Bordeaux dinner in Dubai with some old-ish wines

A medical conference in Abu Dhabi, a wine buddy (Michael P) living in nearby Dubai, and the birthday of another friend (Michael B) attending the medical conference gave rise to a dinner with some old-ish Bordeaux and a few Bordeaux Wine Enthusiast board veterans last week. We met at the home of one of Michael P’s friends - Emanuele and Ag - in the Dubai Marina. We were joined by another wine buddy (Tim McC) from Paris also in Dubai on business, making this a truly international event.

Our generous hosts put on a sumptuous meal of prosciutto, tomatoes with mozarrela, home-made pasta, and grilled steaks. Unfortunately, the tiramisu cake I brought melted in the car on the way over, but we made do with oranges for dessert. Great fun was had rekindling old friendships, making new ones, and discussing everything from politics to cars to whatever on a balmy evening out on the 19th floor balcony of Emanuele and Ags beautiful home overlooking the city and the Gulf of Arabia. Here are my impressions of the wines:

Champagne Starters:
1996 Bollinger Grande Annee: light yellow, fresh nose, lots of bubbles, bread and yeast, fresh fruit, medium body still young but excellent.
1996 Krug: light-medium yellow, more intense nose than the Bolly, much more bread and yeast, more earth and fuller body on the palate with a longer finish. Also young but giving great pleasure now. Outstanding.

First Red Flight
2009 Le Pin: no, not that Le Pin. This was labeled just plain Bordeaux. I think it may have been sold by the cousin of the guy who tried to sell me a $50 Rolex in the gold souk earlier in the afternoon. It tasted like cab and merlot, sort of ripe and sweet and diffuse, decent but nothing special and not particularly identifiable as Bordeaux, except for the label. If you believed it. Good.
2007 Patache d’Aux: this was definitely Bordeaux. A Cru Bourgeois Superieur. Not particularly big or complex but nice structure and balance and some good fruit. Very good.

Second Red Flight
1962 Pontet Canet: medium dark red with bricking at rim. Sweet tea/wet leaves on the nose - perfumed and elegant beautiful aged Bordeaux nose. Light-medium body, nice sweet aged Bordeaux flavors, good balance, medium finish. Really captivating nose. Excellent to outstanding.
1966 Beychevelle: medium dark red, bricking at rim. Off-putting volatile dry cleaning solvent on the nose, but this blew off over 30 minutes to reveal another nicely complex nose, more youthful than the '62, with a little more weight on the palate and a longer finish. Balance was tilted less to the acid side than the '62. I initially wrote this one off but glad I came back to it as it caught the '62 Pontet Canet in some respects. But I’ll still pick the Pontet Canet as the better of the two wines in this flight. Excellent to outstanding.

Third Red Flight
1953 Cos d’Estournel: this was served as a stand-alone in honor of my friend Michael B’s birthday. A birth year vintage wine most generously supplied by MIchaelP, mid-low shoulder but still red at the core with bricking at the rim, mushroom and earthy notes mixed with cassis on the nose. Very smooth on the palate, perhaps a bit tired/past it but not seriously oxidized, it still had fruit to give and for lovers of old complex Bdx this was still excellent.

Fourth Red Flight (Tim brought a couple of bottles clad in foil for us to puzzle over):
Blind A: red core, lightening at rim but no bricking. Aged Cab (Bordeaux?) nose but not yet completely given over to the sweet tea and wet leaves stage. Medium body, nice complexity on the palate, medium finish. Excellent. I guess a really nice left bank Bordeaux from the 1980s. It is 1982 Branaire Ducru a wine which kicked the behinds of some more exalted '82s at a blind tasting many of us attended at a BWE annual gathering about a decade ago.
Blind B: dark red core, minimal lightening at the rim. Definite Cab nose but more New-Worldy. Seems like it’s got some aged complexity but more in a California-y way. Maybe a 1970s California Cab. And going back to the nose a little later: Mint, and lots of it! Really nice wine, great body and balance and finish. Outstanding. I guess seventy-something Heitz Martha’s Vineyard but try to minimize my expected embarrassment by noting that I am almost always wrong about this stuff. I’m as surprised as the rest of the group when Tim pulls off the foil to reveal a 1975 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard. Is it illegal to call a Cali Cab your WOTN at a Bordeaux Wine Enthusiasts event? If so, I’ll go for the '62 Pontet Canet.

Fifth Red Flight
1983 Gruaud Larose: dark red core, bricking at rim. Nice earthy nose without any bretty merde, medium body, has developed nice complexity, medium long finish. Excellent but not in the same league with the wines in Flight 2 or 4. This bottle has a little history: it was the last of a batch of wines I inherited from my father in 1991. I kept holding it and holding it until I realized if I held it too long it would lose its magic without anyone enjoying it. Not a proper legacy, so I brought it tonight where it was administered appropriate last rites. It kept getting better the more I thought about this, so my rating is far from objective.
1989 Leoville Barton: darker red with only a little lightening at the rim. Biggest, youngest of the Bdx with likely room for improvement but very nice now. Very good to excellent with an upside.

1977 Dows Vintage Port: dark red, nicely mature, great fruit concentration, drinking extremely well but with many more years to go, excellent to outstanding. Wish I had more time to spend with this one before leaving.

Unfortunately the hour was late and we had to give our driver a break and head back to Abu Dhabi before we got to open the 1953 Gilette Creme de Tete that I brought for my friend, but we gave it to Michael B as a birthday present. We all said goodbyes, wishing we could linger longer, with promises to do it again sometime. And for MichaelP and Tim and me, that will be in a few short weeks at the Bordeaux Wine Enthusiasts annual gathering in DC!

nice notes, thanks, David.