Alvin’s 60th Birthday Dinner

Le Gavroche

Tasted November 15, 2012 by godx with 445 views

Flight 1 - Canapés (1 note)

Foie Gras, Pear Chutney; Smoked Salmon, Pickled Radish Salad; Wild Mushroom, Pine Nut Duxel

Flight 2 - Amouche Bouche (1 note)

Bellini, Poached Quail Egg, Crème Fraiche, Smoked Herring Caviar

2001 Château de Fieuzal Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
Nose showed a lot of sauv blanc on the nose with lemon, tropical fruits and lychee. On the palate there’s a nice smoky notes along with medium weight and excellent acidity. It’s got a bit of an oily/rich texture but the acidity and mineral notes on the persistent finish keep the mouthfeel lively and fresh. This was great and shows the strength of white Bordeaux in 01. Excellent.

Flight 3 - Muscovy Duck Breast (2 notes)

Lavender Crusted, Duck Jus, Pear Purée

1988 Château Cheval Blanc France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
Medium red with some bricking at the rim. This polarized the table as some felt this was corked and others felt it was just extremely musty. I flip flopped right until my final sniff and sip and still was partially undecided, but if I was forced to pick, I’d say it was slightly corked with a lot of mustiness underneath. Either way, the wine was drinkable. Musty nose with notes of bell pepper/stems, cedar and blackcurrants. In the mouth it was soft and fairly light in weight with excellent acidity with hints of spice and sweet fruit on the finish. Tannins are mainly resolved and what’s left are very fine. Compared to the ’95, this was more mature, more delicate and more cab franc’ish. Having said all that, I don’t think this was a representative bottle and therefore judgment is reserved.
1995 Château Cheval Blanc France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Slightly darker in colour compared to the ’88. This definitely had a more international styled profile, both on the nose and palate, with notes of vanilla oak, creamy cherries and slightly sweet redcurrants. This was quite forward. In the mouth it was fuller, weightier and more concentrated than the ’88, and to me, shows more merlot-like compared to the ’88 which seemed to show more cab franc notes. Excellent acidity and fine tannins round out the soft and plush mouthfeel. A few at the table thought this could be mistaken for a good Cali wine if tasted blind—I really couldn’t argue with that. A good wine for sure but I expected more. Approachable now but I think this may improve with another 3-5 years. Very good. 89+

Flight 4 - Rabbit 2 Ways (3 notes)

Rabbit Chop, Sous Vide Rabbit loin, Carrot Puree, Rabbit Sauce

1981 Château Palmer France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
90 points
Lighter red with browning rim. Mature claret nose showing nice left bank typicity with darker fruits, cedar, tobacco and hints of sous bois. This has excellent acidity and while the tannins are for the most part resolved, the remaining bits are firm and classic. Lighter in weight with an undemanding mouthfeel. Even though this would have probably been better 5 years ago, I still really enjoyed it. Excellent.
1970 Château Palmer France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
91 points
Similar colour to the ’81. This had a beautifully mature nose with notes of cedar, tobacco, earth, cherry and spice. At first the fruit on the palate was slightly dried out, but as it sat in the glass this 42 year old Palmer started to improve, becoming softer and silkier with perfectly mature ripe cassis and cherry fruit. The amount of acidity had this bottle ever so slightly out of balance, but that’s nitpicking. Solid length with some drying tannins on the backend. This definitely isn’t going to get any better so time to drink up. Excellent.
1978 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
93 points
Medium ruby red with just hints of bricking at the rim. What a great nose that instantly had me thinking ‘classic claret’. Perfumey nose with cedar, spice and truffle with riper plums and dark cherries. In the mouth this ’78 was tightly knit and somewhat firm with powdery tannins, solid acidity and great density. The acid gave this mature wine some lift and helped balance the riper fruit and smooth mouthfeel. The finish is long with cedar spice flavours. This well-balanced and complex Margaux was easily the wine of the flight. At peak and drinking very well but no rush. Outstanding.
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Flight 5 - White Veal (2 notes)

Bean Ragout, Mustard Crème Fraiche, Confit Tomatoes, Veal Jus

1983 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
93 points
Medium red and slightly more youthful looking than the ’83 Palmer. This has a wonderfully elegant nose that was sweeter and perhaps slightly more complex with dark red cherries, blackcurrants, cedar, spice, peppermint and traces of violets. Similar flavours on the palate with a perfectly balanced mouthfeel with powdery yet tight and firm tannins, excellent acidity and a long persistent finish. This is tight and more structured than the ’83 Palmer. Fantastic to drink now but I think will be even better with another 5+ years in the cellar. Outstanding. 93+
1983 Château Palmer France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
93 points
Medium red with some bricking at the rim. Wow this had a really nice perfumey nose of blackcurrants, plums, cedar, tobacco with hints of floral and funk. In the mouth this was warmer, rounder and easier drinking than the ’83 Margaux with a rich and soft texture but there’s also great acidity balancing it out. This is softer, more approachable and less structured than the ’83 Margaux, but I think this Palmer showed more communal typicity. This is drinking extremely well right now but should cruise, and maybe even improve a bit, over the next 10+ years. Outstanding. 93+?

Flight 6 - Sous Vide Lamb Loin (2 notes)

Sheep’s Milk Yogurt, Baby Veg, Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes, Lamb Jus

1985 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
1982 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
93 points
Medium red colour, youthful looking. Beautiful nose that’s deeper and sweeter than the ’83 with notes of ripe plums, blackberries, cigar box, smoke, floral and earth. Soft and round in the mouth with a polished and sweet fruited finish. Although this and the ’83 have a similar level and firmness of tannins, the tannins here are more hidden by the sweeter/riper fruit. The ’83 also had more acidity making this ’82 more approachable and softer in the mouth. I thought this showed more Margaux typicity compared to the ’83. The table had lengthy discussions about which we thought was the better wine, the ‘82 or the ‘83, and the overall consensus was that the ’83 was probably going to be longer lived and would eventually be the better wine by a slight margin. Drink or hold. Outstanding.

Flight 7 - Assortment of Cheeses (2 notes)

1986 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
91 points
Darkest wine yet. Nose reminds me of the ’95 Cheval Blanc (kind of internationally styled). Dark and slightly stewed cherry and blackberry fruits with a decent nose of vanilla and tar. In the mouth it’s very structured, youthful and backward. Quite well-balanced with loads of hard tannins, great acidity and tons of fruit. The only concern I had was the slightly stewed fruits on the nose (didn’t get any stewed notes last time I tried this wine), and the person who brought this agreed, and said it was an auction purchase so perhaps this bottle suffered from improper storage at some point, but that was just a guess. At any rate, this is a powerful Margaux that has a lot of everything: fruit, structure and potential, but is just a baby today and is in need of 10 years at least. Excellent. 91+
White - Sweet/Dessert
2003 Château d'Yquem France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
91 points
Light gold. Deep nose of botrytis, honey, candied citrus and mango. Clean, viscous and thick on the palate but not overblown or cloying. For an ’03, I thought this had pretty decent acidity and came across with some energy and not overly fat. There were indeed sweet and concentrated flavours, but again, not overly sweet, rich or honeyed. As with most 03s (even though this was better than most), I would like more precision and acidity to match the sweetness with more freshness, but as I hinted at, this is definitely the best 03 I’ve had. This was extremely persistent on the palate and the finish went on and on. Surprisingly drinking well on this night, but undoubtedly has a very long life ahead of it and should improve for decades. Excellent. 91+
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