I consider myself “wine fortunate”, acquiring wine and friends over the years that fuel hedonistic and intellectual wine passions. One of those friends is Malcolm. I don’t see Malcolm regularly, yet each year for the last 15 we manage to find opportunities to get really silly and drink ridiculously excellent wine together. It was great to see Malcolm at the tasting last Saturday night at my home, and his token gift of appreciation was no less thrilling; a bottle of 1982 Vieux Chateau Certan. Don’t your friends stop in for a cup of coffee or a quick visit and leave behind some 1982 Bordeaux as well?
Here’s the story. Living less than two miles from my home, Malcolm is mostly a full-time musician, serious student of the keyboard, and accomplished player. Malcolm’s wife, Kathleen, is a talented painter and supporter of the arts in Boston, helping to pioneer the Thayer Street/SOWA district in Boston’s South End in 2001 by co-founding the OHT Gallery (recently morphed to OHT Projects ). I’m a media executive, my wife’s a physician, Malcolm’s summer home south and east of Boston, and mine on a northern lake in New Hampshire. His daughter and my son were close friends and appreciated each others’ inquiring minds until the age of eight when they enrolled in separate schools and made new friends. So, Malcolm and I have to force our worlds to meet, and when we do, we celebrate in a big way with wines that never escape our memories.
When Malcolm was younger in the early to mid-eighties, he worked in a Boston wine shop and stashed away a serious Bordeaux, Rhone, and Alsace collection. Without a formal cellar of his own back then, he squirreled away his wines around town, and one of those places was his mother’s home, lacking any of the usual temperature and humidity characteristics associated with reliable cellaring . As such, Malcolm never trusts his wines’ fitness and has a need to constantly test their progress. As a willing and lucky lab partner, I can attest that most of Malcolm’s wines are progressing just fine in his now state of the art cellar he constructed years ago.
Which brings us back to the 1982 Vieux Chateau Certan with an offer and retrospective look at Robert Parker’s fickle opinions of the wine spanning 16 years of bottle life. First; my offer. I am happy to open this wine with any reader that would like to taste it with me. As fair trade, I am requesting the venue be Eleven Madison Park in New York City, on a mutually acceptable date, where I will gladly pay the corkage fee and supply the wine in exchange for you hosting the meal. Please don’t interpret the EMP venue suggestion as anything other than an interest in getting back to a favorite top spot to eat and drink in New York (which you can read here in a past WineZag post). I have another bottle of the same wine in case you are interested in expanding the group a bit larger or the response to this offer is robust. Remember, Malcolm does not trust his cellaring, but I can vouch that he has less to worry about than his innate cellaring paranoia allows. Just leave a comment here, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested. Depending on response, I will either be drinking this alone in my cellar with a slice of pizza or trying to figure out how to arrange a common date for up to eight people at Eleven Madison Park.
There is something interesting going on with this wine. It is either the wine or the continual complexities of tasting and reviewing a product that evolves and changes over years in a bottle, and minutes in a glass. Robert Parker recently revisited some 1982 Bordeaux back in June 2009, and he rated the Vieux Chateau Certan 93 points saying this:
Not yet fully mature, this wine reveals some amber at the edge as well as a complex, intoxicating nose of cedar, licorice, spice box, black currants, and cherries. While medium to full-bodied with sweet tannins, and beautiful concentration, it appears to me that more recent vintages are stronger and denser than the 1982. Nevertheless, it is a beauty that can be drunk now and over the next 15-16 years. Release price: ($175.00/case) (current price: $223-$290/bottle)
Not yet fully mature? Well, what about these past review snippets by Parker? He reviewed the wine in 1993 giving the wine 89 points and writing:
I have rated this wine higher, but recently it is revealing considerable amber and rust at the edge, and evolving rapidly. It exhibits a sweet, cedary, jammy nose with a meaty, soy sauce component. Fleshy and full-bodied, with low acidity, copious amounts of ripe, rich fruit, and high alcohol in the satiny smooth finish, this fully mature, chewy wine is capable of lasting 10-15 more years.
And then in the third edition of his Bordeaux book in 1998 he rated the wine 88 points and said:
Regular 750 ml. formats are soft and herbaceous, wonderfully delicious and round, but not that complex or concentrated…. The color is a healthy dark ruby with some amber. The wine possesses a peppery, herb, olive, and vanillin-scented nose, and jammy black cherry fruit. Lush and succulent, with medium to full body, excellent concentration, and a low acid finish with no real tannin, this is a fully mature wine that begs to be drunk over the next 7-8 years.
And in June of 2000 Parker bumped his rating back up to 89 points saying:
An herbaceous, cedary, spice, and fruitcake-scented bouquet jumps from the glass of this medium ruby/garnet-colored wine. More complex aromatically than on the palate, this supple, velvety-textured effort exhibits abundant glycerin, an open-knit, expansive mouth-feel, but not the depth, power, or density of the vintage’s finest efforts. Fully mature, it requires consumption over the next 5-7 years.
So in 1998 he gave the wine a sub 90-point rating and suggested not holding past 2005. In 1998 the Wine Spectator gave the wine 91 points saying:
A lovely and harmonious red. Beautiful cherry, floral and berry character. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and long, focused berry and milk chocolate flavors. Drink now or hold.–1982 Bordeaux horizontal
With Parker bumping his rating based on a 2009 tasting all the way to 93 points and giving the wine a life extension until 2025, are you now as curious as I am? Just leave a comment here or send me an email at email@example.com and let’s find out together at Eleven Madsion Park, and maybe I can even convince Malcolm to join us.