Samuel Pepys was spot on in 1663

29 01 2009

I had the rare pleasure of tasting a First Growth a few days ago. Lured by the prospect of tasting a 2005 Sassicaia –  GP approved btw – I signed up for the weekly wine tasting session at Chai & Bar in Brussels. Little did I know that I was about to be swept off my feet by a 2001 Haut-Brion.

1998 Château Haut-Brion by waynemah (flickr.com)

1998 Château Haut-Brion by waynemah (flickr.com)

What transforms wine tasting into an aesthetic experience? The nametag? The (absurd) pricetag? The appellation? The setting? Rave reviews? They unlikely play a role, but if you rely solely on color, smell and taste, the proof really is in the pudding.

The sommelier advised us to taste the Haut Brion before the Sassicaia – a dazzling theme park ride in itself. Oh my, what a pleasure this was. Such delicate complexity, finesse and balance. Finish for days. Samuel Pepys was spot on when he wrote in his diary on April 10th, 1663 about “A sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan that hath a good and most particular taste that I ever met with.

I am smitten with this kitten, alright. Love the fact that the Château tweets and publishes its own tasting notes. Here are the notes for the 2001 vintage. For once, every word is on the mark, even if it was written in 2002. For now, I can only imagine how this wine will taste once it reaches full maturity in say, 2015.

Extremely good color, dense and young for this millésime. The aromas of this young wine burst upon you. Again this is a wine that is aromatically perfectly balanced. Wood scents do not prevail in this young wine. The approach is soft, and unctuous. The aromatic balance melds in the mouth with soft dissolving tannins. No rigid tannin but rather a slight hint of licorice that melts into the softness of the finish. Everything is melded together leaving a need of aging in order to reach its apogee.

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