1948 Chateau Siran
Where else but in Bordeaux can one be rummaging in an old kitchen storeroom and chance upon a couple of cases of their own vintage 1948 half-bottles? This Edouard Miailhe did in June and he, his wife and I popped one open over a casual lunch.
Very dark red with tinges of mahogany lightening to a fine red-orange edge. This was medium-bodied at most with a fine light, silky texture; nowhere near as much bottle-age sweetness to it as their 1953; profiles of earthy, mushroomy, cassis, mere hints of dark raspberry (to the back), cedar (not smokey) and leather. Medium finish.
Not bad at all considering it was a half bottle and almost 60 years old; another testament to the age-worthiness of Siran's wine. Obviously, Edouard made new labels for these.
Dinner at Chateau d'Issan
On the 20th June, I had an excellent dinner at Chateau d'Issan through the kindness of Emmanuel Cruse, an old friend of Edouard. I first met Emmanuel around a year and a half ago in Manila. Aside from the Miailhes, myself and Adrian Bridge (of Taylor Fladgate), the rest of the guests were from the US wine/wine-related industry such as the very amiable Tyler Coleman (a.k.a., "Dr. Vino") and Jean-Pierre Chambas - a big, bull of a fellow with a large walrus moustache, elegant demeanor and a hint of a French accent to his Southern drawl. I learned from him that he had migrated to the US around 35 years ago and now heads and runs, Aleph Wines, one of the largest wine and spirits wholesale businesses in South Carolina.
2003 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru "La Garenne" by Marc Colin - With Queues de Langoustines en Bouquet d'Herbes.
Though not as ripe and forward as I would have expected from a '03, this was a still a comparatively eager Puligny at a mere 4 years of age. The balance was quite admirable and the harmony of fruit and minerality particularly noteworthy. Its floral, ripe-stone fruit, oak/vanilla, minerals and orange rind (in the middle and to the back) profiles were exquisitely interwoven into a rounded, plumpish medium body. Just enough acidity to keep it interesting and cut the langoustine's flavors. Very good wine.
1999 Ch. d'Issan - With Filet d'Agneau Rôti au Foie Gras alongside a Pyramide de Legumes Croquants.
This was probably one of the better d'Issans I have had (not that I've had many of the recent ones). Like the '99 Siran (which I was able to guess as one made under Michel Rolland's watch), it seemed a bit "internationally styled" compared to its older vintages (some of which were a bit hard): slightly sweeter, rounder, richer in texture, more toasty oak and, over-all, more easily accessible and "user-friendly".
One can still identify it as a Margaux though because of its perfume, or, at least, I'd like to think that I could have identified it as this was not served blind.
Very pleasing, and it went very well with the lamb. I drained my two glasses and would have asked for more but they started serving the cheese course before I could do so.
1955 Ch. Rauzan-Ségla - With an excellent selection of cheeses by Jean d'Alos (reputedly one of the best cheese makers in France, I understand).
I remember having the '86 and '95 Rauzan-Ségla several years ago and not being impressed. The '96, though, was very good; but this '55 was of a different class altogether. In a word, it was magnificent.
Again, when it comes to older wines, I find myself virtually at a loss in trying to describe it and break it down with separate descriptors of fruit, wood, etc., since it has melded so much. There was quite a lot of ethereal bottle-age sweetness to this and I think of a pristine, perfumed stream of clear, reflective red (I wasn't able to detect brownish signs of age or any hints of decay at all). I think of silken and pure liquid red fruit/ripe raspberry over mere hints of cassis, any wood notes long-integrated and virtually impossible to separately identify. Absolutely wonderful, eminently memorable.
After dessert, we moved to the main area for espresso and cognac. After my double espresso, I didn't really feel like having any cognac and kept on chatting with Jean-Pierre. Noticing my empty hands, he urged me to have some of the Tesseron Lot No. 29 (no vintage indicated, but I understand it is a 1929 and below blend) he was happily sipping and proceeded to pour me a glass. And thank heavens for that.
It was unquestionably one of the best, if not the best, cognac I had ever had - so deeply flavorful, mellow yet potent. We must have polished off most all of the bottle between us.
Many thanks, Emmanuel, for the most memorable evening.