Notes from one of our periodic dinner gatherings designed to offer excuses to drink wines we’ve been hanging onto, in search of an occasion.

With crostini with foie gras, and crostini with anchovy and radish (both delicious)

2002 Bollinger Grande Annee Champagne – a young, young bubble with a noseof ripe apples, and a lovely creamy mouth feel, finishing clean and long. Good balance and acidity indicates a long life ahead (I wouldn’t normallydrink it this young, but great to get to taste it).

With an old favourite, escargots Bourguignon:

Marcel Lapierre Beaujolais Morgon MMIX – no idea why this producer likes Roman numerals, but in any case, this mouthwatering wine was dark, sappy and redolent of raspberry and cherry fruit. Lots of stuffing and great mid-palate fruit, it showed excellent length and developed some nice hints of herbs and earth. One of the best Bojos I have tasted.

With turbans of sole and herbs:

2006 Christian Moreau Chablis Valmur – a lot of lime in this light strawcoloured wine, and some hints of cashew and vanilla. Clean and precise on palate despite having what I’d call medium heavy and rich body and a longdry finish. Drinking really well now.

With terrine Parisienne (pork and mushroom) and onion confit:

1999 Jacques Prieur Volnay Champans – best I’ve seen this wine perform!Fairly dark with a dark cherry/blackberry nose, good fruit levels and a long supple finish. May be at peak now (checked and I have 4 bb in my cellar– time to find it!)

With magret and confit de canard:

1982 Leoville Poyferre – this dark wine had some leather and plum in the nose (more reticent than the following wine) and excellent concentrations of sweet fruit on palate, smooth, long and ready now. If I had a criticism,I’d have liked it to be a bit more outgoing in the nose, but we were probably being unduly hard on it tasting it beside the effusive 1990.

1990 Leoville Poyferre – garnet with a lovely nose of warm spicy (nutmeg,I think) fruit, which I immediately commented on, saying ‘California!’Mellow sweet fruit in the mouth, and a lengthy sweet finish. This wine is really just hitting stride and there is no rush at all (‘found’ a half case in my cellar, but won’t be in any rush to start uncorking as it may continue to improve). This was exceptionally good. This property languished for literally decades (when you can screw up in vintages like 1961, 1966and 1970, you look like you are beyond redemption), and then spat out the first good wine they’d made in living memory in 1982. They then (after a decent 1983) managed to flub it again and made mediocre wines in vintages like 1985 and 1986 where others were shining. In 1990, they came back witha superstar, and have produced many good, and a few great wines since. Itwas nice to taste the first two vintages of the renaissance of this property side by side.

With epoisse cheese:

1988 Ch. Guiraud – we’ve tasted this pair maybe 6 or 7 or more times before and the development has been interesting. In the early years, the Guiraud came out on top, then Suduiraut started to show its stuff and became the favourite for the last few tastings. In this instance, it had a lighter colour, a nose that featured coconut and apricot, (dried apricots particularly came out after some airing) and was the early favourite.

1988 Ch. Suduiraut – oranger in colour, this wine showed less nose initially and while it was nice, it was judged not as good as the Guiraud. It must have been listening, because as it sat there in the glass, it picked up some new attributes, including a striking orange marmalade nose, and puttingon weight and complexity in midpalate and finish. It ended up being longerfinishing and more complex that the Guiraud and we changed our votes to suit.
Another great small group dinner!