On Friday we were happy to host at Elitistreview Towers a friend, Mr Greg the plastic surgeon, I’ve know for 26 years – we were at Oundle School together. Apart from my brother, he’s the only chap I was at that school with that I’m still in contact with. His sadly deceased father left Greg a massive haul of Claret to plough though, but I’m glad he knows I disapprove of such horrors as Chateau Talbot. I do approve of the Trimbach Riesling Clos St Hune Vendanges Tardives 1989 he brought along – now that’s a serious wine!
When he revealed he was bringing CSHVT89 (which is, after trying it about 30 times during my life, what I have come to know it as) I was rather pleased that I had decided to open my favourite Chablis ever. I thought they would make a comparative pair that reached the heady heights of interesting and thought-provoking as both are supremely fine wines that play with ideas of both exquisite elegance and structured scale. I admit in most other terms the wines were not so similar, but to have two examples of wines that simultaneously inhabit both ends of the weight-spectrum for wine made for an intriguing exercise in wine tasting.
Even though we know Mr Greg’s cellar is excellent, it is terribly easy to worry about what condition a 24 year old wine is going to be in. The Editor’s worries got the better of him and he announced that it was a bit flat and dried out. A staggering amount of prior experience of such wines made me feel safe in saying, “Just wait”.
Fortunately for my reputation it took a mere few minutes for the nose to blossom into a supremely complex panoply of candied fruit and stylish mineral aromas. It had real force of presence and yet carried its 14% alcohol extremely lightly, giving an overall impression of a totally beautiful (and reasonably mature) set of scents. The palate was big and ripe, there’s no denying that, but with fine, thrilling minerality and a searing slash of acidity running through it light, exciting liveliness seemed the overall impression of the palate.
The harmony between those disparate elements was a joy to experience and I had a freaking tits time drinking (far) more than my fair share. Yes, the flavours were pretty mature, and the wine may well have been a touch more energetic five years ago. However, if you like fully mature Riesling, particularly of the rather howlingly insane idiom of CSHVT89, and you’ve got a comparatively well-hung cellar there’s no rush with this wine.
At the end of the meal when I came back to this bottle and poured myself all that was left it was still in a spiffing salamander state. Just remember, when you are opening older Trimbach wines, from the time before they all got poxed by premox, they need a bit of time to breathe.
When I first tried this wine in 2010 I described it as ‘defining a new reference for Chablis‘. Recent vintages have been engorged with class, and some differently enlightened people have questioned my views on this one, but I still think my first review was spot on and this remains the greatest Chablis I have ever tasted.
Of course, it is a lot younger than the CSHVT89, made from a different grape variety, in a different region, so the flavour profiles will be wildly dissimilar. However, as you taste, there is a similar discussion going on between your brain and olfactory apparatus about the delicacy/density details on display.
The Clos St Hune managed density because it was a very ripe, late harvest wine fermented to dryness, its lightness came from the vineyard and variety. With this Vaulorent the density is partly because the tiny plot of vines that produce it are adjacent a Grand Cru. Grand Cru Chablis is remarkably dense stuff. Coming from a ripe vintage and made from a variety that easily does scale are additional factors. Its lightness and refinement also come from the vineyard location; it may have next-door Grand Cru influences but also the sharp, racy, direct aspects of the Fourchaume Premier Cru abound. It very obviously throbs with Grand Cru power whilst being a elegant and vivacious Premier Cru.
That doesn’t make it schizophrenic! That’s not what schizophrenia is, as well I know, rather it is touched by Dissociative Identity Disorder (as split personalities are correctly described). Yeah, a DIDy wine.
Not much has changed in the last few years since I first tasted it, so I think my note (linked to above) is still accurate. I think, perhaps, the palate is a tiny bit fuller and there’s a the merest suggestion of more buttery richness on the nose. But I could be wrong. In that first note I wasn’t entertaining someone for lunch and I had my critical faculties set to ‘hyper-analytical’, so do have a read of that.
I’ve got a couple more wines to report on from what was a spiffing lunch experience. They will have to wait until the next time my back pain is in the realms of tolerability, which it left about 10 minutes ago. Anon!