Regular readers of the blog will remember my post from May which detailed the discovery on the incomparable wine list of Bern's Steak House of the first Haas-Perrin collaboration: a 1966 Chateauneuf du Pape under the Pierre Perrin label (pictured below). If you missed that post, go read it now and we'll wait for you.
OK, welcome back.
I brought that bottle back to California with me, but wanted to wait to open it with my dad, and he spends summers in Vermont and didn't get back until last month. Then, in the busy harvest season, it took us another month. But last weekend, we opened it:
Here are our notes: a very pale, orange-amber in color, but clear. The nose is clearly that of an elderly wine, but in no way flawed: aromas of coffee grounds, orange liqueur, creme de menthe and nutmeg. The mouth is still very nicely balanced with candied orange peel, forest floor, and a minty heathery note that I often find in old wines. There's something meaty and savory there too... the closest I could come was mincemeat pie, which also suggests the wine's brandyish character. It's not particularly a fruity wine at this stage, but amazingly, with air, some prune and pomegranate comes out. The finish is clean but short, and leaves only a hint of unsweetened cocoa powder.
My dad's comment was that "it's still honorable... there's still something there." He added that he picked lots -- mostly or perhaps all Syrah -- for their appeal at the time, and fully expected them to be drunk up within the first few years. He was as amazed as anyone that there's still some of this wine out there to be found.
If you should find yourself at Bern's, it's definitely worth a taste (particularly at Bern's incredibly modest price). How often, after all, do you have the chance to drink a 46-year-old Chateauneuf du Pape of which there were only 300 cases originally? But whatever its current state, it's most amazing as a landmark in the history of the American Rhone movement. Without it, we quite literally wouldn't be here.