I love wine. I love to taste wine, many different wines, on a regular basis in what some might call a punishing fashion. It just so happens I am friends with The Punisher, which reminds me that while tasting can be done with anyone and everyone, drinking can only be done with friends. When I think about friends within the Acker family, there are some that always come to mind immediately. It just so happens I had the good fortune of seeing many of them over the past couple weeks. Being in New York a month straight may be a foreign concept to me, but it has also proven to be quite rewarding. Tuesday night Poker chez Big Boy proved to be a win-lose scenario, thanks to a couple of unfriendly rivers. Of course, one of them happened to be Big Boy’s, cracking my straight with a full house after I played him perfectly and had his three-of-a-kind dominated. That one hurt me the most. The ten-minute lecture about how he was the greatest poker player in the world didn’t exactly console me, something along the lines of why he was the King of the Business. I had to go to the shades after that, to which Patman quipped, ‘What’s up with the shades, Kapon? In a few minutes, I’m gonna look over there and see you with a Full-Tilt Poker shirt on next?’ LOL. Funny guys, these poker sharks.
Fortunately, I got to drown my sorrows with wines from the world’s most generous collector, putting the win back in front of my mounting losses.
I grabbed a 1988 Krug out of the cellar when I could have grabbed anything; perhaps I was too gentlemanly, but chivalry still does exist for some when in others’ cellars. I figured we’d ease into the evening with some bubbly, a general game plan if there ever were one. The Krug was big, bold, beefy and butterscotchy, quite dry, but even more so quite full. It was a big, classic Krug that could use another decade still before really getting to know better (95).
A rare bottle of 1962 Comte Armand Pommard Clos des Epeneaux was up next, and was gamy and forward, a bit stewed. Aromas of grape leaves and pungent fruit graced its nose, while its palate showed off round, rich, soft and gamy qualities. ‘Big Boy found it, ‘pretty but not substantial.’ I think the bottle wasn’t perfect, although it did have a nice body, as did the dealer. It was a Big Boy production so I expected nothing less, and the Gonzagas on our dealer would have made any UCLA Bruin blush 🙂 (93A).
A magnum of 1962 Grivot Vosne Romanee Beauxmonts had a sweet, foresty nose on the blacker side of berries, with some stalks thrown in. It was super musky, with oats and a brown mesquite glaze. The palate was rich and hearty and had a big, fortified feel, with lots of muscle and brown sugar. Rob was commenting how well this wine went with the flavor of his smoke, an unlit cigar, of course (91M).
We changed gears to a 1978 Ponsot Clos de la Roche. The nose was a bit musty at first, earthy but reticent, not yielding much. The palate was the exact opposite, offering up a rich, fleshy and seductive mouthful of a wine. It was lush and oily in a gritty way with a thick finish. The finish was really long, impressively so, and this big, muscular Ponsot was quite tasty in an earthy way. When Ponsot hits the bullseye, it is as good as anything else, although inconsistency still plagues this great Domaine (95+).
‘Petrus or Lafleur?’ I was asked, to which I would always reply the same thing, ‘Petrus.’ No offense to the incredible Lafleur, but I’m a Petrus boy, what can I say. A magnum of 1953 Petrus reminded me why I made that decision without hesitation. This was a spectacular wine from the very first sniff. The nose was fabulous, perfect old Petrus. Plum, olive, earth and iron all danced like white and black swans so happy together. Pat noted, ‘the good part of the banana peel.’ The wine had deep and rich fruit that was dripping everywhere, both aromatically and on the palate. The wine was lush, meaty and nutty, still round with a tight chalkiness, nonetheless. We guessed how many magnums of 1953 Petrus remain in the world today, and Big Boy conservatively guessed three to six, while I said less than twenty. I couldn’t stop drinking this wine, it was just so delicious and just right out of magnum right now (96M).
A 1966 Rayas was an unusual move for Rob, but a welcome one. Old Rayas and Beaucastel can thrill as much as any Bordeaux or Burgundy, and this Rayas showed why. The nose was ripe, rich and spicy, full of strawberries and a pinch of rhubarb. It got saucier in the glass and started to emit complex nut oil aromas. The palate was also rich and spicy, although more hearty and jammy than the nose. There were thick, ceramic walls encasing the wine. Big Boy hailed it as ‘the purest Chateauneuf I have ever had.’ Of course, it was probably only his fourth :). Its long, thick finish held the wine together well in the glass, and its fruit stayed saucy in this sexy red (96).
The last wine on this already historical evening made it officially historical, as it was a 1962 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze. Its spectacular nose was super rich and the concentrated essence of great Pinot Noir. There was almost ‘ridiculous’ richness, and this was one 1962 that certainly was not riding off into the sunset ever so slowly, as many are. This was a perfect specimen for 1962, with its fresh fruit, oil, tomato and hints of bouillon. There are only three wines that have energy like this, Vogue Musigny, La Tache and RC. And on that note, it was time to say good night (97).
And on the next day, it was time to say hello again, this time to a King and his merry men at Del Posto, for a semi-regular gathering. Too bad I showed up at Marea. Fortunately, I was only fifteen minutes delayed, and quickly caught up to a bevy of beauties, the Champagne, that is. While Big Boy may open up more wine than anyone in the world today based on a criteria of value, King Angry certainly tastes more wines on a regular basis than anyone I know, well with the exception of one handsome and dashing young Acker wine auctioneer :).
I caught up quickly on the first flight of Champagnes. In true royal fashion, one Champagne is never enough for the King, so we had five. Technically, the welcome wine was a magnum of 1970 Moet, which almost stole the show. It had a delicious nose that hinted at its more distinguished sibling, Dom Perignon. Musky and smoky, its rich nose was full of bread and oil, and the palate was delicious. While big and brawny, it was quite tasty, and a delicious vanilla flavor profile developed, along with a honeyed nose. Earth and broth kept everything in balance in this decadently friendly bubbly, quite a good show for a 1970 (94M).
A trio of Oenotheques followed from the actual Dom Perignon, beginning with the 1964 Dom Perignon Oenotheque (disgorged in 1999). The ’64 had a sugary nose, like a hard brittle made from hand-poured caramel. Its palate was clean, ‘it has the Oeno palate,’ I wrote, with its lightly sweet personality and traces of citrus, straw and hay. It was classy, and JP noted ‘honey’ (94).
The 1975 Dom Perignon Oenotheque (disgorged in 2007) started more slowly out of the gate, but it finished the strongest, no doubt assisted by the most recent disgorgement date. Its nose was bigger, full of grass and noticeable lime. The palate was big and aggressive, although at first it tasted a touch bitter and too young. It continued to put on weight and got bigger in the glass, and although I preferred the initial style of the 1964 better, both that and the following 1976 eventually fell back in the glass while the 1975 got better and better. The honey of the 1964 became ‘honeysuckle’ for the 1975 for JP, and someone likened the 1964 to a female, and the 1975 to a male accordingly (95+).
The 1976 Dom Perignon Oenotheque (disgorged in 2003) had a wheatier nose with a hint of soup, but the signature sugar came out slowly. The palate had a decent initial attack but was ultimately lighter and softer, quite tangy as well (93).
The Oenotheque program is a fairly new one for Dom Perignon, and they seem quite content to charge significantly higher prices for these late releases direct from the Domaine. Time will tell whether or not the Oenos can age like original releases; I, for one, would always prefer an original release to any wine tinkered, touched up, redone, fixed, enhanced or whatever adjective any given doctor might prescribe to this condition, like another might describe a new set of breasts. I will say that the Oenotheques are certainly quality, but I do taste the style of Oeno over the style of any given vintage. You’ll have to make your own decisions from here. One thing for sure, a bottle of Oeno will always show well, unless it went through some horror story shipment.
An Italian two-step led us into the reds, beginning with a gorgeous 1970 Giacosa Barbaresco Montefico. Its nose was delightfully complex and open, with classic Italian cigar, earth and tobacco leaf, along with chocolate and tar. There was bright cherry fruit behind it, so much so that it flirted with Burgundy with its soft, tender personality. The wine was as delicious on the palate as it was on the nose, delivering earthy and nutty flavors in tasty, fine fashion. It ultimately won the first King Angry Miss Congeniality Award, and the King is tough to please (95).
A 1971 Gaja Barbaresco Sori Tilden was poo-pooed at first, but I liked its nose right away. It was more soupy than the Giacosa, not as fresh and clean, with some winter vegetable action as well. There was lots of mushroom to its palate, more flesh and a lush and tasty overall personality (93).
Ahhhhh, Burgundy. The 1985 Echezeaux oozed wet earth, truffles, fungus, tobacco and sweet cherry in a pungent way. The palate was thinner than the nose led me to believe and had some body odor issues (92).
The 1985 Romanee St. Vivant was clearly a sibling of the Echezeaux, with a purer nose. There was more coffee to its nose, along with fresh red fruits and rainwater. Its palate was soft and beautiful, tender with its round and deceptively long personality. It got a bit dry over time in the glass, a knock on ’85 s for some, but not a problem for me, usually (94).
We were back to Italy with a pair of ‘82s, again led into the flight by a Giacosa, this time a 1982 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva. Its darker, deeper nose had brown sugared fruit, flirting with a Port meets Tokaji experiment. There were tar and leather flavors and a zippy finish, but this bottle was clearly affected and not at its best (91A).
The 1982 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva was much fresher, with tar and anise laying their claim to its aromatic profile first and foremost, so much so that hairs felt raised on the back of my neck. The palate was similar, with some leather thrown in for spanks and giggles, and its long acidity summed up this youthful and hesitant wine with one word ”“ regal (95).
A pair of Guigals rounded out our evening, beginning with a special 1985 Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline. Beef, blood, oak, menthol, black fruits and olives were all in its layered and complex nose. Its earthy palate was long and zippy full of minerals and menthol as well. It clearly had the most material of all of the above, with plenty still to unveil (97).
The 1988 Guigal Cote Rotie La Turque had a much oakier nose with lots of pepper. Black fruits and oil permeated the nose and mouth, and while it was thick and long, the La Mouline absolutely ‘pancaked’ the La Turque. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the opposite happen. Long live La Mouline (93).
A week or so later, I found myself at Veritas, circumstantially there the same night it received three stars from the New York Times. Since I don’t review food, I’ll leave that up to you to decide, but I will say that the wine list is still going strong, alive and kicking, with a phenomenal selection that’s still priced incredibly fairly. The Hedonist and I gathered for a long overdue dinner where we happily plundered the list for one, two, three times a lady. I was looking for lightning to strike twice when I selected a 1996 D’Auvenay Chevalier Montrachet first. The price was right, and it had been one of the best white wines I ever had when I drank it chez Imperial Cellar a year or so ago. This bottle wasn’t perfect like that one, but it was still outstanding. The wine was still big and rich with amazing density, although a touch sweet and advanced. It was still a mammoth, but clearly had matured faster for whatever reasons. Being the gentlemen that we are, we drank the whole thing 🙂 (95A).
Jay wisely selected a 1993 Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin Clos St. Jacques. It was class in a glass and absolutely delicious. It was full but elegant with great fruit ”“ black, red and purple were all there. Forest, earth, minerals all played their supporting roles perfectly in this superbly sippable wine. I could drink Rousseau’s Clos St. Jacques every day, it’s basically Chambertin gone wild, in that hot, feminine way (96).
Jay was all over a 1993 Bachelet Charmes next, but I talked him into a 2002 Meo-Camuzet Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux. I have had a recent hardon for 2002, finding the wines to be in a great spot right now, and the vintage to be the forgotten great vintage lost between 1999 and 2005”¦and Cros Parantoux, how could one go wrong? Well, I forgot the wines of Meo tend to be very unyielding in their youth, and this was certainly no exception. While tighter than a nun’s knees, the Meo slowly uncoiled aromatically and majestically. The nose had so much going on, it was just seven levels down below, and concentration was required. The palate was lean and tight, but the wine’s aromas still seduced. To be continued (93+).
The last evening of my friends and family plan took me to a familiar place, a place not so far away and very close to my heart, chez The Don, the king of all things Burgundy. There isn’t a better cellar, or a better dinner companion than The Don. With the Inspector and Mr. K also on hand, everything was set for a fine evening of food, friends and fine wine. It doesn’t get any better.
The weather was starting to cooperate in Spring-like fashion, so we started with a couple of Raveneaus on the patio. I caught the tail end of a disappointing and perplexing 1996 Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre . I love this bottling and vintage from Raveneau, but this bottle seemed confused, lacking a centerpoint. It wasn’t oxidized or cooked or corked, but it wasn’t what it should have been. It was a touch oaky, lacking definition (85?).
We soon forgot the mystery of the Montee de Tonnerre thanks to an excellent 1996 Raveneau Chablis Valmur. ‘It’s screaming oyster shells and minerals,’ Mr. K keenly observed. There was also wet earth, damp towel and yellow citrus, with just a touch of tropical in there. Everything in this wine was lightly positioned, coming together quite well. Its palate was clean and fresh, with those oyster shells taking center stage amidst other flavors similar to its aromas. This was a smooth and steady Chablis, but I was looking for a bit more oomph given the vintage’s reputation (93).
I found just that in a 1996 Roulot Meursault Perrieres. It had a fantastic, fat, buttery nose with great toast to spread it on. The mouthfeel was rich, big and lush, classy yet oily. It had the perfect amount of toast to its palate, putting the wet in the kiss in which it was framed. Decadently drinkable, this was a wine that puts the wow into white Burgundy (95+).
We sat down to dinner with a 1985 Bachelet Charmes Chambertin Vieilles Vignes. It was a nice ‘starter’ wine. I couldn’t help but think again how I was supposed to have the 1993 a night ago! The Bachelet had a beautiful, deep, dark and chunky nose with hints of satay to go with its garden and fruits, which were black and purple. Someone admired its ‘wonderful purity.’ Vitamins and musk joined the party, and Mr. K commented how it was ‘all crushed berries.’ It was quite fruity in the mouth, and this pie of a palate had a dirty slice to it, as mushroom and dill crept in. All in all, it was a smooth and balanced wine, typical of 1985 in that regard, although there was a touch of atypical to it in regard to Burgundy (93).
The night’s featured attraction was a flight of four 1949s, all Chambertin in one form or another. We began with a 1949 Faiveley Mazis Chambertin. The nose had an old, oaty (yes, oaty) , earthy, old school Faiveley style, sprinkled with lots of citrus dust. There was a little VA on the nose per the Inspector, like brown sugar meeting a barnyard feeding bag, if that makes sense. The wine was polished and fine in the mouth, mature but still on the tail end of a plateau. There were lots of vegetable flavors along with some game and meat, but the animal qualities were the side dishes. A hint of celery snuck in there to go with its soupy, bouillon flavors (91).
The 1949 Morin Chambertin actually stole the show in the flight. Its nose was much fresher and redder than the Mazis, with more sugar sprinkled about. It smelled almost buttery, flirting with a BBQ kinkiness at times. The palate was soft, tender and tasty with a nice finish and some tongue-twisting tension left that was light yet firm. The acidity seemed to gain in the glass, and the Morin provided a pleasant and unexpected ‘wow’ factor (94).
We had another Faiveley, this time a 1949 Faiveley Chambertin Conferie des Chevaliers du Tasteduvin bottling. Unfortunately, this bottle was more Madeira than red, definitely oxidized although arguably drinkable (DQ).
We finished the flight as we should, with a 1949 Leroy Chambertin. Again, there was a celery component in the nose, although with this Leroy, it came first not later. There was a lot of stalk and veggie in the nose, but the palate had more rose to its flavors, with nice citrus overtones. It was a classic 1949, tender and pleasant, silky and soft, and with time became more exotic, offering fruit tea flavors and aromas that flirted with apricot. The Inspector kept inquiring what vintage everyone thought it was, refusing to close the case. The wine was graceful and elegant, but I wanted more (92).
And more we did get, in the form of a 1990 Chave Ermitage Cuvee Cathelin. Mr. K was already setting the table with ‘one of the all-time greats, on a par with Roumier Musigny and Jayer.’ The Inspector was already sulking now that Burgundy had left the building, but he pulled himself together to observe ‘root beer float.’ I got the whole ice cream sundae thing, along with a kick of gas. The palate was thick like an oil slick full of black fruit and asphalt flavors, quite velvety on its finish with kisses of menthol. Mike came in with ‘young puppy breath,’ and I saw what he was saying. There was a lot of animalistic edges to this big-time wine (95).
There have been many other wines and nights this year, none greater in breadth and scope than La Paulee. Come to think of it, I never wrote up last year either. Stay tuned.
In Vino Veritas,