I was married in 1989 and soon after began accumulating wines from 1989 for anniversary dinners for our 10th, 15th, and 20th anniversaries. Fortunately, 1989 provided lots of good wines with long aging potential. Even more fortunately, Alice has been able to put up with me for two decades and we had our latest celebration Saturday with 20 friends at Restaurant Christine, whose room next door has been the venue for all three dinners.
At the first dinner we served Veuve Clicquot Grand Dame (in double magnum), Leroy Meurseult Narvaux, Chateau de Meurseult, Grace, Pichon Lalande (in double magnum), La Conseillante, La Tour Blanche, and Rieussec. Five years ago se served Krug (in magnum), Bonneau du Matray, Corton-Charlemagne, Ramonet Chassagen-Montrachet Les Ruchottes, Vieux Telegraphe, Beaucastel, Rayas, Rieussec, and Raymond Lafon.
This time the starter was Krug in magnum, served with wild mushroom and mozzarella pizzas and pesto puff pastry palmier. Just incredible, as it was five years ago. WOTN by a wide margin. If this is a weak vintage for Krug, I can’t imagine what a good vintage would be like. Full, balanced, it should last a long time. A little was left over, and Sunday it was still great, but getting closer to tasting like a still wine.
Next, with shrimp bisque, were the Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlegmagne and Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Les Ruchottes. Five years ago I thought the BDM was tight but opened with air. This time, it was almost all structure and didn’t open up much during the evening. The Ramonet, was very open, drinking very well, and probably at its peak. I preferred the Ramonet, but I suspect most of the more serious winos in the group preferred the BDM.
With grilled Filet Mignon and Lamp Chops (the best of both worlds), we had Hermitages from Chave (in magnum), Jaboulet, and Chapoutier (Le Pavillon). All were opened about two hours before serving, but not decanted. Very different wines, although they were united by their tannins. I tend to be tannin-phobic, so others may appreciate these wines more than I did. The Chave had the best nose, started out very elegant, but became more tannic as the night progressed. The Chapoutier started out very full, which made it my favorite of the three, lost some of the body over the evening, and also became more tannic. I had been suspicious of the Jaboulet, having served a pruny, over-the-top bottle earlier this year so I opened a fifth as well as a magnum. Neither had the pruny character, and the magnum showed better than the fifth. It seemed to have more intensity, and the tannin stayed more in the background. This was probably the favorite of the group, based on how much was left in each bottle.
I’ve learned that for dessert it’s best to let people choose rather than mandate one so there was a variety of desserts. We served the Raymond Lafon and Climens. I had the former five years ago, when I found it structured, and a year or two ago when it was brought to a tasting and was nice but not noteworthy. It has greatly improved and it full, perhaps lacking a bit of acid, very enjoyable and probably at its peak (where it should stay for quite a while). Excellent, but it had the misfortune to be served with the Climents. I’ve had the Climens a few times over the past few years from a batch that (I believe) was re-released a few years ago. It’s always been a great wine but very backwards. This wine, bought upon release (as were all the wines) is way more advanced and much more enjoyable. Lighter in color and body, but what precision and flavors. A great wine, and, for me, the best Climens of the 80’s (until this bottle, my favorite was the 86).
Looking back at the three dinners, we had no corked or otherwise flawed bottles. The best wines were the Krug (both times) and Rayas, followed by the Leroy, Climens, and La Conseillante. If I knew then what I know now I probably would have served something other than the Chateau de Meurseult and might have opted for Cote Roties rather than Hermitages.
While I had not planned on it, I’ve been told that there will be a 25th anniversary party, although we won’t be serving Champagne or whites from 1989 (red and desserts won’t be a problem)