Monday, December 8, 2008
Tonight my wife and I had the pleasure of dining with Alex Bernardo, the owner of Vineyardgate wine shop in Millbrae, who brought a bottle of 1982 Chateau Pavie from his stash. Chateau Pavie, of course, is one of the great chateaux in Bordeaux, from what's known as the "the right bank" in the commune of St. Emilion. This chateau is classified as Premier grand cru classé B level.
1982 was one of the top vintages of the 20th century for Bordeaux, and this wine did not disappoint, as even after 26 years it was still going strong, but ready to drink now. The fruit was a combination of sour black cherry and blackcurrant, a bit of pickle, cured meat and tartar sauce (due to aging), a bouquet of autumn (as Alex summed it up, reflecting upon the wine's age and the images it evoked in his mind). The wine was medium bodied and elegant, with good fruit still coming through, accompanied by some pleasant earthiness, gaminess and herbaceous note, though it did not seem to have the tobacco that I often admire in a Bordeaux. As most wines from the right bank, this one is primarily made from Merlot grape, with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon added. It was only 12.5% alcohol, which made it easier to drink -- lower level of alcohol was typical for that era of wine-making, and is significantly lower than today's powerhouse Bordeaux (not to mention Napa Valley reds).
The wine paired perfectly with the juicy medium-rare skirt-steak sprinkled with Bordelaise sauce, complemented by sauteed carrots and fresh watercress.
This Pavie reminded me once again why an aged Bordeaux is so much more pleasurable than every other California "Bordeaux blend" I've ever tried. The toned-down flavors reflected the quiet confidence and class of an old-world gentleman, while the great acidity of the Bordeaux elevated the good old boring steak to a gastronomic delight. And of course, Alex's and his wife's company made the whole affair extra special.
And to think - this wine was made in 1982, when I was just entering middle school as a young soviet pioneer in Odessa (Ukraine), crying over Brezhnev's death, completely unaware of what was going on St. Emilion :)!
But what were YOU doing in 1982?