1949 Pontet-Canet


I recently attended a delightful private dinner in Washington, DC, in aid of the American Heart Association. The vinous theme was Pontet-Canet. Proprietor Alfred Tesseron has been a long-term supporter of this charity, and he had flown over specially for the event, guiding us through several recent vintages. The oldest was a bottle of the 1949 Pontet-Canet.

In this era, the wine was bottled by négociant Cruse & Fils Frère, as indicated by the label. Of course, you never quite know what to expect with bottles of this antiquity, though I found that this Pauillac still has much to offer after three-quarters of a century. Deep in color, with modest bricking on the rim, the aromatics perhaps lack the finesse of the elite wines in this exemplary growing season. Yet, gorgeous tobacco and pencil-shaving scents are entwined with the remnants of black fruit. Similarly, the palate could be described as lacking the refinement of the best 1949s. But I admire its broad-shouldered frame and grip. This is a wine with a bit of swagger after many years. Touches of Japanese nori appeared towards the slightly dry finish. Overall, I found the 1949 had more to offer than the 1945 I tasted a few years ago. 90/Drink 2024-2034.

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