Friday, April 16, 2010

Three Fives for a Fifteen

If I'd planned ahead for last night's get-together, a 15th birthday party for the daughter of a good friend (Happy Birthday, Olivia!), I'd have rummaged through the cellar and pulled out a few birth-year Bordeaux or California Cabs. Beef was on the menu for the evening and it would have been a good chance to check in on some old-ish bottles (and to open up some space in my wine cabinet for stuff that's more in line with what I'm buying and drinking these days). The fact that I hadn't planned ahead worked out okay, as I realized that I had a '95 on hand. And through happy coincidence, my bottle found a mate at the party.

Vouvray "Clos de l'Avenir," Philippe Poniatowski 1995
$15 on release. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
Still very youthful in appearance, the '95 Clos de l'Avenir (demi-sec in style though not labeled as such) has nonetheless mellowed considerably with age, shedding much of the mineral pungency it had shown in earlier years. Now, it's delivering soft acids and lightly honeyed pear and apple fruit, accompanied, as always with Poniatowski's wines, by an infusion of excavated cave flavors. Perhaps past its best in terms of depth and structure but still showing a freshness that should let it ride out many more years in the cellar. I've seen Poni's wines ride evolutionary roller coasters (as opposed to the standard bell curves and plateaus) before, so who knows what a few more years might bring. For now, it's about simplicity and easy drinking.

Vouvray "Clos du Bourg" Demi-Sec, Huet 1995
$65. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Robert Chadderdon Selections, New York, NY.
This was a stark contrast to the wine from Poniatowski. Definitely more structured and intense, one could say more seemingly complex, but also in a relatively unapproachable state at the moment. Very funky on the nose — a little metallic botrytis influence, and quite sulfuric — it came across to me as a bit of a contradiction: simultaneously more mature than Poniatowski's "Clos de l'Avenir" yet also quite backward in its flavors and angular in feel. I'd be interested to see where it heads over the years to come; however, based on this bottle, I'm not sure the investment would be worth the required tariff. That said, I'd be very curious to hear of others' experiences with this.

For the beef, we turned not to Bordeaux or California but to Beaujolais. Lest that seem an odd choice to you, let us not forget that the Beaujolais is situated only about 45 kilometers to the ESE of Charolles, the original home of Charolais cattle. A bottle of good Cru Beaujolais is exactly what people in the area would pair with their hangar steak. We opted for a magnum....

Morgon, Georges Descombes 2005 (from magnum)
$40. 13.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
This turned out to be the wine of the night, not only for me but for the whole group of folks around the table, many of whom lean toward bigger, bolder, more New World wines. Descombes' Morgon isn't at all New World in style, mind you. This was just one of those bottles where the pure deliciousness of the wine spoke for itself. The richness and structure of the 2005 vintage was in full evidence, along with plush, dark red fruits and a real crackling sense of energy (bordering on a little spritziness) on the palate. Great with the beef, even if it wasn't Charolais.


Do Bianchi said...

um, are you available on my birthday this year? I'm planning on having my birthday party in Philly... 1995 Huet will be just fine, fyi... even though I was born during the summer of love...

David McDuff said...

Hmm, can't say I have any '67 Huet in the cellar but there are a couple of bottles of '45 at CSW ;)

Seriously, you come to Philly for Bastille Day and I'll throw the party.

TWG said...

Just imagine the bottles you'll open when she turns 21.

David McDuff said...

@TWG - Very good point. Maybe the Huet will come back 'round by then. And I'm guessing the same reds I might have brought last night will still be more than alive and kicking in another six years if I can manage to hold onto them that long.

@DoBi - just to clarify, I brought the Poni; the host provided the Huet.

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