Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

GREAT REDS IN THREE MOVEMENTS

August 2015. Some time ago two leading English composers, the brothers David and Colin Matthews, came to dinner at our home in Deal, Kent. The meal, with accompanying wines, was a kind of “return match” for a dinner laid on by Colin and his wife Belinda in 2013. The centrepiece of that meal, on the wine side, had been an unforgettable bottle of 1870 Château Rauzan Ségla (see my article Prephylloxera Puzzle – an 1870 Overture”).

a

I asked David Matthews, a very knowledgeable taster, to write a description of the red wines we tasted during that meal chez moi. He was kind enough to contribute the following piece to “Oeno-File”:

a

a

GREAT REDS IN THREE MOVEMENTS

By David Matthews

a

a

Whenever we have a dinner with more than 2-3 people I always place a few likely bottles upright the day before, so that any sediment (which can also appear, sometimes, in older whites) can fall out. This process, I feel, anyway helps any wine that’s been lying down for a few years to settle. I uncorked  most but not all of the bottles in the picture (the Musigny was held back for another meal, while the 1985 Ducru Beaucaillou (background), earned a reprieve, as it would clearly benefit from  a few more years' storage). The white wines - not covered in David's article - were:     1998 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, 2005 Corton Charlemagne (Bonneau du Martray), and (with dessert) 2001 Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles (Trimbach).

Whenever we have a dinner with more than 2-3 people I always place a few likely bottles upright the day before, so that any sediment (which can also appear, sometimes, in older whites) can fall out. The white wines – not covered in David’s article – were: 1998 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, 2005 Corton Charlemagne (Bonneau du Martray), and (with dessert) 2001 Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles (Trimbach).

On 20 May, at Forres House, my brother Colin and I were privileged to drink with Frank and Lisbet (who had cooked some succulent roast beef) a succession of three magnificent reds.

a

a

The first was 1978 Château Lafite, the wine that in Frank’s essay ‘Seven Wines for Seven Symphonies is matched with my Fourth Symphony. In parts of that work I was attempting to recapture the spirit of 18th-century classicism, and this Lafite showed itself to be the epitome of elegance and grace, with subtle sweetness and an underlying strength: just those qualities one finds in Haydn and Mozart. In was in perfect condition, and utterly delicious.

a

a

Frank then presented his second wine, quite a dark colour, with a wondrous bouquet and a deep, resounding flavour, clearly a great Burgundy from the north; indeed it was the absolutely splendid 1990 Chambertin from Rousseau. Drinking these two wines together, we felt that neither outclassed the other, both had complete integrity within their styles.

a

a

Before we finished the beef, Frank produced a third wine, almost as dark as a Rhône, powerful, tough, dramatic, a Beethovenian wine. It was Latour 1966, with all the authority of that supreme and seemingly immortal claret. It still tasted quite young, and we wondered how many more years it would take to reach full maturity, if it ever does.

a

a

As a coda, there was a fourth red which we drank with the cheese: 2005 Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette, from Delas. This domaine may not have the intense gravity of Les Bessards, but it had a most attractive freshness and made a delightful end to this superlative sequence. A sprightly youngster, with a promising future.

a

a

© David Matthews 2015

a a