Last night I had the pleasure of being welcomed back to New York from France with something incredibly rare- from France. A few friends came to Rothmann’s for dinner with a bottle or three to wash down a porterhouse. The first two wines were classic left bank Bordeaux, ’82 Talbot and ’88 Leoville Las Cases.
Both wines from St.-Julien showed well, the Talbot at or very close to it’s peak with cedar and tobacco and still a bit of cherry on the finish. Drink it now. Followed by the Leoville Las Cases, seeming like a wine half it’s age rich and opulent, black fruit, cedar, mint, minerality and well integrated oak. I would wait on this for awhile. One of the best examples of ’88 on the left bank from the best producer in St.-Julien.
After they had finished the steak, they moved outside to investigate the half bottle that had been chilling on ice behind the bar. We sat out on 54th street as the cement heat and humidity had become bearable after ten o’clock. I poured four glasses of the Jean-Louis Grippat Hermitage Vin de Paille Blanc 1995, Apricot, cinnamon toast, candied orange peel, cardamon and almond butter on the nose, acidity highlighting the fruit and balance on the palate. Long finish and gorgeous power and balance from a well kept bottle of a stellar vintage in the Northern Rhone Valley. I would assume this is 100% Marsanne since this is what was contained in their vineyards… I was told that 200 half bottles were produced of this wine in the 1995 vintage, although I have seen a quote that “900 half bottles are produced for us, en famille” in reference to the wine in question, not the 1995 vintage- it is conceivable that the production would differ from vintage to vintage.
Coates was on a five week tour of the U.S. doing wine dinners, charity events and other wine related appearances which were apparently all linked to Burgundy until a Nashville based collector who is an investor in Alto convinced his snowy bearded eminence to do this dinner on a night they both had free in New York.
Coates began with the history of the Chateau with the requisite mention of the Dutch draining the swamp that was Bordeaux transforming it into the land that is Bordeaux. The estate was founded in 1689 and was divided in the 19th century due to Napoleonic laws but was run more or less as a whole until 1860. Both properties received deuxieme cru (second growth) status in the 1855 Classification. The sibling is known in Bordeaux shorthand as Pichon Baron. Pichon Lalande is just to the west of first growth property Chateau Latour in the southeastern corner of Pauillac. The vineyard holdings spill over into St. Julien and Coates noted that until the early 60′s around an 1/8 of total production was bottled as St. Julien instead of Paulliac (he also noted that Lafite had similar geographical issues on the northern side of Pauillac with St. Estephe but Lafite was never forced to signify anything on thier label…)