The early part of the week is always its hardest part, so wine is definitely in order on Mondays and Tuesdays. Make that all days come to think of it. A recent Monday saw Hong Kong’s Good Doctor slip in and out of the New York night around dinner, leaving a trail of empty bottles behind him. Lady Agah and Alexander the Great joined us for a most enjoyable evening.
The company of the Good Doctor is always enjoyable, as he has a taste for the finer things, and is a master of not only wine, but also food. He is always atop my Hong Kong list of people to see, as I know a special meal will surely follow. Since it was Monday, and he was amidst a world tour of travel, we kept it light with only four bottles for the four of us, beginning with a 1990 Cristal. Well, it was Lady Agah who selected the ’90, as I was a few minutes late, and she waits for no man. I quickly caught up with the ’90, enjoying its butterscotchy, hedonistic style. It was delicious and sexy, flirting with sweet but keeping it dry. It was rich and long, still young but showing secondary flavors. It has always been a fun and outgoing Cristal, from a vintage that will last (96).
The 2001 Ramonet Montrachet that followed was a solid successor, as it, too, had a buttery style that flirted with sweetness. There was a touch of botrytis in this rich wine. It was fat and long, missing a touch of its centerpoint at this stage; its acidity wasn’t quite bridging the gap between its fruit and finish. The fatness of the wine perhaps detracted from its acidity a bit, but at age ten I don’t think the wine should be shutting down, not in 2001 at least. Nonetheless it was an excellent Ramonet, and one that I wouldn’t worry about drinking up soon (94).
The 1993 Roumier Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses was spectacular. Roumier really hit the 1993 nail on the head. His wines capture the essence and greatness of the vintage better than anyone else, although Rousseau and Mugnier might have a thing or two to say about it. Ok, Leroy too, but in a different language. This wine possessed all the great qualities of Roumier, the vintage and the vineyard. It was silky and feminine yet robust in character, with a mineral and earth foundation that said ‘build here.’ It had a fine line that ran right through it, keeping the wine balanced, but it was still so taut. It felt young but wise, its black and red fruits hinting at what will still come for many years. It was fabulous (96+).
We finished with a 1996 Krug. Lady Agah was ready to perform after dinner, so we revved it up a notch with a closing act fit for a nightcap. The Krug was, as usual, stellar but young. It had enough acid for the entire restaurant, and it had enough rocket fuel to last for decades. Do not disturb until 2025 (96).
It had been a long day for the Good Doctor, who bid us farewell with incredibly wise words that were befittingly very Chinese, ‘The days are long, but the years are short.’
The day after was another long day, especially the morning part of it, and I saw another good friend slip in and out of New York, this time being Hollywood Jef, in town for the Tribeca Film Festival. The Hedonist celebrated Jef’s arrival with a dinner at Adour, where more wine was, of course, both in and on order.
We picked up right where I left off the night before, this time with a 1989 Krug Clos du Mesnil. The nose was deep, rich and brothy, with great vanilla and light citrus aromas. There were exotic floral qualities and a bold personality from what is the greatest vineyard known to Champagne. The flavors were big to match, and there were lots of wheat flavors with a splash of rust. There was deep acidity to this brooding bubbly, and its long, thick finish oozed all over my palate. It got deeper and better with warm, yellow flavors shining in due time (96+).
A 1992 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche had a sweet, gamy nose. Tropical aromas of rainwater, sweet musk and even a hint of pineapple let their presence be known rather quickly. 1992s can be a bit sweet, and while I think many wines from this vintage are already sunsetting, that was not the case here. The palate had mildly sweet caramel flavors and hints of stalk and butter. That tropical sweetness stuck around the palate and didn’t cross the line. This was a great 1992 (95).
Hollywood Jef plucked something off the list and had a little fun, serving it to us blind. It was definitely old Bordeaux, and the Hedonist noted that it was ‘a little volatile.’ Once past that, there were aromas of peanut, carob, caramel and cassis. It had a dirty edge to it, and its peanut qualities soon went Bangkok Thai on me. It was gravelly and smoky, which led us to guess Graves. I was able to get the vintage down to ’59 or ’61, and it was a 1961 Pape Clement. I reveled in my logic and methodology for a moment, and went back to the wine and found it getting better in the glass. This was a delicious wine, much better than I remembered when I did a comprehensive Pape Clement vertical many years ago (94).
Two Burgundy bombs were lofted in from Jef, spectacular examples of Chambertin that made it a night truly to remember. Generous people who share their best bottles are people that easily become the best of friends. The first Burgundy was a 1962 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze. Having had a spectacular bottle of this within the last two months, I was well prepared to reevaluate it. This bottle was equally as spectacular, sporting an incredible nose of game, smoke and red fruits. There was a richness to the nose without a heaviness, and great spice, rust and citrus kissed erotically around its bed of fruit. The palate was also rich, but still elegant, luscious and in the right spot and the right time, as the top 1962s are, although some say the vintage’s best days are starting to be behind it. Not tonight! There was a kick of kernel on the end, and its red fruits slowly turned to autumn in the glass. It never lost its citric tension, and secondary flavors of garden and smoke continued to unfold (97).
The last wine on this memorable evening was a 1955 Leroy Chambertin, which wasn’t about to back down from the benchmark laid down before it. The Leroy was even more kinky, with black and brown fruits emerging first and foremost. The palate was sexy and fleshy, with chocolate tootsie pop flavors but solid earth and iodine to keep it balanced. The wine kept climbing the point ladder with time in the glass, becoming more meaty and a good dirty. Its acid really came out and asserted itself, its t ‘n a popping out of its glass. ‘It has cleavage,’ the Hedonist chuckled, to which Hollywood Jef left us with some West Coast wisdom, ‘Everything is about getting laid’ (96).
The following week was more about Wednesday and Thursday with a complete Masseto vertical and a spectacular Bordeaux night at Marea, Saturday was La Tache with the Burghound, it was a busy week. I’m still unbelievably backed up this year already. Perhaps we’ll keep La Paulee interrupted for a bit. These past couple of weeks were definitely what we call ‘practice what you preach.’
In Vino Veritas,