Man, I don’t know where to begin”¦so many events that deserve recognition and commendation, especially from me since I was at all of them J. I guess we might as well get the bad news out of the way first. I can’t seem to find my La Paulee, Part IV notes, the grand finale. It is really bothering me. I gotta have them somewhere. I took 52 notes that night, and it was one of the all-time greatest wine nights ever, starting with the hotel suite pre-Paulee and old bottles of Roumier (and others) with Christoph (and others), all the way down to the La Paulee and its sheer insanity, then outside, around and upside down, only to end up back in the suite again 50 wines later. I was carrying those notes around for weeks, as it was going to be my next article, and somehow now I can’t find them. Aaaaarrrrggghhhh.
But that train cannot wait at the station my dear, but even moving on has so many possible directions. Happy Birthday celebrations for King Angry, PMJ and Hollywood Jef were all stupendous evenings of incredible, old wines. Bruce’s thunder-ific night of Soldera and 1979 Champagne? Or a night with Roberto Conterno at Del Posto?? I try some young wine too, you know. Two snapshots of the 2005 Burgundy vintage, one of all the s and another with Clive, have given me lots to say about this indubitably great vintage. Bipin orchestrated a magical Sunday afternoon at Spago with 1978s, Burgundy again, of course. Important tastings of Meo-Camuzet (Bipin with Meo) and Jayer were significant and significantly delicious. Evenings benefiting the City of Hope and Mount Sinai were out of control wild and good, and for good causes, too. Brief journeys into Europe and Asia saw a few good bottles go down the hatch. But, of course, I can never forget Big Boy’s not one, but two spectacular VIP dinners celebrating his incredible sale just a couple of weeks ago. I can’t even go there. I have to catch my breath just thinking about them again. All I can say is that by the end of April, I have never seen anyone open up as much great wine over a shorter period of time than what Rob has already drunk in 2008. Actually not drunk, make that opened up and shared with many people, strangers and friends alike. He has redefined the wine world’s definition of ‘throwing it down.’
Was that good enough for you, Rob lol. Seriously, I am only mentioning the facts; I think it is safe to say that we all know that Rob’s ego doesn’t need any more encouragement. All those events I just mentioned are the biggest highlights of the past quarter. I wish I had them all ready to go; gotta figure something out there. Just”¦no”¦time”¦ 🙁 ”¦which brings me to a mini four-part series, a recent four nights out in a row in the greater New York area. I decided to start with the last evening of the four first, just because. Every write-up can’t be twenty-five wines; otherwise, I never get to writing it up damnit.
Speaking of which, back to the evening at Blue Hill Stone Farms up in Tarrytown, a definite destination point for any foodie. All the produce is grown on location, and the meal was one of the year’s top five, food-wise for me, and I get around a little. It rests on the grounds of the Rockerfeller Estate, and I am not talking Jay-Z. The Barber family owns and operates the restaurant. We could thank rockin’ Roger for this memorable evening, both food and wine-wise. He has been threatening to do a dinner up there for the past two quarters and finally pulled one together. This is the third time I have been up there, all with Roger, and every time I am there I say to myself, ‘man, I have to come here more often!’ ‘Nuff said.
About the food, that is. I write about the wines. We started with three bubblies, the first of which was a 1990 Dom Perignon Oenotheque. It had that pungent Oenoethque thing happening, the cat’s pee and spice box mélange. Its acidity was excellent and also pungent, and it was obviously fresh, but a bit linear and a touch horsey. It was great, don’t get me wrong, and I know there are many that feel the ’75 Oeno is the best thing since the Internet, but I just have to say that when I drink a bottle of Oeno, I taste the ‘Oeno’ more than the vintage. Maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know. Will have to get back to you in 20+ years (94+).
The 1982 Krug was a little off, a touch advanced, so I am going to keep it simple and (DQ).
The 1982 Cristal was stellar, as it should be. Its nose was full of vitamins and yellow fruits, still wound but also round and rich. Citrus, butter and spice flavors were all there and harmonious in this rock-solidbottle of Cris (95).
Author’s note***There was some confusion as to the Krug versus Cristal and which one was actually off. I am going by what the sommelier told me they were, even though Roger is convinced it was the other way around. I did find the good bottle to be Cris-ish.
We sat down to a 1989 Raveneau Chablis Vaillons. The nose was great, singing with its lemon, lime and guava fruit, while also possessing supporting aromas of minerals and white smoke. More hints of citrus and tangerine emerged. Its flavors were a different story, showing wax and yeast first, and then some corn with the dirt and some stalk, too. Still tasty, it was round and had a soft finish, its acidity barely holding on to excellence, and it was a 20-year old premier cru white, after all (93).
The first offical flight was one of whites, all Joseph Drouhin Marquis de Laguiche Montrachets. We began with a 1993, which also had a great nose. 1993 has become a pet white wine vintage for many connoisseurs to be drinking at the moment, and one whiff of the Drouhin was reason enough to understand. It was singing even more so than the previous two, all of which could have made any wine choir. The nose was huge, full of vigor and life, super smoky, nutty and deep, dark and edgy. ‘Lots of mesquite charcoal and hot rocks,’ I wrote, along with 7up, dandelions and daisies. It also had this honeycomb catacomb impression. It was an amazing nose. The palate was round and nutty, also with traces of honeycomb, and Dave noted, ‘jasmine tea.’ The evil John Slover called it, ‘Roussanne-like,’ which I saw more so on the palate. The palate was rounder than the nose led me to believe and just didn’t have that ‘oomph’ I expected. As Roger summed it up, ‘the nose was a symphony, but the palate a quartet’ (92).
The 1990 was more honeyed and forward, nutty with lots of brown sugar, and pinches of A1. Honeyed and gamy, it also had lit fireplace aromas. The mouth was very floral in this complicated and rich wine. Ned noted, ‘marzipan,’ and I picked up on more of its oily qualities. It was exotic, thick, oily and ‘floral fresh city.’ ‘Coconuts!’ became most distinctive with time. It was a wild and kinky guy (95+).
The 1973 was a real treat and had a great, old nose. Wax, fireplace, bamboo shoot jungle and a touch of mountain rocks were all present. Dave cooed how he ‘could smell it all day.’ Round and balanced, its fruit was definitely aged on the palate but still excellent. Its waxy, edgy personality held form well (93).
A pair of reds was served blind next. The first had a dank, dark nose with lots of spice, a bit woodsy but still with some red fruits underneath. ‘It’s earthy and vegetal in a great way,’ Slover added, along with ‘reeds and straw.’ And by reeds, he meant swamp reeds, not his years of playing the recorder. A hint of mesquite and ‘tobacco’ rounded out its nose. The palate had dry, sour cherry and vitamin flavors, and I started to note a bit of must. In fact, there was definitely some cork issues with this bottle, but it was not enough to discourage drinking it. Oh yeah, it was a 1985 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses (93A).
The second wine was more saucy. Roger was saying something about ‘heavy balls,’ but he was in deep conversation with a former tennis pro lol. Saucy, soupy and gamy, there were great aromas of menthol, game, iodine, tomato and cherry fruit. In fact, it had this distinct puttanesca edge with more time. There was nice spice and better acidity in this 1985 Mugnier Musigny, his first vintage. Slover called it, ‘really really good,’ and Dave hailed it as ‘killer,’ continuing with ‘nice cherry fruit qualities mixed with its earthiness.’ This was a much better showing for me than previously experienced (94).
Ned reminisced of his days at Bouley when the 1991 Mugnier Musigny was $360 a case wholesale, and they were going through this wine at $100 a bottle on the list. Wine’s come a long way, baby.
We had another pair of 1985s, also served blind at the time. The first was nutty, deep and dark with lots of autumnal notes on its surface but clearly young and not autumnal overall. Beef meets perfume was a good way to put it, which was seconded, and someone added ‘cola.’ Dave found it ‘reduced,’ and the sommelier later commented how ‘its atypical burliness’ even threw him off of which wine this was for a second. It was a bit earthy and weedy on the palate, a touch confused and lacking a centerpoint. My experiences with 1985 Roumier Bonnes Mares have been up and down, and this was definitely on the down side for this wine (92).
Dave shared some interesting tidbits about Roumier and his two parcels of Bonnes Mares, the Terres Blanches and the Terres Rouge and how before 1988, the Terres Rouges came to America while the Terres Blanches went to Europe, and that starting in 1989, there was one final blend. I did have both versions of the 1985 many years ago at an event hosted by Daniel Johnnes. Of course, Christoph brought the bottles.
Back to the second wine, which we all thought was the first wine. It was a 1985 Bertheau Bonnes Mares, and it walked the Roumier, something that doesn’t happen too often. Minty and floral with the greens, its nose was deep and intense, ‘Dujac-like’ I wrote with its stemmy spice. It had sweet, cinnamon purple fruit. Rich, fleshy and tasty with excellent vitamin flavors, this was a smooth and velvety Burgundy that was in the right place at the right time (94).
The last flight was one of La Taches, ending the night in grand fashion. We began with the 1991 La Tache, which had a deep, intense forest nymph orgy thing happening in its nose. Nutty with firm aromas of game, beef and iron, the 1991 had full frontal spine and spice. Its palate was citrusy, sweet, satiny and sexy, yet a bit tight. Ned found it in a ‘dumb’ phase, while Dave countered that it was not dumb, rather ‘young but classic.’ It jumped out more with food, and there remains an ocean of potential in this young buck of a La Tache (95+).
The 1980 La Tache had superb aromatics, so much so that I found it unlikely to ever be better. It was so forward and gamy, full of garden, fresh game and spice, wild weeds and fields, and just a heck of a lot of overall sex appeal. Dave found it ‘rosy,’ and it was many’s favorite wine of the night, although I do think this will be a La Tache that will drop the point ladder sooner rather than later (96).
The last wine on this special evening was the 1970 La Tache, which was more herbal in the nose; dark, dank and musky with lots of animal fur. The palate was citrusy and more hollow than the previous two, starting to dry out but still respectable (91).
A quick glass of 1985 Krug got me ready for the trip back home. Full of vitamins, spice and intense game, this fresh and perfect bottle of 1985 was great with a spicy and long finish, still young (96).
And that was my last night of four in a row. Three more to follow shortly, and I mean shortly! I will end this segment of tasting notes with some facts shared with us by another Dave, Dave Barber, a fellow Collegiate alum, while discussing food and consumption. Over the past fifteen years, China has gone from 5 kilograms to 20 kilograms of meat consumption per person per year. If China were to ever equal the average American consumption per year of 120 kilograms, we would need three earths just to sustain that consumption pattern, because 65% of the agriculture on earth feeds its meat production. Wow. Looks like the price of wine isn’t the only thing going up in the near future.
Eat less meat. Drink more wine.
In Vino Veritas,