2015 was a very good year. Except for me writing articles about tasting wines. I went on a hiatus, a sabbatical, a leave of absence if you will, but I wasn’t absent. I just looked over an entire year of tasting notes, handwritten, of course, and it filled me with lots of great memories, joy and a few “where the f*@k was I’s?”
I just realized that I need to remember to date and location stamp where I am when I am at a serious tasting, but I think I knew where I was about 80-90% of the time. Is that good lol? 120 flights and 300,000+ miles will do that to a man.
My original plan was to get back in the writing saddle and set the bar with my greatest memories of 2015. Seven weeks later, I realize that may be a bit too ambitious for me currently. Am I getting older, busier or better? Fret not, I am still drinking better, and about a month ago in Hong Kong saw me at my first great tasting of the year. The Sifu was the host, and for those that love their fine wine, there is no better host in Hong Kong, and arguably the world.
My last trip to Hong Kong was also a triumphant return for Alexander The Great, who joined me on this special evening. There was an issue with her and getting a cab, and before you know it, we were in crisis mode. We arrived stressed out, as we were thirty minutes late. A warm and calming welcome from The Sifu and his wife, along with To The Victor, had us back at ease. I think there were eight of us total, but it could have been ten.
Crisis in Hong Kong
I had told the Sifu earlier in the week that I would be bringing a pair of 2011 White Burgundies: a Lafon Montrachet and a Bouchard Chevalier La Cabotte. Not bad for a dinner party right? I handed them over to him upon arrival, and he quickly handed them over to one of his staff, never to be seen again. Based on the wines that would follow, that would be quite alright.
To add the festivities, all the wines were served blind. For the sake of my own reputation, I will leave most of my guesses out of the article lol. Well, maybe not all. The first wine reminded me of an oxidized Champagne, bruised and battered but not down. Its nose shrieked green olives, and The Sifu noted ‘slight botrytis and a slightly oxidative style.’ This was a wine that really benefitted from food, which seemed to wake it up and make it more alive. It got richer and sexier in a unique way. I guess richer is always sexier lol. Fleshy, long and gamy, this wine had honey emerge as it got better and better, and it was a surprisingly good 1972 DRC Montrachet. This was an oldie and a goodie, but only a penitent man shall pass (95).
We moved to the reds immediately, where a magnum of something intriguing awaited. The first red was very floral and pungent in its nose, with lots of red fruits, BBQ and carob at first sniff. Graves and 1952 came to my mind for this dry Bordeaux. At least I got the Bordeaux part right! Charcoal and gravel cemented my initial thoughts, but this was a 90 year old 1926 Mouton Rothschild. Out of magnum. Sifu in the hoooowwwwwwsssssssse…make that his house. This was another older wine that got better and better in the glass. This was an extraordinary bottle, and black olives, cream, dust and minerals emerged. The Sifu added, ‘game, cassis, mint. Quite typical Mouton.’ I’ll have what he’s having (95M).
Big Brother is Always Watching in HK
The third wine had a delicious nose, with sweet fruits and tender aromas of wheat. It was blacker in style, gamy with a pinch of BBQ. Its palate was round, rich and long, certainly deserving outstanding status. The wine was heavy yet dancing with a bit of zip. Buttery and decadent, this was clearly a special wine. One of the educated ladies guessed, ‘Spanish,’ but it was a magnum of 1961 Margaux. This was sweet, outstanding stuff. It was then noted that if Parker hasn’t had a great bottle/note of an old Bordeaux, it was like it didn’t exist, kind of like the ’61 Margaux (96M).
A Forgotten Legend
The fourth wine was clearly another Bordeaux. It was classic in every sense of the word, a super wine that was so well-knit. I was thinking 1975 La Mission, but it was a 1961 Mouton Rothschild. ‘Sleek and silky,’ this wine was the most pure, the youngest and with the most potential. It had true grit and true elegance. This was a ‘wow’ wine, although the first bottle served was clearly better. It takes two to make a wine dinner go right, you know (96).
We moved to Burgundy territory in deep ocean fashion, with a sweet, honeyed and decadent Pinot. It had beautiful red rose and red fruit aromas. To The Victor agreed, citing ‘strawberries.’ Others admired its ‘acidity, spice and oak.’ One guest guessed ‘1980s Echezeaux,’ but it was 2000 DRC La Tache. Out of magnum. Again. I gotta admit, the 2000 LT mag was so perfect, so now. The Sifu found it ‘so a (ah) point (pwahn).’ That’s French for ‘on point’ lol. Don’t be such a connard (95M).
A Whole Lotta La Tache
What could possibly be next? We were in the palm of The Sifu’s hand right now, mere puppets in his show. He could have served us anything at this point, but he served us a 1978 DRC La Tache. Sifu, I love you man. Its nose was deep and dark, black, blue and purple. It was so rich and so great, decadent Burgundy at its finest. The word ‘decadent’ kept coming up, which is a good thing. Kisses of cedar and garden had me asking myself in my notes, ‘Is it DRC?’ It was another ‘wow’ bottle from The Sifu (98).
We were back to magnums with the next Burgundy, which was unfortunately corked. That was too bad, as it was a 1980 Henri Jayer Echezeaux (DQ). That’s what we call ‘The Big Hurt,’ when your $10,000 magnum is corked, but The Sifu was unfazed. He quickly disappeared to the cellar, where he returned with a substitute teacher. Our newest professor had a deep nose full of vitamins and spice. Thick, rich, long and zippy, this was a perfect bottle ‘from a perfect cellar,’ as To The Victor admired. The Sifu claimed that ‘this is a vintage that puzzles a lot of people.’ He then added, ‘what separates the men from the boys is a difficult vintage.’ This bottle of 1987 Henri Jayer Echezeaux was more like 1985 than 1987, another ‘wow’ wine. No mercy! I gave it (95), but I wrote ‘even 96 points.’ Jayer was the master of the difficult vintage, for sure.
What’s a Little Seepage Between Friends?
The next wine was the final wine for which I took notes. It was all about the Milk Duds, with chocolate and caramel all over its rich and tasty body. There weren’t many more notes at this point, other than ‘Spanish wine, so delicious, Unico!!!’ And ‘MAG’ with an arrow featuring many ups and downs. Oh, it was a 1962 Vega Sicilia Unico, of course (97M).
Slowly but surely, all the guests left except us. Then there were cigars, spoonfuls of caviar and shots of vodka, which I didn’t even remember until the next day. I think we left around 230AM. And Alexander The Great and I didn’t go to bed right after we left. The next thing I know, it was 1130AM, and I noticed a lot of missed calls. That’s right, The Sifu had invited me to lunch, and his secretary was frantically trying to confirm our attendance at lunch. Alexander The Great threw in the towel, and I thought twice, but I rallied enough to tell them I was coming, but that I would be only one.
Cigars, Caviar, Vodka & Alexander The Great
It was a big Burgundy week in Hong Kong, and numerous producers were in town, including two of my favorites, Etienne de Montille and Jean-Marc Roulot, who were also at lunch. I was not surprisingly the last to arrive, just in time for a taste of two of Jean-Marc’s newest creations, including his first vintage of Chevalier Montrachet. I didn’t take notes, as I was still getting my sea legs under me, but I can tell you that Jean-Marc showed why he continues to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, producer of white wines in the world. And if someone told me the 1996 Krug in front of me was Clos du Mesnil, I probably would have drunk more of that, too.
Bet You Never Saw This
The next wine motivated me to get back on the horse and take some notes. And it should have, as it was a 1985 DRC Montrachet. It was so exotic with lots of garden, bouillon and botrytis aromas. There was a green weed kaleidoscope thing going on, and I didn’t smoke before lunch. The wine kept getting more honeyed and buttery and creamy and and and…every sip got better and sweeter (97).
My Most Liked Picture of All Time
A quartet of DRC Romanee St. Vivants followed, led by the 1997. Garden aromas were greeted by earth, rubber and rust. There was nice structure here for the vintage, and a tighter style than most ’97 Burgs. This was an excellent wine, but it had the disservice of following the Montrachet (93).
The 1990 DRC Romanee St. Vivant that followed showed more autumnal and leafy aromas, along with cedar, tomato and menthol. It had a rich and leathery palate, both classy and classic. There were stir-fried beef edges to this round and thick wine. It needed time, as it held and expanded in the glass. This was a wine that could handle the gym, and more cedar and bamboo emerged on the palate (96).
The 1985 DRC Romanee St. Vivant was all about the orange peel and rust, with this twisted acid thing happening. More autumn emerged, along with tea, tree bark and this wet fungus-y goodness. There were tertiary flavors here, making me think that this won’t get any better, and it got dirtier and dirtier in the glass (94).
The 1971 DRC Romanee St. Vivant was a touch mature and advanced, gamy and forward with brown sugar, Worcestershire and butter cream aromas. There was rich and sumptuous fruit in the mouth; if the bottle was perfect, it would have been 96 points, but it was not perfect (94A).
Four of A Kind, or Is It A Flush?
We got served a curveball next, with a wine from a producer that I confess I do not know well. The 1995 Jacky Truchot Clos de la Roche TVV had a big, rich nose with lots of orange and red cherry fruit aromas. Some complex dirt and rust complemented its fruit components well, as this was a well-balanced wine in every sense of the word. There was nice spice, nice grit, nice fruit and a touch of mushroom and truffle on the palate. This was a solid wine (94+).
I know I haven’t been writing, but I definitely have been drinking. Bottoms up!
In Vino Veritas,