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For whatever reason, the notes from my trips to LA these past 3-4 months have been buried in my files, so I decided to finally catch up on them as I headed out this past Columbus Day weekend to inspect a couple important cellars.

Chapter I – The Colonel’s Nuts, Uncle Matty, Mount Eden and Tequila

We start this recap back in July, the 21st to be exact, when the Colonel Yarom Limor had assembled some of his faithful ‘Nuts’ at the Four Seasons Hotel for an evening of fine wine, food and cigars. Everyone brought a bottle of their choice, and Yarom has a knack for keeping the quality up while not being anal about it, and the result is always a fun, relaxed and enjoyable evening. However, if you end up at the same poker table as him, he will take you out!

We started with the 1989 Laville Haut Brion, a wine I recently wrote up from my trip to Paris. This bottle had a lot of toasty oak in that white Bordeaux way, still showing youthfully with aromas of wheat, glue and a drop of honey. With some air, marmalade joined the party, and the palate produced complex flavors of toast, wheat, cracked rye, sunflower oil and white earth. Round and rich, this wine was still on the rise. Ron picked up on its ‘butterscotch’ qualities, and once he said it, I was stunned how I missed it in the first place! The acidity was long and squeaky in what will probably prove to be an outstanding LHB. I think I preferred the bottle that I had in Paris slightly, but then again, doesn’t everything taste better in Paris (94+)? We switched up to white Burgundy with an unexciting 1998 J-M. Boillot Corton Charlemagne. Jeff immediately called it ‘kind of flabby,’ and it was mature in the nose and older than its age should be. It had a waxy, tropical edge and its fruit was stewed, and its flavors were more wax and morning mouth. Yeasty and tired, there was a dose of sweetness on its palate, but either this bottle was affected or just not very good (82?). With the foie gras course we had a 1967 Coutet, which someone told me was once part of Yquem but split off in the ’20s or ’30s. I didn’t fact check, though. This almost forty year-old Sauternes had a beautiful, amber color with complex aromas of orange peel, honey-roasted and toasted nuts (though a touch drier) and whiffs of wax, porcelain and spice. There was a nice minerality here, and the palate was beautiful, drier than I expected and not over-the-top sweet, which was a good thing since it was early in the meal. Flavors of dry caramel, fig marmalade, wax and nuts were quite harmonious in this very nice, mature and plateauing Coutet (93). As a side note, it amazes me how inexpensive older Sauternes (other than Yquem) is in the marketplace.

We segwayed to the reds with a 1969 Bouchard Pere et Fils Vosne Romanee ‘Aux Reignots, Chateau de Vosne Romanee.’ Someone quickly remarked that ‘not a lot was going on,’ but others liked its nose. Steve liked the ‘barnyard’ quality, and I found a lot of classic 1969 rust, some fig, and a lot of shining minerals, spice and alcohol. The wine almost had a cedary edge and was very good in a mature way. The palate was soft, still rusty, with a touch of citric tension. Steve found it ‘extraordinary,’ and it was very nice, its flavors lightly browned and still hanging on after all these years (90). The fourth wine was the favorite of an unexpected guest, the west coast Krug representative who joined the party merely because she was sitting at a table next to us and was obviously curious as to what was happening. Since she was attractive, some of the boys reciprocated that curiosity and before you knew it, she was in there. The wine was the 1991 Leroy Vosne Romanee ‘Les Beauxmonts.’ The nose was deep and brooding, classic Leroy with darker fruits, iron and cedar. There was plum, cassis and blackberry fruit. Very rich on the palate, the 1991 had more sweet raspberry flavors, a thick texture and lots of power on its finish. There was a wave of alcohol and tannins that was barely reined in, and long, lingering acidity (95). A 1993 Roty Charmes Chambertin ‘Tres Vieilles Vignes’ was next courtesy of Jeff of the Burgdoms, another LA tasting group that I hope to be able to join for an evening sooner or later. The Roty had the charm of 1993 with its tight and spiny personality, but there was also a pungent, beefier style to it with influences of oak. The nose was ashy with lots of vitamins as well. The texture was incredibly rich and meaty for a ’93, more so than one normally tastes in a wine from that vintage. The wine was certainly toeing the line with its use of oak and finished with long, earthy flavors. If its oak ever completely integrates, my score could improve, as the Roty was certainly the sturdiest wine of the evening, although it kept going in and out of a small shell relative to the open 1991 (94+).

The 1983 Palmer bid a gracious farewell to the Burgundies with its aromas of plum, chocolate, cassis, cedar and minerals. It was classic all the way around in both its fruit and pinch, and its minerals blended into rocks, waterfalls and heat, that sun on the rocks thing I sometimes find in a wine. Smooth, satiny and silky on the palate with a vim-ful finish, the Palmer was graceful and gorgeous in that classic claret way. Boysenberry emerged on its nose, and there was lots of spice, earth and tension to its finish. There is no doubt in MY mind that it will be better in ten years and keep improving (94+).

That was it for Bordeaux, and we moved into the wonderful world of Syrah, beginning with a 1977 Penfolds Grange. Perhaps lost in the shadow of 1976, this was a stunning Grange. Ron quickly told me how ’78 and ’72 are also sleeper Granges of the Seventies. I was quite impressed by its nose. Aromas of primary cola, black cherry and classic Grange menthol/eucalyptus with secondary bacon and earth, the ’77 had a gorgeous sweetness to it and a confectioners’ edge in its nose. There were great, beefy flavors on its oily, balanced, thick and long palate with lots of alcohol, spice and mint blending in. The wine was still powerful and youthful at age 28 and deserves to be mentioned alongside the ’76 and ’71 (96). The 1985 Guigal Cote Rotie ‘La Turque’ was a nice follow up to the Grange, but the Grange was in such a good spot that it stole the show from the La Turque’s usual limelight. Its nose was beefy and bacony with lots of that classic Cote Rotie, gamy, waify whiff. There was menthol and very deep black and purple fruits. Its palate was rich and bacony with more gamy fruit, and the LT was very smooth on the palate, more so than I remembered at first, although it did gain in the glass and come out a bit more to reveal good, but not mammoth, grip (95). There was one more wine to our evening, a 1991 Chapoutier Cote Rotie ‘La Mordoree.’ The nose was a bit horsy and barnyardy, softer, kinder and gentler. Musk, plum and bacon aromas gently caressed the nose. The palate was soft, smooth, round and easy and probably at its peak, but it might be there for a while. It was greener than the LT, too (92).

The next night was Uncle Matty’s second annual Pax barrel sample tasting, which he hosted in his new digs in the hills of Pacific Palisades. Pax was there, of course, along with Juan of Realm and the talented, young winemaker Mike Herby. There were even a few shall-remain-nameless celebrities mixed in the crowd. It was a party as opposed to the usual sit-down tasting where one can take serious notes, so no official notes were taken. In addition to all the 2003 Pax barrel samples. I can give a list of wines that were opened, including bottles of 2001 Schrader, 2002 Realm and 1990 Rayas; magnums of 2001 Schrader MX, 2001 Shafer Hillside ‘Sunspot,’ 1991 94 Dominus, 1975, 78 84 Heitz ‘Martha’s,’ 1970 Mayacamas, 1992 97 Montelena, 1998 SQN ‘E-Raised’ Syrah, 1990 La Tache, and 1947 Lafleur (a close friend of mine was thirsty); and double magnums of 1990 La Mission and 1982 L’Evangile. I am sure there were more too. I must say it was a lot of wine for the twelve of us – just kidding. I can say that I do not even remember the 1947 Lafleur, or the 1990 Rayas that was apparently my idea and treat from Matt’s cellar, nor the fact that my glass of it ended up all over my pants. I do remember the 1990 La Tache, magnificent and coiled out of magnum, and the two delicious double mags that followed as my last official memories of the evening. Oh what a night, and oh what a hangover…

The next night I had to do it all over again, but in the much more formal setting of Spago with Dr Bipin Desai and about 40 devoted disciples. The evening was a special retrospective of Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay, whose owner, Jeffrey Paterson, was in attendance. Not having much experience with Mount Eden myself, I was quite intrigued by this amazing retrospective, especially since everything was served out of magnum.
Many feel that Mount Eden has been California’s best and most consistent Chardonnay over the past thirty years and hence California’s all-time greatest historically; however, the wines form Mount Eden remain under the radar of the American public in this age of Marcassin. To give a little more perspective, J.P. Miller, of the Peninsula Wine Tasting Group in California, sent me an email about Mount Eden after the 1976 Paris Tasting Recreation that read:

quot;For many years — and I constantly test this — I find Jeffrey Patterson’s Mount Eden Chardonnay to be among the best Cal Chards. It’s not as quot;big quot; (over-ripe, over-oaked, over-extracted) as Marcassin or Peter Michael or Kistler, etc. but it certainly is more nuanced and, frankly, more bottom-line enjoyable. Part of my preference for it is that it does resemble (to a greater extent) white Burgundy at its best — maybe not the best Grand Cru (although sometimes it’s close), but certainly top-level Premier Cru. What I do not understand is how little mention it gets from critics — how infrequently it shows up in quot;best of quot; lists. What is your view of why wine writers/ critics seem to pay so little attention? Does it have something to do with Jeffrey’s lack of PR for his wine compared to the other wineries? Is it that critics quot;cater quot; to American tastes, knowing that most American wine drinkers prefer the styles of Chardonnay mentioned above, and thus realizing that if they did tout Mount Eden that their readers would, upon not quot;getting it, quot; turn away from their opinions? quot;

Some interesting questions, indeed. Let’s see what the wines had to say.

In 1971, the old Martin Ray property was renamed Mount Eden, and its life began. The average goal is to make 80-90 barrels a year out of 20 acres; Jeffrey has made up to 160 barrels in a year, even though he ‘didn’t want to, but did.’ The average age of the vines in the first flight was twenty, and we began with the 2003. The 2003 was very forward and sexy in that Cali way but still had some Old World, or classic sensibilities. The nose had lots of banana with hints of citrus and caramel. Very aromatic, the wine had a smooth and frisky palate which finished with some alcohol, mineral and acid. Buttery and a touch young, it had flavors of banana and minerals. It was very good, but as we were to soon find out, it was the one wine that did not belong in this flight and was atypical (91). The 2002 unfortunately, was corked, so it didn’t belong either, actually! With 28 wines on tap, I moved on (DQ). The 2001 was a bit of a ‘problem child’ according to Jeffrey, but I liked it. Its nose was much more reserved and more back side than front. Banana was again there (signature?), but there was also cracked wheat and light traces of cinnamon. The palate was very buttery with good spice and spine and very long acidity. The finish was tasty with a dash of yeast and honeyed fruit flavors (94). The 2000 had a nose full of slate, minerals and a drop of benevolent soap shavings (not the glass). Butter and clove filled out the nose, and nuts were all over the palate. The 2000 seemed more advanced than the year that separated it from the 2000, but it was still very good with its waxy flavors and touch of heat to its finish (91). In 1999, they harvested in October as opposed to the usual September. The nose was fresh and full of lime, freshwater, anise and wax and pungent in its anise; the nose was incredibly vigorous. Someone noted that it was ‘very sinewy with a lot of good acid and close to French,’ and I asked, ‘Premier Cru?’ ‘Like aSauzet,’ Bipin observed, and that was it! There was exquisite acidity, length and balance here (95+). The 1998 had a leesy, yeasty nose full of bread crusts, bread and more bread. The palate was simpler, good but a touch past its prime. There was still nice acidity in its nose and a trace of spine on the palate but not much more. The flavors were overly bready, and Jose noted ‘a little wet dog’ (88). The 1997 had ‘a little botrytis’ Frank keenly observed, and Bipin agreed. There was more anise and Sauzet characteristics again, and it also had traces of banana and butter. There was nice acid on the palate, yellow fruit flavors and a long, dusty finish (93). Don noted at the end of this first flight how the ‘age difference doesn’t jump out at you in the first flight,’ a testament to the wines’ ageability. The common denominators of the first flight were banana, mineral, zest and most importantly acidity. Bipin kicked in ‘smoke and molasses.’ Frank liked the 2002 best and Kirk the 2000. As I was furiously scribbling away and trying to capture as much detail as possible, Frank asked me ‘how do you write so much?’ I replied, ‘How does a porn star ‘ He smiled, and then I added, ‘it was my years as a porn star that prepared me for this,’ which got a chuckle. I told you about that Playgirl spread, didn’t I?

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, which was flight number two, beginning with the 1996. The 1996 gave me a flashback of a 1986 Montrachet that I once had in its botrytis qualities. There was a pinch and touch of stink there as well. The palate was smooth, balanced and round with that touch of banana, ‘pineapple,’ and a pinch of caramel. Frank noted a big change in style here, and the acidity really came out after the food. Jeff called it ‘a big blast of heat.’ The palate was a touch tropical overall and stayed on that sweet side (92). The 1995 had an even more mature nose with its dry caramel, fino, mahogany and almost tobasco aromas. There was definitely some maturity here and more caramel on its finish, less depth in the mid-palate, and lots of musk. Someone called it ‘eccentric’ (89). The 1994was a ‘classic’ according to Jeff. Smoky, hazy and toasty, the nose had some of that molasses, brown sugar and spice, but also anise and spine. The palate was sturdy and spiny with lots of spicy acidity. The texture was oily, but I couldn’t help but wonder if it would have been better a few years earlier, as the fruit tasted a bit confused despite the great structural components (93). The 1993 was a ringer for a Ruchottes from Ramonet with its mint, corn and butter. Kirk liked it the most, and it was at the top of my list for this flight as well. There was lots of complexity and while the wine was leaning towards maturity, there were still a lot of youthful qualities and great yeasty and buttery corn flavors. Quite exotic, this Ramonet junior was delicious (94). The 1992 was Jeff’s personal favorite, and he called it ‘zippy and juicy.’ There was the highest amount of tension in the nose so far, very anisy and spiny, but Bipin preferred the 1994 and felt that the 1992 did not have the same ‘follow through.’ The palate was sweeter and also with great acidity, but the flavors were a bit tangy with lots of green apple and a touch of cat’s pee. The 1992 was a bit masochistic in that regard but seemed the youngest of the flight so far and with more potential than the rest (94+). Like 2001 and 1997, the 1991 had an early bud break, was a larger crop and had a late harvest. The nose was very nutty with a tea/coffee-like edge and an exotic trace of white mocha. Mahogany, butter and earth were there, but there was this rotten edge to the nose that carried over to the palate as well. The acidity again stood out, but its aromas and flavors became a bit aggressive (90+). The 1990 was another personal favorite of Jeff’s, and its nose had a nice pungency with lots of anise, smoke, earth and minerals. Someone called it ‘extraordinary’ and ‘wrapped in time.’ There was lots and lots of acidity and a heck of a finish with flavors of slate, minerals and mouth-licking spice. I needed to hit the water! The wine mellowed a bit in the glass but was certainly outstanding for a little bit (94). Dan Berger was in attendance and got up to speak about the wines and this flight and made some interesting observations. ‘There are only three things to age wine – pH, pH, pH. If you want to make a wine that ages well, be prepared to die early; great wines do not age early; there is nothing in the 2003 except the future. California Chardonnay (in general) does not age because most don’t make it to age.’

The 1989 was very fresh considering the vintage; perhaps 1989 is a secret Chardonnay year despite the stigma that it was for Cabernet? It had a nice mesquite edge to its light anise, rainwater and yeast aromas. The palate was a little leaner, still with nice acidity and an excellent overall impression (93). The 1988 was similarly good to the 1989, and Bipin remarked how he couldn’t believe that this flight was older than the previous one. There were great bread and caramel aromas and flavors, good spice and a longer and fatter quality than the 1989. Nice job again in a tough vintage (94)! The 1987 had a bready nose with some benevolent rotten edges but was still fresh with its butter and corn aromas. Its palate was square, however, big and clumsy, a bit bitter on the finish with some of the dreaded morning mouth (89). The consistently fresh trend continued with the 1986 and its rainwater, anise, yeast, bread and corn. Despite being very balanced, the 1986 was a bit watery on the palate. There was nice acidity but not a lot of flavors up front, and it, too, came across squarely. Kirk noted its ‘canned pineapple,’ but the wine quickly faded in the glass (86). The 1985 had a very bready and yeasty nose, a pinch tropical with caramel that melted into its bread. There was nice mouth feel and a roundness here, with good length, nice spice and a Sauternes-like edge, which someone thought was some oxidation. I still liked it, although it may be heading towards the point of no return sooner rather than later (92). The 1984 was clearly the wine of the flight, very fresh, spicy and long with loads of acidity. Smooth and long on the palate and retaining that fresh quality of the nose, the 1984 was a great wine. Bipin agreed and Jeff said it was his ‘favorite Chardonnay that I ever made’ (95). The 1983 was no match for the ’84, vegetal, rotten and the worst wine of the night. It was an El Nino year apparently and a difficult one with lots of rainfall (NR). The always eloquent Manny Klausner got up and admired the ‘extraordinary consistency of style,’ also adding that while the acidity was quite special in the context of California Chardonnay, that that ‘was not enough’ and that there was more to the greatness of these wines.

There was one flight to go, and the notes were getting less and less (surprise and surprise). The 1982 had a milky and yeasty nose with a core of corny fruit, citrus twists and sweet and sour complexity. The flavors were delicious, and there was nice richness in the mouth. While the wine was very mature and flirting with the edge of the cliff, it was very tasty and right there, right then (94). The 1981, Jeff’s first vintage, had an anisy, spiny nose that was tangy in that direction. The wine lacked acidity and was pleasant yet uninspiring (86). The 1980 had foie gras in the nose, I swear, and its palate was different, aggressive and just plain weird (83). The 1979 had a nice nose of butter and caramel and a hard-candied personality. The flavors were exactly the same, the acidity nice and the finish spicy in this excellent, twenty-six year-old Chardonnay (93). The 1978 had an ‘oxidized’ nose according to Bipin, but I like to call it mature. It was tropical and ripe with old, oaky flavors. Molasses was there as well, but it was a bit over the top, and close to the hill as well (90). The ’77 was corked, and I officially ran out of gas for the last wine, the 1976.

I quickly proceeded to step on the gas to try and meet Yarom at the Roosevelt hotel, and Jose joined the party. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get in (it was a zoo), so we proceed back to Jose’s where we had an unofficial Tequila tasting. I actually took notes of the seven of the ‘best’ Tequilas, some of which I knew and others which I didn’t, but it was clear that Jose knew what he was talking about and passionate about some of the unknown producers that he has discovered over the course of his life. So here are my first Tequila notes. No numbers, sorry.

1. Cuervo Reserva de la Familia – good, rich, smooth heavy yet light on its feet
2. Don Fulano – Sweet, smooth, supple – my favorite
3. Arette Gran Classe – Early favorite of Jose, my second favorite; fuller, more aggressive finish and flavor with the Agave
4. Don Julio 1942 – Aggressive, woody, smoky style
5. Herradura Secleccion Suprema – Too woody – at $300 a bottle what a rip-off; my least favorite, but that should give you an idea of the level of quality that Jose broke out for me
6. Arette – Unique; amazing penetration and power; longest finish
7. Raicilla – Actually a region outside of tequila and supposedly a hallucogenic; like Tequila but sweeter and coarser; lesser flavors

Ay, papi. It was time to call it a night, I had a great time hanging and getting to know Jose.

Chapter II – The Night the West Was Won and a ‘Casual’ Dinner

A few weeks later, I was out in LA again, this time with Big Boy in tow. Not many people can be an entourage all by themselves, but Big Boy has that special knack. I was actually summoned out to L.A. on the orders of Uncle Matty, who had said a few months back that after all these years of attending his and a close friend of mine’s DDB and Burgwhore events as a guest, that it was finally time for me, ‘mooch extraordinaire,’ to host. I was up for the challenge, and thankfully I had a secret weapon with me.

For those of you forget, the DDB (Deaf, Dumb and Blind) is a tasting group organized by Matt Lichtenberg, aka Uncle Matty, ‘kvetch extraordinaire.’ The idea is that each month a member hosts an event where all the wines are served blind and revealed post-flight, after a discussion and lots of questions and incorrect guesses, of course. So, August was my turn to host, and Los Angeles would never be the same. Thanks to a lot of help from Big Boy, it was the Night the West Was Won, although a close friend of mine won it right back with his uncanny ability to identify most of the wines blindly, or at least be in the general vicinity. one of my fellow enthusiasts will be starring in the upcoming ‘Golden Child 2’ as a result.

Each flight, we tried to give one clue about the wines, and the first one was ‘Old and Rare Champagne.’ Ok, it was not the most clever clue in the history of the DDB, but what else is there to say? We had an auspicious beginning with a maderized 1949 Bollinger ‘Extra Quality’ Champagne (DQ). There were two more Champagnes in the first flight, however, and the second was extraordinary. It had an amazing nose, still so fresh but with a nutty intensity that said older. Hazelnut, bread, a drop of honey and a glaze of marzipan all added up to a gorgeous nose. The palate was right on the cusp of wine meets Champagne, although Brad vigorously defended its effervescence, which it did indeed have, but it was as much wine at this stage as Champagne, which is a positive sign of maturity. The flavors were great, full of woody intensity and a streak of acidity. a close friend of mine called its ‘extra,’ slightly less dry quality, as well as the fact that it was a ’30s, ’40s or ’50s Bollinger or Pol Roger. With a second pour, this magnum of 1937 Bollinger ‘Extra Quality’ Champagne became nuttier, breadier and earthier, expanding and opening to even greater heights (96+). The final Champagne of our first flight had another gorgeous nose, beautifully honeyed, perfectly nutty, and lightly kissed by bread, spice and caramel aromas. The palate was stone cold fresh and racy, on the lean and mean side. The depth to its fruit just wasn’t there yet. a close friend of mine, having had this 1976 Salon Champagne the week prior, identified it accurately and found it to be magnificent, admiring its acidity and 100% Chardonnay style. ‘Champagne is all about acid; wine tannins and acid,’ he reasoned (94+).

It was time for the white Burgs, and our clue was ‘The Devil Went Down to White Burgundy.’ Let’s see if you get it before I tell you why. The first wine was amazing. The nose was incredible, and yes, a close friend of mine knew what this was right away as well. Its nut, signature kernel, popcorn, minerality and toast aromas were divine, and Brad added ‘petroleum.’ There was also wax and mint to its precise nose, its ‘so’ precise nose. The palate was a little fatter than previous experiences, perhaps the extra bottle age, and its acidity was a bit buried. Still exquisite, the oil, depth and character in the wine were extraordinary. Christian was loving the texture of this 1996 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne (96). The second white was clearly the oldest in this flight based on its color. It had a waxy nose with a stewed nuttiness to it. Additional aromas of straw, vegetable oil and oak were also present in its layered nose. The palate was heavy, woodsy, thick and long with a big, brawny finish, a bit clumsy overall, complicated but clumsy. There was slight oxidation from what a close friend of mine guessed as a ‘hot vintage.’ It was a 1976 Montrachet (90). The following white had a ‘crazy/wacko/intense’ nose. It was incredibly waxy, screaming with acidity and exotic green, Spanish olives. The nose was staggeringly complex; racy, buttery and almost briny with loads of minerals. It was so pungent without being pungent, if that makes sense. Brad felt there was ‘too much acidity and not as balanced,’ and someone said it reminded them of ‘Sauzet’ with its ‘lemon tones.’ It did have great pitch and harmony, also with anise, butter and corn flavors. It was an amazing bottle of the 1986 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet (97). Don’t worry, I have two more from the same batch for my ‘Burghound in the City’ weekend in May 2006. The final white of the flight had another great nose; if I didn’t know it was Ramonet, then I might have guessed Leflaive. There was the popcorn of the Coche, the wax of the and the nut of the Leflaive all in one here, and great acidity, deep and secondary. The palate was enormous in a subtle way, fine and long with great depth of mineral and corn flavors. It was the 1986 Ramonet Montrachet (96). The clue referred to the fact that every vintage ended in ‘6.’ Now that was a good clue!

The third flight had the clue of ‘Back to back vintages, three different producers.’ The first wine had a nose that was a bit oaky for my Burgundy but also had lots of citrusy vim, great acidity and vigor, and healthy shots of beef and earth. The palate had incredible texture; it was long, rich and beefy. The palate was huge and extraordinary, but the oak in the nose remained bothersome, at least for me. Muscular, long, beefy and rich, this magnum of 1979 Richebourg was just shy of outstanding due to its oak issues, but excellent nonetheless. It was some people’s wine of the night, though (94+). ‘Only one vineyard has chocolate like this,’ a close friend of mine professed to us undergraduates, ‘Clos de la Roche.’ Indeed, the next wine was a 1978 Ponsot Clos de la Roche. The nose was pungent, spiny and full of alcohol, with that chocolate, but its structural components were clearly dominant in the nose. The palate was pungent and taut, high pitched with its cat’s pee and dried plum flavors. A bit on the S M side, the wine was excellent but not necessarily for everyone (94). The third wine was yet another red Burgundy, and the best so far. There was a divine nose of rose, beef, blood, iron, menthol and Worcestershire. The palate was super sturdy, earthy and pungent with flavors of iron, library books, animal and lightly grilled game. Exquisite and intense, this 1978 Richebourg had impeccable balance and was still in its ascension (96). The final wine of this flight was a left turn with its contrasting sweet cherry jam and kirsch fruit, light garrigue and lots of stone. Rich, long and smooth, this 1978 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape had an intense spine, great grit, length and balance. Perhaps the wine is on its plateau, but I do not think it is going anywhere that soon despite other observations (95).

I forget the clue for the next flight, but the wines were all magnums of Bordeaux from consecutive vintages. The first a close friend of mine found ‘maderized,’ and a lot of guys quickly followed suit and wrote the wine off. There was a touch of maderization, but it was not overwhelming or dominant to my nose, and there was beef, blood and earth behind it. The palate had nice texture and was rich and long, but on the earthy and briny side without much fruit. It was a rare magnum of 1948 Haut Brion (88A). The magnum in the middle actually came from the cellar of JFK courtesy of the cellar of Big Boy, and it was an incredible magnum of 1949 Calon Segur. How did Big Boy get his hands on that bottle? You didn’t hear? He just bought the Kennedys. That’s why we call him ‘Big Boy.’ All kidding aside, the Calon had a fabulous nose that was rich and lush with great t ‘n a, cedar, nut and carob aromas. Its acid and texture were unbelievably good, wonderfully fantastic and its finish went on for what seemed like minutes (97). The last wine was poo-poohed by a close friend of mine as an uninteresting ‘Pauillac from not a good vintage in the ’50s,’ and it was a 1950 Mouton Rothschild. Damn, a close friend of mine. If there ever were a wine superhero, one of my fellow enthusiasts would be it, and since he looks really good in tights, maybe we need to get him an outfit just kidding. Despite once sharing a bed with the doctor, I have not seen him in tights unless he is hiding something a la Clark Kent. The nose of the Mouton was a bit angular and off-putting, I must confess, with an artificial, bathroomy edge. The palate was too gravelly and again off-putting, and despite some great texture, the wine was what I would call below average (83).

There was one final flight, and we took it over the tracks to the Syrah part of town. The first wine was an incredible bottle of what it was. The nose was full of beef, menthol, intense spice and garden fresh herbs. Deep like a black forest at midnight, this wine had a gorgeous palate to match, less intense than the nose in its fruit but still great with its enormous acidity and length. There were lots of oohs and aahs for this 1949 Jaboulet Hermitage ‘La Chapelle’ and its great spice and spine (97). The next wine was more Madeira than wine, chocolaty and rich with a Verdelho edge and tangy sweetness. It was a 93 point Madeira, but for what it was, it was a disqualified 1955 Penfolds Grange (DQ). Too bad. The third wine of this flight had a shy, subtle nose with amazing secondary aromas of subtly sweet, strawberry fruit balanced by razor-sharp acidity. Deep and sensuous, its nose got more and more exciting with its mineral and slate components entering the picture, but the fruit never left, either. The palate was fantastic with great tension and acidity in this outstanding 1966 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape (96). The last wine of the night, of this odyssey, had another complex nose with fruit that was super-charged in its plummy, cassisy and sappy personality. White pepper extraordinaire and the perfect amount of slate balanced out its fruit, and its palate was rich, intense, deep and heavy. It was a great bottle of 1976 Guigal Cote Rotie ‘La Mouline’ (95+).

Rob wanted to see a close friend of mine’s cellar, so we packed up our bags and headed east to the cellar for a midnight run and a night cap, and what a night cap it was, the 1952 Romanee Conti. Chunks of ripe tomatoes dripped out of this beefy and gamy wine, covered with a gravy that only a Burgundy could have. It was ‘dripping Prime Rib,’ Rob concurred, and the wine was rich like Trump and long like like like let’s just call it long. With enough breed for the Kentuck Derby, this thoroughbred of a wine left no doubt as to what was the wine of the night. What is so amazing about the ’52 is how it was the first vintage of RC with the young vines after they tore up the vineyard after the 1945 vintage. I guess greatness doesn’t always have to come from old vines (98).

The night after brought us all together again for a casual dinner with Carl, Hendra, Genevriere and her tattooed friend. Meow. Joe Smith also happened to be at the restaurant celebrating his anniversary, and Joe is one of LA’s longstanding collectors and known music industry mavens, and it was nice to see him since I hadn’t for a while. The wines, however, were anything but casual due to some unbelievable generosity on the part of a close friend of mine and Hendra. We started off with a magnum of 1966 Dom Perignon, which had a bready and yeasty nose and touches of nut, caramel, geyser, soy and white chocolate. The palate was smooth and fresh, mature with its bready flavors but still possessing nice spriteliness and length. A touch of old wood and orange rind flavors emerged, and its sneaky acidity held it together beautifully. It even got racier and meatier over time; in fact, it is one of the few Champagnes where I remember it significantly improving with more time in the glass. ‘5 stars’ was a close friend of mine’s verdict, and we were on the same page (95). We segwayed to a white wine, Burgundy of course, and it was the 1992 Niellon Chevalier Montrachet. The nose was quite racy for a ’92, with more upfront minerals and anise, but the sweet butter and corn did slowly emerge as well. Balance was found between the two sides of this expensive coin, as it was served a bit too cold, so the fruit needed to catch up with the pitch. A sexy musk started to ooze out of the nose with time. The palate was typically ripe a la 1992 with a touch of oil, musk and yellow fruit flavors like banana, pineapple and yellow apple – all dried. The acidity seemed to be near the end of its optimum drinking window, expressing itself more on the finish than in the middle, and the palate had a woodsy streak that was not over the top. It did have a bit of squareness in the middle, but it got more and more exotic with its white and yellow floral components, and more minerals came out on the palate. While I originally had this wine rated in the excellent category of 93-94 points, after two hours I was amazed at how much the wine came together, and how scorchingly good the acidity became, almost out of nowhere. This wine was a good case for wine needing time to be evaluated properly (95). The always controversial 1985 La Tache was next, and although I have been a big defender of this wine in the past, on this night it was not as great as bottles past, which could have been relevant only to the random bottle that we had, of course. Perfumed and aromatic, there was great balance between its earth, animal and leather side versus its rose and black cherry one. Tomato, Worcestershire and underlying minerals were there, and the palate was more on the gamy, beefy and earthy side with flavors of leather, animal and iron. Its acidity lingered in a feminine, delicate style, athletically cut. There was not as much ‘oomph’ as I expected, and Rob agreed that it was ‘lean,’ although he was loving its ‘smoked meats.’ Stylish and pure but not spectacular, I saw the other side of the story when it comes to the 1985 and how it does not live up to most of the other great vintages of La Tache (94). What did we have here? A 1962 Romanee Conti. Hello, nice to meet you. Unfortunately, this bottle was an affected one. The nose was thick but a bit sherrified and ‘stewed tomatoes,’ a close friend of mine noted. Its molasses, earth and sherry sides were dominant in this hexagon of a wine, not completely dominant but enough to tell most of its story. The palate had some beefy flavors but was lacking secondary depths despite excellent texture. a close friend of mine found it ‘beautiful but not at its best,’ and I could tell it was real but not the total package it should have been. C’est la vie when it comes to older wines, and if you cannot accept that when you come across one of this sorts, then you should not be drinking it in the first place (DQ). No worries, there was a 1982 Lafleur on the table already. The Lafleur had an incredible nose, but what jumped out immediately was the streak of slate and minerals as opposed to the usual plummy and chocolaty fruit. That fruit was right behind the minerals, but other bottles I have had have been the exact opposite. a close friend of mine reasoned that Lafleur is basically ‘a small hut that still bottles barrel by barrel.’ Well, that made sense as to why there would be variation and why this bottle was a minerally ’82 Lafleur versus the fruit bomb that other bottles have been. Hendra was quick to point out how the Lafleur ‘needs time,’ and with that time the fruit started to saturate more and more. The palate was rich and chocolaty with phenomenal acidity. Long, fine and well bred, the 1982 Lafleur never lost track of its minerality and acidity despite the fact that the fruit kept trying to bust out of its shell. It probably would have by next morning (97+). There was one more wine left, an if you insist type of wine, the 1961 Petrus. The nose was dripping with chocolate, cassis, plum, grape and a touch of smoke. Decadently nutty and chunky, it was like the candy bar namesake with its chocolate, nut and raisin aromas, but like a custom, boutique Swiss chocolate company using top of the line ingredients as opposed to M M and Mars. The palate was rich, fleshy and balanced with fairly integrated acidity. The wine was long, fine and sensuous. Coffee crept in the nose, and the wine got spicier in the glass but was a bit softer around the edges than the typical ’61 Petrus experience that I have had consistently on four occasions. Hendra agreed. That experience is usually a 98 or 99 point one, and this was a 95 point one. What does it all mean? It all comes down to the bottle. If I remember correctly, Edouard Moueix once told us, and I think that he was serious, how the actual winemaker for the ’61 was the gardener due to internal circumstances at Petrus! That had to make for a little variation, no (95)?

Chapter III – Heitz, more Nuts and a Quartet of 1988 Burgundies

The final trip of this quarterly update was just this past weekend, and it was more work than pleasure, but I somehow managed to sneak a little pleasure in, just a little. There were two major cellars I had to inspect and catalog, and while I slaved away during the day, I was able to stumble across a few events at night, the first being a Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Martha’s Vineyard’ vertical from 1985 back to 1966 orchestrated by Uncle Matty and one of my fellow enthusiasts at La Terza.

You know it’s a good night when the cocktail round is three magnums of 1983 Louis Roederer ‘Crisatl’ Champagne. Absolutely delicious, the 1983 was both young and fresh AND mature and absolute class in a glass. Yarom, the Colonel himself, was there, and he made a special point to me of how good the 1979 was as well. Duly noted (94). Sorry for the brief notes there, but it was the cocktail round. We sat down to a 1949 Pommery Champagne. It had a deep, gold color with nice amber qualities and a fabulously nutty nose of white chocolate, caramel, earth (more dirt) and butter. Its nose was very aromatic, and its palate was very fresh, still with lots of bubbly freshness and zip to its acidity. Flavors of caramel, honey, dirt and seltzer were there, and the palate was outstanding. The dirty edge was the only negative, and a small one at that. A touch of fino and some chalk and minerals rounded out this beauty (95).

The flights were organized based on vintage quality, and the former cellarmaster from Heitz was there to tell us afew stories of ‘back in the days,’ most of which I won’t repeat here! We started with the 1967, which had an attractive nose of cedar, cassis, plum and sweet berries with secondary spice, pepper and mocha. The nose was delicious, but the palate was a little green, chalky and tangy, basically lean. The nose was excellent as nut and indoor cleaner joined the party, but the palate was average and one-dimensional, averaging out (88). The 1970 had a deeper nose with more nut, signature eucalyptus and lots of chocolate. It was meaty and rich with a nose full of black fruits, slate alcohol and acidity. The palate was big but very dry; there was a wave of a finish with lots of chalk, cedar and mouth-coating tannins. Its flavors were a bit citric, and the nose got more woody. Its tannin expression was great, though, and despite the shy fruit, it was still excellent (93). The 1972 had a funky nose with a bit of morning mouth and aggressive wood, but there was some rich cassis behind those. The palate was significantly better and quite rich and beefy, full of cassis flavors with a nice balance of fruit and finish. Yarom didn’t like it, but I did despite the fact that the nose got worse and worse. The palate was long and lingering and had the richest expression of fruit in the first flight. You just had to hold your nose while drinking it (92)! Next up was a non-vintage MZ1, which was a solera-type blend of a few vintages in the early ’70s with 50% of its fruit coming from Martha’s Vineyard. I am not sure if they made this wine on more than one occasion. The nose had a cotton candied quality, ‘more Pinot Noir,’ a close friend of mine observed. There was nice stalk and cedar aromas, a good minerality and a pleasant overall sweetness to the nose. The palate had coffee and stalk flavors and was still very good overall, and a close friend of mine kept his Pinot analogy goingwith ‘Volnay’ (90).

The next flight was 1980 through 1983, beginning with the 1980. The nose of the ’80 was cedary and tangy with lots of alcohol and rich, chocolaty fruit underneath. The nose was quite alcoholic and spiny, and the palate was very tannic and surprisingly robust, not full of fruit but still slaty and intense. There were lots of mineral, cedar and slate flavors, and the nose got more baked chocolaty with molasses. a close friend of mine like the 1980 a lot, and it was creamy and smooth with nice, nutty flavors and a sleeper (92). The 1981 had a funky nose a la the 1972 with a lot of cleaner aromas, t ‘n a, and some smoke and cassis underneath. There was a pinch of floral jasmine emerging as the cleaner blew off, and lots of cedar. The palate had lots of t ‘n a and not much more except for good concentration on the back side. Some plum came out with a pinch of flesh, and the nose got meatier and the alcohol even more enormous. This could be another sleeper, but a close friend of mine did not think it would get much better and also remarked at its alcoholic personality (90+). The 1982 was another wine not on the list of Yarom’s personal favorites, and its nose was yeasty, almost mildewy, but behind that was bright red cherries, musk and a drop of honey. The palate was dry and dirty with citric dust and leather flavors. a close friend of mine found it ‘musty,’ and it was decent but not exciting, pleasant and easy but nothing to write home about (86). The 1983 was very chalky with enormous alcohol. The palate was also very chalky, as well as rich, cedary and long. The 1983 was pleasant and somewhat classic, but if you have chalk on the blackboard issues, you might want to avoid this one. a close friend of mine found it ‘green,’ but it had nice alcohol, spice and kick (90).

Next up was the only flight of two for the night, the 1984 and 1985. The 1984 had a spiny nose with lots of pitch and complex aromas of lemon, cassis, cedar, alcohol, spice, leather and a drop of honeyed sweetness. The palate was nice and fleshy, rich and chewy with lots of plummy, cassisy fruit with good cedar, spice and kick to its finish. It was very tasty, but after the 1985 seemed lesser, I must confess. The wine got chalkier and spinier in the glass but is indubitably an excellent Heitz MV (94). The 1985 was probably the best bottle of this wine that I have ever had. I have had a lot of variation in the negative direction over the years, and this was the first bottle where I can safely say I got it. Yarom concurred with me before we had it that it was always a disappointment for him as well. This bottle of 1985 had a creamy nose with lots of nut, vanilla, plum and cassis. There were also additional aromas of bread crust, gingerbread and a drop of cleaner. a close friend of mine found it ‘youthful and extracted,’ and its finish was bigger and longer than anything so far. The palate was a bit monolithic at first as the finish was really big, and its flavors were all cedar, slate and minerals as opposed to fruit. Once the chocolate started to take over, the wine got very tasty. The finish never let up, and Scott called it ‘Mouton-like’ while someone else called it ‘the next ’74.’ a close friend of mine preferred the balance of the 1984 to the over the top style of 1985, but I was in the other camp in this head to head, although the 1984 was more balanced and Old World in style (95+).

The fourth flight of Heitz began with a 1969, which had a fabulous nose that reminded Scott of 2001 Latour. Chocolaty and rich, there were aromas of minerals, slate, spice, cedar, cream and nuts – ‘WOW,’ I wrote. With an outstanding palate to match, this huge, long and barely balanced 1969 was the talk of the table. It was a roof licker, a lip smacker, and a 5 star Broadbent wine we were informed. Dusty, smooth , spiny, spicy and balanced, this outstanding 1969 had exquisite flavors of charcoal and stone, and it reminded a close friend of mine of the 1947 Mouton. Someone said it ‘tickles your insides.’ It was one of the most memorable wines of the night, and arguably THE wine of the night (96). The 1973 was another 5 star Broadbent wine and another intense nose, this one stony, chocolaty, anisy and wound. There was that drop of cleaner blending into its cedar, mineral and slate aromas. The palate was smoother and more velvety, luscious and smooth, quite creamy. Flavors of leather, carob and cedar got a little spinier but never reached the vigor of the 1969 (94). The 1979 was quite stony and full of vim with intense minerals in its nose and chocolate, plum and leather as well. A sprinkle of coffee and mocha rounded out the nose, and its palate was classic and tasty with cedar, leather and one chocolate chip. a close friend of mine was digging it, and there was good spice to the finish. Ironically enough, this was one of the few wines where I noticed eucalyptus, the supposed signature aroma and/or flavor of Martha’s Vineyard, and Yarom and I shared that sentiment that there wasn’t a lot of eucalyptus going around (94).

There were two more flights to go, and it was the 1975’s turn to take center palate. The 1975 had all the classic components: cedar, charcoal, tannins, alcohol and just enough cassis to hold it all together. Smooth and balanced, it too (surprise) was on the back side of the flavor wheel but still excellent (93). The 1976 was similar to the 1975 except there was more fruit in its nose, of a cassis direction. The palate was not as intense but still very good. The acidity in all of these wines is what really set them apart from most other Cabernets 92). The 1977 was back to the anise and indoor cleaner side of things with a touch of burnt popcorn and cassis. The palate was smooth and mature, on a plateau and quite easy, pleasant and straightforward (88). I preferred the 1977 Bella Oaks slightly to the Martha’s with its stewed sweetness and exotic, floral fruit. There was a bit more richness to its fruit and some nice caramel aromas and flavors here (89).

Here came the big one, the mother of all flights, starting with the 1966. The 1966 was the first vintage ever produced of Martha’s, and it had a yummy nose of chocolate, charcoal, cedar, slate, eucalyptus and chocolate-covered plums. Yarom found it ‘Cognac-ish’ with its high alcohol, and there was lots of pinch blending in. The palate was smooth, still rich but mature, with nice tannin and acid expression and a lot of pinch (93). The 1968, though, made me quickly forget about the ’66. ‘Whoa,’ was the first word that came to mind. The ’68 had a nose full of chocolate sex, incredibly rich, and the first nose in a while (and for almost the entire night) that was all about the fruit. There were aromas of coconut, oak, mint and ‘shake.’ The palate was rich, thick and long with lots of slate, cedar and chocolate flavors. It was outstanding (96). If there was one wine that could follow the act of the 1968, it was the 1974, and it did so very nicely. Always a classic, the 1974 lived up to its reputation. Being a bit tired, I wrote ‘see past notes.’ The 1974 seemed younger than the 1968 – wait a second, it was. Although most people were on the side of the 1968, I felt that six years from now the 1974 would be as good if not better than the 1968 and have a longer life over all. Interestingly enough, the former cellarmaster from Heitz said that the 1968 ‘was always the one’ (96+). Lastly, we had the 1978, which was a bit edgy by comparison to the rest of the flight. Toasted and with anise and cleaner flavors, there was a touch of funk here, but its acidity was cracklingly good (92+).


The next night found me slurping down a magnum of 2004 George Pinot Noir ‘Martinelli Vineyard’ at the Four Seasons with George himself. Man, it was tasty and a welcome wagon after ten hours inside a warehouse cataloging wines such as 1961 Palmer and 1971 Richebourg in magnums. You’ll see that cellar in November’s auction. It was a low-key night, and I had to be close to San Diego at 10am, so I slithered back to the Hilton and collapsed in exhaustion. Sorry, no note was taken as I was pretty beat.

Sunday night, after a round trip to San Diego and checking out another great cellar, one that included an owc case of 1982 Lafleur (yup, see November auction again), it was time for another dinner with the Colonel Yarom Limor and his ‘Nuts.’ We went to the Rainbow, a legendary rock n’ roll hangout, and Yarom is probably the only guy in the entire country that would do a wine dinner in such a locale, but you know what? That’s why his group is always fun, and the food was quite good and the company even better. We were also joined by Jose, now infamous for his midnight Tequila tasting. We had a blast, and some pretty good wines as well.

We started with my favorite wine of the night, actually a champagne. The 1976 Taittinger ‘Comtes de Champagne’ Champagne was delicious, smooth and creamy with rich fruit flavors, yellow ones, along with starch, bread, honey and caramel. The nose came alive with a refill and was dominated by its bread and caramel components. A spicy tomato salad brought its acidity into perspective in this excellent, 100% Chardonnay cuvee (94). The 1964 Pio Cesare Barolo had a sandy and leathery nose with sweet Burgundian fruit. Yarom noted how ‘it looks and smells like Burgundy,’ and there were many similarities. Aromas of rose, nuts and sweet tar pointed towards Nebbiolo. Its palate was very mature with a slaty, soft finish. Its fruit was leathery, beefy and sweet in those regards. There were no tannins left, just fruit and acidity, and that was ok. Still balanced and beautifully smooth and tasty, there were traces of cigar, chocolate, smoke and tar to this deliciously mature Nebbiolo (93). Caren called the 1979 Chave Hermitage ‘skanky and good,’ and she was right. There were lots of earth, hay, freshly cut grass, animal and sweet, stinky black and purple fruits to the nose, and a touch of exotic tea and jasmine aromas and flavors, too. The flavors seemed more Cote Rotie than Hermitage to me, and there was not a lot of acidity left, but the wine was still tasty, fully mature and easy, smooth and luscious with some classic roasted, beefy fruit (92). A 1990 Carpazo Brunello di Montalcinowas pleasant with its sandy, leathery and dusty Brunello nose. There was just a bit of taut, sweet black cherry fruit. Smooth and easy, there were tar flavors and citric tang on the palate (90). Another Italian was next, the 1995 G. Conterno Barolo ‘Cascina Francia Riserva.’ The nose was shy, but I could still pick up on tar, dust, leather and deep fruit. Its palate was rich and lush, though, full of olive, leather and anise flavors. While not what I wouldcall taut, it was on the drier side (92). We segwayed to Burgundy with a 1997 Arnoux Echezeaux. The nose was pinchy with some citric vim and stalky edges. There was fragrant black cherry fruit behind it, and its palate was also very cherry, chewy, stemmy and easy. There was a bit of aggressive wood there, though (90). We then had a wine from Peter Linn, who was there, and whose family owns and runs Majella in Australia. He, however, is making Syrah in California, and we sampled his 2004 Peter Linn ‘Carlson Canyon’ Syrah. The nose was rich and deep, somewhat brooding with a sweet, hedonistic concentration to it. The palate was rich and beefy, smooth and tasty, classically Californian in style. A touch of bacon and molasses rounded out its finish (91). We then had a 2001 Greenock Creeck Shiraz ‘Alice’s Vineyard,’ which was more reserved than I expected in its nose. The nose was more bready and chocolaty than anything else, and its palate was smooth with some orange rind flavors. Scott found it ‘almost like syrup,’ and there was a pinch of apricot on the palate and decent length in the belly (91). There were two more wines to go, and one of them was a 1986 Margaux. The Margaux has an intense nose full of vigor but also that Margaux elegance. Nut, iron, cedar, slate, plum and brine were all to be found in the nose, but the palate was a lot smoother than I expected. There were barely any tannins here, and something was definitely missing in this bottle (92A). We finished up with a very rare 1982 DeBortoli Botrytis Sauternes from Australia. This is a wine that has a little bit of fame but not that much, and I have never seen any bottle of it that was this old. Rich, coconutty and delicious, the DeBortoli had touches of wood and custard and was still young. Someone suggested that if this was served blind, people would guess ’67 Yquem. Well, not quite, but it was still excellent, and those rock n’ roll girls at the Rainbow sure liked it, too (93).

Columbus Day 2005 had me with Jefery Levy, director extraordinaire, catching up on some things and some wines. I just realized that I was in LA two Columbus Days ago as well with a close friend of mine drinking that 1870 Mouton that was so great. Columbus Day, LA and JK all go great together, I reckon. 1988 was the theme, and Burgundy the playing field. 1988 is a much maligned and overlooked vintage, but it is one that I have had some success with in my limited experience, so I was quite curious to get to know the fantastic four that we had assembled. I brought the whites and Jefery the reds. We started with a 1988 Lafon Meursault ‘Desiree,’ which had a buttery nose full of caramel and pinches of slate, anise and minerals. Very mature and musky, its fruit was quite sexy. There was that classic Lafon bigness to the nose, and the palate was round, smooth and easy with lightly lingering acids. There was a lot of caramel on the finish as well, and the wine was very buttery with secondary wax and toffee flavors. Despite some early premonitions, it held quite well in the glass over dinner (92). The 1988 Coche-Dury Meursault ‘Perrieres’ was a whole ‘nother ballgame. The nose was much purer, cleaner and more concise with the signature Coche aromas of nut, kernel, citrus, bread and butter. It seemed a lot younger than the Lafon in its nose and still felt young overall. The palate had great flavors of citrus and minerals and balance between them. There was a kiss of grapefruit to its lemon and nice tension in the mouth. Longer and better balanced, and with superior acidity, the Coche stood out from the Lafon by a couple of lengths. The only thing that one could say negatively about the Coche was the lack of weight on the palate, but to many that could be a great thing (93+). A 1988 Echezeaux had a dirty, stinky nose at first but rich rose, beef and sturdy wood right behind. It was quite edgy with its wood and cedar qualities, and there were nicer aromas of iron and stem. The palate was rich, rusty and tannic (did someone say ’88?), a classic ’88 that is youthful and large. There were sawdust, earth and tobacco flavors, but overall the wine was a bit aggressive in its wood, and its wood became green (91). The 1988 Leroy Vosne Romanee ‘Aux Reas’ was pretty special, as Madame Leroy only made 300 bottles, or one barrel. It had the signature Leroy style of deep, dark black fruits, cedar and spine. Lightly stemmy, the palate was smooth with pretty rose, cherry and citrus flavors. It gained in the glass and surpassed the Echezeaux with time, and its tannins kept growing in the glass (92).

PS – By the way, I am taking the next couple weeks off from writing before I go blind. We have an auction this weekend, we have to make the next auction the following week, and then there’s the 2nd Annual ‘Top 100’ weekend in NYC. That will be one to read all about.


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