Mostly Right bank classically-styled wines (None Rollandized, none Persenified).

A dinner with many Right Bank classics and, yes Virginia, good, old-school Claret existed in Saint-Emilion.

With Patrick coming to town, the group had originally booked the dinner at an NYC steakhouse at Madison Square Garden. But with the mostly un-enthusiastic feelings about the venue and the corkage, and the thought of navigating the likely very extreme noise by Rangers (or is it Knicks’) fans during dinner, we opted without hesitation to accept Dale’s hospitality and, so, on a snowy night in the tri-state, a group of 7 Bordeaux enthusiasts were terrifically hosted for dinner by Dale and Betsy and their lovable 13-month old Basset Hound at their warm, cozy and comfortable Westchester digs.

Our savory dishes were, for me, perfect for the night and included Italian cheeses, French baguettes, smoked salmon, local butcher charcuteries, tasty roasted quail on lentils, and a roasted lamb dish with sides of crunchy bok-choy/Shanghai and excellent potato gratin. Desserts were delicious Portuguese/Filipino tarts, one with egg filling, and the other was with coconut-based filling.


1989 Le L d’Or Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie
What a way to start! A great representation of a nicely aged Muscadet. Without the usual heavy acidic weight of a young Muscadet, but this one provided just the right amount of acidity, layers of mineral notes and complex elegance. One of my wines of the night. Thanks, Jay! A-

2010 Yann Alexandre Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Dry with good citrus layers. Focused, some lushness, with good balance, and pleasing. I enjoyed. B+

NV Doyard Champagne Cuvee Vendemiaire Brut Premier Cru
Slightly creamy, showed more austerity and with mineral, apple notes. A little clipped on the finish. B

1986 Domaine Ponsot “Monts Luisants” Morey-Saint-Denis
In a decanter, I didn’t know that this was supposed to be served blind, until some folks declared it as oxidized and revealed what the wine was. Dark-gold hue and oxidative-looking, but I didn’t taste. NR

2010 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Aile d’Argent Blanc
Served blind, in a decanter, and I actually thought anything but a Bordeaux white blend. Smoother than my experiences with young Bdx whites and not as heavy-bodied, but with apple and some sweet candied notes. B


Flight 1 (as preferred by those who brought them, only the first flight of 2 reds were served blind, except that we were told that these were not from the Right Bank)

Blind bottle #1 (with foil beak): Dark, with plenty of ripe fruit, more extracted and acidic than the next blind. Dale, I believed, got the vintage right and I heard Jason say out the producer. Good length. 1989 Chateau Beychevelle, Saint-Julien. A-

Blind Bottle #2 (w/out foil beak): Smooth, more elegant with the medium bodied texture. Very much on the classic side of the spectrum. 1985 Chateau La Lagune, Haut-Medoc. B+

Flight 2:

1990 Chateau Magdelaine, Saint-Emilion
Looks and taste fresh, ruby red in color, some ground pepper, backward, can probably use a few more cellar years. B+

1990 Chateau Canon, Saint-Emilion
More advanced in appearance, perhaps could have used more bottle stand-up time to lower the sediment level. Expressive bouquet, with plenty of ripeness. Showed good balance of fruit with secondary/tertiary characters. I liked, even at this stage. B+

Flight 3:

1985 Chateau L’Eglise Clinet, Pomerol
Appealing and expressive on the nose with that screams Pomerol. Sweet fruit, earth, some power and muscles. Long finish. A-

1985 Chateau Canon, Saint-Emilion
Funkyness on the nose, dissipated with more air time in the stemware. Or perhaps, I just got used to the smell. But this wine was all balance, smoothness with that lean, cool-weather fruit. Very good. A-

Flight 4:

1986 Chateau Certan de May, Pomerol
A delicious, considerably traditional style of Pomerol, with the full-bodied feel, the ripe red fruit and some earthy freshness. A-

1981 Chateau L’Evangile, Pomerol
It was mentioned that Bordeaux enthusiasts may have over-looked this vintage, but nuggets did exist. This is an example. High in acidity, lean and elegant. Complex. B+

Flight 5:

1982 Chateau Canon, Saine-Emilion
That slight funkiness that adds to the completeness and allure of the bouquet is very much present. Quite lean from the level that I would expect given the vintage. Going strong. B+

1982 Chateau La Dominique, Saint Emilion
Good discussion ensued as to whether this bottle is the best from the chateau, at least during the 80’s. I prefer other examples of the 1989. This came across to me as very ripe and slightly more extracted than what I want my “classic” Bordeaux to be. I’ll say, though, that this is a young 1982. B

1982 Chateau Magdelaine, Saint-Emilion
Back to the definitely more old-school camp. I’ve had a few of this over the last 5 years and, including this bottle, they were almost all fresh, with seemingly infinite cellar life. Clean and well delineated with layers of leather, tobacco, dark fruit and earth. A terrific example. A-

Flight 6:

1970 Chateau Figeac, Saint-Emilion
Can’t say enough about the completeness of this wine in terms of fine tertiary development, with good lean fruit and refreshing level of acidity. A-

1970 Chateau Magdelaine, Saint-Emilion
See note on Figeac above. A-

Flight 7:

1966 Chateau Magdelaine, Saint-Emilion
Awesome nose, but more advanced that I would have prefered. Old wood abounds. B-

1966 Chateau Fonplegade, Saint-Emilion
I don’t remember having anything from this producer before, but this one made me notice and possibly nudged me into looking out for wines made by these guys. Complex and clean nose, some acidity with excellent overall structure. A pleasure. B+

Flight 8:

1962 Chateau Pavie, Saint-Emilion
Rich and full, with heavier dose of fruit. Not bad, but not one that I would not enthusiastically jump up-and-down with if I suddenly find a stray bottle at very low costs in my neighborhood wine merchant. B-
1982 Chateau Pavie, Saint-Emilion
I don’t think this was in the original declared lineup, but JC brought and offered to uncork near the end of the tasting. Plenty of ripeness and, to me, but not in synch with the traditional nature of the rest of the reds tonight. B-

Sweet wines (here’s where my iPhone will bail me out with photos and spellings of some of these Rieslings):

1990 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes
I’ve had this before that gave me a bit more satisfaction, but this bottle was a little more advanced with some acidity, but plenty of sweetness. B

2001 Joh. Jos. Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
Apple pie on the nose and the flavor with excellent mineral and acidic backbones. B+

2001 Muller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Schlossel Rieslaner Auslese
Clear with light golden hue. High in acidity with notes of ripe peach and citrus fruits. Excellent. A-

1994 Muller-Catoir Mussbacher Rieslaner Trockenbeerenauslese
Very appealing sweet bouquet. Rich, with layers upon layers of good ripe fruit. Long. B+

Fun night. But Ramon, Ruby is a 13 month old Basset, not a Dachshund! She’s bigger. Group was very nice to her …um…rambunctious behavior. Especially when she tried to go from a chair over Jayson’s back to get to charcuterie placed too high for stretching. My notes below. We’re mostly on same page, differ just enough to be interesting. Pretty sure the Certan de May was '86. And no Perse, he came to Pavie much later.

Patrick was in town and Ramon proposed a dinner based on traditionally styled Right Bank wines. A good group was rounded up, but it’s hard to find a restaurant in NYC for a December Saturday that has a good corkage deal. So I offered to host in Westchester. And that’s when it snowed. But the intrepid group all made it, and we were able to sample a lot of wines. While we hosted, others generously brought salmon, bread, and cheeses, which we sampled as introductions were made before we settled down. I didn’t take notes during the night, just wrote down grades as end.

NV Doyard Champagne “Cuvee Vendemiaire Premier Cru” Brut
Blanc de Blancs, some age to it (auction purchase), full but a little sweet for me. B

2010 Yann Alexander Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Crisp, young, high acid, needs time. B

Before I had run to train for pickup I had put 2 whites in decanters to serve blind. This bottle of 1986 Ponsot “Clos des Monts Luisants” Morey St. Denis Vieilles Vignes was a bit darker than one last month when first poured, but by time we returned it was really dark, and clearly oxidized. I thought about grabbing another but we had so many wines.,

On the second blind wine John got white Bordeaux immediately, the 2010 Aile d’Argent (white wine from Mouton-Rothschild) had honeydew and grapefruit, some slightly honied notes, tasty but needs a little more zip. B/B-

Jay brought the 1989 Luneau-Papin “L d’Or” Muscadet, and a stellar showing as usual. Good acids but without any edge, wet rocks topped with lemon zest and oystershell. A-/A

Then to table. I grilled some quail and trumpet mushrooms, served over lentils. Then later roast lamb, individual potato gratins, and Shanghai/bokchoy with oyster sauce

We had 2 blind off theme reds to start.
Jayson’s wine- I wasn’t sure this was Bordeaux at first, it had a herb and pepper note that made me wonder if was like a classic 70s/early 80s Napa. But no, Bordeaux, the tobacco notes should have tipped me off. 1985 La Lagune A-/B+

JC’s wine- riper, more tobacco, earth, midbodied. I think Jason got producer. 1989 Beychevelle B+

After that, no blinds.

1990 Ch. Magdelaine- young, full, ripe and delicious. Even better when tasted at end of night. B+/A-

1990 Ch Canon - structured, but mature tasting on palate, smoke and mushrooms. B

1986 Certan de May
Still some tannin, black plum and espresso, elegant for ‘86. A-

1985 L’Eglise Clinet
Ripe, soft finish, tasty. B

1985 Ch Canon
Fresh, elegant, long. A-

1982 La Dominique
Black fruit, cigarbox, tasty. B+

1982 Ch. Magdelaine
Black cherry, plum, cocoa, and cedar. Lovely and lush but with bright acids, just lovely. A-/A

1982 Ch Canon
Redder fruits, floral, a little leather. A-

1982 Ch. Pavie
Popped and poured. Gentle black fruits, tobacco, not as long as some others but fun. B

1981 L’Evangile
Elegant, lush texture, balanced. A-/A
1970 Ch. Magdelaine
Cedar/cigarbox, red fruits, herby, smoky, long. A-/A

1970 Ch. Figeac
Herby, complex. A-/B+

1966 Ch Fonplegade
Apparently next to Magdelaine. I’d only tasted the (overmodern) 05 before. This was a classy old lady, black plum,herb, and earth. B

1966 Ch. Magdelaine
another bottle from same lot was delicious recently, but this had a definite madeira note. C

1962 Ch. Pavie
Still holding on, but heading towards generic old red. B-/C+

Jay had brought some tarts (lemon and coconut I believe), and we had some wines with sugar.

1990 Lafaurie-Peyraugey
Quite dark, apricot, lots of botrytis, a little soft. B

2001 JJ Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese
For a toast/tribute to John Dawson. Zingy/zippy acids, green apple and grapefruit zest, honeycomb, long finish. A-

1994 Muller-Catoir Mussbacher Eselshaut Rieslaner Trockenbeerenauslese
Tons of botrytis, red and white fruits, good finish but a little simple. Ready. B/B+

2001 Muller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Schlossel Rieslaner Auslese
Those 01 acids strike again, lovely and complex, I double check to make sure not Riesling. A-

OK, a longer night than anticipated, and more snow, but awful lot of fun. Lots of classic wine.

Grade disclaimer: I’m a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C drinkable. Anything below C means I wouldn’t drink at a party where it was only choice.Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.

Thanks for the notes, Dale. Glad to have your more authoritative TNs, and I meant in a very good way, grace this thread.

My iNotes and iPhoto on the Certan-de-May didn’t match. But, photo agreed with you. I’ll correct.

I had in my mind all these years that Perse was already Pavie’s owner back in the late 80’s. Probably because wines already tilted modern to me. Thanks for the update.

Aaarrrgg! I’ll correct Ruby’s breed. Don’t tell her.


Thanks for the detailed notes, folks!!!

Dale - no lemon. Custard and coconut custard tarts. They also do an all coconut but I’m not a huge fan so I didn’t bring any.

Ruby was outstanding. Definite A+ dog.

Wow what a killer night! Thansk for sharing.

Did the 66 Magdelaine come from Chambers? I just got some from them.

Actually it did, but the other bottle from them (served blind in Oct) was fantastic. The vagaries of old corks:
Blind Wine #3
Mine, so no guesses. First comment “I thought Dale would open something old, this is young.” I gradually walked them back through the decades till we got to Marc’s birthyear (his birthday was a couple weeks ago). Decanted about 90 minutes before serving, best showing yet of this. Beautiful black cherry fruit, topped with mocha, leather, and cigarbox. Very long, great balance. Gets a nice smoky topnote in glass. 1966 Ch. Magdelaine (St. Emilion) A/A-

Thanks Jay, as you know no desserts for me, but Betsy loved the tarts.


Dale and Betsy deserve all the kudos for their amazing hospitality.

I loved Ruby even if she was climbing on me half the night. Dale thinks she was going for the charcuterie but she is a smart dog. She was going straight for the Magdelaine.

My top 3 were 70 Magdelaine (easily on top tonight for me), 70 Figeac, and 85 Canon. The minerality, mulberry nose and finish, and classic textural waves of the 70 Magdelaine were there in spades even if this bottle isn’t as berried as some. This is true length on the palate. 70 Figeac was showing its Cab Sauvignon in this company. It lacked the dynamism and freshness of the best bottles of this wine but had classic tobacco and leafiness that came out strong. This was an amazing bottle of 85 Canon. So fresh. So elegant and airy. Dances playfully across the palate with red fruit and ripe acids while the roasted 90 and weightier but very good 82 weren’t in the same league for me. I haven’t had a Canon this good since an amazing bottle of 64 served to me many years ago.

Just missing out of top three for me were 82 Magdelaine, which just needs another 10 years to tame the richness and gain textural complexity and hopefully show more limestone, and 86 Certan de May, which has that compelling cherry note in the nose and finish and plenty of zingy acidity to balance its density and tannins.

Dale did call the St. Julien as ‘89 and then I did peg it as Beychevelle. :slight_smile:

And I do love 85 La Lagune. This was a very delicious bottle as Dale and Ramon describe. It was even better at the end of the night, very creamy cherry tobacco. There was talk at the table of how good Haut Medoc classics Cantemerle and La Lagune are on a consistent basis.

Finally I concur with the notes and comments on 89 L’ D’Or. Outstanding bottle. Wow! Dessert wines weren’t too shabby either!!

Nice notes on some lovely wines.

Not surprised to see such a good report on the 1989 le L d’Or, it was one of the great vintages of the 20th century in the region (and elsewhere along the Loire) and the wine has always been superb when I have tasted it.

What a wonderful group of wines and vintages, well done! I’m not as familiar with Magdelaine as I should be.

Many thanks again to Ramon for getting this organized and Dale and Betsy for their tremendous generosity and hospitality. It was a great evening, with lots and lots of terrific wines. I’ll chime in with my thoughts on the wines (very similar to Ramon and Dale).

NV Doyard Champagne “Cuvee Vendemiaire Premier Cru” Brut
Didn’t really speak to me, seemed a bit low acid and one dimensional. B-

2010 Yann Alexander Blanc de Blancs Champagne
I really liked. Young still, showing the mineral-steely side of champagne, with the chardonnay shining through, good acids. B+

2010 Aile d’Argent blanc de Mouton-Rothschild
I really enjoyed the bouquet here, quite Semillon in nature with beeswax and honey, but the palate is a tad dull. B/B+

1989 Luneau-Papin “L d’Or” Muscadet
Everyone loved this and I was no exception. Quite smooth and wonderfully integrated with good brightness. I like Dale’s descriptors: “wet rocks topped with lemon zest and oystershell”. I don’t have any experience with mature Muscadet, but this seemed young to me, so fresh. A-

1985 Lagune
I was very taken with this blind wine. It gave off Graves-like bouquet of scorched earth and smoke (the nose even reminded me of Haut Brion a bit), and while silky and integrated, it had excellent body with classic claret tobacco and cedar. In my book, a solid A-

1989 Beychevelle
Initially much leaner and redder fruited than the 85 Lagune, I called this a Burgundian styled claret. Gained volume and depth with air, very pretty and refined with high acids for a Bordeaux. Wonderfully aromatic. B

1990 Magdelaine
This showed better than a previous tasting. Still early days here, ripe and deep but without any of the flabby/low acid pitfalls that some 1990 claret show. Classic Magdelaine nose here, with a minty note I often find akin to wintergreen. B+/A-

1990 Canon
I didn’t like this initially as the bouquet was roasted and even a touch stewed, but it freshened up with some air time, and the nose took on an exotic vanilla and floral quality. The palate lacked the verve of the Magdelaine, and was also a bit chunky. Not bad, but not sure where this is going. B

1986 Certan de May
I liked less than others, as the bouquet was shy. Stills shows some tannin, with a plummy profile. B+

1985 l’Eglise Clinet
Here I was in the minority as I thought this was terrific in a semi-stern, semi-austere style. I had that black tea-like quality to the tannins that I prize in old school claret. Good fruit and length with that old school austerity. B+/A-

1985 Canon
A terrific showing, a bit fresher than the 82 Canon without the midpalate depth. Minty-menthol nose, terrific cherry fruit, in a great place. A-

1982 La Dominique
Came out of the blocks strong with a sexy 82 nose of dark fruits and spices, showing a silk palate and earthy and tobacco fruit. Delicious but fades fairly quickly. B+/A-

1982 Magdelaine
Combines the freshness and wintergreen of Magdelaine with the extra oomph of the 82 vintage. Seemless, deep, long, filled with black cherry, earth-loam, and cedar. My favorite of the 82s. A

1982 Canon
A lot like the 85, but unmistakably an 82 in body. A-

1981 l’Evangile
I was wowed by the expressive, complex bouquet here. The palate was on the lighter side but charming and fully integrated. An eye opener. A-

1970 Magdelaine
A complete wine, fully mature yet vigorous with terrific length. My WOTN. A

1970 Figeac
Came on strong after an initially low-energy start, you could really taste the cabernet sauvignon here. A touch herbal with the green notes that I like, just lacked some of the length and energy of the Magdelaine next to it. Still a terrific wine. A-

1966 Fonplegade
I really dig. Another surprising performance. On the leaner side but still good fruit and plenty of brightness. All red berries and minty goodness. Seamless like only fully mature wines can get. More of a bouquet wine. B+/A-

1966 Magdelaine
Flawed bottle. NR.

1990 Lafaurie-Peyraugey
I liked more than most, showed a touch soft next to the Germans, but a sexy, rich Sauternes here, going a deep cooper color with tons of apricot fruit. B+/A-

2001 JJ Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese
This is terrific. All the good things in an auslese — richness, density, length — married with big acids and a wonderful steely minerality. Shows some petrol, honey and lime zest. Only early maturity here, but already in a great place. A

1994 Muller-Catoir Mussbacher Eselshaut Rieslaner Trockenbeerenauslese
Didn’t hold my interest like the other stickies, seemed a bit flat and low acid in comparison. B/B+

2001 Muller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Schlossel Rieslaner Auslese
I loved this, intense and bright with terrific nuance. Delicious. A-/A

I forgot to mention in my rush to crank out my thoughts on the wine and the dog: it was great to meet Ramon, Patrick, J-C, snd Patrick’s brother. Patrick, thanks for giving Ramon et al. an excuse to pull together an excellent evening. We will surely do it again. Ramon and I were brainstorming on the train home as we lamented the rise in Rougeard pricing over the last few years.

This is the second time I’ve had 70 Magdelaine and 70 Figeac side by side, and last time (August 2014) it was a lot closer - neither was better, just different. Hopefully a third chance will arise!

Even lamenting in the train home over the atrocious Rougeard pricing did not erase the memories of the good dinner and wines we just had.

It’s a good thing that we didn’t get into Gonon.

Which of course speaks to the beauty of Bordeaux, it’s so easy to source well-stored, mature bottles of Classified Growth Bordeaux. I paid less for the 1966 Magdelaine than a new release of Rougeard, and really not much more than a current release price of a comparable St. Em., like Figeac.

I guess I’m done with Rougeard, but have tons of Gonon and, fingers crossed, access to future vintages. If pricing gets whacked, I walk. I love it, but it’s not something that I absolutely have to have, say like a Juge.

I got into Magdelaine thanks to notes by Dale, Ramon, Jay and others on these boards. It’s a wine that I like more and more over time. But it needs age to really shine and IMHO it’s not really a “weak vintage” chateau (unlike, say, Pichon Lalande). Too bad it’s gone.

Sounds like a great evening. And glad to hear that there are long ears flopping around the house again!

I’ve never understood why some of the classic right banks haven’t had bigger American fan bases. If people like Lafite styled Medocs, I’d think that Canon wouldn’t be a bridge too far?

What a magnificent line up of wines for Patrick’s homecoming. There is something magical about mature right banks - were these wines mainly sourced at auction or had they been sitting at the back of people’s cellars?

85 La Lagune and 70 Figeac were auction bottles bought within the last year (both Winebid).