I recently found myself in Atlanta, a city I have not been to in a few years. I can safely say that fine wine is alive and well in Atlanta after an impromptu get-together with some of its finest collectors, who treated me to many gems from their plentiful cellars.
We gathered at Eugene’s, recommended dining for those of you in the area, and started off with a delicious magnum of 1988 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill, which was in a great spot. Toasty and smoky with vanilla and white chocolate aromas, the ’88 was smooth yet long, tasty and balanced. There were great earth flavors and spritz along with some caramel sex appeal in this delightful magnum (94M).
A trio of young Chablis helped wet our whistles, beginning with a funky 2000 Raveneau Chablis Butteaux. Dasha noted its ‘very tropical’ personality. It was smoky at first, and so gamy that I wondered if this bottle had been affected at all. There was a lot of toast, anise and animal in the nose, but classic citrus on the palate. It had this ‘apple juice’ quality per Dasha, and despite some nice spice, the Butteaux really lost itself in the glass soon and gave way to its animal and gamy traits, a bit too much so (88?).
The 2000 Dauvissat Chablis ‘La Forest’ was cleaner, possessing more anise in the nose, pungent, rocky, minerally and more classic. There were nice citric dust flavors and lots of rocks, ‘so much minerals and flinty,’ as Joel added (90).
The 2002 Fevre Chablis Les Clos was ‘so vanilla compared to the other two,’ and its use of more oak was noticeable but not overbearing. It had more musk to its nose as a result, also having some game and vanilla. Toasty and tasty with musk and animal flavors, the Clos had smokier flavors and a bigger finish, perhaps driven by its terroir advantage (91).
br>A pair of Haut Brion Blancs was next courtesy of Wild Bill, Atlanta’s personal wine sheriff, ensuring that great wines will always be served in his part of town! The 1982 Haut Brion Blanc had a complex, almost wild nose, full of glue and exotic wood aromas. Game, anise, smoke and honey-glazed fruit rounded out the nose. The wine was round and smooth in the mouth, showing mainly glue flavors but also a dry, long, citrusy finish. There was still very good acidity left in this dry and austere white, which someone likened to a ‘Bacardi’ of a wine, while Joel found it ‘Sauternes-like”¦unsugared’ (90).
The 1985 Haut Brion Blanc was clearly a step up from the 1982, gamier and meatier and possessing aromas of sunny yellow fruits and golden raisins in its sweet and creamy nose. There was also a fabulous toasty quality to its aromatics that passed over to its palate, which was smoky as well and had more glue flavors. Its acidity gained in the glass, and this long and stylish white also gained straw flavors and nice spice and pop to its finish. Bill, a self-proclaimed Burgundy lover, was asked if he was ok with this Bordeaux stuff, to which he playfully replied, ‘it’s an honorary vegetable’ lol (94).
There was one more white Bordeaux, an intriguing 1976 Laville Haut Brion. The Laville had a distinctly Sauternes nose, very sweet, nutty and apricoty, giving an almost sweet wine impression aromatically. The palate was much drier, gamier and possessed high acid. Tasty and long, there was still light grit to this pleasant ’76 (90).
The whites continued with a trio of Burgundies, beginning with the 1969 Leroy Meursault Perrieres, which brought up the age-old Leroy question, ‘What is it?’ It had a great nose for a 40 year-old Sauvignon Blanc. There were many redeeming qualities, including nice acid, citrus, vigor and cat’s pee (which I find in many late release Leroy whites). I liked the wine, and found it to be very good, but if that was a forty-year old white wine, then I am a twenty-one year old stud quarterback (91?).
The 1989 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne had an exotic nose with aromas of foie gras ice cream, if you have ever had such a thing. It had this sweet delicacy, as well as great perfume and an open-wide personality. This secondary, mushroomy complexity was great as well. The palate was long and citrusy with nice dust flavors, delicious and round and morphing into crÃ¨me brulee with time in the glass. Marzipan joined the party over time as the wine softened like Bounce (93).
The 1991 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne was only a step behind the 1989, which was surprising given the perceived disparity between the two vintages for white Burgundies. The ’91 had a smoky coconut nose, still fresh up front and nice in the back, too. There was dust, leather and spice to its finish, and Dasha admired its ‘coffee’ and found it to be her favorite of the flight (92).
Bill took it to a whole new level with a spectacular bottle of 1949 Cheval Blanc, the first time he had had two Bordeaux side by side in approximately ten years lol. Cedar jumped out of its nose, as well as amazing meat, cherry dust, minerals and an impression of a snow-capped mountain. The nose continued to unfold with nutmeg, chocolate and motor oil. Sprinkles of vitamins and sugar developed, but its nuttiness was what took over ”“ a full range of all nut types, in fact. In the mouth, the Cheval was rich and tasty, full of old book and carob flavors. Bob noted, ‘cigar box, licorice and strength,’ and its acidity was extreme sports, indeed (96).
The 1955 Haut Brion that followed was a good bottle but still disappointing in the context of previous bottles tasted. It was a touch oakier and smokier than the Cheval, intense with its ‘BBQ’ action, but a bit too oaky and also a touch under-ripe and slightly herbal with its bell pepper. The undercurrant of its entire personality was green, although Joel defended its richness. Candle wax, tobacco and band-aid flavors were all present in this ’55, which showed more and more mesquite but never quite enough fruit (92).
The 1975 La Mission Haut Brion also had this mesquite/BBQ edge. Vim and vigor jumped out after traveling forward in time twenty years. Punchy and expressive, its nose was full of gravel, tobacco and t ‘n a. Joel wasn’t crazy about the nose but was about the palate, which was a bit citrusy but still expressive and delicious. Someone questioned its saltiness, and it was salty but more so smoky with lots of earth, minerals and toast flavors. Dasha liked its ‘corn and grits’ qualities. It still is the South, after all! While it was not the best ’75 La Miss that I have had, it was still outstanding. Many have complained of a lot of variation with this wine, but this was about as variable as I have found it to be, and it was still (95).
Apparently Big Boy isn’t the only one who knows Champagne makes a great palate cleanser, as a delicious 1985 Dampierre Vintage Champagne followed. Its nose was one of white meat and bean soup, gamy and with a syrupy extra dimension. Flavors of marzipan were present on its yeasty and vitaminy palate. This was ‘taaaaaaastes great’ (93)!
It was time for some red Burgundy, beginning with a 1971 Latour Charmes Chambertin. I have always loved old Louis Latour Chambertins and RSVs, and this old Latour was earthy and oaty with aromas of brown sugar and Worcestershire. Its beefy flavors were accompanied by integrated acidity. Full of smokehouse flavors, this wine was oaty, brown sugary and ultimately still very good (90).
A 1949 Remoissenet Vosne Romanee Clos des Reas had a smoky nose with black and white (chocolate and vanilla) aromas and a simple palate, with bing cherry and citrus flavors. Easy and ok, it was nothing moving (88).
We were back to Jesus with a great bottle of 1971 Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes. There was incredible fruit to this ‘orgasmic’ bottle, per Richard. Its aromas made me salivate with its cherry, dust, leather, earth, bouillon, Worcestershire, citrus and beef Szechuan. Tangy and saucy, oily flavors of Dr. Brown’s celery soda, citrus and spicy beef were all present in this youthful wine, which later gave a baby food impression aromatically since it was so concentrated (96).
A 1983 L. Jayer Vosne Romanee Les Malconsorts was no slouch, either, delivering another great ’83 experience. The nose was more nutty with a stemmy edge and a crazy black cherry complexity. Corn stalk, syrup and spice flavors complemented its earth and leathery finish, which had a touch of cigar leaf on it (93).
A couple of whites refreshed the palate for one last flight of reds. The 1992 Remoissenet Montrachet was mature with aromas of yeast, smoke, toffee, nut and toast with simple banana peel flavors (88).
A 2000 Girardin Montrachet was smooth, buttery and Caliesque, smooth, nice and tasty for a Kistler lol (90).
A pair of RSV’s was last, beginning with a 1982 Romanee St. Vivant. The ’82 had a noticeably lighter color and that touch of ’82 stew like a soup kitchen. Earthy, dusty, gamy and toasty, its aromas became stewed cherries. Its palate was smooth, soft and round with still just a shred of semblance of support (90).
Finally was another ’83, the 1983 Romanee St. Vivant, which was minty, meaty, mentholy and ripe with its cherry fruit profile. Forward and sensuous, there were round flavors of cherry, dust and citrus, all a touch under-ripe but still very good (92).
And that is why they call Atlanta ‘Hotlanta.’
In Vino Veritas,