This is how a person gets romanced into the wine business. Those special moments when you have one of the great wines of the world in a glass, and it’s all yours to savor for as long as you wish. Before I describe my heavenly experience with the Haut-Brion, I feel obligated to mention the half bottle of Pierre Peters’ Blanc de Blancs Champagne, a perfect accompaniment to the homemade Gougeres crafted with Gruyere so deftly by my friend, Tom Brown, also recognized as the host of the Paxton Manor Wine Aficionados.
Haut-Brion, one of the original 1st growths included in the 1855 Bordeaux classification, is a testament to the unique minerality which is contained in the soil of the Graves region. The 1964 Haut-Brion was one of the lucky winners of the vintage as it was not kind to all of the wines in the region. Paired with rack of lamb, roasted potatoes with a touch of rosemary and chanterelle mushrooms, I knew this dining experience would not disappoint.
Decanted just before the meal, the wine’s maturity was evident in its appearance. Light garnet at the core, amber-brown at the rim, the first aroma that wafted from the glass was that of a well-worn leather saddle. This was followed by a certain meatiness, a slightly sweet jerky. As I sipped and pondered, licorice and dried cherry emerged. On the palate I was reminded of the term ‘seamless integration”, understanding that the tannins, acidity, alcohol and fruit were so entwined, so well married over time that smoothness reigned supreme. By the second glass a fine, sophisticated perfume filled my nostrils. Though the first sips brought on strong leather, tobacco notes, by the end, these more pungent aromas gave way to a subtler integration of aromas and flavors.
This wine reminded me why I am in the wine business. In all honesty, the 1964 Haut-Brion has passed its peak, but it is, nevertheless, a testament to what great terroir and winemaking will offer to a wine lover.