Our fall gathering of the 12 Angry Men had a few diplomats join us from overseas in lieu of some regulars who could not join us this time. They would be sorry. Big Boy was on fire and provided an awesome arsenal of incredible champagnes that made this already special evening absolutely extraordinary.
We began with a trio of “cocktail” champagnes, all served blind, as was every champagne for the rest of the evening. The first bubbly had aromas of vanilla cream and a touch of toast, along with sundried white fruits and twists of orange rinds. There was a lot of honey flavors to its wine-like palate. Earthy and dirty, there was just a touch of petillance left to this bold 1949 Pommery. Big Boy observed, ‘This is not the best bottle of this that I’ve had, and nothing close to the Jeroboam that we’ve had twice. 1949 is a citric vintage that doesn’t have the acid of 1947.’ (91)
The second champagne was fresher with sexy aromas of granulated sugar, vanilla and caramel. There was great balance to its nose, and it had a perfumed sexiness to it. On the palate, there was great minerality, and even though it was entering that wine-like stage, there was more petillance here than in the first bottle. Rob admired its, ‘massive citricity.’ This bubbly was certainly great, and its white earth and white chocolate flavors were absolutely delicious. Eli observed, ‘summer truffles.’ We were all surprised to see that this was also a 1949 Pommery! In fact, it was a second bottle from the same case! It just goes to show the variation that old wines can have, even when stored under the same conditions (95).
The third cocktail champagne was a touch oxidized, but benevolently so. It was very creamy in the mouth, tasty and nutty and full of lanolin, oil and date flavors. Kuti observed ‘armangnac’ and found it much more deep and complex than the other two. Its caramel flavors were still delicious despite that touch of over-maturity. It was a 1950 Philipponat Clos des Goisses (95A).
Two flights of six champagnes total graced us for the official sit down beginning of the evening. The first champagne had a very exotic nose with distinct guava aromas, while Peter picked up on ‘lime.’ Big Mike observed its ‘syrup-like’ personality, and its flavors were also crazy, over the top, exotic, almost cream soda like, and frankly bordering on weird. Someone else observed coffee and chocolate. It was a little over the top for me, but one of the most exotic champagnes that I have ever had. I was surprised to see this was a bottle of 1953 Krug (91).
The second champagne Eli keenly observed, ‘dry porcinis soaking in water.’ It was totally that all the way. Its nose was very dry and lacked sweetness, and in the mouth it almost tasted like a locker room would taste ”“ could one taste such a thing. There was nice spritz and body to this bubbly, which also had lots of mushroom flavors. The ounce of Iranian Osetra caviar that accompanied this first course, however, brought out the quality of this champagne tremendously and made a huge difference to me. The wine ultimately proved to be excellent and good thing it did, as it was a 1953 Salon (93).
The next champagne had a very balanced nose with tropical and caramel edges. Balanced and beautiful, there were classic straw and golden flavors. Someone observed that it was ‘balanced and had more finesse than the rest.’ Dasha noted, ‘cement and concrete.’ It was an excellent bottle of 1953 Louis Roederer (not Cristal) (94).
The second trio, which was also served with the first caviar course, began with an oxidized bottle of 1943 Pommery (DQ).
The next champagne had a nose full of ‘coffee beans,’ according to Gillian. It was creamy and honeyed, round, rich and lush, Montrachet-like in its personality with great, sweet sugar and dry cement flavors. It was a delicious bottle of 1945 Pommery (95).
The last bottle of this first flight of champagnes again had the porcini mushroom thing happening. Again very dry and yeasty, it was a bit too yeasty, and a slightly defective bottle of 1947 Pommery (91A).
Nine champagnes were down, and we were ready for some wine. We had four whites from four decades to get us going, beginning with a magnum of 1955 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne, acquired directly from the domaine by Eli, and it was very clean accordingly. Aromas of yellow sunshine, minerals, sunflower oil and touches of yellow game were all present in its nose. Its acidity was remarkably fresh, undoubtedly assisted by the reconditioning process at the domaine. The palate was rich, nutty, racy and fresh, full of anise flavors and still possessing that mature kink of older flavors. It was smooth and outstanding (95M).
A bottle of 1966 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, again thanks to Eli, was a ‘wow’ wine. Its nose was smoky and full of coffee and white asparagus aromas. Its palate was still rich, nutty and toasty with lots of earth flavors. This bottle was still young, even though it was an original bottling, and super smoky on its delicious finish (95).
The 1978 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet was Big Mike’s least favorite of the night, and a touch affected. It still had a deep, heavy, smoky, nutty nose with touches of citrus and orange. Yeasty, gamy and smoky, there was also some exotic ice cream and toast aromas. The nose continued to unfold with touches of green onions and herbs in the garden. The palate was buttery, round, gamy and rich; even though it was a touch oxidized, this wine was still very complex, and one I had no problem drinking to the last drop (94A).
The 1983 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet was much fresher than the ’78, clean and possessing pop to its nose and also the sweetness of 1983 with a pungent, rocky edge as well. There was just a touch of alley in the nose, and while its acidity was starting to crack a bit, the wine held and expanded in the glass, which made me feel that it still had some life ahead of it. We had Roger to thank for the Leflaives (94).
It was onto the reds, and a flight of Leroy began this segment of our evening’s journey. A 1929 Leroy Gevrey St. Jacques (at the time I guess it hadn’t been divided into Clos and Lavaux) had a rich and hearty nose with brown sugar aromas, a la 1959, annd was also oaty, earthy and a touch dirty. There were also sweet cherry aromas along with touches of bouillon and spices. The palate was round and rich, hearty and beefy and full of bouillon flavors (93).
The 1949 Leroy Bonnes Mares that Peter blessed us with had a sweet, perfumed, elegant yet substantial nose full of violet aromas. It had this garden fresh quality and some richness behind it. The palate was smooth, balanced and long with more citrus flavors emerging (93).
The 1949 Leroy Musigny, courtesy of the recently relocated to the East Coast Andy, had an incredibly, open, ripe and rich nose. There was a lot of citrus and meat here, and the Musigny possessed the most intensity by far in this flight. The palate was super gamy and full of rose petal flavors, and I loved its richness, power and grace (96).
A duo of Roumiers was next, beginning with a 1988 Roumier Bonnes Mares Vieilles Vignes courtesy of Eli. The nose had intense vitamins and minerals, also possessing great skin. There were pungent citrus and grape seed qualities along with grape oil, nut and game aromas. The palate was long and earthy, full of tannins and vitamin flavors. There was great grit and length to this rare bottling of Roumier (95+).
The 1964 Roumier Bonnes Mares had ‘iron, menthol and peppermint,’ per Big Boy, who we had to thank for this bottle, or possibly Big Mike. Also meaty and gamy, it had aromas of truffle pasta in it with the oxtail to match. Secondary aromas of cinnamon and cedar emerged. The palate was yeasty and ripe, almost hot, but some oxygen opened the wine up to reveal gorgeous cherry dust flavors. The ’64 kept gaining in the glass, and this duo was a great pair, as there were a lot of stylistic similarities to the two (95).
It was time for an intermezzo, and when Big Boy is in the house, that usually means another half dozen of champagnes. The first bubbly was a bit oxidized with sherry aromas in its nose, but it was also nutty, oily and gamy with nice vanilla cream notes. Despite that kiss of morning mouth flavors, there was great texture to this affected bottle of 1969 Bollinger Extra Quality (94A).
The second bubbly was ‘rockin’ per Rob. It was clean yet meaty with touches of apricot fruit aromas. The wine was absolutely spectacular in the mouth, still possessing so much power yet also amazing grace. It was a 1966 Bollinger Extra Quality (97).
Our third wine was an oxidized bottle of 1964 Bollinger Extra Quality (DQ).
The fourth bubbly had dirty aromas of white chocolate. The palate was smooth and easy, still possessing decent acidity. It was a tasty bottle of 1962 Bollinger Extra Quality (93).
The march of Bollingers continued with a 1961 Bollinger RD, disgorged in 1972. The nose was clean, young and fresh with rich vanilla aromas that carried over to the palate. There was a lot of seltzer intensity to the finish in this excellent RD (93).
A 1959 Bollinger RD that was disgorged in 1989 was dead on arrival (DQ).
Rob had saved the best Bollinger for last, an unreal bottle of 1929. Dasha observed, ‘the smell of death,’ which was a most interesting comment, but perhaps appropriate given its age. It was absolutely delicious, so perfect, a dead ringer for Montrachet: buttery, rich, delicious, wine-like, and majestic in its overwhelming greatness (98).
As great as so many of the wines that we had already tasted on this magical evening, this next flight of reds absolutely stole the show. It began with a spectacular bottle of 1966 Rousseau Chambertin, courtesy of Big Mike. The first thing I wrote was, ‘WOW.’ The Rousseau was meaty, intense and ‘DEEP;’ it was full of rose, iron, crushed red fruits, vitamins, tannins, alcohol, acidity, brick, iron, wildfire”¦it was game over. As Eli decreed, ‘that’s it.’ The palate was rich, hearty and incredible with its rose, oil, game and vitamin flavors. This was wine was flat out incredible (97).
The 1959 La Tache that followed was equally incredible. Actually ‘redunkulous,’ as I eloquenty put it. The nose was rich, hearty and intense, full of incredible iron, rose and Worcestershire aromas along with menthol, rose, leather and ‘meaty sausage’ per Dasha. Again, I eloquently wrote, ‘YIKES,’ meaning that this wine was so good that it was scary. The palate was rich, fleshy and gamy, possessing huge t n’a and enough power to take over most third world countries. It was bottle number 9775, for those of you that are curious. This could only be a Big Boy or Big Mike bottle, I forget sorry (98).
The last bottle was, I believe, the fourth or fifth bottle that I have had from a very special case of 1955 Romanee Conti owned by Rob. This was bottle number 006782, and it had the most menthol intensity in the nose, as RC is prone to have. It was Kuti’s favorite of the flight, and he got lost in the ‘purity and depth’ of its minty nose. There were also spearmint flavors, and Big Boy admired its ‘iron flavors’ along with its ‘concentration and complexity.’ What made this wine even more special is the fact that it was made from ten-year old vines. Dasha also picked up on ‘jasmine qualities,’ and she was 100% correct. Almost everyone preferred the 55 RC best in this flight except me, though picking a favorite in a flight such as this is really splitting hairs (97).
We still had a couple of reds to go, and a pair of Jayers at that, beginning with a 1985 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Les Brulees. These were my humble offerings to this distinguished crowd, as I have been on a Jayer kick as of late since treated to so many great ones courtesy of the Man with the Golden Cellar. Jillian picked up on ‘pear brandy’ right away. This was a killer bottle of Jayer, and Robert Bohr boldly said that the Brulees is the ‘best Jayer of all in 1985.’ He would know, and after having this bottle, it was hard to disagree. In the mouth, the wine was rich, meaty, earthy and intense. Its finish lasted longingly. Rich flavors of vitamins and beef abounded in this spiny, spectacular wine, and Rob admired its ‘cinnamon spice and pitch’ (96+).
The last red wine on this evening was a 1980 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux, which caused Big Boy to say ‘wow.’ He continued, ‘For this to stand up to the RC’s and Rousseau is impressive.’ Dasha observed ‘licorice and a little thyme’ and how she ‘loooves thyme.’ I quickly mentioned how much I love thyme too, especially hers lol (95).
What’s this? Another flight of champagnes? Sacre bleu! The first bubbly came across a bit oxidized at first, but slowly unfolded to reveal vanilla cream and caramel aromas. In a few more minutes, this champagne just sexploded; that’s the best way I can put it. It was rich, creamy and luscious, full of baked croissant flavors with the strawberry cheese filling. Wow, what a bottle of 1949 Louis Roederer Rose (97).
The 1959 Roederer Rose was completely oxidized, and were it not, I’ll bet it would have been spectacular (DQ).
The 1966 Roederer Rose had similar qualities to the 1949. Long, fruity and expansive, it was also full of strawberry, mineral and earth flavors (96).
The roses continued with a 1982 Louis Roederer Cristal Rose, which was full of nutmeg and ‘clove’ aromas per Dasha, as well as delicious and mature brick flavors. It was surprisingly mature for a 1982, but then again, this was the 34th wine of the evening (95).
The 1981 Cristal Rose, I wrote, ‘see above,’ as it was getting to be that time of the night. It was a touch mature, more so than the ‘82 and also gamier, but surprisingly close in quality overall (94).
Wait! There was one bottle of red wine left, a diplomat from Bordeaux, courtesy of Eli, and it was a spectacular bottle of 1949 Petrus, consistent with many of the great old Petruses that I’ve had. Rich, chocolaty, lush and full of minerality, it was a Nicolas bottle in outstanding condition that delivered (95).
There were still two more wines, actually champagnes, left in the evening. The train was about to leave the station, so Big Boy had to send it off in style, beginning with a 1969 Louis Roederer Cristal. This bottle was un-fucking-real, full of coconut and coffee aromas, fresh like a Sunday morning bread basket. Sorry, I couldn’t take many notes at the time, but it was one of the best bottles of champagne that I have ever had (98).
Last, but not least, was the 1970 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises. Yeasty, vitaminy and pungent in both its aromas and flavors, it also had secondary flavors of white chocolate and was yet again another spectacular champagne from the most spectacular collection of champagne in the world. If anyone thinks they can lay claim to that throne, then they need to invite me over as soon as possible (95).
We weren’t angry anymore.
In Vino Veritas,