Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
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It was a privilege and a treat to be part of a stunningly exciting Cheval Blanc dinner at La Trompette (London) last week. Enormous thanks to the board members who organised and attended, and especially good to have Pierre-Olivier Clouet, the chateau’s technical director, in attendance.
I won’t list the food but, suffice to say, the proportion and pace of dinner was brilliantly judged. Given the levels of consumption(!), this was a masterclass in diner management – and I mean in the restaurant punter sense as opposed to the cheeseburger and coffee sense.
Given the dinner context of the event my notes are brief. Those left wanting more can check out Neal’s (undoubtedly superior) write up on eBob in due course.
Cristal 1985 (mag)
Evolved bouquet of honey and nuts. Still vital, fresh and surprisingly youthful. Not the most complex or precise – I’d prefer more detail in my fizz. 17/20
Blind 1 (Cheval Blanc 2000)
Blind 2 (Cheval Blanc 1998)
Both hand-carried from the chateau. Unfortunately the first bottle of 2000 was slightly compromised by its cork. This led to some disparate guesses. I wondered if they’d served the same vintage in Petit Cheval and the Grand Vin as #1 clearly wasn’t up to the standard of the 1998.
Evolved and quite bloody. Cool profile with grip and scent but not totally right. Something a tad green? This is evolving fast. Slightly smudged. NR (once revealed)
Totally different. Fresh and vital This is clean, compact and sleek with crunchy tannins and an oyster shell minerality. 1705/20
Very primary and youthful. More intensity and definition than the 2000. Complex, tight and direct. Exciting with lovely tension. 18.5/20
Fragrant, airy and feminine. An evolved mushroom/truffle nose. A point but retaining an attractive lick of tannic grip. 17/20
Marked aromas of iodine and blood. This is a bit bretty. Just starting to dry out the finish with ferrous, rusty nail notes. 16.5/20
More masculine and intense on the nose. The palate is strict and pure, with a clear resemblance to the 1998. Lifted and crisp. Fine-boned and mineral on the finish. 18/20
Finely spiced perfume – fragrant and complex. Opulent and mouth-filling on the palate. Has great mid-palate volume and complexity. Complete, expansive and superb. 19/20
A bit corked? – musty and earthy. Cleans up with air but never pristine. A mature, lighter and red fruit style. Just a bit simple. 16/20
Great nose – floral, leather and orange rind perfume. Just the right side of high-toned. The palate is succulent and scented with just enough grip and snap to keep your eyes open. Has time in hand. 18/20
Marked mocha on the nose. Distinctly roasted and charry. Can’t get away from this on the palate. Mars the experience. 16.5/20
Mature, complex with (clean) leather notes. Slow to unfurl but not in the class of the 1990 tonight. 17/20
Incredible colour – age evident at rim but the core is amazingly youthful and concentrated. Slightly frayed black fruit aromas but still showing great power. Not brutish, but a bit unkempt. Tight, full-bodied and muscular. Feels like a big wine that never fully came around. 16/20
Oxidised and volatile. Old mushrooms. Dead. 12/20
Great nose of spice and gingerbread – like an old Medoc. Fragrant and breezy. Lifted, elegant and slightly minty. A super bottle that’s fine-boned, scented and delicious. 18/20
Slightly muted and high-toned on the nose. Mature but no fireworks. Has some mass / volume and mineral drive but the finish falls away. 15/20
Cheval Blanc: a ‘shy’ nose of warm cinders. The palate showed good mid-palate energy, spice, snap and some mint. Engaging. 17/20
Chinon(!) – can someone supply the grower? Mature, slightly herbal aromas. The palate was enervated, green and slightly stringy. Wish I’d kept some as I heard it really improved…for me 14/20
Fresh and airy aromas. Fully resolved tannins and a silky texture. Good spice notes and ginger on the finish. 17.5/20
- half #1
Mushroomy, oxidised. Gone. 13/20
- half #2
Worse. Totally shagged. 10/20
Sensational! Youthful and vigorous fruit. Snapping and popping on the palate with brilliant spice still. Great mid-palate length, scent, complexity and finish. 19/20
Nose is slightly raw and juicy. Texture a bit coarse. Awkward and unbalanced. 15/20
Mature aromas with marked VA. Not bad but absolutely not on fire. Has a line of VA right through the palate. 16/20
1947 half (negoce)
Complex and mushroom/earthy but far more fruit than the ’45 and masses less VA. Sweet chocolate notes on the palate. Has dried fruit and (yes) Port elements. Old, with some koala ears, but still a big wine with a huge finish. Can see the architecture…17/20 so much better than the last one of these I saw…
Resolved nose with scented aromas of sandalwood and spice. Fine and sophisticated palate. Tight but really fine core. Spicy, savoury and dark-toned. Powerful finish. Brilliant wine. 18/20
Takes time in the glass. Sweet and woody aromas with notes of pine needles and sweet fruit. At once delicate (old) and quite grippy. There’s a slightly tough element in the background and a high-toned note of citrus rind. Dry on the finish. 16.5/20
My contribution so maybe I’m biased. Extremely fresh and fragrant on the nose. This is lithe and expressive. The palate profile is crisp and poised. Very fine, frangrant and scented with great mid-palate complexity. 19.5/20
This was really quite mushroomy and oxidised. Truffled and – sadly – too old. 15/20
A flat out once-in-a-lifetime dinner. Thanks to all involved. I’m going to have to dig deep for next time!
ITB - Averys, Bristol UK
And I sure wish I had things like magnums of 34 Cheval Blanc to contribute to tastings!!!
I'm glad to see you called the shots as you saw them instead of following vintage orthodoxy i.e. recieved wisdom about such things.
Appreciate this post, amazing dinner and I'm with you - I'd have dropped nearly everything to attend as I love Cheval Blanc.
"Never lose sight of the fact that it is just fermented grape juice" - a winemaker and negotiant in Napa Valley, CA
Amazing tasting, really appreciate the post!
I had the great luck to taste recently the '50 and '53 Ausone side by side. Shame your '53 was dead as it seems like a lovely vintage. The '50, and candidly the '53, Ausone, both drank similar to your note on the '50, showing quite youthfully (but not unkempt). Amazing wines with considerable life ahead of them. I had two glasses of each, following them over an evening.
Just curious, why would you score dead wines?
Another question, is '34 considered a serious quality Bordeaux vintage? Had a friend recently rave about a '34 Graves.
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Robert - I guess I score 'dead' wines as the note goes with the number. For instance an oxidised but nearly drinkable wine might be past it in my opinion but, at 13/20, more fun to drink than a totally shot bottle at 10/20. I wouldn't rate either as alive though.
ITB - Averys, Bristol UK
The Chinon 1964 was Clos de l'Echo.
ITB - Averys, Bristol UK
Very nice. Thanks for these notes.
Act without artifice, work without servility, savor the unflavored.
Make the small great, make much of little.
Respond to hatred with grace.
Lao Tzu "Tao Te Ching"
8 posts • Page 1 of 1