Inovasi is a great restaurant, sadly one that is an hour train ride in the north chicago suburbs. I took the train for an interesting dinner with David Launay, GM and Chef de Cave at Chateau Gruaud Larose. A few friends were also attending, so we decided to open a few extra bonus bottles.
Passed Hors d'oeuvres
- 2011 Château Brondelle Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves
Lemon aromas, followed by lemon/lime flavors. Compact, simple and slightly short but clean, precise and refreshing with good energy at end. (84 pts.)
Pre dinner tasting
- 2010 Larose de Gruaud - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Very lush, jammy aromas of plum, blackberry with distinct liqueur hints. Forward, assertive and slightly sweet start that gives way to something more refined and elegant with sneaky structure emerging from middle to finish. Very "grape juicy" today, this needs another year or two to settle down. Others preferred this, but i preferred the 2009 in the next glass.
- 2009 Larose de Gruaud - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Blackberry, currant and cassis with good spice aromas to balance. Lots of power, very forward and lush. Slightly sweet on finish, but otherwise everything across as reasonably balance. Best starting in 2014 for the following few years.
- 2007 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
I think this clearly outclassed the two young vintages of Larose du Gruaud in the flight (2009, 2010) despite the challenges of 2007. Plum and cassis with a meay character on the nose and faint floral hints. Currant and cooked meat flavors with some leather elements on finish. Probably best starting in the next few years. (87 pts.)
Wild mushrooms with fiddlehead ferns tempura
- 1989 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Ripe and forward plum aroma with a hint of espresso. Quite fresh, if blind i'd have thought it younger. Bit compact on palate, slightly austere and/or shut down in middle. Spice-driven finish again showing fresh fruit. Got better with more time in glass, I also expect this wine is still getting better from here. (90 pts.)
Bonus flight #1
A few bottles from our cellars
- 1970 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Charming, even if prob 10 years past its peak. All earth, perhaps faint hints of lingering fruit, nicely supported with good spice. (88 pts.)
- 1974 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Ok, moderate intensity with some firm fruit, moderate intensity, spice hints. Certainly better than expected! (85 pts.)
- 1975 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
- 1975 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
One of the other tables kindly shared the last of their 1975 since ours was sadly corked. This had lots of structure, both acid and tannins, that dominated and gave a slightly disjointed character, but quite drinkable and lively.
Smoked pork belly with pasta and marcona almonds
A really great dish, well done, John!
- 1995 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Tough wine to assess tonight. Very young and rather backward. All dense, black and barely accessible. This clearly has the raw material and density to weather a long-term evolutionary cycle, but this isn't close to really showing much charm for me.
Bonus flight #2
- 1981 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Earth and spice aromas with just enough Brett to provide character but not dominate. Still, this was moderate and subtle without the density that comes from better vintages. (86 pts.)
- 1982 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
I thought I was the only person at our table bringing a bottle of 1982 but i was wrong. Three bottles ended up open. There was a lot of consistency between the three, but also some differences that are a combination of bottle variation and how each was treated re air.
In general the aromas were somewhat reticent, with modest black fruit and a fair degree of licorice and other spice. Palate much more expressive, with lots of everything and an expanding finish. Long, powerful and very well textured. Really great spice and lots of nuance, varying and unfolding with each successive sip.
Bottle 1: open and decanted approx 5 hours before serving. The most backward aromatically, then least interesting at the end of the evening. 94 points to start, 91 points 3 hours later.
Bottle 2: open 2 hours before serving, 1 hour in decanter. Most expressive aromas, most persistent start-to-finish. 95 points.
Bottles 3: popped and poured. Most backward overall, no surprise, also showing a bit more mushroomy background elements. 94 points.
Takeaway is to give this an hour or two of air prior to serving, not much more. (94 pts.)
- 1984 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Simple, easy to enjoy. not much nuance or complexity but very pleasant and balanced. (85 pts.)
- 1986 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Dry cured and roasted Duck leg with polenta and pistachio
Perhaps even better than the pork belly immediately before, thanks again, John!
- 1998 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Good combination of plum and black cherry aromas with tobacco hints. Similar flavors, somewhat on the simple side but very integrated and balanced. Drinking nicely now, easy to enjoy. (89 pts.)
Final bonus flight
- 1988 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Good structure, freshness and balance vs much of my recent experience with 1988 Bordeaux. Very pleasurable tonight, even if on the simple side. (88 pts.)
- 1990 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
A controversial wine at the table tonight, one i liked much more than almost everybody else. no question this was just a baby, and quite ripe and fat. In fact, we could probably have been fooled into thinking it was from California because of the lush and ripe character. However, there is some exciting energy and structure that comes through in middle and finish, not very overt but helping provide depth and length. Better 2020-2040. (94 pts.)
- 1996 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Drinking well now, which surprised me for a 1996. Still a bit backward, but enough balance. Kept expanding with more air, so certainly a wine with room to improve with more cellar time. (91 pts.)
Cabernet braised lamb
- 2008 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Big and powerful in every dimension with dense, brooding black fruit. Very good spice support throughout, most notably on long finish, which was the wine's overall highlight tonight.
Chilled raspberry soup
- 2009 Carmes de Rieussec - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
Simple fruit, relying on simple sweetness in a somewhat one dimensional way. Direct, easy to enjoy, particularly with dessert. (85 pts.)