This past week I was in New York, but I might as well have been in Hong Kong, as the three dinners on my calendar were with three of HK’s finest collectors, all in New York on separate business occasions, although there were a couple of interconnected links.
The Chairman is a name bestowed on three different individuals in three different continents as far as Vintage Tastings lore goes, but it would be safe to say that they all might defer to the one in Hong Kong for any final votes in the boardroom. A number of us were treated to a night of incredible wine and food in the private room at Bouley, as the pulse of America’s and China’s investment market met and broke bread and reds.
I think five bottles of 1995 Krug went down the hatch by the time we sat down to dinner. The 1995 is definitely getting better with age, and it is starting to thicken a bit. It was still rustic yet bready, with nice oil and vitamin flavors, flirting with outstanding (94+).
The 1997 Chave Hermitage Blanc took up the Montrachet challenge, and if there were ever a white that could knock a Montrachet down to its knees, it would be this. While some might put its personality under the ‘acquired’ or ‘geeky’ category, I find his whites fabulous and unique. It had that glue-do-voodoo kink, which hopefully anyone who has had his whites will understand. There were kinky fruits, icy flavors and diamonds sparkling on its finish. It was round and full, with mango, game and (good) bitter flavors. This was a white wine still ascending at age 17, although its fruit was starting to hit that sweet spot (95).
The 2000 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche was more than up for the challenge. This is my favorite Montrachet in terms of price-to-quality ratio. It always delivers outstanding quality without the stratospheric price tag, and this was no exception. The crowd immediately jumped in the Montrachet camp, but of course, they were bankers, so no surprise there J. Its nose oozed buttery spice, along with nice mint, cedar and cream aromas. Its palate was long, smooth and buttery, while Jennie observed, ‘overripe pineapple.’ I loved this wine (95+).
The Chairman plucked off the list a 1978 DRC Echezeaux. The bottle was a bit bruised and battered on the outside, but absolutely perfect on the inside. You could not ask for anything more out of this wine. Aromas of sous bois, menthol, autumn and dried beef all fought for our attention over its sappy, tree-lined fruit. This was a smooth, satiny and delicious wine; long, classy and classic all at once. Its flavors had a nice brothy quality to them, and the wine delivered secondary and tertiary action that carried us on wings into the next course (96) .
Riding Dirty Off the List
A pair of dueling ’90 Right Bankers were next, beginning with the 1990 Angelus. This was reportedly Hubert’s favorite vintage of all-time. It was deep, big and long with black fruits, bread and great dryness. It was quite thick and long, toeing the line between New and Old Worlds quite deftly. It didn’t please everyone in the crowd as ‘too aggressive’ and ‘anchovy’ came out, but I liked and respected the wine (95).
The 1990 Le Bon Pasteur was exotic and coconutty with a shot of whey protein in there. This was a Pomerol Power Smoothie, drinking great with rich fruit and plummy fruit flavors. Many in the room preferred it, and it was certainly in a better spot as far as drinking right now (94).
The classic showdown of Palmer versus Margaux never gets old, especially when they are both from 1983. The 1983 Margaux had a deep, invigorating nose with nice black and cassis fruit. There was some grass and honey along with deeper fruit in this classic Margaux. It was both masculine and feminine at the same time (95).
The 1983 Palmer was neck and neck with the Margaux, although I didn’t get a chance to write a complete note. The first ‘Ganbei’ of the night struck. For those of you who don’t know what it means, it means ‘bottoms up.’ Yes, it seems a bit inappropriate when it comes to fine and rare wine, but the power of the Ganbei is greater. If in China, and someone says it, I highly recommend that you drink up. When with the Chairman, it is mandatory (95).
Two mighty magnums signaled the end of the Bordeaux part of our evening, beginning with a 1961 Lafite Rothschild. This wine has never lived up to the reputation of the vintage, but it is still an excellent wine. It had a lighter nose than one would expect from a ’61 First Growth, but there were pleasing aromas of toffee, pencil, cedar and caramel. Its palate was smooth, light and tender with a nice core of sweetness leaning on the toffee side. I believe ‘jolly good’ might be an apt descriptor (93M).
The 1959 Margaux had a richer nose that was blacker. There was a touch of gas to this also smooth wine. A hint of apricot tiptoed out of this wine’s catacombs to show exotic fruit. OTR commented, ‘the Lafite would just lay there, while this one would put me in positions’ he never knew he was capable of, or something to that effect. Point, set, match, Margaux (94M).
Out of Magnum No Less
Actually, it wasn’t the end of our Bordeaux program, as I had to slip in a blind wine of my own. Such generosity must be reciprocated. I told everyone if anyone guessed what the wine was, dinner was on me. After a few near-misses, The Chairman was honing in, so I decided to reveal it was a 1979 Petrus. This was a gorgeous bottle with an open nose full of chocolate. There was ‘a big, bold finish’ per someone or another, and its foreground was satiny, round and smooth. Mints, olives and other usual Petrus friends joined this party (95).
We had a couple more Ganbeis revisiting some of the Bordeaux, then a couple of Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelles. The 1989 was a dirty birdie (92) and the 1990 was jammy, chewy, friendly and zippy, one of the better bottles of this that I have had recently (94).
Oh yeah, we had some 2001 Yquem. Although I rarely drink sweet wine, that one rocks (98+).
I’m not sure how I managed to have lunch the next day, but the fact that it was at Marea helped. The Artist Formerly Known as Dr. Vino plucked a delicious 2012 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey off the list, and I felt better again. I can’t remember which wine it was, but they are all good from this up-and-coming Burgundy star.
For those of you that really pay attention to what I write, you may remember a group from Hong Kong called the AlcoholiHKs. Well, one of their Chief Drinking Officers was in town, so we two CDOs got together at Sparks, since he wanted a great American steakhouse. Since I was out Monday with the Hedonist, Tuesday with The Chairman and Wednesday again, dinner was at 5:30. If I wasn’t home by 7:30, I think I might have gotten a homemade vasectomy. So we shared a single bottle, a reasonable 2004 Montrose off the list. It was big and brawny, a bit tight at first, showing more oak than anything else. With some air, and some steak, it settled down into another drinkable ’04, solid but not earthshaking (90).
A couple of days later, I was lucky enough to catch The Zen Master while he transcended through New York City. The Zen Master is also a wine master, so there was only one place to take him: Charlie Bird. We warmed up with a 2007 Raveneau Chablis Montee de Tonnerre. It was quintessential Chablis; the ultimate starter wine. It drank like silk embroidered with exotic sea shells and minerals. There was smack to its lemony, tangy palate, and enough length to get into the serious class (94).
The Zen Master selected a 2011 Roulot Meursault Clos des Boucheres, a personal favorite of Sir Robert Bohr’s. This showed 2011 is in the same class as 2007 for whites, a sentiment recently echoed when I was in Burgundy, although everyone seemed to give the nod to ’07 overall. I know Chablis has its own personality relative to the rest of white Burgundy’s vintage charts, but work with me, I’m writing over here. The Meursault was fat yet cut, plump with its ample cleavage aka fruit. It had that signature Roulot flavor, and its smoky sex appeal hit my sweet spot. It was bigger and louder than the Chablis, obviously, and it fit perfectly in the progression of the evening (94).
The Zen Master also picked an intriguing bottle of 1961 Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva. I believe this was before they made single-vineyard wines, and only one Riserva, but I am not sure 100%. This bottle was on the mature side but still drinkable and enjoyable. It had that sweet, open, leathery edge with lots of brown sugar. The tar and caramel came out more and more, and this gritty wine left all of us lip smacking. It did feel like it lacked that usual, extra Giacosa dimension, for whatever it’s worth (92).
1983 Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline. When it comes to the La la’s, there is no doubt that the La Mouline rules the roost, although any given Sunday, La Turque or La Landonne can of course steal the show. I doubt anything could show much better than this ’83. It was a great bottle, showing everything that La Mouline wants to give. Its nose was deep and dark, full of purple, violet and black fruit. Bacon, pepper and that Rhone hot rock spice simmered throughout the wine. This was big, rich yet deft, an agile wine on a heavyweight level (97).
Before in the Bucket
After on the Patio
There was one more wine on our menu, although we probably could have done without. Yeah right, it was a 2002 Rousseau Chambertin. 2002 has always been a darling vintage of mine, but it is starting to join my favorite camp. Dare I say greater than 1999 or 2005 as far as Red Burgundy vintages go? If we are talking pleasure right now, it is tough to argue against the 2002, and it still has a long way to go. There was flesh to the usual musk, wet bamboo and cherry fruit. It was open and singing, singular in its powerful terroir, and long with its acidity. This was a great wine, a definitive knockout blow (96).
Three of my favorite restaurants in NYC (Bouley, Marea and Charlie Bird) along with three of my favorite friends in HK made for three of my favorite things last week, all here in New York City. When it comes to fine wine, invasions are welcome.
In Vino Veritas,