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Jan 28, 2011 04:29 AM

Birthday dinner with 1979 La Mission Haut Brion - what to cook?

Hi all, my husband's 32nd birthday is this weekend and I am surprising him with a bottle of 1979 La Mission Haut Brion. The WA review says it should still be good so fingers crossed! I am a little unsure of what to make for such an old wine. My normal Bordeaux dinner would be lamb/steak with maybe a risotto of some kind, but I know that a wine this old requires some extra attention. Anything to suggest, or possibly avoid?

Thank you!

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  1. What a brilliant idea. Chances are the wine is slightly older than your husband.
    Don't know anything about it, but there are quite a few very good wine experts that frequent this board.
    Good luck, and happy birthday to him!

    1. (don't forget to have a backup bottle ... just in case ... )

      Let the bottle stand upright for a day or so to let the sediments rest on the bottom of the bottle.

      Just be careful when removing the cork (might be brittle and break), also be careful when pouring the wine to not let sediments get in the glasses

      Other than that, Have fun.

      1. It should be fine if stored well, and still in the neck. I am still drinking the 1978's and 1979's but they are really starting to age out. The cork will be fragile so have a strainer handy. Decant for at least 2 hours as there is not alot of fruit left and you want to appreciate the subtleness. It will probably have some bricking- but that's okay. Have another bottle ready in case it is pruney.

        La Mission style is lighter. I would take that into consideration for your meal. I like La Mission with meats that are not heavily "charred" or grilled (like you can have with a heavier Bordeaux). A lighter braise is nice so you don't overpower the wine. Your lamb and risotto plan sounds really great! This wine tastes a bit smokey- with some dark fruit and "dirt" (in a good way) but it is rather delicate now and you might miss the nuances if you choose to have heavy meat, lots of tomato sauces, etc.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sedimental

          by "still in the neck" are you referring to the volume of the liquid being still in the neck of the bottle? It was just delivered, and appears to be right on the line where it becomes the neck.

          1. re: annamikemc

            Yes. The higher in the neck the better.

        2. I would choose a simple steak or lamb chop/rack. No tomatoes, artichokes, asparagus, as those are almost sure detractors from the subtlety of this wine, this old.

          My mouth is watering. I LOVE La Mission!

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChefJune

            Hope it's not past its prime...enjoy!

          2. Hi everyone, just to follow was great! I was surprised that a wine this old was still so fresh tasting. It was definetely more earthy than fruity, but maintained some nice acidity and fruit underneath. We had a simple filet (no sauce), roasted potatoes and mushrooms. Very very good and the husband was impressed :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: annamikemc

              Thrilled for you that it was so delicious, and the dinner was such a success. I LOVE when that happens.