Dinner wines poured blind: '05 Dom Perignon and '89 Chateau Olivier

A good friend and I shared a fine evening at his club, Birnam Golf Club, while pouring a champagne and red wine blind during dinner.

Here’s some notes:

2005 DOM PERIGNON BRUT- the color was a youthful light yellow, but the nose had caramel and stone fruit notes that suggested an older wine or at least one that was advanced; this dance continued on over the course of the evening and I struggled to get the vintage, assuming it was; subtle aromas of pepper and licorice that I find in Piper Heidsieck Rare swayed me in that direction, but then other notes of spicy citrus and honeysuckle that came in later said otherwise; there was enough acid to actually cause a bit of a sting on the tip of my tongue; bottom line after an hour or so, this was delicious, refreshing and absolutely fabulous; it just took a while for it to get it together. My list of possible suspects also included Charles Heidsieck, Laurent Perrier, Launois or even Duval Leroy, but I never considered DP and wondered if the initial citrus dominate profile had given way to peach, tangerine and apricot via oxidation.

1989 CHATEAU OLIVIER PESSAC-LEOGNAN- poured blind to my friend; a few decades ago, one of my good friends owned a wine shop in the early 1990s and he and I would guess at the which of the Bordeaux futures would be the best QPRs; he picked this one and we bought a case each and i’ve been rewarded with that choice ever since; decanted 4 hours by mistake as I had intended to go for 1-2 hours and forgot about it until I remembered; the color was a dark purple with a slight red rim; the nose offered leather, earth, rose petals, red cherry and black currant; on the palate, additional notes of tobacco, red plum and red currant with noticeable sweetness showed up while being delivered in a super soft and smooth textured medium; it initially finished a bit dry, but then the red cherry fruit lingered on and was the last impression. My friend called it Bordeaux at the outset from a younger vintage.

Another great night for which I am grateful.


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Have a magnum of the1989 Olivier purchased on release in my cellar. I believe the last of 3 over the years. Really loved the others from memory and should pull this one out over the holidays. Real question is whether my wife’s family will have any appreciation for what they are drinking. But as long as it is enjoyed, better than spending more time on the dark!

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Loved that 89 Olivier. Went through a case of magnums. An exceptional QPR, as was the next year’s winner, 1990 La Louviere. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

I’m happy to hear others actually even know about this Chateau. I almost was hesitant to bring it as I had asked my friend to being a good champagne and he brought DP. A mag should be in a really good place at this stage. Enjoy

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Again, I’m delighted you have had and enjoyed this wine from such an obscure, under the radar producer. I wonder what there recent wines are doing?

I have not had recent vintages of this wine, but I just checked @Jeff_Leve website and love how he describes 2016 and 2019, both as “elegant” and “fresh”.

@jeffois, is this still an Alfert wine?

Was your friend the owner of the Wine Cask? That was a great store in the 90s through the early 00s at least. In any event, nice notes. I haven’t had the 05 DP in years and appreciate the note, along with the 89 Olivier which was very good the last time I had it years ago.

I think so. In fact, as an appellation, today, meaning recent vintages, the Alfret School of Yak would find more wines to like, than not. Not across the board, but more often than not.

The friend I’m referring to here was Frank Crandall of Renegade Wines which still exits as it was sold to anther good friend after Frank passed. The Wine Cask, owned by another friend, Doug Margerum, was run by 2 other friends; so, it’s all in the family here in Santa Barbara.

Thanks for the response, Blake. I’ve been to Renegade recently. Terrific, small store but well stocked with nice wines.

Agreed. Renegade is our finest shop in the area and Steve is constantly adding a broad and classy inventory.

BTW, Steve Wayne worked for Frank Crandall for years and then bought the store from Frank’s wife after Frank passed. Steve has also expanded his connections and carries many wines not easily available from other sources.

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Two nights later, the remnants of both wines were drunk with the following notes:

2005 DP- most of the licorice, pepper and stone fruit notes were now in the background allowing the honeyed lemon to be much more pronounced, to my amazement and delight. It’s as if our bottle needed more time and air to develop its true character.

1989 Chateau Olivier- it gave everything but the red cherry flavors with maybe even a bit more finesse and charm. Just in a great place now.


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