Noting the Editor’s latest interest in Merlot, I hauled out a bottle of Ch?+¦???+¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬teau P+¬trus 1992 during his recent visit. P+¬trus is a nice example of Merlot, although the odd percentage of Cabernet Franc added in some ripe years can have a lucid influence on the Merlot expression.
1992 was not such a year. In fact, during the damp vintage the vineyards were covered with black plastic, allowing the moisture to evaporate against the plastic lining instead of seeping into the soil and diluting the vines.
I knew the Editor looks at the P+¬trus with nostalgia. For it was this wine that, when presented to that vain little Matt Skinner sommelier who works for the irritable Jamie Oliver, was described as “ordinary. I’ll pay 30 quid for it, 40 max”. And this on national television!
It was presented blind to Skinner, and one only has to wonder what his opinion would have been once he spotted the majestic red label.
I decanted the wine and left it in a cool spot in my study for two hours. When I entered the room, with the Editor in tow, the smell of books and old pipe tobacco had been replaced by the haunting perfume of dried flowers, iodine and honey.
We poured the wine into Burgundy glasses, and both agreed that the wine was immensely powerful, a characteristic overlooked by New World Merlot producers who like to market their juice as sensual, soft and velvety.
The power on the nose was, in fact a bit too much and I had to open a window to clear the air a bit otherwise our palates would shut down.
I know this wine needs another 10 years ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ the P+¬trus 1982 is drinking quite beautifully ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ but there is much to be said about the vigour of this great Pomerol still in its teens. There is an iron, steely flavour that runs from the tip of the tongue to the mid-throat ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ it is almost like the delicate pleasure-pain sensation one would experience swallowing a 1000 year-old Samurai sword. But the core of the strength is wrapped in unctuous flavours of wild strawberries, white truffles and ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ to keep the Japanese theme going ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ Kobe beef tartare.
As usual, there is nothing subtle about the palate weight. And this is what makes P+¬trus so unique: even those cursed with the most wooden of palates would agree that something magical is going on here.