I opened a bottle of Château de Pez 1986 for lunch today. There were three of us, my wife, younger daughter and me. Sarah (younger daughter) has always preferred red wine, but tends to pick young reds from New World countries. They’re probably more affordable for a student nurse. I wondered if this 25 year-old Bordeaux would get the thumbs down, or if it might encourage her in another direction.
We drank it with ox tongue, something we only eat over the Christmas period – I don’t know why. All three of us love it. It had cooked for about 5 hours, and I had reduced the cooking liquid, added some good jellied stock, some mushrooms and rather more than a splash of Malmsey Madeira.
The de Pez 1986 was terrific. I served it blind. Kathryn guessed it as Bordeaux. Sarah’s first guess at the vintage was 2000. And she liked it. Eventually I revealed it as 1986 (3 years older than Sarah!). It was cedary, complex and a little edgy on the nose. The palate was rich and earthy, with a hint of rusticity, gentle tannins and good acidity, with overtones of tobacco and blackcurrant (still!). The length was blackcurrants with hint of earth, rich, long, and very Cabernet-dominated. But at its best, although it could hang on for a few years. We didn’t finish the bottle, because it was cold from the cellar, and needed lots of hand-warming to bring out the aromas and flavours. And Sarah was in a hurry to go somewhere.
Then it was back to my Sunday job of filing tasting notes, long overdue, from their enforced stay in piles and bags. Pretty routine stuff, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chile, Australia, etc, or under merchants for mixed tastings. Suddenly, I saw a name from the past on the heading – ‘Morgan Furze – Shippers of Wines & Spirits’. And what was the tasting? None other than a vertical tasting of Château de Pez. Youngest vintage was 1990 and, yes, third on the list, a note for the 1986. But this note had been written in December 1991, when the wine was a mere five years old.
I remembered 1986 had been a strong Cabernet Sauvignon year in Bordeaux, after the failure of the Merlot in 1984 and a lovely year for Merlot in 1985. In 1991, I described the 1986 as ‘dense, but rather closed at present on the nose’. The palate had ‘ripe, powerful fruit, closed but a bit of a bruiser. More typically St-Estèphe than 1988 or 1990, but in a dumb phase. Good powerful structure.’
And now, almost exactly 20 years on, the 1986 Château de Pez revealed. A sturdy wine that had come through 25 years of movement and inadequate cellaring to give pleasure to Kathryn and me, and to the next generation. I hope Sarah takes the thought on board. She was in a bit of a rush.