One early night in April in New York City, around thirty distinguished gentlemen gathered on the rooftop of the Nomad Hotel. This was a tradition like Leap Year, as it was not the first time we all gathered here, although some of the faces had changed. We had all gathered in celebration of fine wine, and we had an all-star lineup of assistance including Right Said Ned, The Raj Mahal, the Best Sommelier in the World and some guy named Slover. Most of all, we had to thank Sir Robert for organizing the event, and everyone left hoping he could organize it again next year.
A Menu Fit for Print
Cocktail hour began with magnums of 1993 Raveneau Chablis Les Clos, thanks to The Artful Roger. The Raveneau was just hitting its window of maturity with aromas of rainwater, and it was chock full o’ nuts. There were lots of yeasty yellow qualities on its nose and palate, which was rich and flavorful, and quite expressive. I’ve got 99 problems, but this wine ain’t one (94M).
Kickstart My Heart
A jeroboam of 2000 Roulot Meursault Perrieres luckily followed next. This would be the second jero of Roulot I had this year, and I would happily have more. This was a delicious wine, clean like the vintage, friendly and tasty. Like a typical Roulot wine, it was sheer drinking pleasure, although this was a wine from an atypically great vineyard. It had that classic Roulot kiss of ‘je ne sais quoi,’ except it was easy to know if you know Roulot. Roulot’s a living legend and I’ll tell you why; everyone wants to be him, and he’s still alive (96J).
We sat down to a 1979 Krug Collection magnum, and I was under-impressed by the particular magnum served to me. This is usually quite reliable, and there was nice fruit and freshness, but yeast, mildew and weediness were too prevalent. There were some rich buttery qualities, but when it came to this magnum, I wish I never met her at all (90M?).
There were two white wines served at the table, the first being a very rare magnum of 1986 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne, I believe its first vintage. There were a lot of descriptors going on right away: toasty, smoky, smooth, creamy, honey, lush, game, white fruits and white smoke, to name a few. Its palate was rich and sweet, full of corn flavors and that ’86 kiss of botrytis, although still holding a lot in reserve. Creamy and long, the Coche kept getting more and more exotic, and tropical orange gained in the glass. They say you can’t turn a bad girl good, but once a good girl’s gone bad, she’s gone forever. The ’86 Coche was both oh so bad, yet oh so good, and it was far from gone. Is that a conundrum? Or maybe a blueprint (97M).
Use Your Illusion
The Punisher punished us all with a jero of 1985 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet. Its nose was raining honey, and its personality was definitely gamey. The color was darker as older white Burgs are prone to be, and the wine was A-OK. While more obvious at first, there was no doubting this wine was very tropical. It was oily and rich, and JS found it definitively ‘Leflaive.’ It was flyer than a piece of paper bearing my name (95J).
The evening officially went up a notch thanks to a methusaleh of 1971 DRC Richebourg, thanks to JS and Neil Diamondz. It was a great bottle. ‘It’s on,’ JS summed up. Crushed rose petals seeped out of its nose, which was royally sweet and exotic. Its palate was creamy and honeyed, full of wildflowers, and The Mogul found it ‘ladylike for a Richebourg.’ Aromas of honey, citrus and smackingly good red fruits joined the party. It was like hold up, who you smacking on? I was only trying to drink more of what we were all snacking on (97Mh).
A Perfect Ten
Big Boy and CB4 combined forces to officially detonate and dominate the evening with a spectacular jeroboam of 1971 DRC Romanee Conti. This wine was thick as a brick in every which way, and its fireplace qualities made way for mucho menthol. Its red and black fruit mÄ©lange was incroyable, and it was long and strong with great acid. Olivier found it still ‘young,’ and its personality was both huge and fresh. It doesn’t get any better than this. This was a celestial bottle, all in the stars, like Tony LaRussa on how you play your Cards (99J).
A great flight of Giacosa ensued, although it had the disservice of following these Twin Towers, which had everyone giddy. The first wine was a 1971 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano (not Riserva). Aromas of leather and tar signaled we had moved on to Piedmont, and there was still lots of spice and acid left in this ’71. It was more impressive than I expected, with its leather and spice carrying over to the palate, which had rich fruit and great herbal qualities. Even though this wasn’t a Riserva, it was still damn good. The white label Giacosas still seem to fall under the radar, but if this wine could speak, it would probably say, “Look behind you, I’m about to pass you twice”(95).
The 1974 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva was also delicious, but more mature. There were lots of cracker aromas, including wheat, rye and graham. This was fleshy, but also a bit muddy, and possessed lots more chocolate. 1974 is definitely a vintage to drink up when it comes to Italy, but it got better, we ordered another round (94).
The 1978 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva was rock solid and classic in every which way. It was long and smooth, solid and laser-like with its precision. This was outstanding juice. I didn’t write much more to read all about it, but it got the job done. I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man (96).
There was a moment of silence for the great Paul Pontallier of Chateau Margaux, who recently passed away unexpectedly from cancer, and we toasted him with magnums of 1983 Margaux. He was a great man, and one of the greatest ambassadors for wine to ever walk the Earth. He will be missed.
When it came to the final flight, it wasn’t about where we been, but where we’re about to go. A jeroboam of 1961 Latour was so youthful, it still seemed like infanticide! Black fruits and wheat dominated the nose, and violet and smoke were the supporting actors. The wine was rich, sumptuous and decadent but shy. The Mogul similarly found it ‘inside of itself,’ aka introverted. There was still depth to this behemoth, but it probably would have been just right at six in the morning (95+J).
The last wine on this starry night was an Imperial of 1959 Mouton Rothschild. Having had the wine out of bottle the very same week in Europe, this was what I call ‘good perspective.’ I love it when that happens. The Mouton was more open than the Latour, fleshier in style, rich and decadent. This was sumptuous and sexy juice. The Jackal found it ‘upfront’ and that it ‘seduces you.’ This wasn’t a building block wine; this was a block with buildings that makes a killin’ (97I).
It was an amazing night that ultimately ended at about 3am, or so I heard, as I had to leave Cinderella style when the clock struck midnight, as I had an auction the next day. This was an epic night, one that showed that wine dreams do come true. Eternal thanks to Sir Robert for such a memorable evening. I will always sip from your cup ’til it runneth over. Holy Grail!
In Vino Veritas,