It was a lovely time catching up with The Sticky Lady. She’d served some gorgeous aperitif wines and then it was time for dinner. Then the Sticky Man put the steaks on the barbecue, and the table was full of meat and accompanying salads. It was time for the big boys.
Firstly came the 1994 Ch. Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac. This is a label that is highly revered now, as it has improved in leaps and bounds. For a long time it was second to the Pichon-Longueville Comtesse, the latter much more feminine, beguilingly rich, and seductive. I was always a fan for the Comtesse. But then with AXA ownership, the Baron became a wine to be noticed. Bigger firm and definitely more masculine – and more Pauillac. It began being rated alongside the Comtesse, restored to former glories, and it had its fans who then preferred it over the Comtesse. This 1994 poured out impenetrable black-hued red. It was packed with masses of fruit, ripe and black, with the structure and grip to match. But also the dreaded brettanomyces funkiness. The fruit sweetness meant the wine was not dried out or hard, but that flavour was disconcerting, especially to SWMBO. The secondaries also came into the mix, but in a sour way. I drank a couple of glasses, but found it to hard in the end. The Sticky Lady made the effort. So did we. But some things, such as funkiness, are out of our control.
Then as if to make amends, the ‘back-up’ bottle arrived on the table. It was the 2012 Antimori ‘Tignanello’ Toscana. This has been one of the most consistent great wines of the world to me. Sure, Antinori had to find its way in the beginning – do you go towards Chianti or to Bordeaux? In the end Chianti – well actually Tuscany won out, the blend predominantly Sangiovese with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. Yet, this has always had a leaning to Bordeaux – the 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc have a much greater influence than the proportions suggest. The Sangiovese is well-ripened and extracted, past the bitter cherry expression, and into dark-red and black berries. Then there’s the oaking – classy and sensitive. If all claret producers could do this, they would be superstars. This has fruit richness, savoury nuance, beautiful oaking, and slight Sangiovese point of difference made this a fabulous drink. Sure it was younger, but I’d bet my bottom dollar it’ll last better than the 1994 claret. The bottle did not last long after opening. I’d go for fabulous anytime over funkiness.