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james laube's wine flights

Having An Old Friend For Dinner

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Jun 20, 2007 5:24pm ET

The other night I had dinner with an old friend and we indulged in an old friend for dinner—the 1983 Guigal La Mouline

The wine brought back lots of fond memories. I’ve been drinking it since the 1980s and enjoyed it perhaps a dozen times since then. Guigal is my friend’s favorite Rhône producer, and the '83 is his all-time favorite wine. When you have that kind of special relationship with a wine it makes it all that more meaningful.

Way back when I first began drinking the wine, it sold in the $20 range, if memory serves. One reason was the strength of the dollar versus the Franc; these days, of course, the Euro is pummeling the dollar, which is one reason why European wines are so expensive for us. A bottle of the '83 currently fetches $2,000!

Anyway, we caught the ’83 at a good time. The cork was fully soaked red. The wine unfolded slowly, taking a good 45 minutes to open, and when it did, it exhibited a medley of what I call scorched earth, fresh-cut herbs, dried cranberry and berry flavors, mineral and fresh earth, eventually adding a game meat nuance. It wasn’t young and it wasn’t old, but this particular bottle wasn’t going to improve. The cork was just about ready to give way.

These days it seems that with so much emphasis on what's new and the fact that so many wines are both expensive and hard to get, you don’t get chances to catch up with old friends quite as often.

I’m not sure when I’ll come across another ’83 La Mouline, but I’m hoping this is not the last encounter.

Adam Lee
Santa Rosa, CA —  June 21, 2007 5:51pm ET
Jim,Wasn't "Having an old friend for dinner" Hannibal Lector's last line in Silence of the Lambs? You aren't trying to tell us something about yourself, are you? :) --- Adam Lee, Siduri Wines
Peter Chang
Hong Kong —  June 21, 2007 8:35pm ET
Jim, the '83 La Mouline is also special to me. It was the first La La that I ever had and it was an almost magical experience. My friend and I started drinking it alowly around midnight and finally finished it at 5am, when it was just hitting its peak! I have been a great fan ever since. I don't think the cost is as high as you quoted, though... I was able to pick up some recently for less than $700 in London.
Charles J Stanton
Eugene, OR —  June 22, 2007 2:42pm ET
Jim, like Adam Lee implies, nothing quite satisfies like liver, fava beans and a nice 'rhone' (make funny slurping noise with lower lip).

One of the greatest wines I ever had was the 1990 La Mouline (#2 wine of 1994) that I was fortunate to have tasted at the 1995 Wine Experience. The viognier "kicker" in that wine elevated it to perfection.

Have you had a chance to try the wine recently, and if so, what do you think? I have a few other 1990 ChdPape/Hermitage/Cote Rotie's that I am waiting on, and perhaps now is the time to drink up?

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