We did it. We popped the cork on a 50 year old bottle of wine to begin a weeklong celebration of my birthday. (At this age why not!)
It ‘was’ a 1959 Chateau Lynch-Bages from the Pauillac appellation in the Bordeaux region of France. This AVA region, by the way, produces three of Bordeaux’s five first growth wines. They’ve got some good grapes there!
For such a special wine, I wanted a very special meal to go with it. For that, I turned to my beloved Julia Child cookbook that weights about 30 lbs! ☺
The recipe I chose was the Tournedos Henri IV – filet steaks with artichoke bottoms and béarnaise sauce. Legally, I probably can’t post the recipe (I’ll do some checking), but if anyone wants it, let me know and I’ll fax it to you.
The wine and the meal was a match made in heaven!
We were nervous about opening for the wine for a couple of reasons. First, we’d only owned the bottle a few years and had no idea what the chain of ownership had been previously. We bought it from a wine store in New Orleans – one of six bottles he had. (The other 5, he told us, went to Emeril Lagasse.) So, if the wine hadn’t been stored properly all those years, it might not be drinkable.
Second, we were unsure about how long to decant it. Usually older wines can decant for an hour or so, but on one ‘this’ old, we were afraid it might peak before then. We consulted our sommelier friends at Brasserie Pavil and Francesca’s out at the Westin for advice. We decided to open the bottle about 15 minutes before my meal was served and then just slowly taste throughout the meal to see how it changed
It worked beautifully! The wine was wonderful – a little tight at first but after about 40 minutes of being decanted, it was perfect.
There were nice cherry flavors, a hint of raspberry (surprisingly to me), a bit of vanilla, cotton candy and lots of spice.
It went perfectly with the Tournedos which were served on a canapé and then were topped with a tender artichoke bottom filled with béarnaise. I also prepared asparagus and fingerling potatoes. The salad, btw, was mixed field greens (organic) with brie and figs.
All in all it was a perfect meal. Now, all that being said, would I spend that kind of money again on a bottle of wine? Probably not unless it was for a really special event.
Drinking a wine that old is so much about the experience. Imagine France in 1959…they were still rebuilding from the war. What an interesting time it must have been. Here’s to the men and women who 50 years ago shared a bit of their lives and contributed to ours today!