I had the best 1960 BV Private Reserve I've ever had yesterday, this after having tried the wine on numerous occasions. Go figure.
The 1961 Inglenook hung in like a weary boxer in the 12th round, wheezing a bit, but it rallied and held its own against the BV and a 1974 Heitz Martha's.
The Heitz (97 points, non blind) was the most intense and concentrated, not surprisingly, since it was the baby, or baby boomer, in this mini-flight of wines tasted yesterday in New York by Wine Spectator's senior staff and me.
The Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve was a classic (97 points, non-blind), a perfect demonstration of the supple elegance, deft balance, pure flavors and silky textures that defined the winery's style for so many years under the hand of André Tchelistcheff. It evolved from initial cedar, balanced almond and caramel to delicate, detailed plum and rose petal flavors and with an amazingly long and complex finish.
I've probably enjoyed more Heitz '74 than any other "older" wine and yesterday it offered the classic minty currant, bay leaf, deep concentration and firm structure that makes it one of the all-time classics. Based on the bottle we tried, this could go another decade or more.
The 1961 Inglenook (86 points, non-blind) initially smelled closed and a touch oxidized. But with about 10 minutes of air it began to open up and gained its footing, offering earthy dried currant, mineral and earthy tobacco notes.
Last night for dinner at SD26 we drank a 2007 Paul Hobbs Russian River Chardonnay, a 2007 Martinelli Zio Tony Pinot Noir, both of which were outstanding, ripe, fleshy and persistent.
The mystery wine, a double-blind magnum, arrived after that. A few of us guessed what the wine might be, knowing that no one knew anything about it except the person who brought, Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin Shanken. Tom Matthews came the closest, taking a stab: He hoped for first-growth Bordeaux about 40 years old, perhaps a 1961!
The wine arrived in a decanter. Very dark in color, as dark or darker than any of the other wines served yesterday, very dense and concentrated and, sadly, corked...1959 Lafite, ugh.
A small footnote. The wine had been recorked in 1992, making us wonder whether the wine had been corked from its initial bottling, or whether the defective cork had been a replacement during the recorking. We'll never know.
One more thought. The wines had been cellared in perfect storage. Otherwise there's no way they would have lasted this long and in this great of shape.
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — October 8, 2009 12:58pm ET
Jay J Cooke — Ripon CA — October 8, 2009 1:47pm ET
Jim Gallagher — Jim Gallagher — October 8, 2009 3:36pm ET
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — October 8, 2009 7:42pm ET
Rick Hooper — Sea Isle City, NJ USA — October 9, 2009 1:57pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — October 9, 2009 3:31pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — October 9, 2009 3:35pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — October 9, 2009 3:38pm ET
Mark Owens — Cincinnati, Oh. — October 12, 2009 1:53pm ET
Tony Wood — Brighton U.K. — October 12, 2009 6:53pm ET
John Sorboro Md — Stow — October 13, 2009 9:59am ET
Stewart Lancaster — beaver,pa — October 13, 2009 11:39am ET
Larry Schaffer — central coast, ca — October 13, 2009 1:53pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — October 13, 2009 4:53pm ET
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