We started with a 1964 Bollinger RD magnum, disgorged in the mid-80s. It had a yeasty nose with light orange blossom, minerals and light mesquite. It was a touch musty in the mouth at first, very dry and linear. There was still nice sprite and decent straw flavors, but most were unimpressed. It got a ‘sweaty’ from Brad, it was definitely corked and an ‘ehhh’ overall (88A-M).
We got to the controversy early with the evening’s second bubbly. I should note that the King always does his hosted tastings blind, so everyone can make an ass of himself and be relegated to the King’s stable, where God knows what happens lol. There was this wild truffle pudding sweetness to the nose, flirting with a butterscotch. Its flavors tasted almost spiked with something absinthe or de menthe. Something and cinnamon joined the party, but the overall palate gave a minty and medicinal impression, and it was very fresh. Brad said that he ‘never had a nose like this before,’ while Big Boy found it ‘outta this world.’ Everyone was all over the truffles in the nose. People were guessing ‘60s or ‘70s, and then the guessing went all over the map, and no one thought this was a 1923 Bollinger. Even after people knew, some still didn’t think it was :). I haven’t seen too many fake Champagnes in my life, but have seen a handful, and its crazy nose and sickly flavors had to make you wonder, but I couldn’t say one way or another definitively. Airplane Eddie found the nose ‘still mind-blowing’ thirty minutes later (93).
The third bubbly had a more mature nose and was seemingly more advanced than the previous two. There was more baked bread and yeast, as well as petal aromas. The palate was round and wine-like, and I have definitely had better bottles of 1929 Bollinger, seeing that I have had a near-perfect, 98-point one before. The palate was easy and tender, soft and with morning mouth flavors (91A).
The next bubbly also had the truffle oil thing going on, big-time. There was also a hint of floral, sweet, lavender-ish something. Brioche toast aromas rounded out the nose. The palate was delicious, long and balanced, still with a touch of sprite. The palate also had coffee flavors, and its touch of petillance tickled my fancy, as did kisses of white chocolate and sugar. Big Boy declared that we were in 6-star territory. It was a 1900 Heidseick Monopole. Hell yeah (97).
We were starting to heat up, as the next bubbly was also very complex. The 1949 Bollinger had aromas of honey, acacia and edges of minerals and botani ebi sweet shrimp were enveloped in its sweet, floral and decadent style. It was lightly toasty. Its palate was mature, full of caramel and orange flavors, with just a touch of sprite left. Someone noted that it was ‘in a perfect place, mature but just enough acid.’ Its finish was lengthy and dry, and its spriteliness actually picked up in the glass; this was a long, intense and dry wine that still left a fine impression – it still had elegance and delicacy. There were great honeycomb flavors, and this stony, minerally, creamy beauty won’t get any better, but it won’t necessarily get worse for a bit, either. Yum (96).
Another odd bottle was next, and it was a 1961 Salon. ‘Sea dock,’ was the first thing I noted. Bob concurred with ‘barnacles.’ It was tough to get past that, but it did blow off, and a little vanilla cream came through. The palate was round with flavors of minerals and citrus. There was good sprite here, a lean sweetness and a smokehouse edge. The sea dock blew off, and it was very fresh overall, but the King and Big Boy both acknowledged that the bottle was disappointing given what it was. Todd noted ‘apples’ (93).
We were back to Bollinger again, and the 1961 Bollinger was outstanding. There was a bit of sweaty armpit in a nice way, along with shellfish shell ”“ there was this great musky, seared scallop thing happening. The palate had excellent definition, with fresh and lively citrus and vanilla flavors. It was leaning on the dry side with a pinch of sweetness, and had great lime flavors (95).
The next one was even better, also fresh, clean, sugary, edgy, floral and sexy. Its nose was also white meaty. There were decadent oil flavors, and a smoked, outdoor grill style to its flavors. Sweeter and more sugary than the 1961, the 1966 Bollinger was great. A ’66 versus ’61 debate broke out, and one of my fellow enthusiasts was in the ’61 camp, but conceded the ’66 was better now. Eddie preferred the ‘66 (96).
It was time for some red wine, and the first was Burgundy, of course. It had a fabulous Burgundy nose, sweet and tangy, full of hedonistic and musky fruit. Vibrant black cherry, gamy Burgundy essence permeated the nose and palate. Menthol was also all over the palate, and there were round, tea-like flavors, as in the Emperor’s tea. There were also beef bouillon and oil flavors and unreal garden goodness in this spectacular 1969 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze (97).
The next wine was also a Clos de Beze, this time being a 1976 Drouhin Chambertin Clos de Beze. Its nose was much more coy, tight and shy, with an oatmeal nose, along with rose and black chocolate. The palate was citrusy and dry with nice tannins. Clean and clear, it left a very good impression but was tough after the Rousseau (91).
Unfortunately, the 1976 Drouhin Musigny was oxidized (DQ).
It was back to Champagne, and the mini-streak of bad luck continued with a corked bottle of 1970 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises. What a shame. There is no doubt that this bottle would have been in the 95+ category if it hadn’t been corked, but there was too much cork to deal at this stage (DQ).
Lucky number thirteen was a 1975 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises. Its nose was sweaty, with good animal aromas. It had a nice edge to its very, very dry personality. Strawberry flavors emerged, but overall it was too dry. It did have nice length, and hints of unsweetened marzipan emerged. The sushi brought some life out of it and some bready goodness, but I wanted more from it (92).
The 1979 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises finally lived up to its reputation. As Eddie succinctly put it, ‘Now that’s an f’in wine ”“ really good mousse.’ Big Boy hailed it as ‘great.’ Its nose was incredible ”“ sweet and wide with the bread and meat of a perfect calzone, made with whole wheat and grilled. There was also this ginger snap edge to the ’79, whose crazy complexity and razor-like greatness combined for an intensity unmatched by any other Champagne on this evening. Bready, yeasty edgy, long and full of straw flavors, it continued to get better you better you bet (97).
The next bubbly was very oaky, over the top with its oaky, baked oak. The palate was so thick and meaty, though, it made me want to forgive. Its texture and length were monumental, but the oak was tough to get past. So damn thick but too damn oaky are pretty much the remainder of my notes on this 1979 Krug Clos du Mesnil (95+?).
The VVF’s continued with a 1980 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises, which was dusty, almost spicy in a wintry way. There were nice vanilla notes, but also a hint of alley in the morning, freshly hosed. Nice freshness, nice sprite and nice length made up for a nice wine, simple but nice. I guess it was the vintage (91).
The 1981 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises was a bit rubbery at first, Eddie was liking it, but Big Boy found it ‘good but a little empty.’ It opened up to reveal honey, marmalade and quince aromas and flavors, with the flavors adding an orange hue to the overall picture. It kept getting better and better. Big Boy then confessed that he was smoking crack, and a lifelong addict lol (95+).
The 1982 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises was peculiar, with a rubber tire nose and a rubber tire, super dry palate. It tasted like it should be great, but just wasn’t (92+?).
Eddie pulled a couple wines out of his bag to break up the Champagne, and it was perfect timing. The first had an intoxicating nose that was smoky, sweet and sappy. Aromas of mesquite and a wood-burning grill along with an exotic perfume graced its nose. There were also great forest and cedar nuances in its fantastic nose. The palate was super ”“ balanced, long and with great stalk and good earth flavors. It was evidently good real estate, and this 1964 Richebourg got oilier and sweeter (95).
The next red courtesy of Eddie had an earthy, gamy nose that had great meat to it. The flavors were more tender with sour cherry notes along with carob and citrus. The menthol and mesquite were admirable, but it was soft in the mouth overall, still excellent. It was a 1969 La Tache, which some preferred to the ‘64. I just felt like saying, ‘Eddif2f2f2f2f2f2f2f2f2e’ (93).
The 1991 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze had a spiny edge with great spice and an easy personality. Meat and blood spilled out of the glass (93).
It was back to Champagne with a great nose, spritely, fresh and special with white meats and fruits. Tangy and citrusy in the mouth, this 1985 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises was sexy juice (95).
The 1986 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises was taut and citrusy, with a great centerpoint, and corn and butter flavors in a margarine way (93).
Words were starting to allude me as we neared wine number twenty-five, as you can see by my concise notes. The trend continued, as my notes for the 1989 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises read, ‘bready, toasty, corny”¦so fresh and young”¦super fresh”¦super young fresh.’ I think that about sums it up, other than the fact that the ’89 was a monster, one of the wines of the night, just so young and wound that I felt we were disturbing it (97).
We ventured into Bordeaux with a gravelly and smoky nose full of rich tobacco and meat aromas. Cassis, caramel and dank, dark fruit also emerged. Edgy and delicious came to mind as I sampled its rich tobacco flavors. It was round and tasty, balanced like well-managed bank accounts. Are there any of those left out there? Some tootsie pop flavors signified Pomerol, and it was an outstanding bottle of 1947 Latour a Pomerol (95).
The 1945 La Mission Haut Brion showed lots more animal and barn, very gamy and earthy, but softer overall. It did gain in the glass to reveal more game, hay, earth and animal, but was still shy in the company of the Latour a Pomerol (93+).
We had another incredible Burgundy that was meaty and gamy with rose, oil, iron, animal and animal fat. Rich, meaty, delicious was all that was needed to describe the “19?? Je ne sais quoi.” Sorry, I forgot to write down what it was, and was waiting on an update there from the King as of press time”¦it was (95), whatever it was 🙂 .
The 1964 Romanee Conti was also great. I even conceded the notes were over, but ‘this is the shit.’ It also got a ‘yum yum deeeelish.’ It was party-time (95+).
Well, I thought the notes were over, but the next wine gave me one last surge of strength and invigorated me. ‘Killerrrr,’ was how the note began, with a few more r’s in there. ‘Wowowow,’ was next. Smelling this wine was like walking into a royal garden, full of intensity and energy. Despite being so old, it still had remarkable acidity and great richness. Its intensity and spice were noteworthy. I couldn’t even drink the ’45 La Mission after having one sip of the 1906 La Tache. It was an earth-shaker (97).
There were a couple more bottles, a 1952 Bouchard Musigny (91) and a 1969 Marey-Monge Romanee St. Vivant (93), but the night truly ended with the 1906. What a wine, and what a night. Since the King’s secret hideaway is basically on the West Virginia border, a flock of Manhattanhites including me flew out of there in a hurry, as it was really late already. Not much was said on the trip back except ‘Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.’
In Vino Veritas,