For dinner with my parents at NoMi (Park Hyatt, Chicago) last night. They wanted this vintage, having tired of often drinking the 1989 vintage. Excellent window seats overlooking the old Water Tower. Very welcoming, helpful, but formal service. Delicious courses of foie gras creme brulee, lobster, turbot, veal, lamb, and sweetbreads. (I was surprised not to find George Hejna sitting at the next table again, staring at my wine but totally ignoring me. The staff told me that he dines there often. )
My dusty, grimy bottle still carried a $60 label from a 1998 purchase, yet had been discounted to $50 only, as nobody wanted to buy expensive wines with rack-marred labels. That defect did not seem to hurt the wine, at all.
An unfiltered meal-in-a-glass, full of body and glycerin-smoothed mouthfeel, without any spoofulated or contrived vinification. To the eye, a deep garnet color from rim to core to rim, signaling the potential to age at least another twenty years. Its nose was heady with cured tobacco, dark Christmas spices, sun-heated gravel, spark-lit flint smoke, and tilled black soil. Gravelly sediment upon decanting, with the taste of French coffee but polished, almost crystalline look of anthracite.
An utter abundance of the fabled 1990 Medoc harvest qualities, where perfect weather conditions propelled multiple grape varietals to complete physiological ripeness, but not overshooting into some jammy or sugary Aussie-like mess. This was typicity galore. The cabernet sauvignon forwardly strutted black licorice, rare-beef gravy, and Cuban tobacco leaf notes, framed with a time-moderated, well-sheathed tannin spine. The merlot was a softening, elegant, but still prominent counterbalance of plummy red fruit, pestle-mashed mint leaves, and long silky finish.
Kudos to Jean Delmas, the recently retired winemaker at La Mission Haut-Brion, for crafting a timeless classic for us to enjoy. This wine belongs on the “bucket” list for fortunate Bordeaux enthusiasts.