Last night I was lucky enough to attend the Chateaux Latour Vertical Bordeaux Wine Dinner at Valentino’s Cucina Italiana. Valentino’s is one of the best Italian restaurants in South Florida. In Broward county it is only rivaled by Casa D’Angelo, my former boss’s high end outpost. Upon entering we were ushered to the private room in the back. While we waited for the 8 people who were to attend to trickle in, we had a sampling of appetizers with champagnes we had. The champagnes we had were a 1990 Krug aside a 2002 Krug.
Whenever you open a bottle of champagne that is 30 years old the chance that it has oxidized is fairly high. This bottle, however, was pristine. Aged champagne is much more complex and evolved than young champagne. It does lose the crisp freshness associated with champagne but the complexity lends itself much better with food. To accompany it we had an octopus dish, fresh made salmon lox, steak tartar and an osetra caviar that one of the guests brought with them to share. By the time everyone was there and seated we began the dinner with a seared Hudson Valley foie gras dish.
Seared foie gras is one of my favorite dishes and when executed properly is amazing. The combination of the macerated strawberries and the foie gras worked perfectly. We like to do things a little different and drink the “dessert” wine at the beginning of the dinner, as foie is a perfect combination for Sauternes. To drink we had a 2001 and 1975 Chateaux D’Yquem. While the 2001 will, supposedly, one day eclipse the 1975 at the moment the 2001 is still way too young. Dessert wine needs a much longer to mature than table wine which is why a 16 year old 2001 Sauterns still tastes very young. The 1975, however, is approaching full maturity and is terrific.
At this point the main event began. Waiting for us we had 10 vintages of Chateau Latour: 1928, 1945, 1952, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1966, 1982, 1990, and 2000.
While not a single off vintage a couple of those are considered legendary vintages by wine experts. The thing with such old wine is that the bottle variation can be enormous, assuming that the wine is still good. We did have a couple backups in case we opened an off bottle, luckily we didn’t need to use any of them although that’s becasue the one we could have used we didn’t have.
We poured the first 4 vintages, and soon after we were served our next dish, a garganeli dish with duck confit.
The pasta dish was very good although not the star of the night. Of the wines the 1952 and the 1928 were the best in this flight. The fact that an 89 year old wine is still alive is amazing in itself. It was a spectacular bottle of wine.
For the next course we were given an option from the menu. The restaurant was running a special that night of USDA Prime dry aged strip loin that they had reserved for our party. I of course ordered one of those and it was spectacular. It was amazing and so tender. The grilled lettuce, however, while a great idea, had off flavors of burnt olive oil. All in all it was a great dish though. The food at an event like this, unfortunately though necessarily, has to take a backseat to the wines. There can’t be strong overpowering flavors that impede the wines. And this is especially true with old wines. The wines that accompanied the main course were the 1959, 1961, 1966, 1982, and 1990.
The 1966 was disqualified because it was an off bottle. It wasn’t corked but was fairly oxidized. It’s painful when you have to dump a 1966 bottle of Chateau Latour but, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon when you drink such old wines, I’m just thankful that it wasn’t the 1928 that was passed. We decided to move the 1990 up a flight as we had a ringer to add to the last flight. This flight was really two mini flights as you cannot compare a 1961 and a 1990. Between the 1961 and the 1959, surprisingly, the 1959 almost unanimously was voted the better wine. I say surprisingly because the 1961 Chateau Latour is a famous vintage and considered the best by many critics and it earned 100 points by the famous critic Robert Parker. The 1959 is no slouch earning 98 points from the same Robert Parker and tonight we all thought it had a better showing.
For dessert we had a cheese plate and to drink we had the Latour 2000 and a bottle of Alvaro Palacio’s L’Ermita 2001. In this wine group we, infamously, cannot go through an entire event without drinking a bottle of Spanish wine. And L’Ermita is one of the few wines that can stand up to the top French Chateau’s both in quality and prestige. The wines in this last flight were both very young for what they are and still very powerful fruit forward wines that paired very well with the cheese plate.
Valentino’s was the perfect setting for such a night. Chateau Latour is one of my favorite wines, and given an opportunity to try 10 vintages in one night was too much to pass up.