Ok, so 2019 is already 1/3 over, and I have barely scratched the surface of this bountiful vintage of opened bottles. So much for staying current. Time just keeps ticking, so I decided to finally catch up, in an abridged fashion. It is better if the tree makes a sound rather than no one hearing it, right? Well, all the best bottles I drink are heard, seen, smelled and tasted by more than just me. Sharing is definitely caring when it comes to fine and rare wine, and it didn’t take me long to get in the right spirit, as I visited The Falcon on January 3rd, with a nice dinner accompanied by our even nicer wives.

The wines were as follows:
1. 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne (93)
2. 1985 Ramonet Batard Montrachet (96)
3. 2000 Ramonet Montrachet (DQ)
4. 1995 Meo-Camuzet Richebourg (94)
5. 1988 Meo-Camuzet Richebourg (97)
6. 1953 Margaux (94)

The ’85 Ramonet was a killer bottle, singing on all cylinders. There is no better producer of white wine in the world between 1978 and 1992, this I can say with 100% certainty. The Batard had signature spearmint, corn with the stalks, orange marmalade, sun-dried yellows, and dry mesquites all competing fiercely in the glass. It was super complex and not declining at all. The Montrachet was oxidized, but the dueling Meo Richebourgs got us back in the swing of things. The ’95 was excellent but leaner and rustier, showing the tannins of the vintage without developing much secondary fruit. The ’88, the last vintage of Meo made by Henri Jayer, was a Rockstar. Its deep, royal purple fruit and classical Jayer spice was tough to beat. This was a magic wine. The ’53 Margaux can be profound, but it had a tough act to follow, and I have had better bottles.

The next night was even better, with a bigger group and even bigger wines.
1. 1985 Haut Brion Blanc (95)
2. 2009 Coche-Dury Meursault (93)
3. 2011 Roulot Meursault Clos des Boucheres (94)
4. 2014 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues Batard Montrachet (94)
5. 1976 La Mission Haut Brion (88)
6. 1986 Leoville Las Cases (95)
7. 1988 Ducru Beaucaillou (DQ)
8. 2008 Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques (94)
9. 2008 Rousseau Chambertin (95)
10. 2011 DRC Grands Echezeaux (92)
11. 1982 Cheval Blanc (95)
12. 1983 Lafleur (92)
13. 1989 Petrus (99)
14. 1983 DRC Richebourg (95)
15. 1999 Allemand Cornas Reynaud (93)
16. 1999 Verset Cornas (95)
17. 1979 Gentaz-Dervieux Cote Rotie (96)
18. 1996 Mouton Rothschild (94)
19. 1983 Margaux (96)

It’s kind of tough to sum up nineteen wines in a few paragraphs, but here I go. The ‘85 HBB was serious and not friendly, complicated with yeasty and glue-y edges, salty, flinty and chalky, but complex. The Coche was buttery and rich, decadent and delicious, great at age ten, pure pleasure. The Roulot was smokier and leaner, and most liked the Coche better because it was much more obvious. The Roulot was elegant and long and ultimately tickled my fancy a touch more. The BBM was young and sweeter than expected. Rich and lush, it needed time but was also rather giving for a ’14.

The reds began with a simple ’76 La Miss, decent if I had it on its own but not in the category of the rest. The ’86 LLC was clearly better, but still deep, dark and tight. It was rocky and spiny like the vintage can often be. The ’88 Ducru was sadly corked. The Rousseaus were similar with their bright, citrusy, tangy, foresty and cedary personalities. The Chambertin was richer, deeper and better, with darker fruits and more vitamins, but the red strawberry side of the CSJ was very sexy. The ’11 DRC was elegant compared to the 2008 rockers, flirting with an effervescence. Someone hailed the last three as the ‘multiple orgasm flight.’ That tends to happen around me ; )

We were back to Bordeaux but in a much bigger way. The ’82 Cheval was outstanding, smooth and satiny with great red fruits and carob. Caramel and peanut joined the party, and while delicious, it was and still is not an all-time great Cheval, certainly not close to the 1990 which is a true legend. The ’83 Lafleur was Zin City like always, not their best effort. The ’89 Petrus got an ‘ALL-TIME GREAT,’ and a ‘nothing even close,’ both from me. The ’83 Riche that snuck in before our Rhones was a perfect ’83. A little brown sugar, a little lemon, a little cherry, a little cedar, a little forest and a little margarita with the salt. It was hungry like the wolf, I mean Falcon lol.

These Cornas wines were good, full of black fruits and leathery goodness with just the right kiss of citrus. The Verset was better in every way; richer, deeper, better sweetness and great vim. The Gentaz impressed me more than other recent bottles; this was smoother and blacker, a ‘rocky rock star’ per The Falcon. The Mouton was classic and classy but short of outstanding, and the Margaux was as good an ’83 as I have had. They can be very volatile, for the record.

There was the #WeekofJay shortly thereafter in New York City, and we had a more unlucky night than usual.
1. 2002 Salon (95)
2. 2013 Roulot Meursault Clos des Boucheres (93)
3. 2002 Raveneau Chablis Blanchots (92A)
4. 2002 Raveneau Chablis Valmur (94)
5. 2006 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres (DQ)
6. 2007 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres (94A)
7. 2008 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres (95)
8. 1986 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues Batard Montrachet (93)
9. 1999 Lafon Montrachet (DQ)
10. 1989 Bonneau de Martray Corton Charlemagne (92)
11. 1991 Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV (93)
12. 1993 H Lignier Clos de la Roche (96)
13. 1993 Dujac Clos de la Roche (92A)

Dinner was at Le Bernardin, hence the more white wines than usual. First off, let’s get the off bottles out of the way. The Blanchots was bretty, the ‘06 Coche corked, the ’07 was not perfect, the Lafon pre-moxed and the Dujac slightly corked. I don’t normally write up the nights where 1/3rd of the wines were off, but it does happen. The Salon was classic but lighter than the great 1996; the Roulot was fresh and lively, with a smooth and satiny personality but lacking depth. The Hedonist and Lord Byron Jr. liked the Valmur better, which was a good call, it had classic citrus and oyster shells. The ’08 Coche was rich and buttery with loads of acid, another rock n’ roll 2008. The Hedonist loved its ‘Ginsu-ness.’ The ’86 BBM was mature, and the ’89 BdM was good but not special.

The Ponsot was a bit beefy and earthy, while dark chocolaty and black, it was a bit herbal and twangy, ‘tomato soupy’ and ‘medicinal’ per others. It was also mechanical. The Lignier smoked the Ponsot; nothing new there. Its pure fruit was delicious by comparison, purple and black harmony, with great citricity and acidity. Everyone got an A for effort, but it wasn’t an A night for sure.

That was the first week of 2019. Next thing I knew, I was in Beijing.
1. 2012 Sauzet Chevalier Montrachet (95M)
2. 2004 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (96)
3. 2004 Lamarche La Grande Rue (92)
4. 1999 Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV (DQ)
5. 1998 Chave Hermitage (94+)
6. 1990 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle (95)
7. 1996 DRC La Tache (96)
8. 1995 Meo-Camuzet Clos Vougeot (93+)
9. 2000 Latour (95+)
10. 1997 Tua Rita Redigaffi (88)

Sauzet remains one of the most underappreciated top white Burgundies today. This magnum showed why with its fresh, sweet, yellow fruit and nice minerality. Exotic pear and a wintry cream completed its composite. The ’04 Leflaive took it up a notch; it was a great bottle. There was more intensity and zip to its structure, and more mineral flavors with a pinch of yellow sugar goodness. The Lamarche was a bit yeasty with dark fruits and bread aromas. Its duck-like edges were nice, but it was just a bit thin, more the vintage than the wine. The Ponsot was corked, and the Chave was super elegant for this wine, with lots of gritty goodness and excellent acidity. The La Chapelle was richer and also more elegant than usual for this wine, but it still had a touch of jam and black currant flavors. The ’96 LT had the screechy acid so signature for this vintage, with beautiful greeny goodness and leather and winter flavors. Baby had back. The Meo was beefy and rich with lots of Chinese action. Szechuan scallops strangely came to mind, as did beef blood. The Latour was deep, dark and young, rich yet shy shy shy. While elegant and long, it still isn’t ready. The Redigaffi might have been ready 20 years ago, but it felt like just another “highly” rated wine that didn’t age well.

There was another night in Beijing that involved movie stars, tycoons and Alexander the Great. It was pretty epic.
1. 1989 Krug (95M)
2. 2002 Verget Batard Montrachet (94J)
3. 1993 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet (93)
4. 1996 Mouton Rothschild (94)
5. 1982 Palmer (93)
6. 1997 Leroy Richebourg (95)
7. 1996 DRC Richebourg (94)
8. 2008 Rousseau Chambertin (95)
9. 1996 DRC La Tache (96+)

The funny thing is that if you asked me if I tasted 2008 Rousseau Chambertin and 1996 Mouton twice this year already, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you until just now, let alone once. At least I rated them consistently lol. I remember lots of wines, but I don’t remember them all. That’s why I try to write everything down!

The ’89 Krug mag was classic; rich, tasty and full-bodied with lots of nuttiness. The Verget was a huge surprise in that it was much better than expected. It was super tasty, smooth yet certainly Grand Cru. There were lots of citrus flavors with some guava exoticness. The Leflaive was sweeter with more honey and candle wax. It was ‘ready’ and a bit ‘senior’ per some of our guests. This ’96 Mouton had a bit of an oaky edge (but not negatively), with great smoke and charcoal to its nose. Spice, black fruits and minerals made the Mouton a happy ending. The ’82 Palmer was more mature yet still rich but not a great ’82. It was still excellent but a wine stuck in the barn with its horse and hay.

The Richebourg showdown saw Leroy win with its sweet raspberry fruit and cedar/mint frames. It was rich, ripe and tasty with cola and bouillon edges, while the DRC had more tea, grass and garden edges. The Rousseau see my previous note and add ‘wow’ and ‘intense.’ This DRC LT, from the same case as the one the night prior, was a slightly better bottle with much more acid and cedar. It was zippy city along with some good greeny action. The Leroy won over the LT by an overall vote of 5 to 4.

It was off to HK next, and a spectacular vertical of Hubert Lignier with three generations of the Lignier family there: Hubert, Laurent and Sebastien. I think there were 15 wines, and I remember a standout 1991 amongst many others, but I lost my notes. That’s another thing that happens here and there : ( While the Domaine went through some transition issues after the tragic death of Hubert’s son Romain, there is no doubt that over the last decade, this great producer has reclaimed its status as one of Burgundy’s best thanks to the efforts of Laurent Lignier.

The next night we got to show Laurent Lignier a little Acker HK hospitality with The Good Doctor:
1. 2000 Krug (93M)
2. 2011 Henri Boillot Chevalier Montrachet (92)
3. 2012 Niellon Batard Montrachet (93)
4. 2014 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche (96)
5. 2017 Hubert Ligner Clos de la Roche (93)
6. 2007 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche (93)
7. 2005 DRC Romanee St Vivant (95)
8. 2001 Leroy Latricieres Chambertin (97)
9. 1947 Chateau La Garde (Graves) (92)
10. 1950 Cheval Blanc (96)
11. 1961 Lafite Rothschild (93)
12. 1934 Haut Brion (95)

The Marquis de Laguiche was the clear winner of the white flight, although they were all served a bit cold. The Niellon was a bit ripe, which Laurent said was the vintage for whites, and the Boillot was easy. Montrachet proved to be the magic terroir again with rich yellow fruits full of sunshine, along with a regal finish. The pair of ’17 and ’07 Ligniers proved to be a good match, with both providing fleshy and easy to understand experiences. Laurent found a little 2010 and a little 2007 in his 2017, and The Good Doctor was loving the delicious and more mature 2007.

The DRC vs. Leroy smackdown lived up to its pre-game hype. The 2005 was a big wine with long acidity, and the discussion about when the 2005s will finally be ready ensued. Despite its outstanding status, the 2005 was no match for the 2001 Leroy. I have had about three to four different 2001 Leroys this year, and they were all rock stars. Madame certainly hit the Burgundy bullseye in 2001! This was a ‘wow’ wine in every sense of the word, so big, so deep, so heavy yet at the same time retaining that Grand Cru freshness, elegance and style. Mad Max found it ‘full-bodied and wonderful,’ while the Paradox noted it ‘a perfect Burgundy bottle.’ Dark fruits, forest floor, tree bark and brown sugar all danced erotically together.

The last flight was another thriller, four decades carefully curated by yours truly out of our Asia retail inventory. These were just gorgeous, old bottles hanging out in stock just begging to be consumed, so I obliged. Old bottles in great condition, ladies and gentlemen, pay more attention! The La Garde was a Graves, not earth shattering but fresh, round and tasty, with nice hay and citrus flavors. It was dusty and leaner for a ’47 but still very good. The 1950 Cheval was outstanding, ‘100 points’ per one guest. It had that classic, coconut kink from this era, with the chocolate and wheat to match. Red Christmas fruits and dates abounded in this fleshy, kinky and delicious red. The ’61 Lafite was a nice wine, but it has never lived up to the legendary ’61 vintage. It was lighter and pleasant, in great condition with excellent caramel flavors. Lastly, the 1934 Haut Brion was fantastic. I have never been a fan of this entire decade in Bordeaux, giving it plenty of chances over the last 25 years. This was probably my best experience ever for the entire decade! It was hailed as a ‘Dark Knight,’ and Laurent admired its concentration. Coffee and mocha were everywhere in this inky, rich ’34.

We welcomed two other great Burgundian Domaines to Hong Kong besides Hubert Lignier, namely Clos de la Chapelle and Bizot. With eighty people in the room and three great Domaines, most of us left after midnight. There were also eighteen wines to get through!
1. 2009 Clos de la Chapelle Corton Charlemagne (94)
2. 2010 Clos de la Chapelle Corton Charlemagne (95)
3. 2014 Clos de la Chapelle Corton Charlemagne (95)
4. 2016 Clos de la Chapelle Pommard Les Chanlins VV (92)
5. 2016 Clos de la Chapelle Volnay Clos de la Chapelle (94)
6. 2016 Clos de la Chapelle Volnay Taillepieds (94)
7. 2016 Clos de la Chapelle Corton Bressandes (95+)
8. 2014 Bizot Bourgogne Rouge Le Chapitre (93M)
9. 2014 Bizot Vosne Romanee (93M)
10. 2014 Bizot Vosne Romanee Les Jachees (95)
11. 2016 Hubert Lignier Morey St Denis Trilogie (92)
12. 2016 Hubert Lignier Morey St Denis VV (95)
13. 2016 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche (96)
14. 2007 Hubert Lignier Gevrey Chambertin Combottes (94)

We also had a 2001 Hubert Lignier Morey St. Denis VV, which Laurent admired as ‘a beautiful vintage,’ and a 2006 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche, but I didn’t take notes or write scores down for those. It was a long night with lots of introductions and discussions by these great winemakers.

Clos de la Chapelle is is a relatively new name for an existing Domaine that has been producing esteemed wines for many, many years. Burgundy connoisseur and collector Mark O’Connell purchased the Louis Boillot estate in Volnay in 2010 and has subsequently added additional vineyard purchases to form one of the top boutique Domaines in the Côte de Beaune. We had orders for 25 cases of his Corton Charlemagne; too bad we only got five! It was an impressive span of four vintages, and his 2016s were super fresh, with the Corton Bressandes ruling the roost on this night.

Another relatively new name is that of Bizot, who is quickly becoming a cult phenomenon. Production is part of the story; only 1000-1500 cases are made for the entire Domaine any given vintage! This is about 8 to 10 wines, I believe. But Jean-Yves Bizot is a true “artist explorer” who beats to his own drum, creating a unique style that have many in adoration. He made clear, risky and highly engaging choices: low yield, short pruning, strictly limited treatments, both in the vineyards and the cellars, manual harvest, meticulous grape selection…this scrupulous work, combined with his outstanding intuition, has resulted in wines that aficionados have recognized as beautiful, hand-crafted jewels. It was a great night featuring these three great Domaines!

We had an auction, and we drank a lot of DRC. I don’t take notes at an auction, I can’t, I’m actually working.

The last night of my first trip to Hong Kong this year was an impressive Burgundy celebration of great winemakers and wines.
1. 1976 Roulot Meursault Charmes (97M)
2. 1990 Sauzet Bienvenues Batard Montrachet (93)
3. 2008 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (93M)
4. 1992 Roulot Meursault Meix Chavaux (93M)
5. 2013 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres (95)
6. 2014 Roulot Corton Charlemagne (93)
7. 2001 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (93)
8. 1979 Jean Gros Richebourg (92)
9. 1978 Roumier Bonnes Mares (98)
10. 1966 Louis Latour Chambertin (93)
11. 1959 DRC Richebourg (97)
12. 2001 Roulot Meursault Charmes (95)
13. 1978 Georges Noellat Vosne Romanee Les Genevrieres (92)
13. 1978 Georges Noellat Vosne Romanee Les Genevrieres (92)
14. 2014 Bizot Vosne Romanee Aux Reas (93M)
15. 2014 Fourrier Gevrey Clos St Jacques Centennaire (95)
16. 1985 Clos du Tart (95)
17. 1995 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche (95J)
18. 1995 Vogue Musigny VV (94)
19. 1999 Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots (94)
20. 1990 DRC La Tache (99)

The 1976 Roulot Charmes was an incredible wine, all the more incredible by having Jean-Marc Roulot in the room. It was a magnum in perfect condition, full of rich butter and honey aromas and flavors. Hints of autumn leaves and incredible musk oozed out of the glass. This was sweet, tasty and delicious, make that ‘Butterlicious’ lol. I could not stop drinking the wine; every other white wine seemed irrelevant. Etienne de Montille had the line of the night when he told Jean-Marc, “Your father made much better wine than you.” Jean-Marc and I burst out laughing lololol.

Like I said, the other whites were basically irrelevant, and I really need to finish this beast of an article, so let’s touch upon some of the reds. The 1978 Roumier Bonnes Mares was about as good as it gets. I would be fortunate to have another superlative example of this incredible wine about two weeks later in New York, then again one month later in New York at that ‘Power Lunch,’ and I can safely say ‘tasted thrice with consistent notes.’ Etienne cooed how this wine had ‘everything.’ This wine gave off so many pheromones with its rich, musky nose. It was smooth and almost buttery in its decadence, delicate yet delicious, pure catnip. The 1959 DRC Richebourg was not far behind. Its core was older, possessing more brown sugar, but there was still this candied red goodness, that sweetness from the warmer ’59 vintage. Animal sweat and donut glaze rounded out my notes for this ‘so good, all good’ wine. Perfect maturity. The Fourrier and Lignier stood out for me amongst the ‘younger’ reds; these are two class acts making classic and classy wines. But, of course, we needed a closer, and the 1990 DRC La Tache was up for the challenge. While bottle variation can be an issue for this wine, when it is on, there is nothing better. This bottle was turned fully on and then some. I almost got stampeded when I opened it, as glasses emerged from all angles for just one swallow. I think I did my best James Harden imitation and had to do a 360 around a pick by a column to gather my thoughts lol. The ’90 LT was a beast, thick and rich, a man amongst boys (and a couple of aforementioned elder men). Its dark fruits cascaded down my hatch like waterfalls, and its spice and decadence were almost unimaginable. When I think too hard about it, I start smacking my lips unconsciously. I want more.

And so ended my first trip to Asia on 2019. I barely made it back to NYC for a night chez Tom Terrific, and a fascinating deep dive into the Rhone Valley.
1. 1970 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne (92A)
2. 1981 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose (95)
3. 1989 Chave Hermitage Blanc (96)
4. 1985 Chave Hermitage Blanc (DQ)
5. 1990 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape (97)
6. 1990 Beaucastel Chateauneuf Hommage a Perrin (94)
7. 1990 Bonneau Chateauneuf du Pape Celestins (96)
8. 1991 Chave Hermitage (97)
9. 1990 Chave Hermitage (97+)
10. 1979 Chave Hermitage (94)
11. 1976 Chave Hermitage (93)
12. 1978 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle (93)
13. 1976 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle (95)
14. 1966 Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline (99)
15. 1966 Delas Cote Rotie (92?)
16. 1959 Chapoutier Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde (95)
17. 1966 Jaboulet Chateauneuf Les Cedres (94)
18. 1985 Jamet Cote Rotie (97)

Let’s forget the bubblies since this was a Rhone night. The ’89 Chave Blanc was a spectacular white that was saucy, voluptuous and creamy. This was a honeyed and exotic wine with tropical goodness and great weight. The ’90 Rayas had that signature kirsch nose, super impressive with its sweet core of red fruits and musk. It was so pure, so stylish and so Grenache. The Hommage was a bit dirty and earthy, very dark in contrast to the Rayas. This bottle was a bit beefy, and not as good as a bottle that I had two weeks later with one of the Perrins. The ’90 Celestins won the haed-to-head on this night, and while its fruit was leaner, its style was longer. It had great sauvage, white pepper and minerality, and I was surprised by its elegance.

The two flights of four Chaves was an event in its own right. Dapper Dave found both the 1991 and 1990 ‘explosive,’ and the ’91 had beautiful dark, violet fruits with light bacon and light pepper nuances. It oozed seduction. The ’90 was richer and deeper with more animal qualities. It was smokier with more bacon to it, and someone admired its ‘big BBQ.’ The ’79 had even more animal, trending up with age it seemed, and it was a little stinky with some barn action. Someone found it ‘buxom,’ and it was elegant, smooth and creamy, just a lighter vintage. The ’76 was even lighter, with less stuffing than the ’79, and more menthol. It was lean and minerally, still solid but not spectacular.

I have had much better bottles of ’78 La Chapelle, so instead I will talk about the outstanding ’76. There was an exotic cereal nose to it with wheat flavors and a round and fleshy personality. Its finish was long and regal, and this bottle outshined the ’78 on this night, which probably doesn’t happen that often.

The 1966 Guigal Cote-Rotie La Mouline, being the 99 point wine that it always was, gets a full tasting note accordingly here! This bottle took no prisoners and immediately asserted itself as the wine of the night. There was still great freshness here, with a touch of good stink at first, and a round and rich personality that showed amazing spice, flesh, and minerality. There were the usual and delicious bacon, violet and pepper flavors, but it was dominated by decadent Gyro meat. It was so aromatic, unfolding continuously, ending up snowcapped as well. Lord Byron Jr. admired its concentration, and others its leathery side (99).

The Chapoutier and Jaboulet were impressive, older Rhones. Jetski admired the clarity and transparency of the Chapoutier, which was served blind, and guessed to be Cote Rotie due to some similarities with the La Mouline. There was a lot of menthol in this aged Syrah, while the Les Cedres was pure deliciousness. It got ‘one of the WOTNs’ by one guest, and ‘flawless’ from another. This was a blue-blooded and berried wine, with sweet fruit and great mint. The Jamet was a last call, and a great one. This is the era of Jamet that makes collectors swoon. It had dark, deep and rich midnight-like fruit flavors, with supporting olive, leather and meat. It was gripping and oozy with long acidity. Bravo!

There were still four more events in January, all related to our spectacular Grande Fete de Bourgogne auction February 1st. I think we will save those for the next article, or make it a few! I hope you don’t mind the abridged notes this time, but the hole had gotten too big. Let’s see if I can catch up, and if I can ever start doing/writing my ‘three notes a day’ idea. I could have had 120 notes by now in 2019!!!

I hope you enjoyed ‘A Month in the Life,’ even if I fell a week short.

In Vino Veritas,

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