This year’s La Paulee was in San Francisco, and on the Friday night before the big gala, a few lucky gentlemen were invited to dinner at Quince, thanks to the efforts of Tom Terrific and Dapper Dave. Magnums were the theme, and Burgundy was the given. There weren’t too many wines to forgive, as almost everything showed spectacularly. Accordingly, this was an evening no one would forget.

We started with a 1992 Dauvissat Chablis Preuses, and it was it singing. It had a gorgeous nose full of rainwater and yeasty yellow fruit. This was a gamy wine, with aromas of oyster shells, minerals and sun-dried citrus. There was a lot going on, and Dapper Dave commented how this was ‘as good an aged Dauvissat as you can ask for.’ Balanced, delicious, rich and decadent, it sure was (95M).

The 1993 Carillon Bienvenues Batard Montrachet was the only bottle that was slightly off. It was smoky, with white glassy fruit. While smooth and satiny at first, it started to crack up in the glass, as its diamond qualities became zirconia rather quickly, and oxidation emerged (92A-M).

A 1995 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet proudly carried the flag for Anne-Claude, who passed away earlier this year. Deep orange and rust penetrated the nose, along with heavy cream and more orange peel. The Distinguished Gentleman called it ‘strikingly great,’ and it was long and classy with nice grit on its finish. There was a dollop of honey in its maturing flavor profile. This nutty Chevy was rock solid (95M).

A 1992 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche followed, and it was very sweet in the nose. It managed to keep it all together, and wasn’t as sweet on the palate. This was a round, satiny and smooth wine, just beautiful and showing that the vintage still has something to say…here and there (94M).

The 1990 Ramonet Batard Montrachet crushed everything so far. ‘Super’ summed it up well. It was very nutty with pure waterfall aromas. It was like ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’ There was a great combination of earth and caramel happening, and Say It Ain’t Joe called it ‘killer.’ This was Ramonet at its finest, and there weren’t many witnesses left after this longer, bigger and better wine (96+M).

The 1991 Ramonet Montrachet followed, and while terroir often trumps vintage, the 1991 couldn’t keep up. It was still excellent, ‘fully in the zone,’ per Dapper. This was much more mature than the 1990, a quality of the vintage for whites. This was earthy, yeasty, gamy and smooth, although someone found it ‘taut and youthful’ (93M).

We crossed the bridge to the world of Pinot Noir, and we began with a world dominator, a magnum of 1988 Roumier Bonnes Mares Vieilles Vignes. This wine was worth the trip to San Francisco. Dapper Dave noted, ‘crazy velvet,’ and he wasn’t talking about Big Boy’s pants lol. Actually, it was thanks to Big Boy that we had this incredibly rare wine. This magnum left all the hens teethless, as only Big Boy could and still can do. My notes started, ‘spectacular wine, out of control great.’ I am getting goosebumps just writing about it again. Its nose had sappy, red cherry fruit with bright bing and traces of citrus. Dave felt it was just entering its plateau. Its palate was long and extraordinary, gritty and powerful. This was a spicy hot mama that left me licking my lips after its last kiss good night. It was so good that it left me concentrated all over (99M).

The 1985 DRC Romanee St. Vivant that followed was dealt a tough hand. It didn’t help itself with its dirty nose, consistent with the bottle I also sampled this year. It still had sappy and seepy red fruit in its dirty nose and leathery palate. While rich and earthy, it got dirtier in the glass, bordering on Tootsie Roll (94M).

A 1978 Clair Dau Bonnes Mares was also rich and earthy, on the greater side than the previous wine. There was great citrus smack to its heavy and honeyed palate. This magnum showed 1978’s sweetness at its finest (95M).

The 1979 DRC Richebourg had an incredible nose full of cedar, cherry oil, honey and cream. There was great acidity to its palate, which had more menthol and cola flavors. This was a spectacular wine, lip smackingly great, and clearly the second best magnum of the night so far (97M).

The 1982 Rousseau Chambertin was flirty and delicious, just right, so to speak. Its finish was still powerful, slightly alcoholic yet rich like Warbucks. There was nothing wrong, just everything right in this mature, tasty Rousseau (94M).

The last magnum on this starry evening would be served blind. Big boy was still in the house, and he was finishing up with a bang. This was a rusty, spicy and zippy wine. It kept me licking the roof of my mouth, and the first guess was ‘1969.’ It wasn’t ’69, but it was a good guess. That rusty and acidity style was all ’69, but others preferred a different position. 1964 and 1959 both entered the conversation, and so did La Tache. Neil Diamonds lassoed the bull with a ’70s DRC’ guess. The wine was a stunning magnum of 1970 DRC Romanee Conti. Producer, producer, producer. This wine was wicked, possessing peel, both of the fruit variety and the see you later one, too (97M).

And many of us would see each other again the night after at La Paulee gala. I have covered this great celebration of Burgundy with full notes in my younger years, but I am not as young as I used to be. So here are the scores for the 30 wines for which I wrote something down, the over/under on wines tasted that aren’t listed is four.

1. 2007 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (94)
2. 2004 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet (95)
3. 2008 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche (94)
4. 2007 Roulot Meursault Perrieres (96+)
5. 2006 Jadot Corton Charlemagne (93)
6. 2000 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (DQ)
7. 1992 Carillon Bienvenues Batard Montrachet (95)
8. 1986 Ramonet Batard Montrachet (96)
9. 1989 Fontaine Gagnard Montrachet (95)
10. 1999 Sauzet Montrachet (95)
11. 1990 Ramonet Bienvenues Batard Montrachet (95)
12. 2008 DRC Echezeaux (95)
13. 2001 Bouchard La Romanee (93)
14. 2008 Liger Belair La Romanee (97)
15. 1990 Roumier Bonnes Mares (97+)
16. 2001 Jayer Echezeaux (95)
17. 1978 Dujac Morey St. Denis 1er Cru (92)
18. 1999 Dujac Echezeaux (93)
19. 1991 DRC Grands Echezeaux (95)
20. 1990 DRC Romanee St. Vivant (94)
21. 1996 DRC Richebourg (95+)
22. 1966 DRC La Tache (92)
23. 1990 Leroy Corton Charlemagne (94)
24. 1986 Meo-Camuzet Nuits St. Georges Boudots (97)
25. 1983 Roumier Bonnes Mares (95)
26. 1995 Truchot Charmes Chambertin TVV (94)
27. 1978 DRC Grands Echezeaux (96)
28. 1978 Dujac Clos St. Denis (95)
29. 2011 Raveneau Chablis Les Clos (96+)

A few brief comments about the night. The Roulot was out of jero thanks to Sir Robert, and another perfect example of why Roulot is now considered one of the world’s greatest white winemakers. Ramonets continued to shock and awe, that mid-seventies to mid-nineties era has very little competition when it comes to white Burgundy. DRC continues to prove bottle after bottle why it is largely considered the greatest producer in the world. There was an overabundance of riches on this night, which would continue late into the evening, but the three standouts were the Liger Belair, the 1990 Roumier and the Meo-Camuzet. Everyone knows by now how great I think Louis Michel’s wines are, and it was exciting to see this young buck stand out amongst the older crowd, wine wise, that is. That is generally a handicap for most wines, serving a younger wine against older ones, but not for Louis Michel. The wines of Liger Belair are both delicious in their youth while still possessing enormous potential. I cannot wait to follow future vintages for decades to come. The 1990 Roumier followed the footsteps of the VV magnum quite admirably. Everything was in the right place, and the wine still felt young. It seized the attention of my palate and delivered a bar that was not met for the rest of the evening….with perhaps one exception, an exception all the more exceptional based on its 1er cru terroir. The 1986 Meo Boudots was an incredible wine, and why not? It was made by Henri Jayer, after all. From 1985-1988, Henri was the winemaker for Meo-Camuzet, making these vintages absolute jewels for Jayer lovers. However, some of these bottles were filtered versus unfiltered, and the unfiltered ones are the best, at least in my opinion. So there is variation. Regardless, this bottle was thrilling, and another testament to the legend that is Henri Jayer.

That’s the happy recap, at least all that’s fit for print.

In Vino Veritas,

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