20th December 2007, Old Manila, Blind Bordeaux Challenge VIII.
Eight on the panel:
There could be only one winner.
After the obligatory Champagne (my Michel Arnould Grand Cru Verzenay Brut NV), we had some 1997 Meursault "Les Charmes" by Verget from the Stockbroker to go with the appetizers - initially tight and restrained, this fleshed out after about 15-20 minutes in the glass. Gracefully feminine, expansive mid-mouth and towards the back with soft yet generous ripe apple (a vaguely tropical feel to it), some white minerals, discreetly creamy almond/oak/vanilla (well-integrated) with just the barest touch of toastiness to the rear. Softest and fleshiest Meursault I can remember having; it could have used a bit more bracing/lifting acidity, but quite wonderful nontheless.
Then, out came the reds and we buckled down to tasting.
Wine # 1 - Best nose of the night, an exotically spiced, delicately sweet jasmine tea/plum/raspberry liqueur perfume. I immediately guessed it to be a Cos d'Estournel. In the mouth, it was definitive all the way from the confident attack to the long finish. Rich and generous in the mouth, leaving virtually nothing for analysis or the imagination.
In the Doc's and Sevrine's notes, they indicated that the mouth did not fulfill the bouquet's promise, commenting that it was even a bit short. Edouard liked it best and easily pegged it as a left bank. The Stockbroker commented that it tasted quite fresh. I identified it as a Cos and, for reasons below, ranked it 2nd best.
It turned out to be the Doc's 1996 Cos d'Estournel.
Wine # 2 - Clear old red with a red-orange blush tinged with hints of browning, it was clearly the oldest wine. It's bouquet was an intricate and delicate perfume of truffled, sweet red fruit and the merest touch of game. Pure, silky, medium-bodied and a textbook in elegance. Yes, I knew this was my wine, but that is not the reason I voted it 1st place.
The Doc's notes stated that it was the 2nd best nose and had a better mouthfeel than Wine # 1. The Stockbroker called it as "mature, soft, oldest, 80s left-bank". Edouard guessed it was a left-bank from either '85 or '86. Sevrine and my wife commented that this wine and Wine # 3 were very similar. Sevrine accurately noted that this wine was an older vintage of Wine # 3.
This Wine # 2 was my 1979 Pichon Lalande.
Wine # 3 - Initially reluctant nose (my notes add that it was comparatively mute to the first 2 wines), it eventually gave up a faint sweetish, smoky cedar, cassis nose. Fuller bodied than Wine # 2, with a long cassis/black coffee/cedar finish. The Doc's notes were consistent with mine.
Sevrine, as stated earlier, correctly identified this as a younger version of Wine # 2; while the Stockbroker noted it as "closed initially" and also correctly identified it as a mid-90s Pauillac.
It turned out to be the Stockbroker's 1994 Pichon Lalande which I ranked 3rd best.
Wine # 4 - My notes state that it had a plummy, cassis, bell pepper, black coffee nose with ripe (but not sweet) blackcurrant, espresso and cedar dominating the mouth. I ranked it 4th.
Edouard identified this as his wine, the Doc gave it his nod stating it had "sweet fruit" and a "lovely nose", while the Stockbroker opined that it was closed and identified it as a right-bank or New World and the youngest wine from the mid to late 90s.
It was Edouard's 1998 Chauvin, a dark horse from St-Emilion. Aside from Ed, I'm pretty sure none of us had ever had this wine before.
1st Place - Wine#1, the Doc's 1996 Cos d'Estournel with a landslide score of 28 pts (6 votes for 1st, 1 vote for 2nd and 1 vote for 4th which was his own).
2nd Place - Wine#2, my 1979 Pichon Lalande with 21 pts (my own 1 vote for 1st, 5 votes for 2nd and 2 votes for 4th).
3rd Place - Wine#4, Edouard's 1998 Chauvin with 16 pts (1 vote for 1st, 1 vote for 2nd, 3 votes for 3rd and 3 votes for 4th).
4th Place - Wine#3, the Stockbroker's 1994 Pichon Lalande with 15 pts (1 vote for 2nd, 5 votes for 3rd and 2 votes for 4th).
And so it went, congratulations to the Doc for a battle hard fought and convincingly won.
Until next time.