Monday, October 19, 2020

Chateau La Tour Carnet 2000 Grand Cru, Haut-Médoc

Decanting Chateau La Tour Carnet 2000Special occasions call for very special wines – like this 20-year-old Bordeaux.

Off To The Fires

The middle of a pandemic isn’t the best time to travel across the country. We’ve been to Oregon many times, but when COVID-19 struck, it cancelled two engagements that were circled on my calendar.

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So, I was surprised when the Green Dragon said she had to fly to Oregon. She’s a Red Cross disaster relief volunteer and was asked to deploy to help those who were burned out of their homes.

The Beachie Creek fire grew from a 10-acre fire to one of the most devastating in Oregon history. It burned more than 193,000 acres and displaced thousands.

The Green Dragon flew into Portland and from there went to Salem. She only wished she was going there to taste some of the exquisite Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Instead she was driving a Red Cross ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle). Each day she would leave the central kitchen and take meals to those who had to abandon what was left of their homes.

Chateau La Tour Carnet Haut Medoc 2000A Homecoming

When I finally got word she was returning after two weeks, there was jubilation. My days of scrounging around in the refrigerator for leftovers with our dog my only companion would soon be over.

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The late-night pickup at the airport didn’t have our usual reunion. We each had masks and she rode in the back seat on the way home. With four plane flights and exposure to scores of people, the first order of business was a COVID test. The next morning we were able to get a rapid COVID-19 test at an urgent care center (appointment needed). Before noon, we had the negative (which is good!) results and were on our way.

Green Dragon was worn out from her trip and didn’t feel like cooking. Luckily I noticed that we had a frozen bag of Jim’s spaghetti sauce in the freezer. This is a sauce my wife made with the recipe from a famous restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia. With some whole wheat and lentil pasta and some simmering sauce, we had a gourmet meal.

My pick for the wine was the 2000 Chateau La Tour Carnet Grand Cru Classé from Haut-Médoc. Sometimes you just need to go big. Château La Tour Carnet is one of the oldest Bordeaux wine producers in the Médoc. Château La Tour Carnet is one of the few Bordeaux estates to have a moat and drawbridge. Some parts of the main building date to the 11th century. It was part of the original Grand Cru classification of 1855.

Haut-Médoc or Upper-Médoc is a left bank Bordeaux appellation, where the soil favors Merlot. To the best of my research, this wine is primarily Merlot at 70% and Cabernet Sauvignon at 30%. The 2000 vintage is considered one of the best.

Uncorking History

Popping open a two-decades-old wine can lead to a feeling of suspense. Will this be a wine that has “jumped the shark” or one that has gained finesse? As a back-up I had a bottle of Cotes-du-Rhone standing by.

While final preparations were being made for dinner, I poured a small taste to make sure the bottle was good. Was it ever! My small taste turned into a full glass. The Cotes-du-Rhone was forgotten.

While some fine wines lose their superpowers as time marches on, the La Tour Carnet tasted vibrant and young. My Cellartracker drinking window listed 2020 as the final year. However, I know this baby could go another five years with no problem. It drinks like a fresh, vibrant wine. Of course, this was kept in optimal storage conditions.

Drinking this 20-year-old Bordeaux was a true luxury wine experience. It is a deep midnight purple in color. The texture is silken, soft and coating. There were multiple layers of flavor with blackberry and expresso. Fresh berries mingled with lovely minerality. I decanted this for about 30 minutes in order to catch any sediment that might have formed – there were some scattered flecks, but not much at all.

Normally I’d reach for a Chianti Classico or another Italian wine to pair with our pasta and red sauce, but the night demanded a special wine. We chatted with friends during this Zoom dinner and sipped the dinner away into a wonderful reunion night.

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