This was a gathering of serious wine nuts who participate in wine-pages UK Wine Forum and who had come to Glasgow to take part in superBOWL 2003. On the preceding evening we booked a table at the wonderful Braidwoods restaurant in Dalry, about 30 miles from Glasgow. Each participant brought along a “mega-wine”. There was no stipulation of what should be on the table, except it must be an exceptional wine of the very highest quality. Elitist? Maybe, but then we had to close the doors on the dinner once the first 10 wine nuts had leaped on board, so maybe not that elistist after all.
Pol Roger (Champagne) Sir Winton Churchill 1990
Lovely nose of woodland and mushrooms, with plenty of almondy and salted nut notes. Plenty of finesse here. Good mousse, quite soft but persistent. Full, sturdy palate with such a fine, dry stony minerality and suggestions of lime and citrus. Some more fig and truffle complexity and good length. Still very young. Excellent.
Raveneau (Burgundy) Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 1991
Nose is typically Raveneau, with complexity obvious under a forbidding mantle of minerals, stone and oyster shells, with nuances of acacia honey. On the palate there is sweeter custard and apple fruit, with a nutty quality. Pure and balanced, there is that fantastic minerality and poise, stretching out into a long finish. Excellent.
Niellon (Burgundy) Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Chevenottes 1989
Quite odd at first, perhaps a little candied fruit, but a distracting hint of grilled mackerel (no, we were’nt eating fish at this point!). Some oatmeally quality on the palate, but I am finding this a bit disjointed and hard work. Moderate, possible a little past it?
Château Haut-Brion (Bordeaux) Graves Blanc 1992
Fantastic nose, with terrifically opulent marzipan, turpentine and waxy wool notes over cashew nut and ripe apple fruit. The palate is beautifully dry and waxy, with lime and quite lush, apricotty fruit, then a lovely dry acidity that lengthens the finish. A great wine, and Excellent.
Comte de Vogüé (Burgundy) Musigny Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes 1991
The deep cherry red colour is very youthful, though just a hint of brown at rim. Essence of truffle, woodsmoke and damp woodland floor, with a ripe cherry and blackberry fruit character. Plenty of sweet vanilla in the background. Fine, earthy, gorgeously animal palate with bloody notes suffused with dried cherry and tobacco. Great acidity, powerful tannins and rather young, though fabulous length. Excellent.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (Burgundy) Richebourg Grand Cru 1990
Colour of dried blood. Tight, deep nose is quite closed, though glimpses of kirsch-like cherry fruit and an aromatic camphor, incense and smouldering ash character. Meatier, bloody aromas emerge, and a slightly cooked plum fruit depth. The palate is quite muscular and lean in comparison, but it opened out over half an hour in the glass to show more of that soft, earthy fruit amongst polished tannins and cherry acidity. The gamy notes are in there too. Quite a difficult wine to assess in some ways, though complex and obviously of superb quality, I am not sure if it needs time to knit togther a little more, or if this is just the style of the wine. Excellent/Outstanding.
Château Montrose (Bordeaux) 2eme Cru 1961
This has such a lovely old sweet, bloody, claret nose, with nuances of game, leather and sweeter violet and dusty aromas. On the palate some soft, old cedary wood is nicely layered with remnants of sweet cassis and soft, autumnal berry flavours. Sweet tannins and low acidity are resolved into quite a long, mellow finish. Lovely stuff and excellent.
Château Haut-Brion (Bordeaux) 1er Cru 1983
The colour is a rich, browning ruby. The nose displays a lovely hint of horsey, sweaty saddle, old leather and a definite touch of Brettanomyces, which is absolutely not a problem here, but adds to a complex character with some bay leaf notes and deep, sweet, berried fruit. The palate is beautifully balanced with a terrifically polished character of svelte tannins adding grip, and good fruit that still has life about it. Fine length here, and this is drinking better than a bottle I had a couple of years ago. Absolutely a point on this evidence. Excellent.
Château Pichon-Lalande (Bordeaux) 2eme Cru 1982
A 100-Parker-point wine that I last drank about a year and a half ago. This has a very deep, dense colour, with fantastic sweetness on the nose; much more ripe and lush than the Haut-Brion, with pure cassis and a touch of sweet Asian dried plum as well as plenty of mellowing, cigar-box and background oak. The palate is so much sweeter too, with an amazing depth of glossy black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, with depths of plum and cocoa. Impeccable balance, with silky tannins and integrated acidity. Gorgeous stuff, and Outstanding.
Henschke (Australia) Cyril Henschke Hill of Grace 1986
Dark, thick, blackish colour immediately suggests a change in character here. Big, powerul, resiny, slightly volatile aromas with leather, spice, incense and caramel, sweet blueberry fruit and a touch of damp, truffle character. The palate has plenty of ripe, open cherry and plum fruit. A real fruity core, with suggestions of liquorice and chocolate-coated caramel and a mocha coffee finish. A very impressive wine with good structure and good length, though perhaps suffers after three such classy and very differently styled wines. Excellent.
Château d’Yquem (Bordeaux) Sauternes 1er Cru 1983
This has quite a deep, burnished gold colour. Big marzipan and vanilla-loaded nose dominating some honey and barley sugar notes and sweet, almost minty tropical fruit reminiscent of banana. Full, opulent palate with ripe nectarine fruit and gently honeyed flavours. Seems very fine and very resolved. There’s a good core of lemony acidity, and those layers of oak sit beneath the fruit. I think this still needs some time, but it has beautiful sweetness and length. Excellent.