1966 BIRTHDAY VERTICAL AT DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER - Domaine de Chevalier - actually on 2 December 2016 (1/3/2017)

First off, happy new year to all!

Wine is a drink for civilized discourse, as I found out yet again, close to my 50th birthday, over dinner with friends and family, with a horizontal of mostly 1966 Bordeaux on Friday evening 2 December 2016. Host Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier has a justified reputation as being savvy, gentlemanly, suave, fun loving and truly passionate about wine. Over dinner, he enjoys serving older wines blind that end in the same number of the current year, and asks dinner guests to make educated guesses. It was a great dinner, including Jean-Claude Berrouet, former winemaker at Petrus. More details on the dinner, with plenty of pictures:
Bordeaux 1966: 50 years on
  • 1996 Deutz Champagne Brut Millésimé - France, Champagne
    Mature color, and tasted mature, yet lively and finely textured. From memory, it exuded stone fruit aromatics and flavors with slight notes of hazelnut and toffee, providing a touch of complexity to the vibrant aspect of this wine that went down very smoothly. We all enjoyed it. (90 pts.)
  • 1996 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque - France, Champagne
    Spends more years on the lees in bottle than the regular Dom Perignon. The chiseled precision of the vintage, with gorgeously fine bubbles provided magnificent texture. The color of the wine was younger looking than the Deutz, although both are from the same vintage. Guest Shaun Bishop, CEO of JJ Buckley wine importers in California, remarked that he would have thought that the wine was from 2008, had it been served blind. The flavors were toasty brioche, wet stone and fine citrus, of finesse and subtlety, and the length went on and on. Dinner guest and noted Bordeaux wine author Jane Anson tweeted that it counted among the top three wines of the evening, and later wrote a Decanter text counting it as among her top ten wines tasted in 2016. I agree. (97 pts.)
  • 1966 Château Malartic-Lagravière Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    From half bottle! At first, delicate and focused, to me at least, but lacked some mid-palate density and exuded some pyrazine (it was a bit under-ripe), as Olivier Bernard stressed. Shaun reminded us that had we enjoyed this alone, as a 1966 and from a half bottle to boot, it would have been very impressive indeed. Tellingly, Jean-Claude Berrouet liked it more than Olivier, who focused more on the wine’s greenish aspects. Even still, the color was hardly suggestive of a half-century old white, Olivier stressed – and we all marveled at its freshness at such an old age. My score may just be conservative. (90 pts.)
  • 1966 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    A gorgeous Domaine de Chevalier fully overshadowed the two other dry white 1966s. Contoured and complex, with aromatics and flavors that included saffron, ripe grapefruit rind and lime, “very citrus” as Olivier Bernard said, but with a full-bodied mid palate giving off notions of stone fruit, which Jean Claude Berrouet sensed as well. Exotic notes like mango rounded out the flavors, nicely matched by the starter of shrimp and foie gras on a bed of … chopped mango. (93 pts.)
  • 1966 Château de Fieuzal Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Not as refined as the Domaine de Chevalier, a bit “larger grained,” so to speak, yet thoroughly robust and even heady, with spicy apricot notes. It looked the most evolved of the three 1966 dry whites, but not quite deep gold in hue, either. It was delicious. (91 pts.)
  • 1966 Château La Mission Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Olivier Bernard thinks that they may have picked too early in 1966, and he was surprised at a certain lack of density coming from the estate. I focused more on the aromatics as well as an “elegant” delivery. With time in glass, aspects turned more forest floor and leafy. A lovely red but - sure - not as corpulent and substantial as one could expect from LMHB. (92 pts.)
  • 1966 Domaine de Chevalier - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    This was quite excellent. Darker in color and denser in aspect than the LMHB of the same vintage, although perhaps not quite as fine grained. Where it turned more convincing to me was with its more youthful palate, more robust, and with pleasing iodine notes on the long finish: a lovely pairing with the young guinea fowl. A touch of vanilla in the sauce also matched the denser aspects of the Domaine de Chevalier better. (93 pts.)
  • 1966 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    It seemed just OK but with a somewhat muted expression, which Olivier Bernard said amounted to a slightly faulty bottle. There was no cork issue, but the wine was just not very expressive. Loads of question marks, so we moved on... NR (flawed)
  • 1966 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Exuded both floral and cigar box notes so typical of old Cabernet Sauvignon, but a certain delicate aspect (due to the Merlot?) made some of us, including myself, think that it could have been the Château Palmer, the third wine served. While the Pichon had quite a bit of structure, the Palmer was denser, making some of us think of it almost as a Pauillac. However, over time in glass, the slightly austere structure of the Pichon (again perhaps picked a bit too early, said Olivier Bernard) felt more and more “Pauillac-like” in an “old school” manner. Whatever the case, it was great stuff. (93 pts.)
  • 1966 Château Palmer - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    A fantastic showing. Indeed the nose on the Palmer – sheer perfume incense – gave it away as the Margaux early on, and that had been my first instinct. Olivier Bernard reminded us that first instincts are usually right in blind tastings. The density of the Palmer was amazing, that made me think later that it was a Pauillac. A gorgeous wine that got better and better in glass. “Iris flower,” remarked Jean Claude Berrouet. “Very floral, very Margaux,” remarked Francis Anson. Truly worth its lofty reputation. (96 pts.)
  • 1966 Château Bonalgue - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Compared to the other Right Bankers, it was just a bit flat and boring.
  • 1966 Château Latour à Pomerol - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    A regal nose. The palate displayed opulence, density and length. For Olivier Bernard, it had a distinctly “masculine” aspect. What was wonderful about this wine was its density and length, and power. At 50 years of age, and still going so strong. And, well, delicious, too. (95 pts.)
  • 1966 Château Cheval Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Served single blind in this flight of Right Bank 1966s, this Château Cheval Blanc mystified us with sheer perfume, which lept out of the glass and made us think: “This is what Bordeaux excellence should be.” Certainly the RWOTN (red wine of the night), albeit with Palmer a close second. And Latour à Pomerol not far behind. The floral elegance so intense, and yet so fresh, and even delicate on the nose. Olivier Bernard thought of it in "masculine" terms. Here was “bold” but also graceful. For lovers of bold California Cabs, Cheval Blanc provides a Bordeaux contrast. The subtleness was stellar. And a wine that Robert Parker misunderstood at least twice, both scores (the latest in 2003) a mere 85 points... (97 pts.)
  • 1966 Kopke Porto Colheita - Portugal, Douro, Porto
    While not as deep as a veritable vintage port, the Kopke Colheita 1966 proved delicious, having been aged in large old oak casks up to 2014, when it was bottled. “Mirabelle and quince jelly,” Jean-Claude Berrouet remarked. “So fresh and smooth and it did not taste its age,” Francis Anson said. And a fine match to the mignardises for the end game. (93 pts.)
Posted from CellarTracker
 
Wonderful notes Panos and what a birthday treat! Those old Cheval's do seem to have the most extraordinary aromatic profile that comes after 30-40 years! I also am a sucker for old Bordeaux blanc. They age so well. LMHB seems to have not been hitting its stride as I've had two very majestic bottles of it. On both times upon opening all I do could was make a loud 'ahhhh' noise (so my friends tell me).
 
Wonderful notes Panos and what a birthday treat! Those old Cheval's do seem to have the most extraordinary aromatic profile that comes after 30-40 years! I also am a sucker for old Bordeaux blanc. They age so well. LMHB seems to have not been hitting its stride as I've had two very majestic bottles of it. On both times upon opening all I do could was make a loud 'ahhhh' noise (so my friends tell me).
I had the LMHB 66 a year ago and it was amongst the most majestic of Bordeaux I've ever had. It outshone the Latour 61 on the same evening. We ll, there's only great bottles etc....

But what a lineup!
 
Wonderful notes Panos and what a birthday treat! Those old Cheval's do seem to have the most extraordinary aromatic profile that comes after 30-40 years! I also am a sucker for old Bordeaux blanc. They age so well. LMHB seems to have not been hitting its stride as I've had two very majestic bottles of it. On both times upon opening all I do could was make a loud 'ahhhh' noise (so my friends tell me).

Thanks for your reply Gareth. It is amazing how older white Bordeaux can age so well.
 
I have 1 bottle left of the 64 DDC blanc...glorious wine. I think we finished the previous bottle off in 30 mins or so. Just have to find the right occasion to drink the final one...Amazing how well these wines can last.
 
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