This Friday we were invited for dinner (together with Amihai and Dafna) to our good friends and great hosts Oded and Nitza Lerer. Every evening at the Lerers' is bound to be a great wining and dining pleasure, but this one set a new record!
The beautiful round table by the glowing fireside in their spacious living room was the setting for the most tasty dinner, the most elegant wines and the extremely convivial atmosphere that included Oded (a composer, among his other talents) playing some of his pieces on the grand piano.
Few hosts could match Nitza's flavorful and tasty cooking and Oded's choice of fine wines.
Rich tomato soup
1988 Grands Echezeaux, Mongeard-Mugneret
Sauteed Chicken Liver with arabic salad
1983 Chateau Margaux
Lamb shoulder stewed with Artichoke
1986 Echezeaux, Henri Jayer
Quince slices on pastry in flower-scented jam and Orange parfait
12/98. As I got this wine at the same auction Oded got his, I know it was bought on May-96 for $80.
I had this very wine some three months ago. I count Mongeard-Mugneret Grands Echezeaux among the very best (B). The 1983 was otherworldly while the '88 bottle I had recently was superb.
COLOR: Medium-dark color with some clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Full thrust 'Bourgogne Nose' with fresh red forest-fruit. Layers of secondary aromas add complexity to the very enticing nose. A wonderful example of a semi-mature Grand Cru (B).
TASTE: Delicious! Bold, multi-flavored and very stylish on the palate. Mouth-filling with distinctly discernible cherries, cassis, ample winyness, acidity, tannins and the effect of wood. Stood up beautifully to the flavorful tomato soup.
LENGTH: Lingering after-taste that carries on the fruit and acidity long after a sip is gone.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: A big, broad-shoulders (B) if there ever was one. Rich, complex and well endowed. Still years away from maturity. Fantastic balance though not yet totally harmonized.
OVERALL: Superb-plus!! With the smoothness and sweetish maturity to be gained, I am pretty sure this great wine is heading towards being extraordinary in a few years.
MARK: 18.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.
12/98. This bottle also came from a lot Oded and I got at the same May-96 auction and split between us. The cost then was $130.
A previous bottle I had some three years ago was simply divine.
COLOR: Very dark black-red, only thin clearing around the rim. Plenty of sediment at the bottom.
NOSE: Truly enticing. Perfumed, rich and complex aromas. Very different from the Grands Echezeaux with darker fruit and flowery tones, lacking (good!) the typical cedarry tarry 'Bordeaux Nose'. Coquettish and teasing nose - exquisite!
TASTE: A celebration in the mouth! Stylish, multi-flavored, mouth-filling though never attacking. The epitome of elegance and chique on the palate. Almost unbelievable a medium-bodied wine can have so many warm flavors. Pure nectar.
LENGTH: Long (though I've seen longer) finish that echoes the complexity of the attack and the mid-palate.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: A medium-bodied wine with a perfect constitution. Nothing shouts here but everything is singing in harmony. For me at least (some others felt it a bit tannic) this wine is at or around its peak.
OVERALL: Extraordinary-plus!!! For my untrained (Bordeaux) palate, this Ch. Margaux, at its present point in life, represents the ultimate Bordeaux.
MARK: 19.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.
12/98. All I know is Oded got this one at an auction in France.
Of all the 1986 red (B) I had in the past, the only one deserving the title 'great' was Bonnes Mares by Groffier. 1986 red (B) were week and watery to start with. By now most of them should have been drank long ago (if at all).
But Henri Jayer, the father of pure clean and concentrated Burgundies, now that is a totally different matter...
COLOR: Impressively dark for any (B), let alone a 12-years-old from a weak vintage. Very thin clearing towards the rim.
NOSE: The cries around the table when we first sniffed at it. The familiar yet rare pleasure that stems from the glass of a mature, sweetish, multi-layered truly great Grand Cru - your nose simply won't let go. I couldn't tell the fruit from the oak, the animal tones from the delicate perfume. All I know is this is what a mature Grand (B) should smell like
TASTE: Smooth, clean, concentrated and well-blended harmony. Fully mature and forward. By no means tired and surly not faulty in any respect, though perhaps a year or so behind its peak. Luxurious and expensive on the palate, a rare pleasure to sip.
LENGTH: Long and terrific aftertaste that got a bit acidic as time progressed.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: The elements are so harmoniously blended here that it is impossible to tell fruit from wood from alcohol, acidity or tannins. They all are here and contribute to this homogeneous wine, but they don't act separately anymore.
It is misleading to think this wine is only two years older than the Grands Echezeaux we had at the beginning of the evening.
1988 being a concentrated tannic year whose lighter wines just begin to emerge now, while 1986 was a mediocre vintage, most of its wines are gone by now. The perceived age difference between these two wines is more like ten years.
An interesting observation is that great fully-mature (B) wines, while gaining complexity, harmony and that sweetish plummy coating, tend to 'converge' into a typical wine and somewhat lose their identity or particular terroir.
OVERALL: Extraordinary!!! A beautiful example of a fully mature great (B). Taking into account the vintage, what Monsieur Jayer achieved here (with his old vines and tiny yields) is truly amazing.
MARK: 19/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Maybe.
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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.