July and Europe always go well together in my world. This past week I spent seven days in seven cities racing across the continent, including one day in four countries. I remember back a few years when I did 18 cities in 26 days. Seven cities sure felt like enough this time; I guess I am getting wiser .

One of my stops had me visiting The Judge, who handed out his usual punishment, 6-8…bottles of wine. He had actually been overcoming the theft of one of his cars earlier in the day, with his girlfriend’s dog still inside. Thankfully, he got the car back. I mean the dog.

There were no dog days of summer thanks to an impressive lineup, which began with something even I have never seen, an old label of NV Jacques Selosses Champagne Blanc de Blancs. I believe Selosses’ first official vintage Champagne was 1985, and this looked and tasted like it preceded that. I would love to know when his first bottling was released, if anyone knows. This bottling had an amazing nose with big honey, butter and caramel. It was singing with its great spice and tea box. The Judge found it ‘so complex’ and lamented that it was his ‘last bottle.’ There was still nice spritz and soda to this delicious, minty Champagne. The Paradox noted how it was ‘crispy yet like an old white.’ The Judge picked up this rare bottle when he bought a cellar; he thinks the value he put on it was about thirty bucks. Hey, it’s not stealing when you’re The Judge lol (95).

Bet You Never Saw That

We knew the next bottle was a Lynch Bages, but not which vintage. The Lynch had a sexy, sweet nose that was still dark and full of chocolate, carob and caramel. There was great dust and spice here. Its palate was gorgeous, make that soft and gorgeous, moving in slow motion like a good Pantene hair commercial. Plush and lush, this 1959 Lynch Bages felt like it was in the right spot at the right time (94+).

A surprisingly good 1929 Haut Simard turned out to be a stunner. At first, it was very dirty, but it fleshed out and revealed great fruit. The Paradox found it ‘punchy’ while G-Girl noted ‘iron.’ There was nice broth to this youthful ’29. The Judge decreed how its ‘freshness (was) incredible.’ Flavors of blackberry, curry, iron and red cherry revealed themselves on this smooth and creamy red. Delicious (94).

Name That Wine

A 1928 Lamouroux was a Margaux, I believe. There was cinnamon and spice there to this relatively fresh wine. It was lighter and leaner in the mouth, possessing less intensity and more water. It was still alive is about the best thing I can say (85).

The Judge pulled out a wine with no label, only fragments of one, as if he had dug this up in an archaeological expedition. This was another incredibly fresh wine, even though we all sensed an ancient presence. The Paradox noted ‘candle’ and ‘Christmas.’ There were pleasant wood components and kisses of good green to go along with dates and coffee in its nose. I guessed 1920s, then The Judge revealed this was an original bottle and cork of 1898 Lafite Rothschild. Wow! The Paradox noted ‘blood.’ Cedar, forest and carob danced in my mouth. This was like a satiny, silk robe of a wine, complete with the pipe and the babe. 116 never tasted so good (97).

Original 1898

We couldn’t get throughout the evening without at least one Burgundy, which was a young, vigorous 1990 Leroy Clos Vougeot. Perhaps the age and maturity of the previous wines made it seem even younger than it was, but it felt almost like a barrel sample! This was Modern Art in the face of a Monet exhibition, still pure and deep with menthol, spice girls and that Leroy rubber tire. Asian spice and licorice also joined the party. The palate was Monaco rich, almost buttery and crazy long. Its finish crackled with big-time fireplace action, but was still smooth (95).

Despite ending on a Burgundy note, this evening showed wherein the greatness of Bordeaux lies, in its age. This age comes in the cellar, whether it be from the Chateau or a private collector. Those that cellar these wines will always be rewarded. The verdict was in.

In Vino Veritas,

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