Something Old, Something New

4 Jul

Recently we had several friends over for dinner, and choosing wines required a moment of thought for me. The menu included beef and lamb, so I wanted wines that would be able to pair and complement well. I started re-arranging a section in my cellar and found a remaining bottle of 1983 Sociando-Mallet Haut-Medoc. I’d purchased several of these bottles at auction and enjoyed the next-to-last bottle. I pulled and dusted it, examined the foil and cork (not bad!) and then selected a couple of younger bottles for follow-up wines.

When I opened and decanted the 29-year old bottle, the cork broke, but the second half came out as one piece. While the split cork could be a bad indication, the initial color was good, a deep garnet with just a small amount browning on the edges. On the nose, I discerned a slight tinge of the acidity starting to turn on my initial aroma, after more air it dissipated completely. My initial impression was balanced tannins and acidity with cassis and raspberry in the background. Yet the balance was good and the wine opened considerably.  As the wine aerated, the cassis and cherry opened more into the back palate, as did the hints of cocoa, pepper, and clay. I was hardly surprised there was nary a hint of cedar or oak to be found at this age. It is important to note there was not a hint of sugar or sweetness in the fruit, confirming that this needed to be consumed now or risk that hint of TCA becoming a complete reality. After 30 minutes of air, the wine had opened to be a lovely, medium-bodied complement for the lamb, and it was time to open another bottle.

Next I picked a Chateau Charmant Margaux 2008. The Charmant is dark purple in color, has a nose that includes rose petal, black plum, a hint of menthol and graphite. The palate is full of black plum, blackberry, cassis, with elements of cedar, cocoa, pepper and rose bush. While this wine is still young, it’s a great example of a huge, fruit- forward wine with balance and the lush silkiness that endears the great Margaux to me. On the downside, this wine is currently lacking the immense structure and depth it will have upon reaching maturity. Nonetheless, it played a great foil in comparison to the fully matured Sociando-Mallet, from delicious wine to delicious wine, from fall to spring, and a wonderful transition in seasons and flavors.

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