The second night of my recent four in a row found me at Veritas, home to one of the world’s greatest wine lists. It was a casual night and late start, so we only had three bottles between the four of us, most notably Jay, who had insisted we get together to research an article he was writing. I need to have these three wine nights. more often, as it makes for easier write-ups, even though it has taken me more than a week just to find the time to write this one up!
We started with a 1996 Joseph Drouhin Marquis de Laguiche, which performed in fine fashion. Despite a lot of opinion out there that there is a significant amount of prematurely oxidized white Burgundies in the market from about 1995 onwards, with a lot of different hypotheses why, I have to say that I have been fairly lucky in my drinking them over the past few years, although I do not drink as many whites as often as those more opinionated than I. I do know that the problem exists, more so with a combination of certain producers and certain vintages, but this bottle had no issues for sure. The Drouhin was spectacular, delivering everything it should have and then some. Smoky aromas of butter, corn and minerals graced its forward yet coiled nose, and the breed of Montrachet rippled through every inch of its core. One could easily lose one’s nose for minutes in its aromatics, its firm nose anchored by the great acidity of the 1996 vintage. The palate was delicious, still youthful but also seemingly in a great spot, still showing the vigor of youth along with hints of mature nuances, particularly in the smokiness and sweetness of its fruit flavors. It was lip-smackingly good (95+).
The second wine we plucked from the list was a 1998 J.F. Mugnier Musigny, one of the wines of this often overlooked vintage, as I hadn.t had it in a bit and was curious to check it out again. Its nose was reticent and full of breed, chunky in its personality, especially so given the vintage’s usual leaner characteristics, and I say that in the fondest way possible, as I like 98s and their lean, leathery personalities. The Mugnier, however, transcends the vintage, as it literally drips with fruit. Its nose unwound to reveal a deep core of dark fruits, leather, musk and that Musigny terroir. Light spice danced around its edges and came out more and more with time, flirting with cinnamon stick. Thick and dense in the mouth, the 98 was as concentrated a young Musigny as I can remember tasting, completely natural and without the steroids but still as strong as any other. Its long finish reminded me that this was still Musigny, as its elegance regained control each time the wine went gently and lingering-ly down the hatch. Still an infant, this wine will easily last thirty years and then some (96).
We had just enough thirst left for one more wine, and after a couple of young bucks, it was time to move into more familiar territory old. A 1971 Roumier Morey St. Denis Clos de la Bussiere was reasonably priced on the list, and 1971 Burgs are a few of my favorite things, so we decided to give it a try, and were we glad we did. The wine’s aromatics jumped from the glass, possessing both the greatness of Roumier and the 1971 vintage. Autumnal aromas were inviting like football season, and meat dripped from its bones like parking lot cookouts. It had great citrus and wilted rose aromas to balance out its game and meat qualities, and its earth components were bordering on grand cru quality. It also reminded me of fresh rain hitting earth in need of water, and it was still vimful despite being a 37 year-old Morey St. Denis. Its flavors were consistently good, autumnal yet fresh, full of citrus, rose, game, bouillon and earth flavors. It possessed a sweet, chewy core that would hit anyone’s wine spot.. The wine just kept on singing in the glass until there was no more left, something that happened sooner than expected, but it was just that good, one of those catnip. wines that make everyone drinking it frisky and happy to the last drop. It had all the bright citricity of 1971 yet was decidedly and decadently mature. It was a real eye-opener and another testament to the greatness of Roumier (95).
The most eye-opening thing about the 1971 was how impossible it was to go back to the Mugnier. Even though I think the Mugnier was the best wine we had on this night, its youth served as a handicap in the end. After drinking some of the Roumier, I found it near impossible to enjoy the Mugnier as much as I had, as in couldn.t even go there anymore.
And therein lies the greatness of old wine.
In Vino Veritas,