“La Tache is an elegance and rigor. Beneath the frequent hardness of its tannins, passion is aflame, restrained by an implacable, courtly elegance.” I don’t know who said it, but it was in our booklet for an exceptional 37 vintage vertical of the one and only La Tache. Whoever said it, said it well! Shanghai was the setting, and while there would be some surprises, the best of the best flexed their muscles repeatedly throughout the weekend.

Our Shanghai team came up with the interesting idea of all the odd vintages on the first night, and then the even on the second. Ok, I was game. It was the first time I had ever done something like that, and I have been around the block. Sometimes you have to travel to the other end of the world to get a new perspective; that’s why I keep moving! We started with the already legendary 2015 vintage..

2015 DRC La Tache (98)
2013 DRC La Tache (95)
2013 DRC La Tache (93)

The 2015 had so much muscle up front. It was brimming with crushed rocks laced with rose petals rising from the glass. It was so rich and full-bodied with some goodie goodie woodsy edges. This was a monster of a wine with an endless finish, but a beautiful monster. The 2015 was decadent, with a hint of bouillon, but still very much primary. The Zen Master found it ‘a touch oaky,’ and it was, but it did get more integrated with air. Rock star wine! There was nice spice and delicacy on the 2013 with great red fruits. It was super fresh with lots of garden spice, great roses and lots of minerality. The 2013 was a bit more feminine on the palate and someone found it ‘a little green.’ I found the 2011 quite drinkable and delicate. It had nice spice, with more citrus and cedar flavors. One thought it ‘sub-par,’ but it is definitely the vintage to drink first while the penitent collector waits for the rest..

2009 DRC La Tache (97+)
2007 DRC La Tache (95)
2005 DRC La Tache (99)

The second flight was full of young stunners, and I drank the 2007 first in the flight because I thought the other vintages might overwhelm it. The 2007 was beautifully delicious, keeping in line with many other enjoyable 2007s. This was such a sexy wine, giving me spice, cola kisses and red fruit caresses. Its palate was rich and full-bodied and bigger than I expected, with all that sexy fruit. However, it didn’t hold up as well as it began, the flip side issue with the 2007 vintage. The 2009 was boastful and rich. The wine was more approachable than I expected, but I didn’t complain one bit. It was full of black fruits with a rich, decadent palate. The wine was heavy but simultaneously fleet-footed with black cherry and black raspberry coming out in full force. Impressive! Many know the greatness that is 2005 DRC, and this bottle was no exception. It was the best by far. Yes, the wine was totally wound up in the glass, but it had the longest finish by a mile, and there was no doubt about its position at the top of the pyramid. It was full of rocks, diamonds, blackberries and smoke. This demonstrated how great the ’05 vintage is and showed tremendous definition and decades of potential.

2003 DRC La Tache (95A)
2001 DRC La Tache (95A?)
1999 DRC La Tache (98)

We stumbled a bit in the next flight, but one guest quickly deemed the 2003 his ‘wine of the night.’ I found it a touch shy and musty on the nose, slightly corked. It was muted on the palate as well, a touch reserved for an ’03, although I still felt the ripeness and sweetness in my mouth. The 2001 seemed to be at a different level of maturity than it should, as it showed hints of autumn and brown sugar. It was smooth and buttery with a touch of cola. There might have been some heat damage making it more advanced than it should have been. This slippery flight was redeemed by a beautiful bottle of 1999. It was jammy and rich with great smoothness. Someone found it to have ‘superb finesse’ while I was caught up in its fleshiness on the palate. There was a bit of brown sugar as well, but in a natural way. It was so rich and so much sexier than the other wines in this flight. The 1999 always delivers!

1997 DRC La Tache (93)
1995 DRC La Tache (96)
1993 DRC La Tache (96)

The 1997 was fully mature and a tasty example of the often overripe and difficult vintage. The Zen Master found some ‘mint’ amongst its orange peel and yeast. King Richard thought it was ‘thin,’ but there was a nice leather flavor to its somewhat dry finish. There was sweet, raspberry oak on the 1995 with a touch of marzipan and a great citricity on the palate. It had excellent verve and vim with a long, spicy finish. While many have already given up on the ’95 vintage for Red Burgs, this LT rewarded those who waited. There were nice tannins and it was excellently delicious, really rusty in a very good way. The 1993 had a deep nose with the signature cedar and spice of the vintage. It was full of T ‘n A (tannins and acidity) in its nose. There was stylish cedar and a dry, zippy finish marked by good length.

1991 DRC La Tache (97A)
1989 DRC La Tache (93)
1987 DRC La Tache (90)

The 1991 showed a touch more maturely than it should have. It had a milky, rich sweetness and creaminess, but it also showed a touch of molasses and brown sugar. I could still appreciate the wine’s greatness, and it was most certainly great. But the bottle could have been better. The 1989 showed some nice soy sauce notes and a bit of dirty, tasty tootsie pop. It was definitely gamy and dirty, and the sturdy finish showed lots of minerals and spicy spine. This vintage was surprisingly (to me) many guests’ favorite wine of the night. The 1987 was full of tangy citrus, rose and forest floor. It had a date-like quality along with exotic game and tutti-frutti flavors.

1985 DRC La Tache (96+)
1983 DRC La Tache (93)
1981 DRC La Tache (89)

The 1985 had a killer nose; it was so aromatic and rich but ideally mature. There was sexy and saucy sous bois to it, along with a creamy deliciousness and nice autumn notes. Laura gave it a 99, admiring how its sweetness really came out in the glass. This was a great bottle of 1985, what I consider to be the first, mature great vintage of Red Burgundy to drink currently. It had everything you could want for this vintage. The 1983 was full of tasty brown sugar and autumn. It had good earthiness, but it dried out over time. At this point, my best note was, ‘JK is drunk’ :). The 1981 was light, earthy and a bit dirty.

We took a poll from the group and the wine of the night was the 2005 with five votes, followed closely by the 1989 (four votes), and then the 1999 and the mature and beautiful 1985 (three votes each). My preference leaned towards the 2005, 1999 and 2015 on this occasion for Top Three, but it was a great showing overall for the odd vintages of La Tache!

The next night we went to the “even” vintages, which seemed a little harder in general at first. I wondered if the wines were served and decanted the same way due to the change in location, and it was confirmed that they were. Then someone brought up the fact that the first night was a “fruit day” on the calendar and more ideal for drinking wine. Hmmmmmmm. It’s tough to follow a calendar when to drink your wine when you like to enjoy it every day lol, but let’s just say that this was the first time in my life that I noticed that possibility.

2014 DRC La Tache (95)
2012 DRC La Tache (95+)
2010 DRC La Tache (96+)

The 2014 started us on a strong note, with great cedar and lots of black fruit firmly on the dark and flirting with wild side. It felt quite young on the palate with lots of acid. It had nice garden notes and even a pinch of mustard. This felt like it would be a nice drinking vintage at some point within the next ten years. It had solid length but felt a touch dry. The wine became more open and giving with its fruits, and its aromatics soared, giving its score a bump. The 2012 had great raw material as it kept reminding me of the ’05 with its heavy tannins and long-lasting flavors in the mouth. It wasn’t necessarily a wine for tonight, but I saw all of its potential. A touch of rubber tire immediately jumped out of the glass like the start of a drag race. The wine was a bit shut down and dry with tight fruits. It was certainly on the adolescent side, but I got past that, navigating through the leather and cedar in this vintage that was still deep in hibernation. Zen was all about the ‘density’ while I was into the citrus and zip. As we moved on to the 2010, we were still stuck in suspended animation and another unyielding, tight young wine that was not giving it up. It had a milky kiss with some Worcestershire edges. There was lots of liqueur, citrus and a touch of tobacco. It had the biggest finish yet, but it was still quite mellow in its overall expression. This was a classic 2010, wound and not ready, and Zen thought it was ‘still shy,’ though King Richard acknowledged it was a ‘terrific wine.’ The consensus seemed to be that it was still just shut down. You can see how I was a bit perplexed how hard the first flight showed on this night compared to the “odd” vintages. However, things would open up more as we continued.

2008 DRC La Tache (96)
2006 DRC La Tache (94)
2004 DRC La Tache (94)

We had to move on and move on we did to the 2008, which is very highly thought of relative to the vintage, similar to the ’14. There was something fully open about this glass that got me excited. It was showing all of its red fruits led by raspberry and strawberry amid some great structure. Like the previous flight, it was still tight with lots of acid, but there was great cedar and leather, and tasting its fruit got me excited. The 2006 was another open example of La Tache, with a touch of natural gas, mint and purple fruits. It was dense and dark but had a fair amount of richness though it finished dryly. The flavors seemed a touch askew, on the gamy side of things, with more oak emerging that made it a bit square. The 2004 showed a little green and cedary, of course. It was open and autumnal though with citrus and some brothy fruit on the palate. The wine was more open than the rest, but it was clear that it will mature much faster than the rest. I equivocated a lot on my score here as it danced with 93 points and flirted with 94. I like flirty (94).

2002 DRC La Tache (97)
2000 DRC La Tache (95)
1998 DRC La Tache (93)

The 2002 had a great, savory nose, with a touch of BBQ and a bit of garden goodness. It had that great spice and was what you truly expect from La Tache with all of its superb balance. Its concentration and soupy goodness were admirable. I am a huge fan of this vintage for Red Burgundy in general. Though the 2000 had a milky nose, it had freshness and was ready to go. There was some forest and cedar with open expression in the nose. There were nice rocky flavors with touches of roses, tomato and strawberry before a very dry finish. Zen found it ‘so expressive,’ and I wholeheartedly agreed. 2000s are in a sweet spot and easy to enjoy right now. The 1998 had more fruit than I usually expect from the vintage with nice zip. It was as zingy as could be in its nose, in fact. The wine’s fruit leapt forward next with some gamy and jammy notes. It had a touch of smokiness on top of its raspberry jam aromas. The palate was shy and dry, not like the nose at all, with anise flavors and more game. It was zippy and fresh but, in the end, I found it became a bit jammy.

1996 DRC La Tache (96)
1994 DRC La Tache (88)
1992 DRC La Tache (93)

Andrew’s favorite was the 1996; he knows how to play the odds, I mean evens, lol. It had a little strawberry on the nose with some atypical blueberry as well. There were lots of classic mint and menthol aromas that come with age alongside deep, black fruits. The palate was rich, concentrated and black. The acid of the vintage took charge, and the palate was strong in general with mushroom and truffle oil aromas coming out with air. The 1994 was ‘very green’ per the Zen Master. It was full of stems and a touch of mildew. The palate was round and tangy but left me feeling meh. The primary flavors were of maple and lemon, with not much more fruit. It wasn’t bad per se, it just wasn’t great. The group found the 1992 to be a ‘pleasant surprise,’ and it was a perfect bottle from a less than perfect vintage. It smelled really good, full of Christmas cheer with red fruits and pudding. The palate was dry with a pleasant citrusy freshness, though it wasn’t that fleshy. The acidity was still holding well.

1990 DRC La Tache (98)
1988 DRC La Tache (93)
1986 DRC La Tache (93)

The 1990 was deep, dark and saucy. It was rich city with concentrated beef satay and a touch of erotic pheromones. It was the longest and the richest wine of the day with great orange, beef and oil flavors. It lingered well beyond anything else. Some unwanted chocolate tootsie pop crept in at the end, which was the only thing keeping it from 99-point air. The 1988 had that same tootsie pop thing going on with creamy edges. It was a bit like dirty coffee. It had a big finish, but it was a touch too dry. There were similar pheromones that were more sweaty and dank, and also citrus and tootsie pop ones that were more dominant than the kiss in the 1990. The 1986 was another autumnal, sweaty and hard wine. There was lots of acid and dry citrus on the palate. Its palate reminded me of the Sahara, with a small water canteen lol.

1984 DRC La Tache (93)
1982 DRC La Tache (93)
1980 DRC La Tache (DQ)
1978 DRC La Tache (98+)

The 1984 was truly classic with its menthol and citrus aromas. It was mature but had great tang and cedar. I really liked its spicy citrus flavors. This was a great surprise! I have had some pristine experiences with the 1982 in the past year, but this was not one of them. This bottle was more mature with soy sauce and chocolate. I still enjoyed its beef noodle soup notes. The 1980 was unfortunately more Port than red wine, but the 1978 more than made up for it. This was a great bottle of ’78, make that spectacular. There were great herbs and spices to its nose, along with leather, citrus, tomato, menthol and Worcestershire. All the mature flavors showed up for this iconic vintage of LT. It was clearly the wine of the night, and the evening ended on the high note that it should have.

Merry Christmas, and may your holidays include a bottle of La Tache!

In Vino Veritas,

  • Sign Up
Lost your password? Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.



Sign up for Acker exclusive offers, access to amazing wine events & world-class wine content!