A few hours before this month’s Imbibe New York Wine Club meet, my back went out…just as I was getting dressed for a run. If it were a night of Zin or Shiraz I would have stayed home with my back pressed flat to the floor. But on this night, Brian (who works at Polaner) was in charge of bringing some wines from Bordeaux, including 2003 d’Yquem, and so, despite my lack of mobility, I dragged my spastic back-ass out the door.
A few pills later, I could move, but not enough to vary the perspective of my photographs. And so, as much as I’m trying to veer towards the suggestive and away from the illustrative, the pictures here on this post will be just that…
I know that many live and die by Bordeaux. I have yet to have the experience that takes me there.
To start the evening, Suzanne decanted a bottle of Chateau Trottevielle Saint-Emilion Premier Grand-Cru Classé 1978. And while she didn’t intend for this to be an official part of the tasting–due to the bottle’s battered condition–it was interesting to witness how this wine, which was long past its prime, struggled, to take its last breaths. While I wouldn’t call this particular bottle drinkable, tasting it was like volunteering bedside at a hospice. At first, there were lovely aromas of cherry, red plum, and dried flowers or potpourri, which were then followed by tinned cherries on the palate. And though the tannins were tossed to premature oxidation, there were notes of dirt, green herbs, and coriander, which served to filter the initial flavors of red fruit. As for the finish, there was none.
Flash forward a few hours, to the end of the night, and this one’s still hooked up to the machine. Oxidized, with a slightly shrunken cork, its final breaths weren’t gallant nor heroic, but the aromas and flavors had moved on. And though it still lacked a finish, the tinny notes were gone. Now, the bouquet included red delicious apple and pressed wood chips. The floral notes developed hints of pachouli, and the acidity (riding a splash of a wake) stood thin, with its back against a red brick wall.
Chateau Sainte-Marie Entre Deux Meres Vieilles Vignes 2008–this lemon colored blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, and 10% Muscadelle, was a hit with the Imbibers that night. It’s an oily wine–even on the nose–like an old school greaser with thin but soft flesh…nothing a bit of leather and blue jean couldn’t fix. With notes of lemon/pine and crushed stone, there’s acidity that’s initially aggressive–bursting on the palate and looking for a fight. Yellow citrus appears as grated lemon pith, lemon candies, and grapefruit. Eventually, the texture settles, like a plain with a seemingly endless horizon that’s just an illusion, because it happens to fade short.
By the same producer, Chateau Sainte-Marie, comes Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2007. Smokey and toasted, like a burnt marshmallow on a cinnamon stick. Over baking spices hovers a cloud of floral notes, until one sips. 18oº flip—one-dimension. An initial spice followed by black fruit that falls apart in the mouth.
Chateau Fatin Saint Estephe 2000. Aromas of a newly unwrapped bicycle inner-tube rolling through a triple berry patch. Fresh forward fruit on the nose, that tightens on the palate, where there’s a dirty texture, like unwashed skin on root vegetable that’s just been unearthed. Hints of black pepper, and later a whole jalapeno uncut.
Chateau de Reignac 2005–a blend of 70% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Like loaf of dark German pumpernickel with a pinch of cocoa, and rye, it’s structurally solid and reminiscent of a red desert floor. Black pepper spice tickles the back of the throat and the wine is textured like chocolate milk.
For the bang of the evening, I haven’t a picture, because at this point I was happy to have simply made it through the night.
Chateau d’Yquem 2003. Dried mushrooms–wild porcini–with underarm aromas of orange, marmalade, and apricot. Creamy on the palate between spicy sheets of acidity and pillows of fresh cut pineapple fruit. Ummmm…
So, though I didn’t find God on the Right or Left Bank, (for visions of Godliness, read here), I saw stars when I moved, enjoyed some stellar company, and drank gold at the end of the night.
Stay tuned next month for Cru Beaujolais!