Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This Runner Stumbles.

10 February 2009. Got a late e-mail from James last night, asking the Doc, Stockbroker and I for a little help in choosing more wines to order. I don't really see why he'd need our help as he seems to be doing quite well on his own. In any event, I made sure to stop by Premium Wine Exchange, the appointed venue, late this afternoon.

Unfortunately, I ran late at the office and, knowing the others had dinners to attend, rushed over. No thanks to the traffic on Pasay Road (why is it that there always is or seems to be more traffic than usual when one is rushing?), I was a bit frazzled when I got there. The others had already started with their first pours, a mystery wine from James.

After a few bites of bread and butter, as well as a taste or three of dried sausage, I attempted to identify the wine. My first sip was big, ripe, well-extracted and a bit hot towards the back with sweetish dark fruit, cassis, cedar and a touch of camphor. This made me initially suspect I was being slipped a Bordeaux ringer (i.e., a wine made with a Bordeaux blend, in the Bordeaux style, but made other than in Bordeaux or even France). The Doc assured me it was Bordeaux.

I tried to settle down a bit and get into tasting mode. A few more sips revealed a good, definitive yet fine strike/attack flowing easily to a fullish middle, tapering smoothly to a long, elegant finish. The dark fruit was very ripe - somewhat sweetish - over cassis, cedar, touch of baked fig, sweet camphor and hints of licorice and truffle. There was a nice, subtle over-all gravelly nuance to the wine. Very silky and refined. Wonderful balance.

The Doc then hinted that we tried this a long time ago from the Stockbroker, but that didn't help me any because we've all shared so many wines over the years.

Because of its ripeness, I said it may be a 1990 or a very well-preserved 1982. Leaning more towards 1990 (though agreeing with one that it may possibly also be a 1989), I said then that it was a left bank 1990. However, because of over-thinking - not trusting my first guess/instincts really - and the mid-mouth red fruit, dried cranberry and plummy notes that seemed to emerge later on - I changed my guess to another wine far off-base. It matters not, to me, that I was on the right path at first, I changed my answer. I just console myself by saying that it's a good thing I wasn't on a game show answering for a million dollars.

The wine was eventually revealed to be a 1990 Château Grand Puy Lacoste (5th Growth, Pauillac, in the 1855 Classification). The Doc and Stockbroker then reminded me that the latter shared a half-bottle format (375ml) of this together, among others at one of our (then) regular lunches together at Tivoli. Honestly, my mind was (and still is) a blank on that bottle. I vaguely remember that half-bottle but, honestly, all detail of the wine had long been lost to me.

The others had to rush off to their dinner engagements and I headed south for home. I checked my old notes but can't find any on this wine. It is entirely possible that, due to drinking too much that day, I didn't remember the wines well enough to write down notes with confidence - so I didn't write any. In truth, none of us even remember what other bottles we had that day - something very unusual - so we all must have consumed a lot more wine than we normally do.

It is only now, as I write, that I realize that we never even discussed James' list with him, much less give any input on what to buy. Sorry, James. Hopefully, we can be of more help over lunch later this week.

Thanks a lot for sharing that fine bottle of wine, it was excellent - definitely a refined, silky and elegantly ripe Pauillac.


Anonymous said...

from my first whiff and sip i was totally convinced it was a well aged, impeccably stored '89 Pomerol. (I guessed Conseillante.) That it was from the left bank was a total surprise! Wonderful wine. Drinking at its apogee and should stay there for several years. James- thanks again! -jojo

Noel said...

I agree, I can't imagine this getting much better than it is already. Better to drink it up now if one has a stock of it. I don't, but wish I did.

Doc and I discussed it briefly via text last night. I told him it was similar to, but not as full and extracted as the '90 Pichon Baron - specifcally - the one Bernie shared with Oscar and I around a year ago in Choi Garden. That bottle convinced me to enter the '90 Pichon Baron in our last Bdx Challenge. Unfortunately, the bottle I bought (from Bernie also) wasn't as good as the first one....



Anonymous said...

One whiff and you immediately said "1990 left bank"....amazing!

Trust your instinct! :-)


Noel said...

Hi, James.

I'll certainly take that piece of advice to heart, thanks. And thanks again for sharing that bottle!