Some people (customers) think I am a wine connoisseur. I am not. I'm a guy who sells wines and is reasonably knowledgeable about the products. This by way of saying in the usual course of things, I don't get to taste many bottles that have seen a substantial amount of age. But once in a while it happens.
We were at The Usual Suspects on Monday night, coming to terms with the news that Les and Kathy are selling the place, and the Esoteric Wine train will be pulling out of the station for the last time very soon. So when Les asked whether we wanted to drink an amazing bottle of wine, we were not about to say no.
Chateau Malartic-Lagravière Blanc (Pessac-Léognan) 2001: It begins with aromas of cantaloupe and fresh-cut pineapple. Later on, notes of lime and honeysuckle appear. In the mouth, the texture is almost creamy, but there is plenty of citrus to keep things lively. Toward the end, soft vanilla notes emerge. This particular bottle may be one of the best arguments ever made in favor of oak aging. The effects of the barrel never intrude--they're like a choir humming softly behind the main vocalists. (Sorry, I'm getting carried away--it really was a very good bottle.)
Chris Kissack has an excellent backgrounder on Malartic-Lagravière.
I'll have more at a later date on the phenomenon that was The Usual Suspects. (The place is not closing, it's just changing hands. But the most extraordinary wine list in all the Carolinas is going away.)