Saturday, February 4, 2023 Feb 4, 2023
48° F Dallas, TX

1981 Charles Krug Reserve Cabernet….

By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |

There are few things better than great wine, great food and great friends. A dinner party occurred over the weekend that included all three. The menu was eclectic: truffled mushroom topped brie; a chop-chop salad, taken to the next level; pork tenderloin stuffed with dried cherries, currents and cranberries with a cherry glaze and blue cheese sauce; Porcini polenta (with fresh Porcini from Tom Spicer’s market on Fitzhugh);  balsamic strawberries with Texas goat cheese. The menu was ready for a wine showcase.  Follow the jump for more.

We had been waiting to open a very odd purchase . On a recent trip to Hawaii we stopped into the local Kona market to pick up staples (sunscreen, bottled water, etc) and stumbled onto a wine drinker’s paradise. The neighborhood store had really good wine….at really good prices. As we perused the selection…DarioushChateau Montelena….Domaine Serene….Miner….Pahlmeyer….we see the strangest bottle, a magnum of 1981 Charles Krug Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for a great price.

I had just finished reading The House of Mondavi telling the story of Robert Mondavi, and his break from the family and their winery Charles Krug. His bother Peter continued to run Krug when Robert vacated, and based on my recollection, was making decent Reserve wine at in 1981.  However, that was almost 30 years ago, but the bottle was in perfect condition, with little wine evaporation and an Internet search confirmed it might still be good.  

We bought it for our friend, Don Winspear, for his birthday. Don is a lover of great wine, especially when a story is involved and also read House of Mondavi, and knew the story of the feuding brother’s wineries. Even if the wine was plonk, we were excited to give it a try and Saturday night was the night.

1981 Charles KrugUnfortunately we will never know the night it should have been opened….because it definitely was not a Saturday in May in 2009….. Our adventurous purchase was indeed a wine that has reached its peak and was on its way down. A bit was used as vinegar for the extreme chop-chop salad’s dressing…but that was all.

Instead a magnum of 2006 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley’s Archery Summit was enjoyed. Cherry, berry and earthy elements in the wine married the dried fruit and herb flavors of the pork tenderloin harmoniously. Our other courses were paired with a Champagne from Moet & Chandon, elegantly enhancing the truffled mushroom brie, andFuqua Winery Chardonnay, to turn more friends onto this Dallas find, with the chop-chop salad.

Dessert involved a special treat from the Winspear’s, a 2005 Quarts de Chaume from Domaine des Baumard. 100% hand selected bunches of very ripe Chenin Blanc from the Loire region of France, aged 10 years prior to bottling.  The wine was sweet, but not syrup filled as some dessert wines can be, with lots of fruit and honey aromas.  The richness of the strawberries, with the creamy goat cheese elevated it to a decadent level.

Moral of the story….it is probably best not to buy a 30 year old bottle of California wine in a grocery store outside of Kona, Hawaii.
Would I do it again?  Without question.