A plethora of riches

A plethora of riches

It should be apparent to regular readers of this column that I place great store on patience.

I have repeatedly encountered the astonishing and beautiful development of wines which have been stored upwards of 10 years - Chablis, for instance, starts out bone dry and closed at first sighting shortly after release, but transforms like Cinderella with maturity into lovely wines after a decade or more of storage.

Still, it needs more than just patience. It needs adequate storage capacity under the right conditions so that the wines can be left to slumber for a decade or more before being broached. A recent wine dinner with 1986 First Growths reminded again of this need for patience.

The 80s brought wine lovers and consumers into a New World of 100-pointers with the reviews and individual wine scores of Bordeaux 1982, published in the Wine Advocate in early 1983.

The glare of publicity generated by Robert Parker opened the floodgates of wine journalism and the wine world has never been the same since. The 80s was memorable for quite a number of other vintages.

They include 1983 and 1985, and then the trilogy of 1988, 1989 and 1990. Quietly developing in the background was 1986, only just recently emerging.

Favourable weather conditions in the growing season foretold a good vintage in Pauillac and Saint Julien in particular.

The weather had favoured the Cabernet which meant that properties with high percentages of Cabernet would show well in comparison with those with high Merlot content. The predominance of Cabernet dictated a long wait. But Patience has its virtues. The time had come.

The wines at dinner

Chateaux Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, Haut Brion, Cheval Blanc, Lafleur, Leoville Lascases, preceded by "Y" 2006, the dry white of Y'quem, and Montrachet Grand Cru 1997, Baron Thenard.

Chateau d'Yquem "Y" Ygrec, Bordeaux Superior

A 50 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 20 per cent Semillon blend, the dry wine of Chateau d'Yquem made during those years when it was not possible to make the sweet Y'quem. Pale yellow, with lightly sweet fruity aroma of peaches and pears.

Quite sweet on the palate, peaches, pears, good freshness but could do with more acidity. Pleasant, a little too fruity and sweet for some palates.

Montrachet Grand Cru 1997, Domaine Baron Thenard

A lovely deep golden colour, with a surprisingly youthful lightly sweet fruity aroma; on the palate rather sweet, fruity, almost dessert wine in sweetness, lacked enough acidity and minerality. Not the best example of this great wine.

I have had older vintages of Thenard's Montrachets in the past and they have all been very enjoyable, not the least because they were all reasonably priced, among the best-priced Montrachets.

The Montrachet vineyard in question belongs to the Baron Thenard Domaine but until 2005 much of the wine produced was sold to the negociant Remoissenet and bottled under their label.

The bottles I have had in the distant past had the Remoissenet label but were imported into UK by the wine company Avery's of Bristol. That was a long time ago. This bottle was sadly disappointing. It was not at the same level of those I had bought from Avery's which were really quite magnificent.

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