The auction was over, but our day wasn’t. The day was all the more special because of an extraordinary Acker achievement: over US$1 Billion of overall auction sales was realized at the auction that day. I could never have imagined when we started in 1998 that I would be standing in Hong Kong celebrating a Billion of sales. I didn’t even step foot into Asia for another nine years. I can’t thank all of our friends and clients enough, we did it together! I will make one promise: we will continue to be the greatest ambassador for the world’s finest and rarest wines. Actually, I’ll make two: we will achieve our next Billion in less than ten years, let’s go!!!
There were quite a few goodies already sampled that morning and afternoon at the auction; and I was fortunate enough to taste about a dozen wines, including 2005 La Mission Haut Brion, 1996 Lafite Rothschild, 1982 La Conseillante, 2000 Dujac Clos de la Roche, 2004 DRC Richebourg, 1990 DRC Grands Echezeaux, 2012 Comte Liger-Belair Vosne Romanee Aux Reignots, 2007 Comte Liger-Belair La Romaneeand 1981 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape amongst others. It’s not easy for me to take notes during an auction, but if I did, it would easily be another 250 notes a year. Something to strive for! This could have been an article in its own right, but all I can tell you right now is damn those Liger-Belair wines are delicious, and if you see any old Rayas, grab them and drink them, but you may have competition from me lol.
Lots To Say
Choppers To Macau
Bye Bye HK
We took a couple choppers over to Macau, where we were treated to another three star meal at 8 _ Otto E Mezzo, and we were pleasantly surprised to see Bombana himself in the kitchen. When he heard of this dinner, he insisted to be there himself! Grazie, Chef!!! While none of us wanted the weekend to end, it was time to get started one last time.
We began with a trio of Clos du Mesnils, and they set the tone early. The 1989 Krug Clos du Mesnil was nutty and full bodied with lots of heavy cream and rich butter flavors. Heavy and creamy appeared again in my notes, as it was an outstanding plus bottle, hitting lots of oily notes with rock star acidity (97).
The 1985 Krug Clos du Mesnil was leaner and cleaner than the ’89, and it had more marzipan sweetness with some ice capped mountain action. While it didn’t have the stuffing of the 1989, it was still long, and the Comte found it ‘young and elegant’ and that it ‘needed the most time.’ It definitely unfurled in the glass(95+).
The 1979 Krug Clos du Mesnilwas Montrachet-like with its buttery butter bomb of a personality. This was a little oakier at first, but it turned into woodsy goodness. WOW, this wine had the intensity and sweetness of a DRC Montrachet. This was an ‘epic’ Champagne, roasted and reminiscent of ‘toasted apricots’ per the French Paradox. While starting to mellow and ‘not so fizzy like the others’ per the Comte, make no mistake about it: this was a stone-cold stunner(99)!
Unfortunately, the 1996 Niellon Chevalier Montrachet was premoxed (DQ). Next!
The 1996 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet had the classic Leflaive popcorn kernel smokiness. There was great citrus and a rich, white meat, juicy poultry quality to it. The fruit was great in a sun-dried way, icy with its crystallized fruit and possessing a smokehouse finish. This was more than outstanding stuff, with ‘amazing length and BOOM’ per the Paradox (97).
The 1996 Domaine d’Auvenay Chevalier Montrachet was rich, coconutty and almost vodka-ish. There was much more animal here and also butter that was melted. Its palate was meaty and gamier with a bit of brown sugar and honey. It wasn’t a dancer, but you could feel the wine coming, and it did get better in the glass as it tightened up. This was a big, chunky and buttery white, and the Hamburglar admired its ‘concentration, minerality and tension’ (95).
It was on to the ‘main event’ for the whites, a trio of DRC Montrachets. I went oldest to youngest, beginning with the 1996 DRC Montrachet, which quickly garnered three snaps from the Comte. The French Paradox found it to be a ‘laser.’ This had a great, regal yet shy nose at first with nice citrus aromas, but it was muted overall. The palate, however, was explosive and absolutely ‘insane,’ I wrote. Its acidity was great, its finish long and its flavors nice and icy. This was a graceful wine with great fireplace action and awesome minerality. It doesn’t get much better (99).
The 1999 DRC Montrachet had a deep, honeyed nose full of floral spice. It had a rich and meaty nose with a full body and touches of yeast. It was heavy and honeyed with so much power. This was a muscular Montrachet like ’99s are prone to be, and the Zen Master found it ‘exactly what you expect in DRC.’ This intense wine got more honeyed in the glass (97).
The 2002 DRC Montrachet was perhaps the most typical of the DRC Montys. It was full of mango, cream, honey and lavender with a sweeter profile. This was another rich white and oh so tasty, but it was getting picked on after the first two. The French Paradox found it ‘too toasty’, and the Comte thought there was a ‘lack of elegance’ oh, the French lol… the Zen Master agreed that it ‘lacked precision’ but it did improve with air time, significantly. Exotic coconut and lemon flavors emerged on its finish, and it still made me happy(96).
It was back to Bordeaux one, second to last time, and it was one of the younger red flights of the weekend, but that was ok, as it was 1982 vs. 1989, HB vs. LMHB. That’s about as good a ‘young’ flight of Bordeaux that one can have, for sure. We began with the 1982 Haut Brion, which had sexy aromas of nuts, caramel, pencil and gravel. The palate showed the gravelly Graves side of the wine big time, but it also had loads of cassis fruit. It was very spiny and dry and truly a classy wine, underrated by 1982 First Growth standards(96).
Younger Reference Points
The 1982 La Mission Haut Brion had a more chocolaty nose and was ‘darker’ per the Paradox. It had a touch of band-aid to its nose, but the palate had loads of acidity and gravel and charcoal flavors. Its backside banged with mesquite flavors (95).
The 1989 Haut Brion was near perfect, as always. There were deep black fruits with a nutty glaze, and while heavy, it had an effortless finish. It was gritty and zippy with regal acidity and length. It lasted so long on the palate yet was still utterly stylish. It is still the greatest Bordeaux made over the past thirty years, along with the 1989 Petrus (99).
The 1989 La Mission Haut Brion was not as opulent as usual. It had some tootsie pop, chocolatey flavors, but it was a touch cooked and off (95+A).
Italy was a good place to go next, and we began with the 1971 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva, which had a bit of tomato, celery soda and ‘licorice’ to its nose. Behind that was the classic tar and leather of Barolo. There was rich fruit, and the celery soda persisted on the palate. You could taste the iron and the soil, and brown sugar flavors emerged. The Zen Master found it a touch ‘herbal.’ The Comte cooed how ‘Nebbiolo is the cousin of Pinot but with more alcohol and warmth’ (95).
The 1982 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva was unfortunately corked(DQ).
The 1985 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva was clearly the best of flight, and it was thick, rich and full of grit. There was all sorts of desert action on its finish. The Zen Master found it had ‘all the elements’ one could want in great Barolo and also noted ‘Chinese tea.’ This was so dry and so long, just awesome stuff and full of tobacco and leather flavors (97).
We went to the young Burgundies next before the old Bordeaux. It’s ok, you can do that when you’re sophisticated lol. It was time for some Musigny, but the 1996 Vogue Musigny VV, was a bit lacking compared to the next two. It was milky with zippy acid on its nose. There were lots of vitamins, make that vitamin city with a mÂ©lange of colors in the nose. The Vogue did pack a ‘punch’ per Zen, but he also found it ‘not approachable.’ It was a bit too dry as well given the context of all the great wines we had been drinking (93).
There was an incredible ‘elegance’ to the 1996 Roumier Musigny per the Master. It was darker and brooding but classy. Its palate was beefy and full of iron, a veritable spine city. There was a drop of cotton candy here as well. This needed time in the glass, as it was very shy at first, throwing off citric lemon-lime vibes. Rose petals and sexy cranberry flavors emerged, and Puppup loved its ‘floral’ qualities(97).
The 1993 Leroy Musigny showed that ‘signature Leroy’ per Zen, along with ‘fresh blood,’ per another, and ‘Chinese root’ per one more. There was so much garden and the ‘flower of Chambolle’ according to the Comte. This had great stink and was super gamy, rich and saucy, and it only got better with air. This was a ‘crazy tasty’ wine, I wrote, and it was full of forest goodness. The Hamburglar called it ‘one of the wines of the weekend,’ while the Comte found it ‘exceptional.’ There was great smack to its bouncing ass of a finish (97).
We were rocking to the Forties thanks to a 1947 Chateau Margaux in magnum. It was classy and classic with its old book, mushroom and cassis aromas. The wine was tender and beautiful with touches of blood, iron and dried fig flavors. Its caressing, beautiful palate got a little chalky, but it held on to its outstanding status (95M).
Rocking To The Forties
The 1945 Lafite Rothschild had caramel on its nose along with pencil, with its caramel outweighing the classic cassis qualities. There were old book flavors in this elegant and graceful claret (94).
The 1945 Mouton Rothschild had that mint and eucalyptus sweetness that is such a trademark for this wine in this era. It was kinky, flamboyant and exotic. There was some ‘spicy pepper’ per the Comte, and I got the Shishito. I also got the pork luau with a touch of pineapple. I told you it was exotic! Toffee and animal led us all into a round of ‘jungle boogie,’ followed quickly by an ‘electric shock.’ This was the wakeup call that the Comte would desperately need tomorrow lol (99+).
There aren’t many producers that can handle following a perfect bottle of 1945 Mouton Rothschild, but I think we got it right when we selected Domaine de la Romanee Conti. The 1971 DRC Richebourgwas actually the favorite of the night for many, and ‘she had me at hello,’ Puppup keenly observed. There was oil, rose and cherry blossom aromas and flavors, and the Zen Master found it ‘buttery.’ . Its acidity sparkled; this so rich and decadent with oily rose and menthol flavors (98).
It’s As Easy As DRC
The 1980 DRC La Tache was a great surprise to all, but not me. It was elegant and delicious, with nice forest floor aromas, and beautiful red fruits, roses and flowers. There were nice minerals to this vimful LT, and it kept improving in the glass until it was a real thriller. There was so much spine and acidity here in the end (97).
The 1990 DRC La Tachewas milky, yeasty and honestly a touch dirty. This wine was still young, and Puppup was right that it was ‘still tight.’ This was great but not on the level of the others. I should note that I had a magnum of this one month later that I rated 99 points. Maybe I will write that one up, maybe I won’t lol (96+).
There were still two more flights, but there really wasn’t any need for another wine after the 1945 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape. This was one of those unforgettable wines, made all the more so by the fact that I will probably never see it again. I have to thank Mr. Wilf Jaeger for this spectacular bottle from his spectacular collection, and yes, timing is everything. This savory red was full of pepper yet ‘Burgundian in nose’ per the Zen Master. The Iceman noted ‘licorice.’ There was some scintillating sea breeze to it, but it was dominated by its rich, decadent strawberry fruit flavors. This kept me smacking my lips and showed that more great winemakers need to be making Grenache (99).
The two Rayases that followed were both great, but I couldn’t pay as much attention any more. The 1989 Rayas had a Smuckers jam quality to it, and that is all that I wrote, other than (95). I could see the ’45 Ra in my glass of 1990 Rayas. Such great potential, I can’t wait to try it again in 45 years, and maybe another dozen times before then (98).
Of course, we had to have some dessert wines. We may not have been able to see straight, but we could still taste. The oldest wine of the weekend, the 1884 Yquem was corked despite being reconditioned at the Chateau in 1989. Tant pis (DQ). The 1890 Yquem was rich and full of nougat and caramel like a perfect Milky Way candy bar. This had nuts and spice and everything nice (93). The 1900 Yquem was a WOW wine. It was rich and decadent on the palate with caramel and candle wax flavors, and an intense slate minerality. It was still young, but oh so good(97).
And there you have, Night Three of the Greatest Wines of the World Weekend. See you next year.
The Long Way Home
In Vino Veritas,