It is easy to enjoy being on a strict diet when a key part of the regimen is eating steak and drinking Bordeaux once a week. This past Monday Cinnamon and I enjoyed a wonderful steak and claret night with the 2004 Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan ($32.99) and a steak and rice bowl that I prepared. This wine had been a real standout at a recent staff tasting, and Cinnamon had bought some for the cellar and more importantly, for the table. While this Pessac-Leognan showed very well next to other wines at the tasting, it really came alive with the food.
The Graves area, which Pessac-Leognan is the best part of, is some of the oldest vineyard land in Bordeaux, pre-dating the draining and planting of the Medoc by hundreds of years. The Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion is a very old property and records of winemaking on this site go back to 1840. The current ownership, the Gervoson family, has owned the property since 1987.
The vineyard is nearly 190 acres, planted mostly to red grapes, although the Chateau does make an excellent white. For the red, the vineyard is planted to 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. The average age of the vines is 25 years.
The 2004 vintage was sandwiched between the ultra ripe showy 2003’s and the packed, super sized 2005’s, and has been nearly forgotten by collectors. That is good news for the claret drinker, because at 10 years old, the good quality 2004’s are starting to sing, and this great example should continue to drink wonderfully for another 10 years. Clyde has always been an expert at ferreting out the best wines from overlooked vintages and this is a great example of that.
I found the 2004 Larrivet to have a great smoky, exotic aroma and after an hour in the decanter the bouquet was matched by a seamless, medium bodied texture. I found it to have a great combination of dark plum and cassis fruit that complemented the food perfectly. I started my bowl with rice, added a small omlette loaded with shishito peppers that I had charred in the skillet, and added thinly sliced, bite sized pieces of prime ribeye on top. The tobacco element of the wine complimented the shishito’s perfectly, and the ripe tannins cleansed the palate of bites of the rich ribeye. I think the best element of the wine was the very long, very detailed mineral finish. I can almost still taste it on Wednesday afternoon!