Thursday, December 20, 2012

Le Grand Vin For a Grand Birthday!

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Decisions, decisions, decisions. I hate making decisions but last night I made a decision  I wish I could make everyday of my life. .. drinking a 1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild or a 1982 Chateau Latour!

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?*

 This all came about with the arrival of my 65th birthday which I have been celebrating now for at least a week.  It has been the best birthday ever.  Social security, a small pension and Medicare.  Who could ask for anything more, right? Wrong. A gift from a dear friend who knows my love for Bordeaux. That is the stuff of dreams. I know to most of you this is all silliness, but to those of us who have been drinking and collecting wines receiving a couple of bottles of each of these wines, particularly from a year classified by some as the vintage of the century, is the thrill of a lifetime.  Yes, dear readers, to those in the know this is a trip to Paris, or a new mink coat! A night at the Ritz or a diamond necklace! Winning the lottery or getting "work" done on your face! You name it, whatever makes you tick multiplied by one hundred.

So, the process started. Which one was to be the lucky one?!  Which one would Winston choose?

The dedication is from Churchill to my uncle on his visit to Havana in 1946, a year before I was born.

For a week I looked into every review and tasting note I could find, from Robert Parker aka The Wine Advocate, to Dr. Vino who tweeted Either one! when asked to help in the choice.  From my own experience I have always found Lafite "needed more time" in the bottle.  Big wines like this are made to last 50 years plus, particularly from great vintages like '82, '90, and '95.    That is part of what makes them great wines.  To open a great Bordeaux before its time is a crime and a disappointment of sorts. Latour and Margaux are much more accessible and I have never been "early" opening either one.  So from past experience, a decision was made. Find out after the break...

The Latour was THE ONE. and believe me, it did not disappoint!

Winston presides over the bar and seems to approve the choice.  Well done!

Last night my daughter (whom I've been training since birth) and I got dressed up in our Sunday best, pearls and diamonds included, and proceeded to get ready for the big event.  The table was set with fine china and silver, candlelight and flowers.  Three hours before sitting down at the table the wine was opened and decanted so it had plenty of time to open up and breathe.  Yes, dear reader, every wine, no matter how inexpensive,  needs to air for awhile before it is drunk.  A great Bordeaux, particularly from this vintage, needs extra time.  You can pour it in your wine glass if you don't have a decanter but you must let it sit for awhile.  Below is my decanter of choice for, as you can see, more of the wine is exposed for airing.  I have to confess that I took a sip upon opening and was gratified to find out it wouldn't be long before it was ready.  Just the aroma...mmmm!

For a bottle like this you should always plan your menu around the wine, not the other way around.  Think "terroir", what grows together goes together.  Lamb is always my choice when opening a great Bordeaux with a chocolate souffle for dessert!  Luckily I found some beautiful asparagus from Peru which were served with hollandaise sauce another must for a great wine, as well as  roasted red potatoes with rosemary and olive oil.  Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the dinner because for the first time ever my daughter made me put away the damned camera. 

It is the morning after the big event and I am grinning like a Cheshire cat! If the Mayans are right, tomorrow is the end of the world.  At least I'll go down having enjoyed one of the great wines of all time thanks to a dear friend who wrote on the card " I can't think of anyone who would enjoy this more"  You were right dear friend.  Thank you.

And to you, my dear readers, may Santa fulfill all your wishes and may you have the chance of drinking a great Bordeaux at least once in your lifetime!

For you oenophiles, here are Parker's 2009 review of both wines (eat your hearts out).

Chateau Lafite 1982

Wine Advocate Review (Robert Parker)
Rated 97+

This is a denser version of the 1990 that stylistically reminds me of what the young 1959 probably tasted like. Still backward with a deep ruby/plum color revealing only a touch of lightening at the edge, the wine offers up an extraordinary nose of caramelized herbs, smoke, cedar, pen ink, black currants, and earth. The gorgeous aromatics are followed by a full-bodied, plump, rich, fleshy wine with low acidity. With 6-8 hours decanting in a closed decanter, it will offer beautiful drinking, but it needs another 5-8 years to reach full maturity. It is capable of lasting 50-60 years. This classic Lafite is not as fat and concentrated as the 1982 Latour, nor as complex or concentrated as the 1982 Mouton Rothschild, but it is a winner all the same. (Wine Advocate # 183 June 2009)

Chateau Latour 1982

Wine Advocate Review
Rated 100

Always somewhat atypical (which I suspect will be the case with the more modern day 2003), the 1982 Latour has been the most opulent, flamboyant, and precocious of the northern Medocs, especially the St.-Juliens, Pauillacs, and St.-Estephes. It hasn't changed much over the last 10-15 years, revealing sweet tannins as well as extraordinarily decadent, even extravagant levels of fruit, glycerin, and body. It is an amazing wine, and on several occasions, I have actually picked it as a right bank Pomerol because of the lushness and succulence of the cedary, blackberry, black currant fruit. This vintage has always tasted great, even in its youth, and revealed a precociousness that one does not associate with this Chateau. However, the 1982 is still evolving at a glacial pace. The concentration remains remarkable, and the wine is a full-bodied, exuberant, rich, classic Pauillac in its aromatic and flavor profiles. It's just juiced up (similar to an athlete on steroids) and is all the better for it. This remarkable effort will last as long as the 1982 Mouton, but it has always been more approachable and decadently fruity. Drink it now, in 20 years, and in 50 years! Don't miss it if you are a wine lover. (Wine Advocate # 183 June 2009) 

All photos Lindaraxa

*When I'm Sixty Four - The Beatles


  1. That's a real celebration in style. Happy Birthday, and Happy Holidays!

  2. Can I please be introduced to this friend of yours? I look forward to several milestone birthdays of my own in the next 5 to 10 years, and I'd like to be well-prepared for them. Well, at least well-fortified for them! Reggie

  3. Happy Birthday!! No one I know deserves a fine, great wine more than you.
    Like the wine you get better each year!!

  4. What a fabulous way to celebrate your birthday with a virtual trip to Paris via the wonderful Bordeaux! Have wonderful birthday and many many blessings this Christmas and throughout the new year!


    Laura (Snowy & Mackenzie too!)

  5. There is no question as to which to choose.

    Chateau Latour.

  6. Yum. Yum. Happy birthday...and I think you should have a second bottle since the world hasn't ended. One must be brave at times like these!

  7. Loved reading your blog, especially today! We have a close friend who has cases.... Yes cases, that he stores properly in a cellar and shares with us! That's a friend you don't want to lose! We have had both and either would be a wonderful choice. On my 60th last Summer, they bought me a 94 Crystal...... Died and went to heaven! Would love for you to follow my blog , Happy Birthday! I like your blog a lot!

  8. Happy Birthday. So glad you could celebrate with a wonderful vintage wine. Perfect. Love the Beatles lyrics.

  9. ah, what a nice one to come back into your blog with. Many good wishes for you, including more good wine!


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