I'm new to "social media" and this site, so I probably should learn how to start a new topic, but since you ask...
In a nutshell the wine was fabulous. It reminded my of 2 other wines; 1953 Pichon-Lalande and 1955 L'Evangile. I will try to explain...
My wine buddy was a "bachelor" a couple weeks ago when his wife went for a ski vacation, and we had him over for a roast duck and a 1988 Pommard Clos des Epineaux, a monopole vineyard owned by the Comte Armand that I had bought 4 bottles of after a Burgundy tasting shortly after release and had enjoyed about once a decade since. It was always good and showed no signs of decay, even now after 30 years. We were trying to make his wife jealous and texted pictures but did not hear back. She had had a skiing accident!
So after her return I offered to cheer her up with a wine of her favorite vintage of Bordeaux, 1985 and I had ear-marked this bottle for her. I think it was purchased in a mixed case of 1985 Bordeaux purchased upon release, all of which were good except a corked Figeac opened about 2 years ago.
1985 is a curious vintage worth discussing first to give the character of it. There has been a pattern of bordeaux "twin vintages" characterized by a very good "soft vintage" followed by a very good "hard vintage" and 1985-86 are one of these twin stars. Other examples, largely forgotten or irrelevant are 1899-1900, 1920-21, 28-29, 53-55, 59-61, 89-90 and perhaps others. In each case the first softer vintage was followed by a tannic, long-aging one, and the gentler one tended to be consumed too early while waiting for the "classic" vintage to come around. (Some of those forgotten classics can still provide a stunning experience if you find one in pristine condition). The 1985 vintage was declared "The Vintage of the Century" by Wine Spectator, but it had not even left the barrels before the press was declaring 1986 a superior and more "classic" vintage. As a result the 85s were largely ignored and remained a good bargain, while the 86s with mouth-searing tannins escalated in price rapidly before they were delivered. The 1985s often appeared in comparative tastings where their charm wowed tasters who said they couldn't last. They never went through a "dumb" period. One could, and often did, enjoy them at any age. So while collectors are just now beginning to dip their toes into the 86 pool, the 85s have become something of a rarity. And the truth is, as with their historic relatives, that is a great shame, because the wines are only now beginning to show their full potential. That was legendarily true of the 1953s, an expensive vintage which I enjoyed only once-- a very youthful '53 Pichon-Lalande also at about 33 years old, and also a feminine wine of grace and power. The 53s also had that "unique" character that they never went dull, and always showed extremely well. But they were heralded, and the 85s, while not forgotten, were overshadowed by the 86s.
The wine opened easily with a standard screwpull and the cork emerged in one piece after 33 years, except for a crumb which stayed in the bottle after decanting. The nose was reassuring at first and opened quickly to reveal a multi-dimensional wine. Glasses were poured all around and dinner was served. A brisket roasted for hours in an old family recipe marinade of wine, citrus and root vegetables, with the jus reduced and thickened with beurre manie napped the meat like a slick of chocolate on an eclair. Baby carrots looked preserved in amber in their maple sage glaze and potato galettes lent a crisp and creamy accent.
I smelled the wine for a long time before tasting it. It is the sharper sense for me. What began to emerge was the complexity. As expected the first scents were leather and dried rose-petals. The fruit was present but not more prominent than 5 other scents. I would characterize it both on the nose and palate as dark cherry, because it was neither a high-toned raspberry, nor a brooding blackberry or currant. The color was a deep garnet, nearly to the edge. Not an opaque garnet like the un-cut stone, but a glowing dark red, like the polished gems you see in the shop windows of Prague. The taste matched that vision; a dark cherry base, but not so fruity or heavy on the palate to dominate the nose. This is not a "velvety" wine like 82 Mouton, nor as big and showy. It invites you to explore rather than hitting you with obvious power. There was a distinct scent of wildflower honey. And the tannins had morphed, not into licorice or creosote, but into the smell of new bicycle tires! It is a feminine wine but more lithe than either muscular or fleshy. It is a ballerina or an Audrey Hepburn of a wine, not a Marilyn Monroe or athlete. It also showed no signs of decline over this, and the following cheese course. It was the multidimensional character that reminded me of it's neighbor L'Evangile and the 1955 I had, also at age 33 years. While this wine has now begun to show the true strength of its make-up, experience tells me that a well stored example has at least a decade more on this plateau and promises a slow decline for another decade. The Wine Spectator may have gotten it right after all. The 1985s will probably provide the longest "window of enjoyment" among vintages in their decade. In my memory it is a better wine than the 1989 VCC, which while charming young, has not kept up as well. I should also mention that 1985 La Conseillante which La Revue de Vins de France declared as "wine of the vintage" is a more impressive neighbor. But the 1985 Vieux Chateau Certan is a perfect expression of what it is. What it may lack in pure power, in makes up for in character. A viola is not a better instrument than a violin because it has a bigger body. The VCC is enticing, inviting without being intrusive, a serious wine that rewards those who put in the effort to "dance" with it.
A lovely apricot tart was washed down with sips of a 2000 Royal Tokaji 5 Puttanyos, now colored dark amber, but with no sign of caramelization, all apricot flavored with just the right acidity for immortality. Voila!