Posted: Apr 27, 2007 6:15pm ET
I am in New York, on the way to the Grand Tour in Atlantic City on Saturday, but I am thinking about an amazing dinner I was lucky enough to attend at a friend’s house in London. Canadian Philip Renaud is a big time wine lover, with an extensive cellar, and he is a great lover of Sassicaia
, the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from the Tuscan costal area of Bolgheri.
Me too. I love Sass. OK, sometimes, particularly when it is young, it doesn’t excite you as much as you would like it too. It can be reserved and coy, but so can a lot of wines. Look at my previous blog
. La Conseillante
is the same sort of animal. But I think that Sass comes through in the end, particularly with bottle age. So does La Conseillante….
My case in point is the dinner that Philip organized at his house in London, with some friends from London as well as Mexico. He poured the 1990, 1988 (magnum), 1985 (magnum) 1982 and 1978. The 1985 is a legend. It is one of those wines that collectors and high-end wine merchant speak about in awe -- 100-points and about $15 a point. I included it in an article I wrote for Wine Spectator
about the “Wines of the Century
” – the greatest wines ever made in the 20th century.
Anyway, for me and for most of the others at the dinner, it wasn’t the 1985 that impressed us the most. It was the 1982. Maybe we expected too much out of the1985? It was a classic quality wine, 95 points, non-blind. But it wasn’t the 99-point wine as rated in the magazine, nor did it merit the 100 points others rate it. The 1982 was more complex and enticing. It was sexy and decadent with loads of raspberry, licorice and lead pencil character. It was like a great year of Mouton, like the 1959
. The 1988 was almost as wonderful as the 1982 and showed many of the sample licorice and spice character and caressing silky tannins. The 1978 was along the same lines but fading a little. Nonetheless, its diminishing character was as attractive as my favorite, well-used cashmere sweater. The 1990 was the disappointment of the night. It was fruity but short.
Here are my quickly-written tasting notes from the dinner, with non-blind scores:
1990: This is rather light, with berry and currant character and mineral undertones. It’s medium to full-bodied, with fine tannins and a light fruity, spicy finish. A bit hollow in the mid-palate. Drink now. 89
1988: I have always been a big fan of this wine. I often thought it was better than the 1985. Tonight it delivers lots of very silky tannins and wonderful currant and licorice character on both the nose and plate. Full and very long, it’s so silky and refined. Love to drink it. 95
1985: It’s super fresh and sort of sassy, with loads of berry and currant character and licorice and mineral undertones. It’s full-bodied with silky tannins and a long, long finish. I wanted to give it more points. Still classic quality. Hold or drink. 95
1982: This has it all, but I love the lead pencil quality. It reminds me of great Pauillac from great vintages, especially Mouton or Lynch. Aromas of berries, currants bush, fresh herbs and lead pencil that all follow through to a soft, velvety and caressing palate. Lots of fruit, lots of pleasure. 96
1978: A slightly toned-down version of the 1982, with all the same licorice and currant character as well as a hint of tobacco and wet earth. It’s medium to full-bodied, with silky tannins and a sweet fruit aftertaste. A joy to drink. 93
It was such a treat to drink these wines. And it reminds me how very special the vineyards are, and of how special San Guido (the wine estate that produces Sassicaia) is. It also reminds me of how the 1985 Sassicaia can differ in quality. Some bottles can be mind-blowing. I have had them. Others can be slightly less so, but still classic quality. It is still a legend in my mind.