I had just arrived from Paris only three hours before Eddie’s Christmas party at Del Posto’s. After freshening up a bit, I jumped right back into the frying pan after a week in Bordeaux and Paris where I spent at least six hours a day eating. I do not understand why all French people are not fat. I’ll try to get to writing up that week next.
We were actually in the gorgeous basement of Del Posto’s, a private room that I have never been to before. Many familiar facelifts were in attendance such as one of my fellow enthusiasts , Big Boy, Bad Boy Bruce, King Angry, Big Mike, Robert Bohr, Raj Parr, Patman, Tom, Evan and the co-hosts from the house, Joe and Mario. It was a joyous occasion and much generosity was on display.
I was actually a half-hour late, and by the time I arrived, it was already a bit chaotic, not in a bad way, but chaotic in the fact that bottles were open all over the place. I quickly tried to get my bearings and headed for the Champagne table. Forgive the short notes, but it was a bit of a party and a bit of rapid-fire Jeopardy as well.
A jero of 1989 Cristal was first, and it was singing out of jero. Fresh, racy, zippy and practically sizzling, the ’89 was a great way to start the afternoon. Corn, straw, butter and minerals were all present in this ‘underrated monster’ of a Champagne, per Bruce. The acidity was extraordinary (96+J).
A gorgeous magnum of 1971 Dom Perignon was next, and it was about as good as it gets. Clean and so fresh, it was balanced, still young, yet just starting to show some traces of mature flavors. Bread, seltzer, minerals, light toast and nuts were all in harmony in this exquisite Champagne (95M).
A rarely seen 1971 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne was next. I should say that all of the Champagnes, I believe, were courtesy of King Angry and Bad Boy Bruce. Big Boy probably had one or two in there, though. The Taittinger was insanely good, ‘blowing away’ the Dom according to the King. It was intense, zippy, and hedonistically full of decadently delicious butter and butterscotch flavors. Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne still seems to be under the radar when it comes to the luxury cuvees of Champagne, but it definitely belongs in any top ten list (97).
A 1971 Pol Roger Blanc de Chardonnay was on its last legs, lacking much petillance or complexity. Perhaps if it was tasted first, it would have given a better impression (87).
A controversial magnum of 1978 Ponsot Clos de la Roche was the first wine I tasted. It was beefy, earthy and tasty with a long, dry finish, typical of my memories of this wine, but Robert was convinced that there was some Rhone wine in there, possibly done by the house, possibly done by a stranger. Regardless, I found the wine to be deserving of excellent status (93M).
I quickly hopped on over to the magnum of 1971 Ponsot Clos de la Roche. This Ponsot was full of the citrusy tang of 1971, offering lemon hints to its core of tangy cherry and vitamin flavors. Tender, balanced, satiny and long, I thought it was a great wine (95M).
We finally sat down, and in honor of the truffles, many of us brought Italian wines. We began with a magnum of 1971 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo, by way of the Golden Cellar, actually. The wine was a beauty, possessing great cherry fruit and tender dust, earth and leather complements, but this was a wine that was fully mature, on a plateau and all about its fruit. It caressed the palate with grace and style (95M).
A glass from a magnum of 1966 Perrier Jouet was thrust in front of my face, another fresh and racy bubbly with oaky ‘coconut’ flavors per Raj. It was solid, although the oak was a hair too much (93+M).
A magnum of 1964 Cantina Mascarello followed the Gaja in fine fashion, showing the classic tar, leather and chocolate side of Piedmont. The palate was soft and dry, possessing excellent leather flavors and a dry, sandpapery finish (93M).
The 1961 Cantina Mascarello magnum that followed was a bit different in its personality, as this older sibling had an incredibly oily personality, sweeter and thicker in its profile and giving off lots of caramel, molasses and nut aromas and flavors (94M).
It was at this point that I got up from my table and went to the ‘house’ table, where dozens of wines were sitting for the sampling. I began with a magnum of 1964 Roumier Bonnes Mares, always a good place to start anything wine related. This was another controversial magnum as it was atypically sweet for Roumier, almost a bit chapitalized, but I did find some of the classic garden and earth that old Roumiers are prone to have (93M).
Unfortunately, a magnum of 1964 Vogue Musigny was oxidized (DQ).
A magnum of 1959 La Mission Haut Brion was outstanding. Chocolaty, earthy and gravelly, it was everything it was supposed to be. Its fruit was front and center, chewy like Charleston. Still young and big out of a magnum, here was a wine that could age another fifty years, in magnum format, at least (96M).
The next wine was one of the stars of the night for me, although Eddie was a bit disappointed with it. The magnum of 1971 Romanee Conti was extraordinary to me. I should note that Eddie had it right away when opened, but two hours later when I finally came across it, I thought it was phenomenal. It had all the complexities of great old RC ”“ earth, garden, hay, animal, bouillon, citrus, rose and menthol were all in abundance. Its fruit and mouthfeel were rich, and its acidity superb (97M).
A magnum of 1982 Gaja Sori Tilden was pleasant, long, dry and earthy but a touch on the dry side (92M).
The parade of Taittingers continued with a glorious 1966 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne that Ray or Bruce brought over to me. I had had this wine last New Year’s Eve, and it, too, was outstanding but much more mature than this bottle. This bottle was a ‘wow’ wine, incredibly fresh and long and full of that golden Blanc de Blancs complexity and that signature butterscotch quality I find in the great Taittingers. It was another superb bubbly, and more than an adequate palate cleanser (97).
I was still at the ‘house’ table, furiously trying to taste everything before returning to my table. A magnum of 1985 Bartolo Mascarello continued the tradition of the Cantina (run by his father). The Bartolo was long and dusty but not overly complex and got lost in the crowd (91M).
The 1990 Giacosa Barolo Falleto Riserva, however, stood out in the crowd, as always. ‘Ridiculous,’ was how my note began. It was a huge wine, as always, with enough t ‘n a for the entire Rockettes. It was also beefy and leathery, as always, thick and juicy with oily, nutty, gamy and chocolaty flavors. It was one of the stars of the night, as always (96+).
The 1990 Giuseppe Mascarello (cousin of Bartolo) Barolo Monprivato stood toe to toe with the Giacosa, equally as great, oily and chocolaty as well, but possessing a touch more minerals and a shred less fat than the Giacosa. These will be two fascinating wines to track over time (96). I finally made it back to my table, where my magnum of 1990 Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis was able to answer the challenge set by the previous two Barolos. Much tighter and more coy out of magnum, I wished that I could leave it alone for a few hours; unfortunately, that was not possible! Very wound and slaty, the Sandrone screamed out the glass, revealing more of its whips and chains than flesh. Tar, leather and slate dominated the wine, and I felt like I was disturbing its peace by drinking it out of magnum. Oh well (95+M).
We time traveled back with a 1945 G. Conterno Barolo Monfortino courtesy of Big Boy. Similar to other experiences that I have had with this wine, the color was pale and tea-like, looking more like a sherry than a wine. However, the wine was delicious, although admittedly a wine for necrophiliacs. Its chewy texture and marzipan complexities made for a tasty treat, although I could easily see many thinking this wine was over the hill (95).
The 1941 G. Conterno Barolo Monfortino was a bit perplexing, as its color was significantly deeper and younger than the ’45. The wine was quite tasty, possessing trademark Nebbiolo flavors and excellent acidity, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this bottle was the real deal (93?).
The 1973 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne was solid as well, yet more racy and less hedonistic than its previous siblings, showing more straw and seltzer personalities (94).
There were a couple more bottles to be shared, an off bottle of 1970 G. Conterno Barolo Monfortino (DQ) and a vitaminy 1970 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne that was the least inspiring of all the ‘Tatts’ but still very good. It just didn’t have the complexity of the others, as 1970s will do in the face of ‘66s, ‘71s and ‘73s (91). By now I was in full party mode, and it was off to Roy’s for another holiday party. I was a bit whacked, to be frank, but still found time to enjoy a couple of great wines. Mags of 1990 Dom Perignon Rose were flowing and showing well. I have loved and been disappointed by this out of magnum, so it was good to see it back on track and even flashing some strawberry fruit to go with its monstrous acidity and racy bubbles. This is easily a 50-year Champagne out of magnum (96+M).
The last wine of the night was another special out of magnum, a 1971 Richebourg. It, too, was superlative, showing the rose, leather, game, iron, minerals and tender citrus that it should. More forward and caressing than the RC, it was still closer to its youth than it was its old age. It was singing a sweet song that was music to anyone’s lips that got to taste this nectar. I plan on drinking as many 1971 s as I possibly can for the rest of my life (97M)!
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur, making up for the lack of holiday snow so far this winter, but a fun one, and a bit of a slow morning after.
In Vino Veritas,