Wine Words & Video Tape

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1982 Mouton Rothschild: Pushing out the boat

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux, California, Italy

Plodding on, minding the pennies, paying off the debts…oh ‘Sod it!’, there comes a point when you have to say that this will all count for nowt when you’re six feet under, pushing up the daisies. A tasting organised by a friend this weekend, reminded me  of the importance of doing something exhilarating.

Clearly there are a few things you can do with a bottle of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. The most obvious thing would be to sell it. A bottle today would net you £1200 and, if it’s in good nick and the label’s not damaged, maybe more. The second thing to do would be to keep it, a sensible option given that Robert Parker’s most recent report on the wine is that it won’t be hitting its stride much before 2050. If the price feels hefty now, it might prove a bargain in ten years time when there’s less of it around and it’s nearer its prime. Probably last thing you’d do with the bottle would be to actually drink it. That wouldn’t be the sensible thing to do at all.

Filmmaker and wine nut Tom Roberts

Fortunately no-one had actually paid for the bottle of ’82 Mouton but that didn’t make the act of opening it any less generous. The bottle had spent fifteen years or so in the cellar of filmmaker and wine nut Tom Roberts, a gift in lieu of cash for money he’d raised a for a big C4 doc series a couple of decades earlier. For a number of reasons [a birthday and his recent marriage] and probably others he didn’t mention, he decided to share the bottle with a couple of friends [me being one] and his son Max. How could he afford to open such a valuable wine? ‘I can’t afford not to’, said Tom. Now that’s the attitude!

I mustered up bottles of Tignanello and Ridge Monte Bello, both 1999s. Not quite in the Mouton stratosphere but I hoped the Ridge would provide a counterpoint to the Mouton and the Tignanello something different. The other guest, Nick, had bought a bottle of Chateau Beauregard 1990. So we were all set.  And what an evening it was. The Mouton, decanted a couple of hours earlier, was like treacle and needed to open up when first poured – and we poured it first – so the glasses were set to one side for a couple of hours.

In the meantime the ’99 Tignanello [delicious] and the ’90 Beauregard [all the roasted hallmarks of that vintage] showed well. The Ridge Monte Bello, if it hadn’t been for the Mouton, would have been the star, and in a slightly less backward way, did share some of the prestige Pauillac’s character with a kiss of neatly interwoven American oak and went well with the ribeye steak’s served up.  But returning later to the Mouton, then a good five hours after it was opened, the power, depth and scale of this wine was completely evident. I think Parker’s right, not just about it’s the monumental quality of the vino, but about its need for substantial aeration [from memory Parker goes as far to suggest a day in a closed decanter which I can understand now].  The wine is definitely opening up, and was more forthcoming than a bottle tried three years ago. It could do with another ten years, at least, but the wine is still exhilarating and has such great presence.

In fact the wine is a bit like filmmaker Tom Robert’s himself, younger than his years and with lots of vitality [oh he’ll love that] and a little like the films he makes, powerful and strong. Anyway, Tom thanks for doing something exhilarating and sharing the Mouton.

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1982

Deep and dark; initially extremely backward and brooding; blackcurrants and dark fruits on the nose; great density and concentration on the palate; tannin too; left a few more hours in the decanter and the wine started to open up; layers of flavour on the nose; extremely intense and deep on the palate and great, great length. This is such an experience. This bottle showed much better than one bottle tasted three years back. Such terrific wine – not complex but a wine with unbelievable depth, density and body.. Just starting to emerge from its shell but surely this Mouton will prove immortal? Perfect ? Time will tell. Amazing? Certainly. 98+/100   

Ridge Montebello 1999

Deep and opaque; brooding and dense Cabernet, some oak influence [American] but felt very finely handled and integrated; great purity on the palate; very classical and focused but with weight. Excellent length. Opened up in the decanter nicely though needs another 3-5 years  to be at it’s best I reckon and should last for ages. 94+/100

Tignanello 1999

Mid depth; red at edge; deeper core; attractive nose; still with fruit; harmonious and satiny palate and nicely balanced with a twist of bitterness [the Sangoviese speaking?] on the finish. Medium weight and overall felt fine. 90/100

Chateau Beauregard 1990

Mid depth; red, darkish; some spice, real roasted note; blood and beef; nicely balanced; soft palate; roasted note again; not great density but in reasonable condition; after a couple of hours in a decanter faded a tad but a good example of the vintage. 89+/100

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