Notes on 4 pretty formidable wines drunk over a weekend, two on Friday, two on Saturday – thank you to some very generous friends!
La Fleur-Pétrus and Hermitage La Chapelle
My third tasting of the Hermitage ’97 confirms it as an absolutely stunning vintage, probably the best since 1990. Crammed with fruit, but with wonderful length and the structure to age. The Pomerol only really started to show well after several hours of opening.
La Fleur-Pétrus (Pomerol) 1995
Youthful, dark ruby/black colour. Very attractive nose of earth, spices and red fruits (berries and plums), some rounded, creamy oak aromas. Young and tight on the palate, there are high levels of both tannins and acidity, but there’s a depth of peppery, berry fruit and very good length. Classy. Super Tuscan?
Jaboulet (Rhône) Hermitage La Chapelle 1997
Opaque ruby/purple colour. Delicious nose. Big, dry with charcoal and sweet black fruit and a depth of dark chocolate and earthiness. On the palate there is succulent bitter plum-skin and blueberry fruit, plus ripe blackberry and a sheen of sweet vanilla. Syrah. There is a real peppery warmth to the finish, which is extraordinarily long. Very good indeed.
Mouton-Rothschild and Ridge Monte Bello
The second two wines made for a fascinating contrast: a top Bordeaux verses a top Californian “Bordeaux blend” of Cabernet and Merlot. Both are marvellous wines, the Monte Bello more opulent and darker-hued, the Mouton-Rothschild more subtle, yet intriguingly fragrant. Drunk with some noisettes of lamb, both worked beautifully well.
Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac) 1983
Wonderful to have a chance of adding to my experience of the ’83 clarets, as I think I’ve now tasted all first and second growths apart from Lafite. Colour is a solid, dark ruby. The nose offers up gorgeous scents of rich blackcurrant with lovely complexity of mocha coffee, pencil-shavings and spice. There’s a distinct aroma of black olive that adds an edge. The palate is medium-bodied and very graceful, with a warmth of black fruits and sweet oak, easy tannins and really tremendous length. The whole picture is very subtle and multi-layered. This is a truly lovely wine, whose charms reveal themselves more slowly than the Monte Bello. Drinking nicely now.
Ridge Vineyards (California) Monte Bello Cabernet 1992
My first experience of this, regarded by many afficionados as California’s greatest Bordeaux-style wine, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. It has a fabulously seductive, opulent nose of blue/black berry fruit, kirsch and sweet violet notes. The palate too is silky and rich, with a core of dense, dusty fruit, a nice cedar and herbal edge, and a wonderfully integrated underpinning structure of ripe tannins and moderate acidity. Drinking beautifully, but still very young.