by Cos d’Estournel Médoc 2009. Considerably riper and fuller in style than the preceding two wines, with aromatics verging on licorice and dark olive characters, with evident ripe blackcurrant fruit aromatically and on the palate. This wine has quite a lot of stuffing, and will interest for its overt fruit characters. Médoc is its appellation of origin rather than Saint-Estèphe, that of its famous parent Cos d’Estournel. The Lascombes had more intrigue.
Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac 2009. The first of the heavy hitting reds. Its tannins are ripe and enjoyable, and flirted with being perfect and melting in the mouth, while never quite doing so. Classic high quality left bank Bordeaux, with few peers. This should last decades.
Chateau Baron Pichon-Longueville Pauillac 1994. 1994 is plainly a lesser vintage than 2009, but the Baron continues to outperform. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve had a bad one. The cork was in very good condition, as was the wine. Long length, grace, depth and classic left bank Bordeaux flavours of blackcurrant and cedar. This is an outstanding wine.
Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux 2002. This wine continues to show extremely well. Slightly more red fruit characters, such as redcurrant and red plums, but an effortless intensity and length on the palate meant it disappeared rather quickly, as all good wines seem to.
Murdock Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra 2000. This wine continues to be outstanding, and sat comfortably with the preceding wines. Greater intensity of fruit and length than its Bordeaux cousins, but more Bordeaux than Coonawarra I felt, with no particular Coonawarra ferrous like goût de terroir evident. Its component parts are in beautiful balance and this wine continues to justify my faith in it. A pity the winery appears no more.
Carmes de Rieussec Sauternes 2009. A very pleasant Sauternes, although I felt it needed more tension across the palate and the wood seemed a little obvious. Mere quibbles in the scheme of things.