About two weeks ago, I went to Chicago just for dinner, and it was well worth the trip. Being the “Capone” that I am often called by random people all over the world, I figured it would be nice to see some of the wine gang in town, so I called the X-Factor, and, as they say, it was done.

A magnum of 1990 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill welcomed me, still young out of magnum. It was bready and rusty with aromas of white fruits and minerals. The X-Factor was first to reveal his wine superpowers, commenting ‘very ’90, very ripe’ (95+M).

Two Leflaives followed, the first being a stellar 1999 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet. It had a classic nose full of sweet yellow fruit, wet rain and rock. It was sweet and musky, ‘lush fat and sexy’ per the X-Factor. Its palate was also rocky with an edgy quality. Over time, more corn and sweetness came out, but this was first and foremost a muscly 1999, full and deliciously typical (95).

The 2002 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet was unfortunately off (DQ).

We went deep on first and ten with a 1971 DRC Richebourg courtesy of the X-Factor. He was making his presence felt early and often. Ten years ago, this was his best wine ever, and it was still pretty damn close. Hulkamania found it ‘beefy,’ and there were also aromas of rose hips, vitamins, earth, saddle sweat and a touch of menthol. Hulkamania continued, hailing the ’71 ‘tasty bitches.’ There was some oceanic action in its nose, but I couldn’t quite identify how. The X-factor found it ‘mineral driven.’ Its palate was red and black cherry with a spicy, ‘wasabi’ like finish, observed the Earlycomer, who is always first to arrive. Its flavors had a kiss of brine, but its incredible acid had Magnum Man feeling like he was ‘driving a John Deere tractor.’

It was a very good year and mine

The Earlycomer then added that it was more like a ‘girl in sexy knickers on a tractor.’ He then proceeded to come all over himself lol. I’m still not sure if it was the girl or the Richebourg (96).

A 1971 Arnoux Romanee St.Vivant was reconditioned and not up for the challenge. It was metallic, almost like bad fish tank. It got better, moving in a bamboo and wet frog direction, if that can be a positive thing. It was soft and lush but still weedy and fuzzy (88).

There was an ‘intermezzo’ per The Earlycomer. He was back rather quickly, quite persistent. All attention was required for the 1990 Leroy Romanee St. Vivant. This was a big wine, fitting of the reputation that preceded its bringer, Mr. John Holmes. Yes, reports of his demise were premature, as there is a John Holmes alive and well in Chicago. Even Rollergirl wheeled on by later and pecked him on his cheek. Back to the Leroy, which had aromas of deep fruit and black forest, along with Gretel and all her friends. The Earlycomer noted ‘layers of glycerin and density’ and then proceeded to come all over himself again. There was a touch of cola and a little gas to this slick and thick red. It was full and fresh with black flavors, long like its owner (95).


We went back to the older with a 1969 Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze. The Earlycomer was loving it and its earthy, wheaty and pop tart goodness. Its palate was meaty, rich, full and fleshy for a 1969. There was a tree bark to its palate in a solid way (93).

The 1976 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze was menthol city, ‘square for Rousseau,’ someone noted. The X-Factor admired its concentration, especially given the vintage. Its palate was gritty with great spice, great acidity and great dryness. This was impressive for a 1976, which would make sense since Rousseau probably makes the best wines in the worst years, in addition to making the best wines in the best years. This was an open and sexy wine, flirting with 95 points with its weedy spice, hot rock and wheaty bushel (94).

Oldies and goodies

Unico! We had four vintages on tap between 1959 and 1965, and the glove fit except for John Holmes. We started with a superb 1959 Vega Sicilia Unico. Coffee, yogurt and mocha were all spilling out of its nose, soon joined thereafter by great gingerbread and gumdrop. This nose was beyond exotic, like a half Brazilian, half Chinese girl who went to college in London. This vintage was Burgundian in character, except for the so much coffee thing happening. There was a nice finish to this outstanding wine, which kept getting better. The Earlycomer noted ‘butterscotch candy.’ We all know what happened next (96).

Ay ay ay ay

The 1960 Unico that followed was blacker as in berries, shut down in the nose but solid in the mouth. It was a bit slatier and thicker than the ’59, but it had nice body, like asphalt without the sun. Its big finish was admired by all of the above (93).

There was only one place to go next, the 1961 Unico, of course. Its nose was coffee, chocolate and wheat, ‘more depth’ per the Hulkamania. It was long and balanced, also Burgundian like the 1959, with red cherry and leather flavors. It kept extending (96).

The 1965 Unico was a bit reduced and ‘muddy.’ Holmes found it ‘less precise’ than the other Unicos, and it was a bit floral and sour at the same time. It had a fleshy and leathery palate, better than its nose for sure (91).

There was one last flight to go, and Latour was up for the challenge. The 1953 Latour had a classic nose with walnut, mineral, spice and great cassis fruit. This was full-bodied for ’53, but its palate fell back into typical mode with a beautiful, long and smooth finish. There were nice tea leaf and slate flavors (93).

The 1955 Latour was like band-aid meets marijuana, with deep fruit supporting the whole operation. Its palate was long and full with sparkling black fruit. Sparkling as in shining, not that this was some sort of Latour Perignon lol. It kept getting better and stronger in the glass (95).

Magnum Man found the 1959 Latour to be a ‘big dark fruit explosion.’ It had a great nose with super spice and the most kink. There was a thickness yet a quickness to its palate, which was long, great and classic in every sense of the word (97).

La la la

Some more damage was done when we went back to the beautiful home cellar of The Earlycomer. We sampled numerous other wines, including 1997 Jadot Chapelle Chambertin (91), 1990 Drouhin Griotte Chambertin (94),and a pair of Italians, a 1982 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva (94) and a 1982 Gaja Sori Tilden (94).I couldn’t keep up with the notes, or the wines, as I think we had another three or four more down in the cellar. It was about that time that I lost track, but at least I didn’t lose my notes. I look forward to losing my way again for another night in the near future with my Chicagoland gang.

The saga continues

In Vino Veritas,

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