The SOMM Journal

February / March 2017

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Page 37 of 116

{ } 37 October 18: The 189th Meeting of the Saintsbury Club The Saintsbury Club was formed in 1931 to honour Professor George Saintsbury (1845–1933) whose Notes on a Cellar Book, published in 1920, has remained one of the greatest tributes to drink and drinking in the history of wine. There are 50 members, all male, drawn half from the world of wine and half from the world of arts and letters. Two dinners are held each year at the Vintners' Hall in April and October, the wines from the Club cellar being provided by members years previously. Thanks (again) to Michael Broadbent, I have been a member since 1989. Charles Heidsieck 2000 Champagne: Gold in colour, fully mature, quite rich and very, very good. Etienne Sauzet 2012 Bourgogne Blanc Tufera: Lovely florality and fine expression of white summer fruits. Domaine de la Vougeraie 2009 Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot: Still youthful both in colour and bouquet, great finesse on the palate, good future. Ch. Giscours 1996 Margaux: Good firm colour and fruit; just opening up with a decade in front of it. Ch. Phélan-Ségur 1995 Saint-Estèphe: Showing more maturity with Phélan's "gamey" flavours; lovely now. Domaine Huet 1997 Vouvray Le Haut Lieu Moelleux: Pale amber in colour, rich natural sweetness balanced by crackling acidity, superb. Graham's 1983 Port: Fine, full rich and spicy in the Graham's Vintage Port style; perfect now. Hine Grande Champagne Cognac 1981, landed 1987, bottled 1999: A clas - sic "early landed Cognac," a speciality of certain Bristol and London merchants, all finesse and caressing length. November 10: 190th Anniversary Lunch of Ch. Léoville-Barton This wasn't a dinner and it was at The Langham Hotel, but since it was the 190th anniversary of the Barton family's purchase of the Léoville-Barton estate, the elegant early 18th-century Château Langoa being purchased five years earlier in 1921, with three generations of the Barton family present, it was certainly a 2016 high spot. Ruinart NV Blanc de Blancs Champagne: Elegant and creamy; a perfect aperitif. Ch. Léoville-Barton 2006 Saint-Julien: Dense but already showing fragrance on the nose and the tannins blending in on the palate but better in five, even 15 years. Ch. Léoville-Barton 1996 Saint-Julien: Deep red, mature rim, riper fruit than expected from this firm year ; open now and for another decade; very classic. Ch. Léoville-Barton 1986 Saint-Julien: Seems younger than the 1996 with won - derful freshness and clarity, makes up in quality what it lacks in charm. Ch. Léoville-Barton 1976 Saint-Julien: Rich colour, browning rim, fine cedary nose and natural richness from a heatwave year ; really lovely claret. Ch. Léoville-Barton 1956 Saint-Julien: The château did not have a single bottle of 1966 and this, the birth year of Lilian Barton, daughter of Anthony and Eva Barton, was one of the worst ever, yet the wine still showed a hint of fragrance, far better than could be expected at 60 years of age! Ch. Coutet 2005 Barsac: Rich gold in colour, wonderfully natural honeyed sweetness lifted by Barsac acidity; very fine indeed and for many years to come. November 16: Wine Committee Dinner at Boodle's Club, Saint James's Street Every three years there is a new Chairman of Boodle's, which was created as a propri- etary club in 1762 and named for Edward Boodle, and the Wine Committee, of which I am a member, gives a welcoming dinner for him at which "wines suitable to the occasion will be served," from their own cellars. Louis Roederer 2002 Champagne: Pale gold, quite full and broad with elegance and depth. Domaine Schlumberger 2013 Gewurztraminer Les Princes Abbés: Very fine florality and rich texture, dry fin - ish, excellent with the foie gras. Domaine Bonneau du Martray 2004 Corton-Charlemagne: Greeny yellow, fine stone fruit, firmness and length; still some way to go. Ch. Léoville-Las Cases 1996 Saint-Julien: Deep young colour, totally classic claret, all firmness and grip; shows the proximity to Latour with purity and depth, still young. Ch. Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1996 Pauillac: From vines abutting Las Cases, this is just as deep and just as classy and young, but also seductive in the Comtesse style. Ch. Figeac 1989 Saint-Emilion: No age at all, marvellous nose of earthy autumnal fruit and amazing energy and grip along with the rich fruit from a very hot vintage; the wine of the evening. Graham's 1977 Port: Still deep colour, superb spicy richness, one of the best 1977 with a decade and more to go. December 13: Brooks's and Boodle's Wine Committees at Boodle's Brooks's Club was founded two years after Boodle's and is on the other side of Saint James's Street. There is a friendly rivalry between the two, but it is acknowledged that Boodle's has a better chef. In 2015, it was Brooks's Wine Committee who welcomed us, so in 2016 it was our turn. Burgundy was chosen as the theme, and I was allowed to present Bride Valley 2014 Brut Reserve, the English sparkling wine from my wife's estate in Dorset. It went down well, Hugh Johnson sending an email headed "Mad about the Bride." Bride Valley 2014 Brut Reserve: Light and fresh and shows admirably the vineyard's high percentage of Kimmeridgian chalk. Maison Roche de Bellène 2012 Meursault Les Chevalières: Lovely fresh and very pure Meursault with the fruit and class of a Premier Cru. Domaines Faiveley 2009 Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley (magnum): Naturally rich from this Grand Cru Monopole with great depth of autumnal fruit, just beginning to open up. Domaine Drouhin-Laroze 2002 Bonnes-Mares: Fine expression of black fruits with vigour, clarity and grip, a superb vineyard expression with a great future, the wine of the evening. Domaine Thomas Moillard 1998 Nuits- Saint-Georges 1er Cru les Richemones: Mature but young for 28 years old, lissom yet vigourous with florality and spice, lovely. Graham's 1977 Port: Deep colour, rich, spicy and marvellously smooth; quite superb and better than the same wine the month before, both this and the pre - vious wine lying undisturbed in the Berry Brothers' cellars until brought to the dinner by Simon Berry. It will be hard for 2017 to match these, but hope springs eternal.

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