Happy New Year! May 2023 be one of your best and brightest years ever. I couldn’t think of a better way to ring in a new year than an article about arguably the greatest wine day I have ever had. I will let you be the judge. This has been an article over one year in the making. Time flies, and business has been busy, and before you know it, another year is gone. As Confucius once said, ‘the days are long, and the years are short.’ A month or so before my 50th birthday celebrations, The Rev hosted his delayed 60th celebration, one delayed by that pandemic thing. Remember that? Seems surreal at this point, but one of the benefits was giving The Rev more time to procure more incredible bottles, about half of which he provided himself. The other half he got by with a little help from his friends, including Vintage Tasting alumni such as Big Boy, Bad Boy, Hollywood Jef, The Ambassador, Dr. Evil, the Attorney General and JBL. I am pretty sure that a record was set for most points ever awarded in one session by myself. Did we break 5000, it has to be close? Let’s see and let the (recap of the) games begin!!!
Colonel Mustard With The 28 Moet
There aren’t too many events that begin with a Jeroboam of 1971 DRC La Tache as an aperitif! Well, here we were, and this Jero delivered a fabulous experience. It had a deep, dark nose that was a little woodsy but more on the autumnal side with some brick, rust and rose fruit behind it. It had black fruits but also had menthol and cream to go with its great richness and lots of body. Its acidity was endless, and the only complaint I might muster was that there was a touch too much forest floor. Its citricity and brick flavors housed its finish. It wasn’t the peak of what this wine can deliver, but it was close (98J).
A duo of Champagne took us to the afternoon dinner table, and it was quite the duo being from 1928. The 1928 Moet was smoky and toasty, full and rich. While it lost most of its bubbles, there was still a delicious persona with lots of vanilla cream. It was rich and fleshy with burnt sugar and great caramel flavors on its finish. Despite no bubbles, it was still so creamy with great oil and honey flavors (95).
A 1928 Roederer was another great aged bottle of Champagne, and while the nose had less vanilla, it was deeper with more citrus. There were oatmeal flavors with some brown sugar kisses. More austerity and vim marked the Roederer, along with brighter citrus and a touch of ceramic flavors. JBL commented that the Roederer was ‘more Pinot driven,’ and he would know! Big Boy was also in the Roederer camp (96).
A trio of Krugs followed our duo of 1928s, beginning with an apple-y 1976 Krug Collection typical of 1970s Krug. There was nice soda and seltzer vivacity compared to the ‘28s, and some good earthiness. The 1976 was balanced and elegant with nice citrus and wheat flavors (95).
The First 99-pointer
Nice Fridge, Nicer Magnums
The 1961 Krug Collection clearly had more richness and body than the ’76. There was also that touch of apple, but a touch more meat to go with its great style. Its wealthy fruit blasted and lasted in the glass (97).
Big Boy immediately said to wait on this superlative 1947 Krug Collection. As the ’61 took the ’76 to another level of richness, so did the ’47 to the ’61! While more mature brown sugar kisses, the 1947 was by no means too mature. There was an incredible smokiness here in this great flavor profile. There was a unique nuttiness and smokiness to go with the most savory and complex of these three heroes (99).
It was on to white Burgundy, and a pair of DRCs, beginning with a magnum of 1999 DRC Montrachet. Ok, if you insist lol. ‘So good,’ I wrote, so rich I continued, along with buttery, smoky and toasty with incredible yellow fruit. Its palate was a beast with a monster finish to match. There was so much acidity here, with a searing richness out of magnum. It was admittedly too young out of magnum, but what proper grand cru white Burgundy wouldn’t be? Big Boy found it positively ‘fat,’ while the Attorney General said it was ‘like a red wine.’ Someone else seconded my ‘monster’ emotion (97+M).
A Legendary White
On to the Reds and Rousseau
The 1978 DRC Montrachet that followed brought back so many memories, memories like dinner at Georges V with Bipin, Wolfgang and Aubert probably two decades ago! Some dinners you never forget. The ’78 was tropical and fully mature, kinky with its touch of apricot. There was a honeyed, milky and creamy style to it. ‘Awesome,’ I wrote, along with ‘so rich, so honeyed.’ While its flavors were mature, its finish was strong and still youthful. Uni aromas developed in its exotic and complex nose (98).
The next wine was a bit tangy with a sour nose that was milky in the wrong way. It had vim and a touch of tropicality but was not interesting compared to the others. There was a bit of a morning mouth finish in this 1959 Bouchard Montrachet. I have had spectacular old bottles of Bouchard, but this wasn’t one of them (90?).
‘Great nose, great wine’ started my note on the magnum of 1985 Ramonet Montrachet. This was smoky city, with that kinky, corny and minty Ramonet sweetness. There was heavy cream to its palate, along with lots of butter – this was a French chef’s dream white lol. More corn and mint effused out of its tasty palate, and the Ambassador agreed with me on my 98-point rating, although he disagreed with me on the DRC, which he gave 99 points. I can see him being impressed with the DRC; like the ’99, he is still so young lol (98).
There were two more Montrachets to go, and we were walking this way towards the 2012 DRC Montrachet. It was so young yet so exotic, with cleavage spilling out of its shirt, pick your own sex lol. It was long and deep, a bit painfully so, but its showy fruit more than made up for it (96).
There was one of these cooperative 2016 L’Exceptionelle Vendange des Sept Domaines Montrachet that was a collaboration between DRC, Lafon and others due to the tiny crop that year due to inclement weather. This was a sweet, young baby, and while it had some richness and decadence, it was too young, and one could see the effects of that devastating vintage (95).
The first red served was spectacular and one of the wines of the night. It was a 1971 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze. This was so good, singing with its leather, autumn, citrus and rose aromas. Its spice was catnip to my inner feline, and this exotic potpourri blended into a garden worthy of Versailles. Its alcohol and acidity seeped and creeped out of its nose, while the palate seconded all emotions in both a rich and elegant way. There was great mouthfeel and lots of spice to go with light iron on its magical finish (99).
The 1971 Rousseau Chambertin was similar yet lesser in every way, with more autumnal qualities. At this age, it always comes down to the bottle as much as the wine. While this bottle was still solid, it was showing a touch older and with less vim than the Beze (95).
A litter of La Taches were next beginning with a near 80 year-old 1942 DRC La Tache. There was sweetness in its nose, along with a bit of old library. It was on that ‘shroomy, earthy and foresty floor side, more brown than red, showing its signs of age (93).
The 1943 DRC La Tache was more on the touch oxidized side but still nice. It was richer with more tomato and weight, better with air but not a better bottle than the 1942 (93A).
The 3rd 99-pointer
A Gaggle of La Tache
The 1959 DRC La Tache was flat-out awesome, heads and shoulders better than the others so far. It was a perfect bottle, dripping with rose and its oil. JB admired its ‘juicy’ quality. It was also saucy, full of juicy red tomatoes to go with its juicy red fruits. ‘So good,’ appeared over and over again in my notes, and a touch of benevolent cereal. This was a La Tache firing on all cylinders (99).
There were some questions about volatile acidity in the blind wine that was served next by the Attorney General. I liked its sour cherry flavor to go with its long citrus and earth core. It was dusty and tasty, a bit leathery like an old Italian before tobacco took over. It might not have been perfect, but it wasn’t a bad bottle either, this 1964 Burlotto Barolo (94).
We got back to our usual programming, and the 1978 DRC La Tache delivered the same level of experience as the 1959. Big Boy hailed it as ‘the real deal.’ Mint, menthol and spearmint punctuated its permeating nose. It was rich and almost buttery with tasty caramel and brick flavors. It had a long, long finish like a long, long time ago but still had plenty of legs left in it. So complex, so much fruit, so much length and acidity in all the perfect places; this was true greatness (99).
The 1979 DRC La Tache was the second wine that felt out of place. It was woody and full of celery, which is my least favorite food on the planet for those of you that don’t know lol. There was good texture, but its flavors were sickly. I have had much better bottles of 1979 DRC out of large format, I should add, and that’s a whole ‘nother topic (88).
1980 DRC La Tache has always been a pet wine of connoisseurs of this majestic vineyard, and this bottle delivered. At first, it was a touch shy with its lighter impressions of mint and leather in the nose. Its palate had great flavors of rust, citrus, strawberry and more leather, and this vintage of La Tache found the perfect harmony between flavor and balance (96).
The 1985 DRC La Tache was smooth with clearly lots of acid and nice, mature autumnal edges. There were lots of classic characteristics in this vintage, one that is holding onto its outstanding status but just barely, although large formats might disagree (95).
The 1990 DRC La Tache was ‘dirty’ per The Rev and ‘as usual’ per me. There were chocolate and earth flavors to go with its solid concentration, but as great as it was, it didn’t deliver the knockout experience (96).
The last of our La Taches was nipping on the heels of the ’59 and ’78. The 1999 DRC La Tache has long been one of my favorites, ever since Aubert told me it might be the greatest vintage ever for the Domaine. Does he say that every year lol. This was rich, concentrated, ‘great’ and ‘special.’ It was deep and dark, full of black fruits and forest and would normally be 99 points, but not in this company (98)!
Quite the Refresher
A Few Good Clos
It was time for a refresher, and we had one of the best guests in the world for that, known as ‘JBL’ to his closest friends, although I am not sure how that translates into French. We were all saying ‘ah oui oui’ when the ex-Domaine 1976 Roederer Cristal Rose came out. This was a ‘lights out’ bottle, disgorged in 1982, and despite twenty years later, it still had so much freshness. It was so good and so zippy, possessing light strawberry flavors and a touch of splendid sweetness. A touch of complex pine needles emerged on its spectacular finish (98).
The 1982 Roederer Cristal Rose magnum had a cinnamon-y nose with a porridge-like richness. Its acid was screechy and extraordinary, with a ‘wow’ and bigger finish, as it should out of magnum. The Attorney General found it ‘tight,’ and Big Boy was heralding its ‘pitch and acidity.’ Its ‘cheesy’ quality was admired by another, a good thing for those of us that love cheese (96M).
The Rev was born in 1961, so a bunch of Bordeaux had to happen before the end of the night. Now seemed like the right time, especially when a magnum of 1961 Haut Brion. Its nose was the perfect blend of deep purple, chocolate, charcoal and tobacco. ‘A little too young for you,’ Dr. Evil smiled, but I was more than content with its rich plum and chocolate flavors. This was creamy, long and wealthy with long acidity. ‘So good’ appeared in my notes repeatedly (98M).
A bottle of 1961 La Mission Haut Brion usually is a length ahead of the Haut Brion, but this bottle couldn’t keep pace with the magnum. There was classic band-aid and charcoal, but it softened in the glass sooner than I wanted, but it was still outstanding with decent richness and long acidity that gained back (96).
The 1961 Palmer was our first off-ish bottle. At this level, for wine #29, I will take it every time – no rating was necessary. The 1961 Latour was another small hiccup, another soft and plush bottle, and while it wasn’t great, it wasn’t a bad bottle either (95).
Simply The Best
The 1961 Petrus was a touch tight, but all its Pomerol goodness expressed itself. There were clay and ceramic borders to its deep purple fruit. Rich and decadent with great minerality, this was a superlative bottle of Petrus, so fleshy and a ‘Burgundian style of Petrus’ per one guest (98).
This was now officially wine number 35, and it was all Ponsot, Dujac and Roumier. I took a break before this flight, and it was tough to focus for a minute, but I managed. Here is the summary:
|1979 Clos de la Roche||95|
|1980 Ponsot Clos de la Roche||97|
|1985 Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV||94|
|1985 Dujac Clos de la Roche||98|
|1990 Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV||94|
|1990 Dujac Clos de la Roche||95|
|1991 Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV||97|
|1988 Roumier Bonnes Mares VV||95|
A summary paragraph would go a little bit like this. The ’79 had a milky goodness along with lots of zippy, citrusy fun. The ’85 disappointed given its reputation, but it had lots of strawberry and earthiness to go with its roundness. The 1980 was delicious and minty, with its acidity lifting the wine to new heights along with its menthol, red cherry and oil. This was a superb wine with lots of rust and spine. The Dujac announced itself on the scene admirably. The 1985 was rich and saucy with autumnal action and an enticing herbal goodness. It was fully mature but so good with a lot of how now brown cow action. The ’90 Ponsot was meaty and yeasty with nice concentration in a softer way, while the ’90 Dujac was not as great as I wanted it to be but still solid. The ’91 Ponsot took it up a notch, noticeably better than the 1990s, decadent but still elegant with its fruit. After having a blockbuster ’88 VV within the last year, I ‘just couldn’t do it,’ I wrote, meaning I was hitting my limit. This wine usually scores near the top of the food chain, but perhaps I was done with ‘young’ wines at this point. It was wine #42 after all.
I needed a palate refresher, and I could ask for none greater than a magnum of 1961 Dom Perignon Charles and Diana Wedding Cuvee. This was a come to Jesus wine, and I’m not sure how anyone who attended that wedding didn’t have a religious experience or a baby. Either or. This was one of the, if not the, greatest bottle of Champagne I ever had. It was electric on the palate, bringing the zippedy, doo dah and beautiful day all in one. It was so young but had such maturity and wisdom to its flavors. Bready, meaty, oily and long, this was rich, decadent and full of itself, as in its finish and length. So good as in so great (99M).
I Give Up!!!
There were two more flights, well, technically three, arguably four, but let’s just say I consolidated what I could handle. The ’61 Wedding Cuvee did me a huge solid, as it resuscitated my palate, and it needed to be for the fantastic four wines that followed. The first was a 1959 Lafite Rothschild. It was deep and dark with rich purple fruit and classic pencil, cassis and carob. This was a rock star bottle of Lafite and the greatest of all-time along with the 1953. Everyone was in the ‘older is better’ zone, one I agree with more with every passing day lol (99).
Right on cue came the 1953 Lafite Rothschild. This was another spectacular bottle, perfect in every way, another ‘holy shit’ wine I eloquently wrote. There was more caramel in the ’53, and while softer like the vintage, it still had great concentration and unbelievable sweetness. The two best Lafites showed the best they could be on this magical night (99).
You didn’t think we could complete this night without a bottle of 1945 Mouton Rothschild, did you? The wine that I once ranked as my #3 bottle of all-time delivered yet again, and it confirmed its previously ordained position (1945 RC is #1, and 1945 Petrus is #2, although a 1947 Petrus late last year has a legitimate claim to a top three slot. Need to think about it 😊) Back to the 1945 Mouton, half my notes I can’t even read today, but I could read ‘so deep and so insane.’ I could also read my infatuation about its eucalyptus, pine, sage and herbal greatness. This was a caramel sex machine and the greatest bottle on this greatest day (99+).
There was a 5th bottle in this flight, but I believe it was corked, unfortunately, as it was a 1947 Cheval Blanc. I can’t quite read my writing again, could have been cooked, whatever it was, it wasn’t on (DQ).
There was one more bottle of Bordeaux to go, and it was one I expected to be a dud, but it was another incredible Pomerol. While most 1947 Lafleurs would be DQs within seconds, this was a Vandermeulen bottle that had the embossed crest on the label, and I was a believer. The concentration on the ’47 reminded me of only two other wines, and both ‘47s: Petrus and Cheval. Its plumminess played with my senses in erotic ways, and its concentration was as intense as any other wine on this night. This was as hedonistic as wine gets (99).
I know it seems like the 99-point ratings were getting handed out like candy at the end of the night, but believe you me, that’s what happens on the greatest wine day ever! There was only one wine that could keep me interested at this point, and that was Chateau Rayas. The legendary trio of ’78, ’89 and ’90 were on call, and the 1978 Rayas delivered another near-perfect experience. Cherry cola oozed from its sexy nose, and the art of Grenache was on full display with that fleshy decadence and red fruit gamy greatness. Strawberry, cranberry, lingonberry, if you were a red berry, you were invited to this party, and all the gentlemen in attendance were trying to introduce themselves this late in the evening lol (99).
The 1989 Rayas had a touch of cotton candy and bright acidity (97), while the 1990 Rayas was ‘wow’ concentrated, with loads of cherry and oil (98).
It Was All a Blur
There was one more wine I took a note for, and seven more I didn’t (all Rhones and Port, no disrespect intended), but 52 wines is my limit. I think I did a pretty good job. The 1966 Guigal La Mouline seemed like a great place to finish. The acidity on this bottle was impressive, and the violet and white pepper were dancing with the stars together. It was another ‘so good’ wine, and at this point I was officially done (98+).
A million thanks to The Rev for this pandemic delayed party. I am not sure you can ever outdo yourself, but I look forward to you trying for many years to come. Anyone that wants to try to achieve the greatest wine day ever in 2023, you know where to find me! Happy 2023!!!!