Drinking wine and talking wine
The celebration starts with the Champagne Taittinger Cuvee Prestige Brut that carefully awoke our senses for what was to come. This nectar has a golden-yellow colour, with very fine and rather persistent bubbles. The perfume is extremely pleasant and expressive. In the mouth, it is vivacious, playful, but with a sober, mineral finish.
Guigal ChateauneufduPape 2003 is pale, like an old wine should be, as it is left to breathe in the decanter. The tip of the wine is dominated by dried cherries, with a hint of iodine and something reminiscent of “cola”. The attack is spectacular, with liquorice and old tomato preserve aromas. The finish brought hints of caramel, as well as some earthy undertones.
Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz 2002 is so beautifully red that you would never have thought it to be 11 years old. It is almost “toxic” at first, in the good sense of the word. The taste then stands out as very round, somewhat camphoric, with well dissimulated tannins that are in perfect harmony with the alcohol (14.5%) and the cocoa tones. Overall, it is a very fresh and silky wine.
Château Haut Bailly 1981 Grand Cru Classé Cru Exceptionnel is the oldest star in this line-up, its age easily noticeable by its dark-crimson colour. A settled glass offers an overly ripe watermelon aroma whereas, after some vigorous shaking, it delights with hints of coffee. The taste keeps some of the aforementioned coffee, in addition to some inspired touches of aromatic herbs.
Antinori Solaia Annata Diversa 2002 is an admirable and atypical Super Toscan, as it lacks the traditional Sangiovese.
Slightly pale in colour, this Italian wine’s scent is reminiscent of ripe forest fruits and cherries, along with some sandalwood. The nose is round and velvety, with no dryness or dustiness to it. In the mouth, the Cabernet-Sauvignon takes charge, robust, full bodied, with strong tannins.
Pelissero Vanotu 2004 Barbaresco is an extremely manly wine; its taste packs the strength of an arm wrestling match. The nose features black cherries, liquorice and freshly poured bitumen, with the colour of a deep black red. In the mouth, the tannins come through quite strong and the acidity is rather high for a nine year old wine. It is a strong experience to try this modern, uncompromising Barbaresco.
The Château Canon la Gaffelière 1998 Grand Cru Classé brought the red wine tasting evening to a magnificent conclusion! The colour – almost black – is quite a surprise, considering its age. So was the nose, which is extraordinarily fine and round – a balanced mix of prunes, blackcurrants, ripe cherries and chocolate. In the mouth it is nourishing and full, a firework of very good taste, with superbly integrated, friendly tannins. It is a combination of elegance, opulence and expressivity that makes it impossible to forget. We went through the celebration with steak tartare, which was a perfect match for the classy wines. This was followed by the desert wine – Hausherr Pfersigberg Gewurztraminer 2005 Alsace Grand Cru, which displayed a sweet pale golden colour, with hints of quince and elderberry flowers at its nose, and a combination of lychee and grapefruit tastes in the mouth.