Bordeaux on the Hudson

Peter Pratt's Inn
Tasted Sunday, January 28, 2007 by bsherwin with 418 views

Introduction

There have been few wine events that I looked forward to with more anticipation than the 2nd Annual Peter Pratt's extravoganza. You will be seeing paeans to this lunch over the next few days and the praise is well deserved. Excellent job, Mark. There was a wonderful spirit to the event as people walked around sharing wine and stories. I noticed that the Burgheads were particularly interested in sharing our wines (and who can blame them) and Paul spent a great deal of time pimping out our leftovers for tastes of assorted Burgundies. I for one went a-begging at the California table at the end with some great results (mmm...Reva).

I got more than a few questions as to why I sat at the Bordeaux table as opposed to the California table. Well, first, I had acquired some impeccably kept wines and I certainly didn't plan to just have them sit there. Second, I thought it was important to get out of my sweet spot and try new things in the interest of putting as many different wines in my mouth as possible (albeit not at the same time). I was richly rewarded with some fantastic wines and some great company. Thanks to the table (particularly to Mark Chatwin and Paul Jauoen who sat next to me) for access to their wealth of experience and knowledge; I tried my best to soak it all up. Thanks to Paul as well in having confidence in me to ask me to scribe. Without further ado...on to the notes...

Flight 1 - Flight of the Whites (2 Notes)

Two interesting wines. Neither knocked my socks off. Wandering around, I had some great wines including an '04 Pahlmeyer which I enjoyed and a fascinating '04 DuMol Viogner that Jay Hack talked about elsewhere.

  • 1999 Kongsgaard Chardonnay

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Really a tale of 2 wines. Before lunch, it had an odd, slightly off-putting quality to it. I thought lemon curd and pumpkin. I let a glass sit over the course of lunch and it had miraculously righted itself to a fascinating wine with deep, mature tropical fruit flavors with hints of spice box. Patience is a virtue.

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  • 1985 Château Pape Clément

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    An interesting wine if not particularly enjoyable. It had the nose of a sweeter wine, but this was bone dry. There was a little nuttiness that spoke to a slight oxidation. I'm assuming that all that's left here is Semillon. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

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Flight 2 - Fully Resolved? (3 Notes)

This was a great flight to get things started on. The idea was that all of these wines were fully resolved and ready for action. That was certainly true of the '83 Lafite and the '75 HB, but frankly I'm not sure the '82 LP is ready yet.

  • 1983 Château Lafite Rothschild

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    An good, structured wine that was somewhat outclassed by its company. The gentle nose of graphite and cedar showed a bit of underlying cassis that took some coaxing to unearth. There was an underlying power to the palate with interesting mature flavors, but it really crossed the line into lean territory. What fruit it did show was thrown off by a little sour cherry element that sort of killed it for me. A little more sweetness to the fruit would have made this a complete wine. It was interesting sensually and elegant as hell, yet just a hint underripe and slightly astringent on the finish. With other wines, you'd excuse the lack of perfection, but nobody remembers who came in tenth at the Olympics.

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  • 1975 Château Haut-Brion

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    This wine was almost a religious experience for me. I didn't have too high hopes when I saw the moldy, soaked cork, but lesson learned. I really wished that I had an extra glass as I could have sat with my nose in this all day. It's all in there. Cherries, herbs, truffles, smoke, vanilla bean, white chocolate, bacon fat and on and on (Mark said creme brulee which I think was a nice call). It was just as deep on the palate. The fruit was ripe and still lively, although not rambunctious. The tannins were fully resolved leaving a velvety smooth wine that lingered long on an acidity that carried the finish. A great, complete wine.

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  • 1982 Château Léoville Poyferré

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    The delicate nose of cedar and graphite, belied a hugely powerful wine. Nice, I thought, elegant and proper, and then, WHAM. The first sip threw my head back. Opulent, spicy, dense black fruit. Wonderfully structured with nice minerality and great acidity. Surprisingly for a 25 year old wine, it still grips on the finish just slightly shortening the ending. This wine will last forever. The only criticism of this wine (and it is a minor one) is that, while the fruit is big and expressive, it didn't have a depth above its pedigree. Still, a fantastic experience and a great wine.

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Flight 3 - Who put the Margaux in my Pauillacs? (4 Notes)

For me, this was the most consistent flight. All the wines showed well (some better than others). The Mouton was served blind as a mystery wine. I got as close as Paulliac (or Booyah as Bill heard me), but no closer.

  • 1990 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    What a wonderful, expressive wine. This wine is everything I love about the 1990 vintage. The fruit comes to meet you on the way to the glass and welcomes you with sweet black fruit and classic cigar box. Still a baby, it eats up air picking up both weight and complexity adding some herb and spice notes. It's a dancing heavyweight on the palate. Powerful, edgy and not the least bit flabby. The tannins are ripe and add to the tactile elements of the wine, but need to resolve before this approaches its apogee. Time will be certainly the ally of this wine as the tannins push to the back and the fruit mellows. Gorgeous stuff.

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  • 1989 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    This wine had an interesting horse-y nose that, while a little off-putting at first, settled down to reveal nice layers of smoky cassis, lead and tobacco. Where the 1990 was opulent in the mouth, this was somewhat angular (I circled a big "backward" in my notes). The tight core of fruit was unquestionably ready for drinking but for the tannic power that restrained it. There will be those that adore this wine for its structure and power, but I don't think it's near ready to be fully enjoyed. A very nice wine nonetheless.

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  • 1989 Château Palmer

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    Beautiful aromatics on this wine with delicate floral notes mixed with gentle black fruit, earth and game. This wine was a real treat in the mouth. Supple and sweet with intense fruit perfectly balanced with ripe tannina and a mellow acidity. The word seamless was heard at the table and I can not disagree. An interesting counterpoint to the raw power of some of the earlier wines. Drink now or drink later. This isn't going anywhere.

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  • 1989 Château Mouton Rothschild

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    This wine certainly lacked the WOW factor of some of the others, but it was quite a pleasant and friendly wine. The nose was quite pretty with ample cassis mingled with graphite, cedar and a bit of toast. The nose is much more impressive that the mouth on this one though. On it's own it would have seemed more impressive, but in the company of some classic wines, it seemed a bit simple. It doesn't fall apart and the fruit is sweet and ripe and it has a nice balance to it. While broad it just is not very deep. Still, it had a long finish, is nicely made and is quite enjoyable.

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Flight 4 - Damn, damn, damn...ooh! (4 Notes)

My theory here is that the Margaux ruined the other wines. It's a jealous wine. It a prima donna of a wine that wants the stage all to itself and it got it. I suppose that all the ruined wines were welcome as palate fatigue started to set in.

  • 1989 Château Montrose Flawed

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

    Slightly corked, but corked nonetheless.

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  • 1990 Château Cos d'Estournel Flawed

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

    Interesting in that it was the quintissential corked wine. Exceptionally corked. Magnificently corked. Damn you cork gods!

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  • 1986 Château Cos d'Estournel

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

    Not a bad wine, but not terribly impressive either. The nose was quite refined with some smoky plums, cassis and cedar. Full in the mouth, I liked the minerality of this wine. Yet, it was particularly hard on the palate with the fruit being crushed under the weight of ample tannins. Will this wine ever be ready? I suppose there will be a sweet spot, but it wasn't this day.

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  • 1986 Château Margaux

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    This is a huge wine. The nose is explosive with smoky black plums, cassis, herbs and toast. It's just as big in the mouth with waves of black fruit intermingling with tobacco and spice. The wine is dominated by tannin that, while shortening the finish somewhat, creates an amazing sensual experience. A great wine with steak, it really does grab you by the collar and demand your attention. I was happy to oblige. It does tend to crowd out anything around it, which I'm not sure is a good thing, and needs some time to harness that raw power. Nonetheless, an amazing wine that I'd love the opportunity to try again when (and if) it reaches full maturity.

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Flight 5 - Say cheese! (3 Notes)

We certainly finished strong with an excellent Troplong Mondot and LB. They deserved better than my fatigued palate, but I really enjoyed them nonetheless (especially the TM).

  • 1990 Château Lafite Rothschild Flawed

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Fairly well oxidized, this was a big disappointment. It did come around a little over time, but not to a Lafite level.

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  • 1989 Château Troplong Mondot

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    An interesting counterpoint to the Left Bank bruisers, this was a heavyweight in its own right. I loved the evolved and evolving nose on this one with plums, cassis, black berries, licorice and the ever present chocolate. A big muscular wine, it is not backward, but it is quite young and tannic. I really enjoyed the fruit profile on this wine; it was an inch wide and a mile deep. Tt finished strong with a chalky chocolate that lingered on as the black fruit faded. Impressive.

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  • 1990 Château Léoville Barton

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    This wine has opened quite a bit in the last few months, but it still a massive wall-of-wine. A reserved nose of currant and tobacco that opened up to some licorice and leather with some violent swirling. The midpalate has firmed up quite a bit and there is some compact spicy fruit and earth that hints at what awaits when this hits its stride. The finish is clipped off by the tannins, but was of a reasonable length. It would be interesting to sit with this a whole night and see the layers of the onion peel away, but that was not going to be at a big tasting. I still have very high hopes for this to be a great wine and glad that I have a couple sleeping soundly.

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Closing

There were lots of dessert wines floating about. I had no strength to keep track.

Thanks to all for a great day of comaraderie and for all the great wine!

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