On the first of May, Big Boy and I got together with Jacksonville’s number one collector for a late dinner in New York City. Then again, he is the only guy I know in Jacksonville 🙂 It was four of us, as he had a friend with him, so we only had about a dozen bottles with us. She didn’t drink that much, so we ultimately opened only nine.
Unfortunately, there were three oxidized bottles, just one of those nights. A ’66 Cristal, ’59 Vogue Bonnes Mares, and ’66 La Mouline were all (DQ). There were no tears shed, though, as it happens, and those that drink enough old wine know that the only thing to do is move on and remember how much the good ones make up for the occasional bad ones. The color on the Cristal was a bit dark, so we suspected that might have issues, and it did. The Vogue was about as good a fill as one could hope for at that age, and although the color was a bit light, there was still a good ruby core. The craziest thing was that the La Mouline came from a batch of six bottles, two of which we had already had that were both extraordinary, 99-point wines. Even wines from the same case or batch can be completely different! If these kind of experiences make you lose sleep or want to sue people, I suggest you stick to drinking wines ten years and younger. Wine is supposed to be fun, right?
Fortunately, the six wines we did consume were some extraordinary ones. We all contributed to the cause, of course. It began with a magnum of 1985 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne. The first thing I noted was that it was younger than I like my C de C’s. It probably needs another decade to get that creamy, open, butterscotchy kink. The nose was a little grassy at first and a touch barny, but it also had nice waterfall aromas to it. A touch of alley blew off into more corn and yellow smells. The palate had no issues, with its core of sweet corn oil and its excellent structure and acidity. Its finish was prickly, gritty and grainy. The nose started to lean in that butterscotchy direction with some air, as Justin noted, as he did ‘almonds’ (93M).
A pair of Rousseaus was a fascinating comparison. The 1971 Rousseau Chambertin had a wow nose that just jumped out of the glass. There was so much fruit and spice; it was reeking great Burgundy with its unreal aromatics. Earth, Worcestershire, almost hoisin, spice and leather were all there. The palate was rich and saucy, a bit fat by ’71 standards, but the acidity of the vintage tied it all together. Traces of nut, cola and black cherry rounded out the palate. Unlike the Beze that followed, the Chambertin was at its best right out the gate, but it softened a bit over time, bringing its score down to only, yes only (95). Other bottles might sing a slightly different song, as is always the case with older wines.
The 1971 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze was much more reserved than the Chambertin at first. It did come right out of the cellar, so it was a bit colder. Justin immediately observed, ‘slightly more intensity.’ It took me a little longer to get to see that, but he was right. Its reserved quality translated into elegance in 47 languages. The nose was minty and foresty, showing more red cherry as well as more citric tension. It had more woodsy elements, a la Keebler and all the Elves. Rob likened that to ‘the back straight at Talledega.’ That did blow off in time, and it was only slight, and not really a negative in the first place. Slowly and surely, the Beze thickened like a boa constrictor having lunch. The palate was so precise, as if it was walking on a tightrope. Big Boy called it ‘like glass ”“ clean, pure and elegant.’ The acidity was superb, and this was indubitably a classic. While the Cham was hotter and chunkier, the Beze kept distancing itself as the night went on, and its finish was endless (97+).
A 1971 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape was next, and it, too, was outstanding. It was Rayas all the way and absolutely gorgeous on the nose. It was full of that Grenache strawberry, and Rob noted ‘menthol’ and also seconded my strawberry. It was a great bottle, and it tasted great too lol. Rich, hearty and with excellent acidity, this was a Rhone that could rival Rousseau. The flavors were more strawberry dipped in chocolate, and Justin noted ‘tea leaves.’ It danced in the mouth with its rich and luscious flavors, and its finish had excellent mineral notes (96).
A bottle of 1947 Pierre Ponnelle Musigny was next. I know that their wines were made by Georges Roumier for a few years in the 40s and/or 50s, so we might have been blessed by his hand here. I’ll check with the Inspector. The nose was deep with dark, black fruits and traces of cola, nut, earth and a pinch of rubber tire. It was thick and soupy. The palate was rich and also full of black fruits. There was still acid here, but no tannins, and the cola also carried over to the palate, along with some cola nut. It was tasty and sweet, with more brown sugar and oat flavors of a hot vintage, and of a negociant style. It reminded me of a lot of some ‘59s (93).
The final wine on this special evening was a 1964 Richebourg. It was relatively mild-mannered in the nose for a ’64, possessing so much elegance at first. Usually, ’64 Burgs are taking their tops off right away, which is why I like the vintage 🙂 The had lots of pitch, hitting a high note aromatically, possessing lots of mint, rosemary, menthol, game and edge. The palate showed more typical power and was classic all around with its flavors of menthol and rose oil. Slightly browned and perfectly grilled, the Richebourg was chunky and long with excellent acidity, and it kept gaining and unfolding in the glass. ‘Wow, that’s rich,’ summed up Big Boy (95+).
It was an evening that made us all feel richer, although I felt poorer in more ways than one in the morning.
In Vino Veritas,