A Celebration of the Wines of 1945

Grand Cru Wine Consulting recently had the opportunity to attend an extraordinary dinner featuring wines from 1945. As collectors know, 1945 was one of the greatest vintages of the century –and that is a not a term we use lightly. The 1945’s were always known to have incredible power, tannin, balance and longevity and luckily this evening proved all those points. This dinner had been in the works for quite some time and extra attention was made to sourcing wines only from reliable and pristine provenance. There was nervous anticipation leading up to the dinner as with wines that old, it all depends on the bottle. Happily, nearly every single wine fulfilled its promise. A few highlights are included below.

The evening began with some magnums of 1945 Champagne. The standouts were the Moet et Chandon and Pommery. The Moet had a soft and lovely mousse, aromas of toast, nuts and bubbles and a palate full of caramel and white fruits. As nice as the Moet was the Pommery was exponentially better. Pommerys from this era are a well-kept secret and vintages from the 40’s – 60’s have provided us with some of the most memorable aged Champagne experiences in our careers. Everything about the wine was fresh and intense with a good amount of vigor remaining. A real treat.

A 1945 d’Yquem recently sourced from an immaculate cellar was exquisite. While many d’Yquems from this era can appear overly sweet and top heavy, this bottle was very fresh and had even more elegance than expected. The feminine style was more in the realm of the 1975 and 1988 vintages as opposed to more robust ones such as 1959 and 1967. Everything was perfectly balanced in this lovely d’Yquem.

Next up was a flight of Red Burgundies that featured the 1945 Clos Vougeot Chateau de la Tour and 1945 Musigny Vieilles Vignes Vogue out of magnum. More on the latter momentarily, but first, the Clos Vougeot. Two bottles of this wine were opened and both were identical in quality – a rare experience with bottles this age proving once again that provenance is paramount. The wine had tremendous clarity in a medium bodied style. One could literally smell through the wine right down to the Burgundy dirt. Its flavors of soft red fruits, brown sugar and mushrooms was something to behold. The Vogue was quite simply a stunner of a wine. This bottle once again confirmed why this is one of the greatest wines made this century. In addition to having an enchanting nose full of fruit, briar patch, spice and earth, the finish would not quit for over a minute. It gripped the palate with its mouth filling aromas and demanded respect and attention. A breathtaking wine. Wow.

Next we moved in for some Bordeaux. While all were stunning, our particular favorites included the following: the 1945 Latour was very interesting because one bottle was an original release while the other was re-conditioned. The nose on the re-conditioned bottle was more inviting while the palate on the original had longer staying power and complexity. Beside these was the immortal 1945 La Mission Haut Brion out of magnum. With just one whiff you could tell this wine was on another level. In fact, it was arguably the Bordeaux of the evening. It contained all of the style one hopes for in aged La Mission with intense tar, cigar, earth, iron and red and dark fruits. The attack on the palate was superb tucking in for a long and lingering finish. A La Fleur Petrus magnum was perhaps the purest and most Burgundian of all the Bordeaux. It had a unique profile of rugged red fruits, caramel and earth. What it lacked in balance it more than made up for in character.

This was followed by a unique pairing that worked surprisingly well together from an intellectual standpoint: bottles of 1945 Barolo Monfortino Riserva Giacomo Conterno and 1945 La Tache Domaine de la Romanee Conti. The Monfortino was clearly from a bygone era as the color was more akin to a rust rose than a Barolo we are familiar with from current vintages. The aromatics combined earth, cheese and subdued fruit in an aged package. While these flavors working together may sound odd, they somehow synced to make for the most delicate wine of the evening. The La Tache was what we hoped for from such an legendary producer in this vintage. Amazingly enough, both bottles purchased from the same source were again nearly identical with one having a bit more power. The nose showed amazing precision and clarity while the palate had wonderful energy for such a 65 year old wine. While it obviously showed it was an aged wine, it had a laid back elegance that set it apart. This was clearly a “stop everything and enjoy” kind of wine and for us was right up there with the Vogue and La Mission with wines of the night.

The evening ended with a wonderful 1945 Taylor Fladgate, one of the greatest Ports ever made. It was drinking perfectly and very expressive. The palate had a luscious juicy core that tapered off to a dusty finish full of lip smacking sweetness.

All in all, a wonderful evening that will need to be repeated in 5 years for the vintage’s 70th Anniversary!

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