TN: A really interesting night of mostly Rhones & Bdx

John Chapman hosted a small dinner early this week. It was a pleasure to meet John, as well as Marc DiBella, both of whom I have interacted with on the boards, but never previously met in person. Salil (who I have met more than a few times) also joined, and we sampled a few bottles.

The evening started with three whites from the infamous Garagiste “Germanic Cellar” offering.

1974 Hugel Gewurztraminer ‘Cuvee Tradition’
Significant ullage, and significant death. There was a little bit of spice on the nose, but the wine was totally dead/oxidized on the palate. Sadly it was the best of the three early wines.

1978 Hugel Gewurztraminer
DOA. Tart, prickly acidity and nothing else. I tasted the tiniest sip just to be sure and that brought physical pain.

1979 Schloss Vollrads Riesling QbA
Brown, acidic and dead.

So after that amazing feat of endurance John did an extremely generous thing and opened the following:

2003 Trimbach Rieslig Clos Ste Hune
Clearly too young, but still delicious. It’s richer (shocking, I know) than typical Hune, with a much broader palate feel, but it still has a firm mineral base and lots of interesting petrol, pine and white fruit elements. The fruit kept deepening the longer the wine was open, and I followed it throughout the evening with great pleasure. I personally prefer more zip in my CSH, but would never turn this down. Thanks John!

On to the reds.

1983 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle
Initially this was mostly soy, leather and high acid. It seemed past it. Time brought flesh, mostly in the form of roasted meat, but it was overshadowed by the following.

1990 Robert Michel Cornas La Geynale
Who lit the wood fire. This was all about wood smoke, meat, leather and some lingering black fruit all wrapped up in a rustic, slightly wild package that was bounded by solid acid structure, and finished with an aged tobacco element that complimented everything. A really nice package that with the CSH made the night for me.

1998 Delas Freres Hermitage Les Bessards
A totally different animal that the prior two wines. Essentially an oaky, herbal, vanilla crusted meat burger.

1981 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Gran Riserva
Initially started out with some notable VA, but that calmed down with air, revealing a lot of tobacco and warm earth. It seemed somewhat past it (much like the Jaboulet) until it got some air. Again the wine deepened and also began to show some lingering fruit as it spent more time in the glass. Report from Salil were that the leftovers were delicious the following night, so I will let him follow up.

1986 Chateau Lynch Bages
Lots of lead pencil, earth and cedar, but not much left in terms of fruit. Bitter on the finish. I did not follow up on this much, as I spent most of my remaining red wine time with the following wine.

1986 Chateau Gruaud Larose
This was as aromatically complex as the Michel Cornas, but in a much more tight knit, elegant package, with a bit of funk to keep things interesting. Cedar, black fruit, bacon, leather, meat and great richness made this a lot of fun to drink and follow for as much time as I had to offer.

1976 Chateau Suduiraut
Started out dominated by black tea, and with air picked up a spritz of orange that made it much more interesting. I wish I had spent more time with this, but I had to get home.

Thanks again to John for his hospitality.

Nice line-up!

That’s interesting if the 86 Lynch Bages is dead. It wouldn’t be totally surprising, since that was the one 86 Medoc that was very open even a dozen years ago – a real outlier for the vintage.

I’ve had mixed experiences with the 83 La Chapelle. One bottle in 2004 was going over, but another one in 2007 was fairly fresh, though a bit tart (a 1983 quality). There were different tranches of that, though, bottled and released some time apart, and it was before the EU lot labelling rules, so unless you know when it was first purchased, you don’t know which one you’re getting.

I had the 86 Lynch Bages in may of last year and my bottle sounds like it showed much better.

“Bottle and cork were in pristine condition. Beautiful deep red color. Massive amounts of graphite, jammy fruits and still ever present tannins. Such a big wine 26 years young. Long tannic finish.The wine showed better as the night wore on. Very impressive. Will wait at least a couple years before opening another.” 94 points.

As with all wines this old there are only great bottles as opposed to great vintages.


Nice notes! I had the '86 Gruard a few months ago and concur! A beautiful wine. Probably my recent fave '86, over Ducru, Lynch and Talbot (the others I have had in the past year). I love the old Cordier funkiness.

Probably just a mediocre bottle of the Lynch. I doubt it is dead or near death.

I didn’t find the Lynch as mediocre or fruitless as David, thought there was some fruit but really liked the developed graphite/pencil lead aspects to the wine. Really nice and savoury (though I like my Bordeaux on the less fruited side).

The Heredia was also very enjoyable at the dinner, but I thought the couple of glasses of leftovers the following night showed even better with more fruit emerging (!), and more depth of flavour with a higher toned herbal character adding to the lower toned earthy/tobacco notes.

My favorites of the night were the Cornas and the Gruaud, where I have nothing much to add to David’s descriptors. BTW David, wasn’t there an Austrian eiswein as well?

Yep. There was a 1999 Mantlerhof Gruner Veltliner Eiswein, but it was totally forgettable.