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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

Pot Roast and Old Claret?

Château Léoville Poyferré St.-Julien 2001

Thomas Matthews
Posted: March 29, 2010

Sometimes food and wine can make an awkward match, and still create a pleasant moment.

Sara and I had been on vacation for a week, and her mother, Nancy, held down the fort. To thank her, I pulled a 2001 Léoville-Poyferré from my cellar. Little did I know she was making pot roast for dinner.

The meat-and-potato dish was hearty and rustic, and really wanted a young, powerful, fruity red to stand up to its savory flavors. The St.-Julien, on the other hand, would have been more comfortable with veal scaloppini sautéed with mushrooms.

It was a classic claret: smooth, elegant, refined, with maturing flavors of cedar, tobacco, dried fruit and spices. As my colleague James Suckling twittered in response, “2001 Bordeaux are drinking beautifully … for people who prefer finesse to hedonism.” I rated it 91 points, non-blind.

But when I served her the wine, blind, Nancy smiled and said, “This is delicious. I love mature Cabernet.” Despite the culinary clash, we enjoyed every drop of the bottle.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Château Léoville Poyferré St.-Julien 2001 (90 points, $35 on release).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated red Bordeaux, along with our quick list of Top Values among red Bordeaux.

Tom Miller
Vestavia Hills, AL —  March 29, 2010 11:30am ET
Thomas,

I'll bet that the 2001 Leoville-Poyferre paired nicely with your mother-in-law's pot roast but can that vintage truly be considered "old claret?" I guess everyone has their own definition of old but I was thinking more along the lines of anything pre-1990, especially for Bordeaux. I'd be curious to hear what others think.
Jeffrey D Travis
University Park, FL., USA —  March 29, 2010 11:42am ET
Watch out James Suckling. Looks like you may have some competition. Not only can Nancy discern that the wine is mature (blind, no less), but she can identify the grape variety as well. And, she knows the boss! Way to go Nancy.
Bob Brack
Canada —  March 29, 2010 12:07pm ET
I agree with Tom. I haven't touched any of my 2001s yet, or even my 2000s (aside from a couple of cheapies), though I presume I could if I wished.
Thomas Matthews
New York City —  March 29, 2010 12:34pm ET
I wouldn't (and didn't) call this wine "old" but rather "mature." For me, Bordeaux remains "young" until the initial fruit flavors are joined by tobacco, leather and cedar notes. It's "mature" as long as those evolved flavors remain balanced with fruit. And it's "old" when the fruit fades to a minor voice in the chorus of flavors. Each vintage (and wine) follows its own arc. My experience is that the 2001s are more advanced now than the 2000s, but less advanced than the 1999s, for example.
Martin Diehr
Jacksonville, FL USA —  March 29, 2010 9:36pm ET
thomas,
your header for this blog was Pot Roast and "Old Claret", that equals calling a wine old.
Anyways, I often find that even a non perfect pairing can be great, especially when friends and family gathering at one table and great traditional foods being prepared.

Martin
Thomas Matthews
New York City —  March 30, 2010 8:36am ET
Martin,

True enough, though the question mark was meant to invoke some uncertainty. And I also agree with you that the most important match is the one that links the people around the table.

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