“That’s the last bottle,” said the owner of the restaurant.
Those words are like great rock n’ roll to my ears, when I score a great bottle for a great price in a restaurant. It’s happened many times in my career. Sometimes it is true. The bottle was their last in the cellar, but other times it’s the restaurant owner realizing that he or she is selling the wine for too little. So they are covering their you-know-what.
It happened the other night in a restaurant, which I will not name. But I scored a bottle of 1979 Haut-Brion – yes, HB, the first-growth bomb – for $265 a bottle. When I saw it on the list, I nearly fell out of the booth. We also had a 1999 Comte George de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny for $125 a bottle.
There’s nothing better than finding a great bottle for a great price on a wine list. I just looked on Wine Searcher, and the 1979 Haut-Brion is $425 at Zachy’s wine shop in New York. I didn't find the Chambolle at retail, but our Auction Price Database lists it as selling at auction in fourth-quarter 2007 for an average of $101, so $125 at a restaurant is a good price.
The Haut-Brion 1979 is an old favorite. I hadn’t had it in years. I was worried that it might be losing it a bit. But it was beautiful with subtle aromas of crushed berries, minerals and cedar. The palate was delicate with subtle fruit and super silky, refined tannins. What a texture. 92 points, non-blind. The Chambolle was very tight still, with firm tannins, yet it was refined and silky with pretty, plummy, raspberry fruit character. It was just a baby still. 90 points, non-blind.
Check out my video. If you have been following my blog, you should know where I have been recently.
I'm not going to tell you where I found the wines, because I don’t want everyone to go and clean the restaurant out of their well-priced bottles. It’s like knowing where the perfect waves are, but you don’t want to tell anyone because you want them all to yourself! But the first one to guess where I ate and drank so well gets dinner with me – on me. So hurry up with your guesses!