Thursday night was the pre-paulee dinner, hosted by Senor Johnnes at the Bouley Test Kitchen, where David Bouley, Daniel Boulud and Michel Troisgros were all in the same kitchen chefing it up for the eager attendees. This year, the honored vignerons were Veronique Drouhin and Jean-Francois Coche-Dury. This would mark Coche’s first trip ever to America, but alas, the fates were not kind, and unfortunately his father passed away right before he was scheduled to come, so he had to cancel. Our condolences to Jean-Francois.

The show went on, and his wines were there to tell his tale, probably more effectively than Jean-Francois himself, since he doesn’t speak a lick of English and apparently isn’t the most forthcoming person in the world. We started with a flight of Rougeots.

The 2001 Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots had the signature, smoky Coche nose with lots of kernel, butter, oil, smoke, toast and underbrush. The palate was smooth and easy, tender and round, suppler than I expected. There was still nice, hidden acidity in its wavy and wafery personality, and the finish was pleasantly dusty. Eddie noted the ‘reduction’ and found it ‘shut down’ (92).

The 1996 Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots had a more minerally nose, more structure and elicited more oohs and aahs from the guests. There was this nutty, almost crusted edge to it. Its palate was delicious, in a good spot, balanced yet still with long acidity that was just starting to integrate. Tasty and poppy, or popping perhaps, the 1996 was just right (94).

The 1989 Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots had a milky, mildewy nose, a touch weird. There was cracked rye crisp in the nose, but not much more. The palate was creamy and long, but flabby comparatively and had butter flavors as in butter that had started to turn. Some herbs came out in the nose, but it stayed yeasty, not off necessarily, but off :). Someone quipped, ‘It’s still village Meursault’ (88A).

I did take a sip from a second bottle, and it was much better and classic, so I knew for sure the first bottle was off, as the second was in the excellent, 93-94 point territory again. Chris hailed the flight, ‘a good intro to Meursault.’ He then asked me if I knew where he could get any Montrachet lol.

Things were looking up already, as the second flight was all Perrieres. The 2001 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres was a little kitty that needed a bath. That blew off quickly into corn, nut and sweet, baked bread. The perfume started to unravel like bathrobes in a hotel room ”“ rather quickly, and that’s a good thing. The signature Coche kink followed, and a round, rich, sexy and smoky palate full of white fruit flavors was enough for a happy ending (94).

The 1996 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres was a little milky in the nose with waterfall aromas, a bit of jungle fever, some musk and finally crystallized fruit. The palate was a little back alley, confused and shut down, mildewy. Someone noted its ‘steely finish,’ while Wilf observed, ‘tanky resin.’ Chris found ‘chalky limestone and metal.’ Coche Diddy summated, ‘a great wine is good all the time.’ This one was still good, but disappointing (92A?)

The 1989 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres was a bit stinky at first, with hay and char-grilled wood. Sunsetting yellow fruits led into a yeasty palate, which unfolded into a buttery and smoky finish. Flavors of oatmeal joined the party. The acidity and spice were super special, even more so after a little food, and the ’89 kept taking off ”“ up, up and away (95).

What, no Corton Charlemagne? Of course there was, but not at the moment. It was Drouhin’s turn at the wheel, and a pair of ‘60s magnums had everyone in the mood for peace and love. The 1964 Drouhin Romanee St. Vivant was a touch stewed, with meat, rose and iodine behind that fact. It was still hearty in that ’64 way with lots of beef and acid. There was richness and lushness at first, but the wine fell off a cliff and turned into putty within a very short period of time. There is no doubt that a perfect bottle of this would be outstanding, or close to it (91+A-M).

The 1961 Drouhin Romanee St. Vivant was incredible. It was so vibrant and high-pitched in the nose that it made time stand still. The acidity, the Vitamin C, the rose, the hips”¦it was zippy with the doo-dah-day. This wine showed the greatness of the 1961 vintage for Burgundy, still forgotten and in the shadow of Bordeaux. The wine was so tasty, with flavors of earth, citrus and rose. It made me want to smack my lips, and a thing or two (95M).

The second flight of Drouhin was all about the Amoureuses. I miss my Amoureuses. The 1990 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny Amoureuses had a beefy, stir-fried nose in the gamy and stewed direction. It was hearty and big and reminded me a bit of ’64, and Wilf agreed. There was nice backbone and slaty flavors but just not as much stuffing on the palate as I had hoped (91).

The 1985 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny Amoureuses was trufflicious, distinctive and good. There were pinches of waterfall and oats along with straw and cabinet action. The ’85 was classic and classy, and how I thought it would be and should be (93+).

The 1976 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny Amoureuses had a woodsy, cinnamon spice, was round and frankly not that interesting. Spice, citrus and dust were there, but I wrote ‘eh’ twice in my notes (87).

Roger pulled out a 1978 Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches, which was great and just delicious, perfectly sunsetting and oh so right. It was silky city. Round, earthy and pretty, the Clos des Mouches property always seems to deliver, both red and especially the white (93).

The flight of Musignys began with the 1989 Drouhin Musigny. There was lots of morning cereal in the nose, which was getting a little figgy with it. The ’89 was round and rich with a pinch of acid and marzipan-y flavors. The wine was pleasant, and the finish hearty yet dirty (92).

The 1985 Drouhin Musigny was a touch musty in the nose, but the palate was tasty. Eddie concurred, appreciating the palate. The palate was rich and round, a touch soupy in a good, light, creamy way. There were great earth and nut flavors and a touch of caramel (93).

The 1978 Drouhin Musigny was special. There was great tension from the very start. Aromas of oat, cereal, citrus, Worcestershire and taut, red florals combined with pinches of garden and beef for a complex nose. The palate was rich and long, with a green, leafy spice and beautiful poise and spine. This wine had me at immediate attention and kept it until the glass was empty (95).

We were back to the whites. I love a good flight of white Burgundy or Champagne after a bunch of reds or even in between. It really works well. The 2001 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne was great. Its smoky, white minerally nose lured me in deeper. Cinnamon stick wrapped itself around me, and the nose was incredibly fresh, seeping from the glass. The palate was long and superb with great acidity, yet it was still so elegant. I know as far as reputation and even price, Perrieres can flirt with the Corton Charlemagne, but in reality the Perrieres didn’t come close. Sweet, white fruit flavors, super minerals and super spice meandered in the mouth, but with purpose. ‘Really good,’ summed it up (95+).

The 1996 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne was also super, as always. There was more of a lemon ice-y sweetness here, and a more pungent twist. There was also a leathery spice to the 1996. Its flavors were gamier, and the 1996 clearly had the most depth in the flight. It was longer and finer than the rest. Thick but still elegant, the 1996 had me quickly forgetting the 2001 and looking for seconds (97).

The 1992 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne was a bit anti-climactic and felt like it was starting to crack up. The negative side of 1992 came out in this bottle ”“ that rained-on garbage bag in the alley thing thing there there. It was round and pleasant, still good but not by comparison to the previous two, and not one to grow on (91).

It was on to Veritas for an after-party, and Big Boy was there waiting with a magnum of 1982 Louis Roederer Cristal Rose. He immediately hailed it as ‘very winy’ or it might have been ‘very wiry’ or maybe he was calling me ‘very whiny’”¦yup, it was that time of the night. The Cristal Rose was meaty and sturdy, lingering like great sex, possessing superb structure and that Rose goodness (95+M).

A 1978 Louis Roederer Cristal was a rare treat; it is a vintage that has mostly been consumed and not collected, but it held up well. It was much more mature than the ’82, a sign of the ‘82s quality, and ready to go. There was still some light spritz here, and mature carob and caramel flavors. Rob called it ‘clean,’ although I found a bit of back alley water to it along with garden flavors (92).

A 1969 Dom Perignon had the classic granulated sugar in its near-perfect nose. It was mature yet still fresh and young. The palate was long and spritely, with superb acidity and great, grainy flavors. Bobby also admired its ‘clean and young’ qualities. It was a great bottle (96+).

A magnum of 2002 Vosne Romanee Cuvee Duvault Blochet was sweet and young with a little banana peel appeal. It was easy like Sunday morning (92M).

A pair of fascinating Roumiers were next, beginning with a 1969 Roumier Morey St. Denis Clos de la Bussiere. Chris called it a ‘candy store’ while Neil admired its ‘weight.’ Pat thought the finish on the ’59 that followed was better, but the ’69 had complex aromas and flavors of black olives, sweet plums and prunes. It had great acidity, showing the best side of this dually regarded vintage. It was figgy yet not in that over the hill way (93+).

Brittain found that the 1959 Roumier Morey St. Denis Clos de la Bussiere ‘sinks into your skin.’ There was oat and brown sugar, more typical ’59 action, and it was round, soft and easy. I preferred the ’69 (92).

A few more wines followed, but the notes were done at this point. I do remember a 1982 Lafon Montrachet being excellent, I don’t remember the 2004 Liger-Belair Vosne Romanee Clos du Chateau that well, a 1996 D’Auvenay Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres was also excellent, as was the magnum of 1982 Chave. The Chave obviously stood out; its menthol and roasted earth were on full display like a spread peacock’s tail. Meaty, animalistic and rich, it was a great Chave (94M).

Day one still to precede!

In Vino Veritas,

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