April 1, 2010
Every year the Commanderie de Bontemps hosts a dinner to celebrate the official release of the new vintage – the “Ban de Millesime”.
The Commanderie is an organization that has its roots in medieval church institutions and it assists in the marketing of Bordeaux wines around the world. In conjunction with the Grand Conseil de Bordeaux they help support the Commanderies de Bordeaux around the world.
This is a great dinner to attend if you like to drink mature wine – because there is a lot of it at this dinner. Each place setting comes complete with 6 or 7 empty wine glasses and three is ample opportunity to fill them. To start, the Commanderie usually provides 5 or 6 wines for every table. This year they were: Ch. Vieux Chateau Gaubert 2005 (Blanc), Ch. La Tour Martillac 2006 (Blanc), Ch. Belgrave 2000, Ch. Lynch Bages 1998, Ch. Ducru Beaucalliou 1995, and Ch. de Myrat 2003 (Sauternes). Beyond that, most of the negoce or Chateau owners who come to the dinner also bring a number of other wines to taste with their guests. Once the dinner starts (and sometimes before) the bartering and trading of the wines between tables also starts. For example, at our table we had some Ch. Malescot St. Exupery 1998, and Ch. Prieure Lichine, and some other bottles that I did not see. We tried to trade those bottles for a 1989 Ch. Mouton Rothschild – and were not successful – at first. We finally got it when the bottle was almost empty. It was worth it though – the wine was excellent. The trading goes on all night – because once everyone at the table has tasted the new wine (and sometimes before) – it is traded again for another bottle. The other wines that came through our table included: Ch. Cos D’Estournel 1995, Ch, Pichon Baron 1999, Ch. Loudenne 2005, and Ch. Carobnnieux 2007 (Blanc).
Here are some quick notes on the wines: The 1989 Ch. Mouton Rothschild was excellent – still with lots of fruit and good body -a touch above the 1989 Ch. Gruaud Larose that I had the night before – but still a wine that should not be left to cellar too much longer. Of the whites, the 2007 Ch. Carobnnieux was the best – although it was not as refreshingly acidic as I remembered it from the 2007 en primeur campaign. It is much creamier in style now. The 1999 Ch. Pichon Baron had an intense barnyard nose that one party guest rejected outright as a fault – but it was still a pleasant wine. Both of the 1995s (Ch. Ducru Beaucalliou and Ch. Cos D’Estournel) were closed and not offering as much as epxected. I have noticed this with my own 1995s. Maybe best to let them sit for a few years before trying them again. The 2000 Ch. Belgrave had seen better days. Unfortunately, the 2003 Ch. de Myrat lacked acidity which made it syrupy and cloying and I don’t think any of the tables finished their bottle.