Monday 12 November 2012

Tasting Dinner With Old Pommards 1949 - 1989

Last Saturday I arranged a tasting dinner around some bottles of old Pommards. A couple of years ago I did a similar dinner.
We were six around the table, which is just right when it comes to sharing a bottle and getting to taste is properly. And for the chef, aka me, to have time to taste the wines, not spending all of the time in the kitchen. :-)
Apart from two bad bottles, the night went a long with lot of wine talk (!) and great atmosphere!

We started with grilled scallops with a parsnip puree and a herb oil. I had opened two white Burgundies to go along. The 1989 Corton-Charlemagne, Le Savour Club was corked but the other bottle was truly enjoyed.

1999 Corton-Charlemagne, Verget
A deep, creamy, oily nose with notes of lemon cream, cold butter, pine nuts, rosemary, dried apricots and a lovely smoky note. Very deep. A taut structure but very elegant at the same time. Very, very fine.
The taste is tight, concentrated and sweet with notes of lemon cream, dried tropical fruit, summer flowers and cap gun smoke. The acidity is perfectly balanced. Long, long finish. Great wine. You could say that this is mature but I would guess it have on more gear to shift in to in a couple of years time.
94p   (tasted 2012/11)

Before the Pommards hit the table we had a consomme with chanterelles and sweetbread. I thought that an old Madeira would do the trick...

1879 Rare Sercial, Justino Henriques
I opened this bottle and decanted it on wednesday and then it smelled of detergent. Not so three days later...
The nose is breathtakingly gorgeous with an intensity and purity that is beoynd words. Notes of linoleum, coffee beans, orange peel, tea bags, lime cream, dried herbs and a whiff of detergent oozes up from the glass. Very, very complex. A sheer and utter joy to sit and sniff this nectar.
The taste follows the nose with the same intensity and purity. Lovely notes of dried orange peel, assorted nuts, petrol station, muscovado sugar, balsa wood and wet tea leaves. The finish is counted in several minutes. The sweetness is a bit higher than I would have guessed, but no complaints from me. The acidity cuts like a sword through the taste. Magnificent! I wine to remember.
99p   (2012/11)

After we had composed ourselves after the impression from the Madeira it was time for the first flight of Pommards. With that flight we had a terrine (bought, not made) of pigeon and goose liver with a Madeira reduction.

1969 Pommard, Bichot
At first somewhat restrained but with air it opened up great, with notes of rasberries, rowanberries, dried licorice, forest floor, cherry candy and old leather. Very sweet and fine.
The taste is mature, pure and nice with notes of sweet lingonberries, rasberries, dried herbs and autumn leaves. The finish is medium long and very fresh. Drinking perfectly now.
91p   (2012/11)

1969 Pommard Rugiens, Chanson
A big, sweet, brawny nose with notes of mature strawberries, mushroom forest, grounded coffee and autumn leaves. A bit foursquare. With air more stable notes emerges, and it becomes a bit muddy.
The taste is big and mature with the fruit in the background and a stiff structure in the foreground. There is some nice lingonberry fruit and undergrowth in the finish but all in all this is a bit dull.
82p   (tasted 2012/11)

1969 Pommard, Leon Violland
A fine, spicy, mature nose with notes of rasberries, strawberries, dry tobacco, christmas spices and forest floor. Very good. A fine round sweetness to the fruit. Perfectly mature.
The taste is mature, sweet and upfront with notes of rasberries, cold coffee, spices, leather and autumn leaves. A fine warmth in the medium long finish. Very, very good. When the Bichot picked up momentum during the evening this one declined a bit, but a fine bottle of mature Burgundy all the same.
90p   (tasted 2012/11)

For the second flight I had prepared a pastry baked Bresse chicken with a mushroom sauce. I hoped it would go along nicely to the four mature Pommards that were poured.

1949 Pommard Les Epenots, Alain Bellecour
A deep, tight, mature nose with a fine sweetness and notes of dried rasberries, forest floor, corinthians and veal stock. Very deep and fine. A bit sturdy with air but it kept on going all through the evening.
The taste is round, sweet and rather intense with notes of lingonberries, almonds, dark fudge, autumn leaves and a hint of coffee. Medium long finish with a dry ending. Very good but it lacks a bit of complexity.
87p   (tasted 2012/11)

1949 Pommard, Morin
Corked! #%¤&#"=%&¤ A beautiful label though...

1949 Pommard, Sicard
A very deep, tight and vivid nose with notes of wild strawberries, celeriac, hard rasberry candy, old leather and fresh autumn leaves. Very, very good. With air it becomes even sweeter, with notes of chocolate covered rasberries. This being 63 years old!?
The taste is tight, pure and mature with notes of lingonberries, dried strawberries, dry tobacco and a touch of cinnamon. A medium long, fine finish. It actually feels more its age on the palate then on the nose, but this is a impressive bottle of wine.
92p   (tasted 2012/11)

1949 Pommard, Mme Ph. Vincent
Level: 7 cm. Cork: A short, crumbly one. Wine: Fantastic! This is one of the reasons why wine drinking is so fun - no expectations what so ever, and the result? Apart for the Madeira, the winner of the night!
A deep, sweet, elegant nose with gorgeous notes of wild rasberries, spices, pipe tobacco, forest floor, root vegetables, dark fudge and a touch of cold coffee. So pure and fresh! If it was hard to belive the previous wine to be 53 years old, this strikes us as even younger. The guesses (all wines were served blind) was in the 1985, 1989 category...which is what I would have guessed to.
The taste is impressive with its long lasting fruit, great acidity and a long, sweet finish. Notes of strawberries marinating in balsamic vinegar, tobacco, spices, autumn leaves and coffe with milk. The finish goes on for over a minute. Great wine.
95p   (tasted 2012/11)

We talked about if this last wine was pure Pinot, the colour was fairly dark, but it did feel like Pinot. In the previous dinner it was quite obvious that there was bottles with something added, but I felt that this was not the case with these bottles. But who knows? If something was added to this last wine, it was surely made by a master blender!

With the last flight we had some cheese - Reblochon, Pont l´Evéque and Gruyére. And now it was time for the youngsters!

1989 Pommard Grand Clos des Epenots, Domaine de Courcel
A deep, seedy, steady nose with notes of fresh rasberries, cranberries, lingonberry bushes, parsnips, leather and a hauntingly perfumed note. Still young but full of promise. Very deep. It fleshes out all evening and becomes sweeter and sweeter. Impressive.
The taste is tight, structured and intense with a lovely purity and sweet lingonberry and cherry fruit. Lots of sweet tannins that coats the palate. Very, very long. This has a long and promising future. Would love to taste this 10-20 years down the road. Stunning!
94p   (tasted 2012/11)

1989 Pommard, Drouhin
A cool, fine, somewhat mature nose with notes of fresh strawberries, forest floor, licorice and christmas spices. Good but a tad one dimensional.
The taste is tighter and offers more resistance with a sweet rasberry fruit, fine acidity and a long, fresh finish. Very good. Pure and nice. Drinking really well, but the nose isn´t up to par.
86p   (tasted 2012/11)

1989 Pommard Les Chanlins, Domaine Parent
A big, creamy, sweet nose with notes of dark, moist earth, sweet rasberries, veal stock, leather and root vegetables. A deep, dark nose with lots of character. Really fine.
The taste is tight, concentrated and fresh with notes of sweet red currants, rasberries, red licorice, undergrowth and cold coffe. A long, intense finish. This has some maturing to do, but is drinking gorgeously this night.
92p   (tasted 2012/11)

1979 Moulin Touchais
A restrained but soft nose with notes of dried bee wax, oilcloth, dried figs and some earthy aromas. But where is the intensity? There is nothing wrong with it, but nothing really right either.
The taste is medium bodied with notes of blood orange peel, olicloth, hay and a touch of asphalt. The finish is correct but dull. Having tasted about 20 vintages of Moulin Touchais, this is in the bottom range, even though there is nothing wrong with the wine. Just dull.
76p   (tasted 2012/11)


  1. Hi Joakim,

    The 1879 is a Solera. Those tend to be less true to the grape mentioned on the label because when they filled up the casks, they used a similar wine as the original. Considering Oidium and Phylloxera hit the island in the 1850s and 1870s, the producers were often lacking younger vintages and hence the soleras became popular. Producers simply used the inventorys, the older wines, to have something to sell. That is why there's no guarantee the once 1879 Sercial might have been topped up with Sercial all the times (the law says ten fillings then all has to be bottled).

    Hope this explains the sweeter style you encountered! Great to see other write about Madeira.



    1. Thanks Niklas for the info! Do you know why the label doesn´t state that it is a Solera?
      And by the way - Nenad got away with a sample...:-)


  2. Thanks ;-)

    My experience, when it comes to older Madeira: if the year is mentioned but nothing more I almost always regard it to be a Solera. Today the method is strictly regulated which wasn't the case when these wines started appearing on the market. Wines between say 1820s to 1940s without the mention of Frasqueira, Vintage, Garrafeira, will most likely be a Solera.

    It was first with the EC entrance in the mid-80s that strict regulation became a fact in Madeira wine making. Between 1870s and until 1980s there is a lot of wines labeled after the grape but perhaps without any in it! The chameleon did one heck of a job, masking itself as Sercial, Verdelho, Boal or Malvasia when the noble varieties were at a all time low. Sticking to well-known houses is a good approach then; but that shouldn't stop you from mystery bottles ;-)

    The 1879 Sercial is documented as a Solera. But don't dispair! Solera is such underrated wines and Vintage can never compete with the elegance of a Solera. Tomorrow I serve two at the Munskänkarna Stockholm tasting; the 1826 Boal Solera from Blandys and the 1860 Sercial Solera from Leacocks. The latter also much sweeter than normal, 74 g/l is a lot for Sercial.


  3. Psst! The wines from 1949 are actually 63 years old. :-)