WARNING: This is a really long article and may cause you to consume more than your doctor’s daily recommended amount of red, white and sparkling wine.

I teased you a bit last week about my trip to Europe, which yes, was a business trip. When you literally drink, arrive, unpack, drink, eat, drink, sleep, wake, pack, drink then move, it becomes more than just a casual journey, and I think I missed a drink or two in there. And I’m the only idiot that can go on such a trip and not have any luggage with wheels. New luggage is still on my list; the problem is, I prefer to shop for wine 🙂

Let me cut to the chase, as there are about 120 wines that I tasted, not counting any barrel samples during my four days in Burgundy, which would easily double that total. I’m sure I missed a few notes along the way. The trip began in beautiful Mallorca chez Wolfgang Grunewald, and his amazing property. I almost canceled the entire trip right then and there, it is that special a place. Wolf still keeps his collection in Switzerland; therefore, it was casual drinking in Mallorca, but it didn’t matter. A couple days thereafter, the wine got rather serious rather quickly.

Bern, Switzerland was the location, and Pekka was behind the curtain, directing his version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream.. And the first official. wine of my trip was the 1961 Dom Perignon. It’s a good way to start any trip to Europe, I might add. The debate over which is the best vintage of the best decade for Champagne is always an interesting argument, although I personally go for 61 over 66. This bottle was a hair advanced, mature and warm with aromas of honey, yeast and dirty earth, with a twist of lemon. The acidity was still outstanding, but the bubbles were more integrated than in a perfect bottle, yet its richness made it still quite enjoyable, despite the fact this was an affected bottle (95A)

Next up was the original shipwrecked. Champagne, the 1907 Heidseick Gout Americain. Pekka had treated me to a bottle of this before our own, recent shipwrecked. auction, and it was consistently excellent, although a bit sweet for my taste. They called it Gout Americain because it was a much sweeter style of Champagne, made for that sophisticated, sugar-loving palate of the Americans lol. The 1907 was perfumed and limey, its sugary personality quite evident. A touch of doc office and burnt rubber seeped out of the glass, as if the 104 years of age was speaking first. Fresh cut grass was also present in its complex nose. The palate was round, sweet and lush with a yeasty finish. It was round and tender, wine-like and soft, with a nice citrus mélange of flavors. Pekka then told us this had about three-to-five times the normal sugar as a standard Brut (94)!

The first red wine was a magnificent one, a 1945 Latour. My love affair with the 45 Latour has long been documented, as I have been fortunate to always have great bottles of this wine, finding it one of the most under-heralded wines of arguably the greatest vintage of all-time. Its fantastic nose was deep, rich and minty, oozing out cassis and walnut at a glacial pace. There were layers and layers of spice, a blend between North African and Latin American&or perhaps this bottle was well-traveled J. If it was, it traveled well, as its palate was rich, luscious and thick with a creamy, nutty and bricky personality. Its acidity was outstanding, and the 45 Latour was still rock n roll to me (98).

What better wine than 1961 Latour to have next? The 61 is Pekka’s personal #1 wine of all-time, and he has had it over 100 times. Man, I thought my fifteen-to-twenty times tasted was pretty strong&the 61 was another classic, again deep and brooding, full of signature walnut and cassis, with a hint of exotic berry and fig. Caramel and mocha drizzled about the nose. Its palate was also long and thick with perfectly-centered, lengthy acidity and an endless finish. The 45 was more seductive with its kinky fruit, but the 61 would win a back alley fight. There were great slate and stone flavors on the finish. This was an extraordinary bottle (98+).

The next flight was billed a Jancis vs. Pekka one, as a wine from their respective birthyears were on display. A 1950 Lafleur was a welcome change of pace with its classic Pomerol nose. There were loads of creamy plums there, along with a deep, nutty quality. Someone called it, extremely silky, wonderful to drink.. The palate was gamey and sweet; it reminded me of other, sweeter vintages of Lafleur like 1982 and 1983. Silk kept coming up in my notes, along with sweet, and royal garden. Jancis called it, one of the most hedonistic wines I’ve ever tasted. and also found it very Burgundian. (96).

A 1962 Vega Sicilia Unico had a creamy, exotic nose of caramel, coconut and coffee. It was nutty in a macadamia-brittle way. The palate was round, soft and tasty, with a warm, smooth finish. It was as seductive as the Lafleur, but not as powerful. Someone remarked that the Unico was coarse. next to the Lafleur (94+).

A curious fellow came along in the form of a 1928 Chevillot Tache-Romanee Negociant bottling. You’ll have to ask the Burghound or The Inspector for the full story, but I did jot down that this was the original 1.5 acres of La Tache. Its nose was deep and fascinating, with black cherry fruit and great musk and spice. The palate was round and soft, with black fruits joining the party as it unfolded. There was a big, long finish of rusty, citric fruit and hidden, lingering acidity. It was a touch square, but still outstanding, although it was a little negociant-y, ie that touch of unoriginal factory. Thankfully in this case, it didn’t murder the wine 🙂 (95).

Next up was another Negociant bottling, one of the most famous, Vandermeulen. I have had a few superlative VdM bottles over the years, but more disappointments. The 1923 Romanee Conti Vandermeulen bottling was no disappointment; it was thrilling. This bottle came from the same case as multiple 100 point. bottles, per Pekka, even there is no such thing as 100 points J. It nose was fabulous, with that classic, old RC quality. Aromas of tomato, rose, bouillon, saucy red fruits and a kiss of normal-for-the age oxidation harmonized magnificently. There was also great citricity, and the palate had an incredible texture full of flesh and thick flavors. Its aromas carried over to its flavors, along with some beef and stalk, and its zippy finish said age me more if you can bear to wait. (98).

A 1979 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux, in and of itself a great wine, almost seemed lost in the shadow of the RC. It was a bit wild and grassy, beefy and barny. Its fruit was more purple, and the palate much brighter. It really hit a high note in the mouth, its autumnal edge blending in with mature bouillon flavors. What really set this apart was its finish, which felt like a peacock soprano blended with a screaming organ; translation: impressive acidity (95).

The tasting was now finished, and dinner would soon begin. In the interest of actually finishing this article, here is the summary of dinner, along with a quicker summary thereafter:
1. 2005 Aile d’Argent (91)
2. 2001 Sine Qua Non Albino (93)
3. 2010 F.X. Pichler Underlich Riesling (92+)
4. 1950 La Conseillante Eschenauer magnum (88M)
5. 1950 Petrus (94A)
6. 1950 La Mission Haut Brion magnum (96M)
7. 1924 Clos de la Roche ??? (90)
8. 2001 Yquem (99)
9. 2000 Pavie (85)
10. 2005 L’Eglise Clinet (95+)
11. 1975 Gaja Barbaresco double magnum (89D)
12. 2005 Le Tertre Roteboeuf (93)
13. 2001 Sine Qua Non Incognito (94)
14. 1976 d’Yquem (94)

That’s where I threw in the towel, even though there were some Ports and such still coming. It had been about eight hours of tasting including a short break, and I was officially done. Some notes about the above wines: The Aile d’Argent is the white wine made by Mouton, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was classic white Bordeaux and tasty, something I could easily drink all night. I have always liked SQN whites, finding them unique and hedonistic over the years. The Roussanne/Chard/Viognier blend of the Albino was kinky, as these whites always are, and exotic. The wine was about as muscular and monstrous as whites get. The Pichler was a barrel sample and had amazing aromatics, but it was shut down on the palate. It had New World fruit, but Old World character. I do love Austrian whites and find myself casually drinking them more often. The Conseillante Negociant bottling had an interesting nose that was aromatic and cake-like, with black and strawberry fruits, but the palate was citrusy and dry, lacking complexity and fruit. The Petrus was oxidized a bit, so it was tough to see it in all of its splendor. It was still drinkable, in a salty and rusty way, tight and bright.

The 1950 La Mission Haut Brion magnum gets its own note, as it was that delicious. I have debated with others whether La Mission is the most consistent Chateau of the 20th century, as far as the quality of its wine every year, as well always making a great wine in a great vintage. This was classic La Miss, with aromas of gravel, charcoal, chocolate, tobacco and band-aids on the toes. Fresh herbs and buckwheat. called out someone, and this magnum didn’t show an ounce of deterioration. The palate was delicious, incredibly consistent with its delectable nose, along with some stone flavors and a dry caramel kiss. It was a wow wine (96M).

Back to the regular program, the 1924 Clos de la Roche by not-sure-who was a bit oxidized but decent, dirty yet enjoyable, which is kind of how you want an experience to go with someone when you don’t know their name lol. Even though I am not a big drinker of sweet wines, it was hard not to notice the greatness of the 2001 Yquem. This was so rich, so oily, so special, with coconut and cocoa butter and an exotic passionfruit, peach and apricot three-way unfolding dramatically in front of me. So creamy, so incredible, it was much more than just so so. The Pavie had apparently been opened for nine hours; perhaps they should have waited another nine days. There were some artificial aromas I didn’t care for, along with a simple square palate. It felt manufactured, and the nine hours of air-time really exposed its flaws. L’Eglise Clinet has been on a roll the last ten years, and the 2005 played to the strengths of the Chateau and the vintage. It was rich and concentrated, full of acidity, with other words like classic, brooding, heavy, royal, plum, chocolate, rocky, dry. in my notes. 2005s are still quite infantile, by the way, too big for this early enjoyment at a top level. The Gaja was a significant wine for Angelo Gaja, as it was the first year he bought American oak and barriques, so he is very proud of this vintage. It was leathery and dry, a bit simple and sandy. The Tertre Rotebeouf reminded me of Syrah more than Bordeaux; again the raging bull quality of 2005 shined a bit too brightly. This was another big, aggressive wine with huge acidity and a concentrated personality. This was more beefy and gamey than the L’Eglise, a touch stewy and quite inky. The Incognito was Grenache all the way with its strawberry and rhubarb nose. SQN is one of the few wines where I can drink this uber-concentrated, Cali style – huge, sexy and over the top. The 76 Yquem was excellent, but merely that.

And that was my first tasting in Europe this summer, and I was officially ready for duty. A quick train ride found me in Basel the next day, preparing for the first of many day/night doubleheaders. The highlight of lunch was a lovely 1953 Comte de Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes. The nose spoke of vanilla ice cream at first sniff, along with some deep and rich black cherry, and a little kiss of almost gasoline. There was a stinky edge to its rusty and earthy flavors, and vanilla was present again on its round finish. Tender, old sandalwood and strawberry flavors emerged. It was a touch warm, so we chilled it a touch, and spice and oil came out more. Our gracious host found it deep. and meaty, and more toasted. when warmer. The wine was a beautiful 53, tender and loving like a warm welcome (93).

We also sampled for lunch:
1. 2002 Roederer Cristal (92)
2. 1995 Jayer-Gilles Echezeaux (88)
3. 1997 Richebourg (91)

I have found most bottles of Cristal post-1996 a bit tight and lacking the complexity I desire. I hope the formula hasn’t changed since then. The Jayer-Gilles was dark and woody for a Burgundy, almost Spanish, and it was brawny and clumsy. The was a bit green and stalky with some beef stew in there. Stems, tea, spice, broth, citrus and root cola were all present, but the 97 was a bit primitive and not fleshy or meaty like a good 97 can be.

I was blown away by a bottle of 2004 Deutz Blanc de Blancs before dinner. I was expecting something young and tight, but it was absolutely delicious. Creamy and balanced with delightful buttered sugar qualities, the Deutz delivered a full-bodied yet fine experience, giving me hope for 2004, although I couldn’t tell you much about the vintage now it’s too young for me to pay too much attention yet 🙂 (95).

There was also a 2002 Amour de Deutz that we sampled, and even though I think it is also Blanc de Blancs yet more expensive, I preferred the 2004. The 2002 had lots of strength but lacked layers, and its bubbles were a bit aggressive (91).

Ok, since there were only three more wines for dinner, I’ll keep writing this one up to the very end. The first was a 1999 Dujac Clos de la Roche. Dujac is one of my favorite things, and the nose on the 99 reminded me why. There were great aromatics of purple rain, comprised of stem and earth, a pop of kernel, and deep, wide fruit. One of our friends noted bacon, and the other nice wood.. The nose left a dusty and zippy impression, intoxicating with its wealthy fruit, but the palate was soft and completely closed. It was as if it was a completely different wine. Even Sebastien, our European director who accompanied me the entire trip across Europe, noted that the palate was not as joyful as the nose.. It was likened to an English girl, showing you a lot but then nothing in the end.. Hey, I didn’t say it, I’m just the messenger. It got better with some food, but then took a step back after the Barolo that followed. It was like a 97-point nose and then a 91-point palate. I was on the 94-point border, but like I said, the Barolo knocked it down a peg. I am curious to revisit this wine again in a couple years, but right now, it needs time (93).

The Barolo that followed was a 1990 G. Mascarello Barolo Monprivato, a special wine. Its sweet, black nose was glazed in baked soy, leather, tar and Nebbiolo dust. It was very aromatic, and its palate was also soft at first, at least softer than I expected. Sebastien noted, black tea, and the wine started to show off its excellent acidity. Eucalyptus was also noted, and while the wine became outstanding with some time, I was a bit surprised how charming this wine was. I was always under the impression that 1990 was the type of year in Piedmont that would last 40 years, but this bottle had me wondering if I should be drinking a few more of these up sooner (95).

A 2004 Cos d.Estournel was so young, but like honey to a young bee.. We had a Bordeaux lover amongst us. A touch of oak grilled its nose, along with corn stalk, cassis, pencil and earth. Some blueberry twists emerged on the palate as it aired out, along with some butter and caramel. While pleasant and classic, it was anti-climactic (91).

And that was day two. Don’t worry, there are only twenty-three days left.

A quick flight to Nice had me there in time for dinner, and I sampled a trio of old and tasty Remoissenets with a longstanding industry insider.
1. 1966 Remoissenet Gevrey-Chambertin Combottes (91A)
2. 1959 Remoissenet Grands Echezeaux (94)
3. 1966 Remoissenet Clos de Vougeot (92)

These were all quite tasty and enjoyable wines. Remoissenet used to be one of Burgundy’s most important Negociants, although the purity of their wines has been debated, as they were a big believer in reconditioning their wines, which is why old Remoissenets always look perfect. Regardless, I always find old Remoissenets sweet and pleasing with little to no defaults, and these were no exception. They won’t hit the heights of other great, old wines, but they are always solid. Of note, there are new owners at Remoissenet committed to bringing the brand back to elite status, so stay tuned.

It was off to Burgundy, which was the longest stop of any place during my month abroad, and there’s good reason for that. Generally speaking, I like to drink Pinot, and there’s no place like Burgundy when it comes to Pinot Noir. Sunday was a travel day, so we kept it light, and Sebastien and I split a bottle of 2007 Dujac Clos de la Roche. It was absolutely delicious, just a pleasure to drink. This would become a recurring theme regarding 2007 for the month. I wouldn’t hesitate to drink any top 2007 now and see for yourself; these are going to be delicious wines for a bit, although not from a great. vintage. The wine was excellent, and technically probably 93-points, but if I used the Pekka ratings system of pleasure for this wine, I would bump it up to (94).

I visited numerous top Domaines while in Burgundy, and I was quite impressed with the 2010s. They are superb wines, more of a connoisseur’s vintage as opposed to the wam-bam 2009s. I wouldn’t hesitate to go long on 2010. Something else I found out during my few days in Burgundy is that while 2009 is a great vintage, it isn’t as universally great as say 2005. There were a couple 2009s that were already stewed, so this easy-to-enjoy vintage might not always be easy. One producer confided that he thought his 08s were better, and I agreed with him. Don’t get me wrong, 2009 is a great vintage; all I’m sayin. is 2010 might be better, and could outlast its older brother.

When in Burgundy, time cannot be better spent than with Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanee Conti. I had the pleasure of a morning visit with Aubert, who is serious yet compassionate, always full of knowledge and wisdom, and a true ambassador for Burgundy. Whenever I think of Aubert, I think of the word gentleman, as he defines it. I will only write up one 2010, the 2010 La Tache. I could have written up the RC, but we all know that La Tache is usually better for the first thirty years :). This wine snapped, crackled and whipped its way to my heart. Its terroir screamed inside my glass; the acidity was superb. It lingered like an intense orgasm, its black fruit dripping all over. I better stop there. I usually don’t give big scores to young wines, but the 2010 La Tache seemed like a no-brainer (97+).

And I will write up the other two wines we had at . 2007 was an early topic of conversation for us, and curiosity got to Aubert, who wanted to revisit an 07 from the cellar after our glowing review of the Dujac. The 2007 Romanee St. Vivant was fuller than the average 2007, in a league of its own kind of way. Blacker in fruit, and much more reserved, it whispered behemoth.. About as serious as 07 can get, the RSV wanted us to come back and see it again later, as in a few years later (94).

The 2008 Montrachet was an unexpected treat. We couldn’t taste the 2010 Montrachet due to the fermentation or technological reason of the sorts, so Aubert apologetically pulled out the 2008 Monty. Apology accepted J. The Montrachet was another full-throttle, delicious wine. It was rich and exotic with that signature kiss of botrytis that Aubert achieves year after year. I think Britney Spears may have summed it up best when she said, Gimme more, or maybe that was King Angry, I can’t remember. The King has given up his throne, however, for a nobler pursuit, sort of. More details to follow next article, maybe, lol (96).

Jeremy Seysses of Dujac, Freddie Mugnier and Jean-Marc Roulot also pulled out older bottles from the cellar. Jeremy shared a 1995 Dujac Clos St. Denis, which just turned the corner, per Jeremy. 1995 was the vintage that everyone gave up on, but this was quite aromatic and savory. There was wild animal and barny aromas, along with beet root. and olive. While this was a great food wine. for sure, the 95 was still a touch dry, which was always the knock on it. This showed better than I expected, and showed why it is often better to buy by producer rather than vintage (93). Freddie blind tasted us on a 2008 Mugnier Bonnes Mares, which had a wow. nose. This was deep, classic Mugnier with a kaleidoscopic nose of red and purple. Forest, cedar and spice were all pillars in its nose, and its wealth of fruit made me surprised to learn it was a 2008. There was more fruit here than in most 2008s, but its palate was all 08, full of spice and acidity on its hot, spicy finish. It’s been in the bottle one year now, and it was showing delicious citrus and red fruit flavors of cranberry and pomegranate. Freddie has come a long way with his Bonnes Mares, and he will be the first to admit that he has had to do a lot of work with his particular section of the vineyard over the last twenty years (94+). Roulot was one of my favorite visits, except for the fact that Jean-Marc plowed us under with more wines than I can possibly remember. I do remember a 1986 Roulot Meursault Tillets that was divinely mature and delicious, with lots of decadent botrytis and a sweet, corn-fed finish. This was a fully mature, perhaps a hint overmature, but I loved its hedonistic style. This was a stripper white, and I stumbled out of there with cash in hand ready to spend, on Meursault, of course. Jean-Marc has quietly become considered an elite producer of white Burgundy over the past decade, by the way (93).

Of course, a working man must always have dinner, and dinner with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair was a pleasure, as we love hanging with Burgundy’s brightest new star, even though his Domaine is really an old star&see May Hong Kong catalog for more details. We shared a couple of nice wines, including a big and brawny 1999 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet (94)as well as a tight yet complex 2005 Arlaud Bonnes Mares. When we asked about someone new. in Burgundy doing some good things, Arlaud’s name came up more than once (93+).

There was dinner at Montrachet in Montrachet, and 2007 was the ultimate decision again&for the red. After so much Chardonnay all day, or at least half of it, a man could only be expected to order a 2002 Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste. Hune. It was fabulous and spectacular as always, another one of my favorite things. Picture petrol, mineral, mountain, tang, character, acidity and pure Riesling fruit, and there you have Clos Ste. Hune, one of the few white wines in the rest of the world that can compete with Montrachet (95). Oh yeah, the 2007 this time was 2007 Joseph Drouhin Vosne-Romanee Petits-Monts. Wines from Drouhin are another one of my favorite things, and this was another tasty and ready-to-go 2007, from a very special vineyard unknown to most. This was another 92-point wine that was 93 on this given day (93).

Dinner with Eric Rousseau was also a pleasure, especially since he pulled a 1976 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze from the cellars. When I asked him about the tendency for 76s to be good for a short period of time and then fall off a cliff, he replied, not from my cellar, touché :). We had someone in the 76 corner, a proud father and deservedly so. The Beze was another delicious Burg, showing rich character and earth and menthol flavors. This bottle showed the good side of 76, and it didn’t fall off a cliff (93). We also shared a ripe 1997 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet. It had mature fruit, nice balance and acidity that was still vimful. 1997 is sleeper year for whites, although most are probably at that point of no further return (93).

Another must-see when in Burgundy is Allen Meadows, aka The Burghound, the world’s foremost expert on Burgundy, and The Inspector, who is usually not far from Allen during this time of the year. It just so happens that The Inspector, who has sworn his soul to Burgundy, is born on Bastille Day, and we gathered at Le Bistro de l.Hotel accordingly to celebrate the birthday of one of Pinot’s true princes.

We started with an old bottling of NV Krug Rose, most likely from the early 80s. Its nose was still quite expressive and despite a kiss of fino sherry, there was still earthy, rose fruit there. There was also wet wool that wasn’t too wooly, and touches of rust and grass. The palate was full-bodied, tangy and zippy, showing light lime flavors and a very dry finish. Allen appreciated its complexity. (92).

A rare 1971 Brunet Meursault Genevrieres had a warm toasty nose with whiffs of wood, and loads of honey and beeswax. We soon forgave The Inspector for the fact that he meant to pull out a 71 Ramonet, since the wine was quite excellent. Its nose was deeper than I expected, delivering a rich, big and luscious impression. Whitney cooed, Yummmm, while the Inspector gave it a pleasantly surprised nice.. It was tasty in a mature way, with yeasty flavors and solid acidity still. Someone noted, wild horse kicking up pollen. (93).

A 1962 Gros Frere et Soeur Richebourg was a spectacular bottle. The nose was fabulously sweet and perfumed, full of black and red fruits, with a wonderful mix of fruit and spice. It was sweet, musky and simply great, just another one of those absolutely delicious bottles of Burgundy, with everything in the right place. Based on a couple of other recent 62s, I was starting to wonder if this vintage had seen its best days, but this bottle told me otherwise (96).

The 1978 Jean Gros Richebourg that followed didn’t quite follow suit. We dove into the Gros family tree since we had Allen with us, I even made a diagram but it’s just way too much typing right now. Allen then went off on a tangent about Missouri, frogs and Alaska, but I can’t quite put all the details together again. The 78 was hailed as mysterious, but its aromas were anything but. A hint of bacon led the way for forest, black fruits, wheat and earth. It was big but seemed simpler after the 62, still very good but not close. More cherry came out in the glass, sprinkled with spice. It got sweeter and better in the nose, but its palate got lighter (92).

We had to have an obligatory 1947 in honor of The Inspector’s vintage, and the 1947 Francois de Montille Volnay Champans was up for the challenge. Ironically, Hubert de Montille wasn’t around Le Bistro on this night, event though he usually is. Doug noted, A little VA, but good, to which Allen commented, If there is no VA in a 47, then I’m suspicious.. There was deep fruit here, a touch sweet a la most 47s. There was brown sugar in this aromatic Beauner, which was almost honeyed. In the mouth, the Volnay was tasty, sweet, rich and beefy, with bamboo flavors to boot. Whether the wine was party time. or over the top. became a debate between Whitney and Doug. The wine was sexy, friendly and flavorful, a bit of a stripper Burgundy, but we all know there is a time and place for a good stripper lol; even The Inspector conceded that (93).

A 1947 Couturier Clos de la Roche had that slightly overripe yet not cooked 47 quality, with more citrus, while someone observed, Vieux Marc and cassis.. There were nice animal flavors, along with the horse and the saddle. While I liked the Volnay more at first, the Grand Cru quality caught up with some time in the glass, and the wine became sweeter and lusher. It was neck and neck in the end (93).

The final wine on this magical night was a 1915 Hotel de Fontainebleau Corton. Well, the Hotel didn’t make the wine, but there was no trace of the producer on this label, just that it was made for the hotel. Signature bacon fat and ripeness. came from Allen. The wine was super gamy and sweet, lush and tasty with butter, violet and ice cream flavors. It was also (93).

It was goodbye Burgundy, hello Helsinki. Pekka and Juha were delaying their vacation for my arrival, and they treated me to a trio of Cunes, after a warmup of 1982 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne. The Tatt. had a white sugary nose, with an amber apple juice edge to it. There was light burnt caramel and fresh garden to go with its dry straw and minerally aromas. A whiff of oak flavors graced its spritely and full-bodied palate. It was a bit square, with orange peel and white cola flavors on its finish. Pekka found it very intense and refined as well.. It seemed mature for an 82, and Juha noted that it had a Dom nose, but it’s one-dimensional on the palate, which was a bit tough, but I understood what he was saying (92).

Our first Cune was the 1944 Cune Rioja Vina Real Reserva Especial. I have long loved old Cunes, and this bottle thankfully didn’t break my heart. Juha admired its rich nose, and it had a wonderful animal streak, along with a very silky. and smoky. style per our two hosts.

Charcoal and salty pistachio skin. were also present; I have to take half-credit for that Juha quote; it was a joint effort. The swords were drawn, and the joust was on. Tobacco, smoke, matchbox, cedar, garden and tobacco were all there in this complex nose. The flavors were rich coffee ones, and red and black licorice joined the party. It was ripe without being sweet, and impressive for a 1944. Caramel and a leathery kink crept in to this tasty, old wine (93).

The 1952 Cune Rioja Vina Real Reserva Especial had a similar character, although it was more grassy and pungent at first. It had that caramel-y, old Spanish fruit as well. Light leather and nice spice meshed with wheat in the nose. Pekka found, more structure and freshness. in the 52. Its palate was rich and big but a bit shy, its fruit black and blue with a touch of brown. Lush, round and sumptuous, the 52 opened up nicely and felt wealthier and darker than the 44. Light coffee on the finish cemented this as uniquely Spanish (94).

The 1966 Cune Rioja Vina Real Reserva Especial was, surprise, similar as well. Of course, it came across fresher and younger than the previous two, with more vibrancy coming from its wood. It was the deepest and most powerful of the three, with aggressive male energy. Rocks and stones were also noticeable nasally. The palate was more chocolaty with great spice and minerality, and much more acidity. Powerful yet well-balanced. came from one of our hosts, along with a couple of other tidbits. 1949 and 1962 are apparently the best Cunes, and Riojas are like Burgundy, while Ribera del Dueros are like Rhones (95).

When in Helsinki, always go to Stockholm, and who better to see in Stockholm than Richard Juhlin, the world’s foremost expert on Champagne. We had caught Richard for the one night he was in Stockholm around this time. He brought the bubbly, and we brought the wine.

A rare magnum of 1995 Mumm’s Cramant came out first. It was disgorged only two weeks ago, and I think something like only 200 magnums were made, and it’s only available at the Domaine. Only Juhlin could start off casually with something totally obscure and VIP access like that, although he humbly presented his Cramant as more aperitif. than dessert, even though Cramants are associated with dessert. There were milder bubbles, but you still felt its Champagne Mojo. Sweet and smoky honey aromas mixed with truffle. and apple notes. While it was a touch sweeter in the nose, the palate was still delicious and easy to drink. Sebastien found it, really refreshing.. It certainly was, as the four of us put down a magnum before four other wines. Crushed shells worked their way into the nose, and Richard noted, creamy mousse, mineral and honey. (93M).

Richard then went deep into the cellar with an incredible bottle of 1955 Roederer that was disgorged in 1959 and came directly from the cellars of Roederer before him. It needed a little time to shake off its cobwebs, and earthy notes emerged first accordingly, followed by wet animal and wool. Then came the complexity. Richard noticed, very fresh on the palate with toasted coffee and chocolate, and apricot and orange marmalade.. Its cepe qualities were big-time per the both of us, and its dusty and dark, old-fashioned style appealed to me. The palate was mushroomy and white chocolaty, mature with its autumnal fruit and kiss of brown suga, along with an earthy finish. Richard also found smoked meat and grilled. flavors. The palate broadened and became more muscular as the mushroom quality softened; musk soon replaced it. Bread, wheat and crème brulee made me follow the brick road and its fresh finish all the way home (96).

We continued our quest to get to know 2007 Burgs a little better with a bottle of 2007 Comte de Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes. It was another fragrant and aromatic 07, soft and sweet but also exhibiting a bit more tension. There were great forest and citrus aromas, along with hints of truffle and red n purple fruits galore. This had great character for 07, and its round, lush palate had bright citrus and spice on its solid finish. There is this sweet kiss of Cali to all the 07s, but I happen to like Cali Pinots, well, except for the really cheap ones, and the really expensive ones, too, come to think of it. Smooth and mature, along with almost marshmallow. came from the crowd (93+).

The 2006 Comte de Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes was milder in the nose at first, and wood cellar qualities came out initially. Strawberry and a touch of liqueur were next in line, followed by meaty wild boar. It had a thicker yet less expressive palate, and Johan found it a bit rougher and tougher.. Richard thought the 06 was a little better, and the 06 certainly was more serious. Its fruit started to show its gamey side, and it became bigger, richer and more luscious. Sebastien found it, really serious.. While 07 charmed, 2006 was clearly the long-distance runner. Richard took it one step further, finding the 2007 a one-night stand, while the 06 was a relationship.. That’s the good thing about drinking a bottle of 2007, you only need it for one night lol (95).

A 2005 Pingus was almost too much, too late. Oak was immediately noticeable in this thick wine. While it had a New World feel, it still had the Old World foundation. This was a monster that was somehow integrated in a massive way. It was like an oil spill of fruit, with cedar, wood and oak splattered all around it. The alcohol was a bit forward, and my notes ended with buttery bananas and thunder thighs, Amsterdam-style.. It’s actually an accurate descriptor (93).

It was off to Germany for a couple days of heavy eating. This is where my equilibrium started to go off- kilter. I think it was 22 courses in two days that commenced with a visit with the Terminator. It started innocently enough with a deep, heavy 1996 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose that was the razor’s edge but a little shut down (94).

A wild 1920s Mumm’s Cordon Rouge proved to be an exciting bottle, even though the vintage label was deteriorated to the point where we could not determine its vintage. It was labeled Tres Sec. and serial-numbered; I suppose it could have been from the 30s or 40s as well, but the Terminator had reason to believe this was from the Roaring Twenties. The nose was like apple cider meets molasses, with a sweet, Ben and Jerry’s Heath Bar ice cream feel. The palate was also apple-y, but more on the apple butter side. Lush and creamy, there was a caramel kiss on its bubble-less finish. It continued to get more complex, and banana flambé and oak emerged. What was most amazing about this wine is that it held in the glass over an hour (95)!

The 2005 Ramonet Montrachet was akin to ice, with a frozen citrus pop to it. Clean and fresh, its nose felt like rain melting ice. As it warmed, its great spice emerged. The wine never lost its small, mean streak, although it was mean in a spank me way. Shy and innocent yet long and balanced, the Ramonet became meaty in a cut, white fruit way (95).

The next red was a Sinatra/Jimi Hendrix mix, per our host. It was aromatic with dusty red fruits and raisins, per Sebastien. There was great spice, along with tree bark and history.. It was very complex with its foresty personality, along with citrus, redcurrant and spice cabinet. Its palate was shier than the expectations that the nose gave me, but it was still quite special. It became richer and saucier with time, showing more chocolate and spice. It was a rare 1952 Roumier Bonnes Mares (95).

The last wine was a sweet and gamy 1971 Leroy Bonnes Mares, just how I like my 71s. Its super nose was full of cranberry sauce fruit, with a kiss of Worcestershire. There was great game to go with its bloody meat and high-pitched fruit, almost lingonberry. The palate had great spice and tang and sweet, purple fruit. Still fresh and lush, its soft finish caressed nicely (94).

Lunch at a classic, old restaurant in the middle of Germany featured two excellent Rieslings, and a boatload of food. The 2001 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel was classic. That’s just way too much to write for that wine; that’s why you never see anyone writing up German wines! They are getting better at their marketing, though, I’ll leave that write-up to Justin. It was an Auslese and on the sweet side but still clean and fresh, with minerals and apricots (93). The 2002 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett was even better, as it was drier, which is what I want. That’s been one of my biggest problems with German wines; not knowing if a given bottle will be drier.

It’s changing as we speak, so perhaps Riesling will eventually be able to come out of Justin’s closet and take its rightful place next to Chardonnay as one of the two noble. white grape varieties. Back to the Egon, it’s safe to say that if there was one German producer to drink, most would choose Egon Muller, and this Kabinett showed why. It was so clean and fresh, zipping along with citric vim, rainfall, light minerality and a delicious core that was refreshing and so drinkable. It would probably be a Pekka 95, but really it was (94). A 2001 Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses was Mugnier and Amoureuses at its finest, just stunning. 2001 is another vintage that’s drinking oh so well at the moment, but I think they might last longer than people think and border on the best of other vintages for years to come. Delicate with a perfect core of mixed red fruits and strong, clean wood qualities, the 01 went down way too easily. I can’t help mentioning every time I have an Amoureuses its true definition two female lovers (95). I almost forgot, we started and finished with the 1995 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois. It was also drinking so well, full and flavorful with a toasty, wine-like nose. It had a rich buttery palate and a stony finish. I was impressed with this Billecart, as I was by an 86 last weekend (94).

Dinner that night in the Mosel was the first time in my life where I sat down to dinner completely stuffed, that went for Sebastien, too. This is where we started to unravel, our honeymoon going South by the second as we learned there were two options for dinner, the five-course and the eight. Sebastien did what any Frenchman would do in this situation; he made sure we got the meal with the steak and foie gras lol. We slowly pried open the gates to our stomachs through more Rieslings than I can remember. There was one Riesling, however, that I will never forget, the 1959 JJ Prum Wehlener-Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Feine Auslese. It was an extraordinary bottle of aged Rielsing. I believe Feine is what they used to call the Goldkap, or best selection. It somehow managed to be perfectly dry and sweet at the same time, both elements incredibly balanced around its mélange of peach, lychee, petrol and old wood aromas and flavors. Old Ausleses tend to dry out a bit, in a good way, and can be magnificent. J.J. Prum is the other name in Riesling where you just can’t go wrong (96).

It was off to Paris early the next day, where we had a civilized lunch, only two bottles amongst the four of us. We went to Kei, a great, relatively new place for those that like to dine in Paris. We started with the 2000 Sauzet Puligny Combettes, which delivered that clean and refreshing 2000 style with the force and intensity that a great bottle of Sauzet can have. His wines deserve to be mentioned amongst the elite of Burgundy, but for some reason they seem to be a touch less regarded by the market (93). We continued our trip through 2007 with a 2007 Rousseau Ruchottes Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes. This was another delicious 07, delivering another delicious experience. It was on the purple side of its fruit expression and managed to find a way to deliver the quality of Grand Cru with the approachability of Village (93).

We went to a relatively old place for dinner, La Tour d.Argent. While the food there is good and not great, the wine list more than makes up for it. We invited a Bordeaux-loving Parisian friend and his wife for dinner, eager to show him the heights that Burgundy can achieve. A 1979 Krug warmed us up with its deep, foresty nose full of apple and caramel aromas. There were some warm, mature edges to this big and bready Krug. Its apple flavors showed well on its full-bodied and long palate, even though it felt like the 79 was finally starting to show some kinder and gentler sides. There were nice citrus flavors on its finish (95).

A 1989 Raveneau Chablis Valmur was a special wine, and it had us off to a good start in our quest to show some great Burgundy to our new friends. Its nose was clean and full of waterfall, with a fresh, mossy and minerally personality, oyster shells indeed. There were light lime and citrus flavors, but this full-bodied white was more about the minerals. It was cut and long, elegant and still youthful, despite the fact that the acidity was just beginning to integrate. This was delicious, clean and classic Chablis. The anticipation of each next sip reminded me of heels clicking on the street around the corner (96).

The 1989 Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots was a big contrast to the Raveneau. Its fruit was wild and gamy, and its personality was Pussy’s sister, Toasty Galore. There was tangy fruit and light spice rounding out the nose. The palate was rich and lemony with gamey, exotic tropical fruit and a glaze of something in the Worcestershire direction. The wine got simpler in the glass and squared up a bit, and the Raveneau kept smacking the Coche down every time it tried to get up. The Mrs. of our guests, who declared that she would like to be known for Vintage Tastings articles as the Black Panther of Paris, noted smoked crust with ham. in the Coche. Meow (92).

It was time for some red, and I selected the always outstanding 1993 Roumier Bonnes Mares; however, there was one problem. The Roumier was the most shut down I have ever experienced. The nose was much more closed than I ever remember. There were bits of rust and spice, and a bit of earth, but all it was showing was back-sided qualities, and not much of those, at that. Black licorice was observed, along with some rubber tire. This is always a 96-point wine or better for me but was in a real shell on this night, and it wasn’t the best Burgundy to talk a Bordeaux lover into trading places. I gave it a generous (93), based somewhat on all the other previous great bottles.

The 1980 Rousseau Chambertin was up for the challenge and showed off a sexy nose that was sweet, seductive and playful. Aromas of red fruits, musk, game and vimful cedar danced openly in the glass. There was tender strawberry fruit, and lovely kisses of leather. It continued to get more complex in the glass, and out came aromas of shortbread, salt, citrus, mushrooms, truffles&it just kept unfolding and unfolding. It delivered an outstanding and perfectly mature experience, causing the Black Panther to purr, incroyable. (95).

The closer was another favorite of mine, a 1990 Dujac Clos de la Roche, but again, I was left a little confused. Milk and vegetables were the first things to come out in the nose, but deep fruit emerged, with shades of red, blue and purple. There was no 90-itis. here, as the fruit was also fresh on the palate, displaying nice citrus, along with some stalk and cigar. It was elegant and reserved, and the cigar elements started to take over, blending into ashtray, forest and olive. The wine was excellent; however, it is usually outstanding (94).

The next day in Paris saw lunch at Taillevent, which is always an occasion. We sampled another beautiful Clos Ste. Hune, this time a 1993. The 1993 Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste. Hune delivered body, fruit and finish, all in balance as always. Enough rocket fuel was left to keep this wine in orbit for at least a few more years (93). A 1996 Phelan-Segur charmed us into dessert. It was soft, round and easy, a classic claret that was ready to go, yet will be for a while, too (90).

Dinner saw a couple of Chateauneufs, beginning with a 1998 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. The Beaucastel was gamy and overripe; I was a bit surprised how mature it was, and it was mature in a figgy and jammy way. This was not what I remembered as far as 1998, are they overrated? Then again, that can be said for every vintage of Chateauneuf nowadays (91). A 2003 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape was a bit better, showing signature Rayas strawberry from the high Grenache content. There was a bit more structure here, although I haven’t had a great Rayas since Jacques passed away after vinifying the 1995 (93).

It was off to Italy the next morning, where we had a top secret meeting with The Chairman that night. We actually stopped off for lunch in Monte Carlo, what a special place. What idiot came up with the idea of Paris in the am, Monte Carlo for lunch, then Milan for dinner? It hurt to leave Monte Carlo; everyone needs to go at least once. It was a brutal though breathtaking day of travel, and you.re damn right I jumped into the Mediterranean after lunch. I had to freshen up after all that Ott Rose.

The Chairman doesn’t waste his time or his words, and we were honored by his company, even more so by the wines that he provided on this stellar evening. Whenever 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil is served, it is a great night. It is one of the greatest Champagnes ever made, and it will be a benchmark for me for the rest of my life. Its nose was deep, big and rich, with aromas of saucy butter, wood, vanilla cream, nuts, oil and yellow musky fruit. The palate was huge yet balanced, with laser-like acidity and a tidal wave of a finish. I summed up the Krug with strength and wealth, two of America’s favorite things(98+).

The 2000 Laville Haut Brion was like sniffing glue with its fantastic nose of straw and spice&and glue, of course. It was focused, very straight. per The Chairman. While Haut Brion Blanc might be more exuberant in general, the Laville is always seriously good. Now, of course, it is the La Mission Haut Brion Blanc and five times as expensive. Tip of the week: buy all the Lavilles you can. There were great, yellow, sundried flavors, along with glue again. It had fantastic length and balance, tasty to its core (95).

One of the musts for The Chairman is , and a bottle of 2002 Romanee St. Vivant ensued. There were aromas of forest, black fruits, cedar and moss, followed by wet earth, lit match, mushroom and a hint of dark chocolate. The wine made me feel like I was gettin twiggy with it. thanks to its stems, and wet cedar and bamboo lurked in the shadows. Flavors of red rose, iron, cedar, earth and minerals were reticent in this wound wine. It was tight yet showing well, with a fab finish and nice mountain qualities. Its wintry edge thawed into a gorgeous, long wine (95).

The Chairman then decided to close the evening in strong fashion with a 2004 Romanee Conti. I was expecting this wine to be closed and shut down, but I was shockingly surprised to find the exact opposite. I couldn’t believe how good and drinkable this wine was. I guess that’s why the price of it has gone up 50% over the past year or so; others must be actually drinking it, too. The first aroma that came to mind was green bamboo. It got meatier and purple rather quickly, with some green cedar emerging. So good. came up repeatedly in my notes, and the palate dripped black fruits.

In Vino Veritas,

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