Our forgetful friend made it along after a while. He had missed a rather good Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett 1996 from Willi Schaefer which was showing some evolution and had very attractive sour-apple fruit, but we demonstrated our festive spirit by leaving him a (rather small) share of the Krug 1979: brilliant wine, rapier-sharp and precise yet at the same time rich, creamy and long - stunning.
The Tokay Pinot Gris Cuvee Ste Catherine Clos des Capucins 1994 from Weinbach was rich and creamy too, it seemed almost sweet but it was mainly ripeness and Weinbach manage to control the grape and though this was very much "in your face" it is more drinkable than some producers' heavyweights. I love good old white Rioja and the Tondonia Gran Reserva 1968 from Lopez de Heredia was more than that - it was absolutely thrilling: completely fresh, delicate and complex with all sorts of nuances of flavour that were too subtle to give a name to. (Around the table people were mentioning "fish" and "artichoke"!) The Corton Charlemagne 1986 from Moilard was dull by comparison - while in good condition it had the air of negociant's wine about it, sound enough but no better than it ought to be.
Our first red Burgundy was corked but the second was fine, an earthy Nuits St George Damodes 1993 from Chauvenet. The fruit had something of the baked quality of 1990 about it, but not to excess. A very good Burgundy indeed, but overshadowed by a 5-star wine, the Clos Vougeot 1988 from Meo-Camuzet made, I believe, by Henri Jayer. This lovely, complex, full Burgundy was a pleasure to drink although you could imagine it might just sing a bit louder in a year or two. Ausone is not Claret, it is a terroir all of its own with it's highly individual iodine, "smell of the sea" and minerality. The 1981 is not the greatest example you might ever taste of this but it was a lovely glassful and I was amazed to look up R.P.'s note on this to find it described as a "austere, tough-textured, charmless wine" that merits only 82/100.
Col d'Orca's 1988 Brunello was alive and drinkable, but our expectations were high and we passed on fairly quickly to Faurie's 1985 Hermitage, a large-framed, rustic wine a long way in style from refined wines like Chave and La Chapelle. This though was very drinkable, particularly with food.
Our palates needed clearing after that and so back to Krug - this time a bottle of the Grande Cuvee NV bought at auction and believed to be at least ten years old. This was lovely, some felt even more so than the 1979 but I thought that while still 5-star fizz it lacked a little of the precision and individuality of the vintage wine. And so to pudding wine - a Hungarovin 5 Puttonyos 1982 Tokay was a bit musty and unconvincing, the sort of thing that was produced quite a lot during the communist era. A 1964 Aszuessencia (which means about 7 Puttonyos) on the other hand was thrilling with brown-sugared fruit and lovely acidity. Unfortunately the maker's name was illegible! As I left a bottle of Port was being opened and a quick taste revealed a large-framed wine with excellent fruit coming into maturity. It was Warre's 1980 - every time I think I have praised this vintage I taste a wine that makes me raise my assessment of it even further. I begin to wonder how much longer we can continue to regard it as an early-drinking little brother of 83 and 85.