There are so many places to begin this year’s Paulee recap, I am having a tough time deciding where. The fact that I was in Shanghai the morning before this article, the DRC ‘collectors’ dinner that was happening the same night, our hosts extraordinaire – The Punisher and The Artist formerly known as Dr. Vino…
New York is a big city, but a small community when it comes to those that open and drink the finest and rarest on a relentless basis. Almost all of us happened to be together at Carbone the Thursday before the Paulee, and magnums were on the menu. By the way, Carbone is a place you should go before you can’t anymore. Great, Italian, Real, Food.
We started with a token 1981 Krug Collection, which was showing better than before, finally starting to shed some snakeskin and provide some meat and soup to its acidic and citric bones. It was still tangy and still too young, a veritable adolescent amongst the adults that would follow (94+M).
The first white served was a 1989 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet. This was a clean, fresh ’89, and the magnum factor definitely had something to do with it. Its yellow fruits were lightly tanned with dabs of sunflower oil and nice wintry spice. Hints of eggs and truffle made their way to my nose, and they weren’t on the menu, either. The palate was meaty, tasty and gamy. It was mature but in that just right way, the way I hope to be one day lol. Smooth and classy, the Leflaive had a fine finish and long acidity (95M).
A surprisingly great 1989 Gagnard-Delagrange Montrachet followed, but I was no longer surprised when Wilf told me this was one of his all-time favorite whites. Its nose was raining tangy, yellow fruits, minerals and wet rocks, and a touch of heavy cream bridged the gap to its palate. This was a big, rich mouthful of a white, with more earth and nut flavors. Its long and big finish was all good and then some (96M).
Even more surprisingly, the 1999 DRC Montrachet was my least favorite wine of the flight, which is not to say it wasn’t good. Shy, shy, shy, yeah, wasn’t there a song that went that way? There wasn’t the opulence or the sweetness I was looking for, but there was wet fruit and corn with some smokehouse and game. However, this was reserved and coiled, like a snake in the grass. Its flavors were yeasty and toasty, and its body zippy and groovy. It definitely had the most minerality but was still so reserved. To be continued (94+M).
The whites came and went, and the reds came and stayed. Batting leadoff was a 1964 Clair-Dau Bonnes Mares, which is the same land that now goes into the Jadot Bonnes Mares. Clair-Dau is revered amongst many Burgundy connoisseurs, and this ’64 showed why. It was hailed as ‘the unicorn in the room,’ i.e., you never see it. Its autumnal nose had lots of wet underbrush to it, why was everything so wet tonight? I guess when it gets hot, it gets wet, and this night was about as hot as it gets. Back to the Bonnes Mares and its indubitably fabulous nose, aromas of mint, sauce and old book made for a delectable profile. The palate was rich and hearty with lots of leaf flaves and outstanding acidity (95M).
The 1966 Ponelle Latricieres Chambertin had fresher, reconditioned fruit, melony in hue and honeyed in style. DJ Fidel Cashflow noted the melon, but more in a ‘rind’ way. It was clean, fresh and easy, but simpler overall, affected by its reconditioned-ness (92M).
It was back to the summer of ’64 thanks to a 1964 DRC Echezeaux. Fidel appreciated how it was ‘sweet in the back,’ and I soon realized that everything Fidel said related to the dance floor lol. The DRC had a sweaty nose full of pheromones, shit, it was contagious. There were red fruits behind all that sexy stuff, along with rose, menthol and tomato, make that lots of menthol. Its palate was smooth and satiny, polished and pretty. Both ’64s were sweet and hot, as the vintage should be (94M).
Next flight, please. Ahhhhhh, Dujac. 1980 Dujac Clos St. Denis, to be exact. It was another wow nose from another Dujac, it must be starting to get embarrassing for the Seysseses. I mean, make a bad wine already, will ya? The 1980’s saucy nose was open and dank with a touch of sweaty horse. Deep purple and heavy smoke emerged from the van of this creamy and gamy red. Leafy flavors blew into the town this wine called home. Polished, soft and tender, this was an easy and lovely wine (94M).
This was the second time that I have had a magnum of 1985 Dujac Clos St. Denis this year, one in HK and now one in NY. It is easy to see why I spend so much time in these two cities. My first comments were ‘wow again, fabulous nose, see JAN HK notes.’ This magnum was served a bit colder and was not quite as opulent as in HK, but its aromatics slowly unveiled and revealed an S on its chest, just the same. Leather, zip, sauce and a hint of September marked this long, fine and superb red (97M).
I didn’t get to spend enough time with the 1985 DRC Grands Echezeaux as I would have liked, as the next flight was big. Really big. I tend to lag behind the rest of the group because I take notes. One wine sometimes has to sacrifice itself for the greater good, and this DRC just did that. The GE still brought good things to life with its dominatrix nose of leather, animal and menthol. There was creamy, dark fruit here, and enough iron for a good bondage video. Goodness gracious, this was only the tenth wine (95M).
I mentioned before that the next flight was a big one. It isn’t often that you get Big Boy, Big Mike and Mr. Big in the same room together, but when those stars align, great things happen, and they most certainly did in this next, ‘big’ flight. We could thank Mr. Big for his magnum of 1971 DRC La Tache, and we could also thank Bipin Desai since he was the original owner. The Acker stickers were coming hot and heavy on this night, and it made me even more warm and fuzzy all over. The ’71 la Tache has long been one of my all-time favorite wines, and this magnum didn’t disappoint. There were great aromas, open and sexy ones like rose oil, mint, autumn and all types of fresh fruit, like a salad of greatness. This was an endless love of aromatics, ‘so good, so great, so fab,’ was how I originally put it. Fidel jumped on my ‘so’ wagon with ‘so LT and so what it should be.’ Great Brittain found ‘roasted pumpkin, when the candles just get placed inside.’ I liked (98M).
The next logical place to go was 1971 DRC Romanee Conti, and we could thank Big Boy for exactly that happening. He let us know a few more times, just to be on the safe side. Big Boy found the ‘same aromatic pattern’ as the LT, but the RC had a deeper, richer and heavier nose, although it did have the same autumnal edge. Someone noted ‘that ’71 rot.’ Heavy, rich and long, the RC was almost too young still, but it was legal (98M).
There weren’t many places to go in a flight of this caliber, but Big Mike found a way with a magnum of 1985 DRC Romanee Conti. The Cardinale and The Artist quickly hailed the ’85 as their favorite in the flight, and even though I usually prefer the ’71s to the ’85s when it comes to my DRCs, this was an exception, and an exceptional magnum. Its nose was wild and even more open than the ’71, and Mr. Cashflow noted its ‘cherry.’ Menthol and animal joined the party in this sweaty red, which had sweet and nutty fruit. Its palate was thick, tender and long, a monumental wine that was rich and zippy. This was the ‘sharpest of the three’ according to one, and its vigor pulled it ahead of the ’71s by a nose, so to speak (98+M).
It’s not often that a flight of Rousseau Chambertins can be anti-climactic, but the next flight was still stellar. It began with a magnum of 1985 Rousseau Chambertin, which was meatier and sweatier than the ’85 that preceded it. This was an open wine, in a hot and sexy way. The palate was polished and smooth with hints of brown sugar and lots of autumnal action. It seemed to be maturing at a faster clip than other vintages of Rousseau (95M).
The 1990 Rousseau Chambertin that followed was bamboo city in its saucy and powerful nose. There were many shades of red in its rich fruit profile. There was great acidity and shine to its palate, which snapped, crackled and popped. This was a heavy, meaty and saucy wine with a wow and how finish. This is one 1990 Red Burgundy that is no doubt about it great (97+M).
As always for this vintage of Rousseau, the 1991 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze had that usual woodsy/gassy edge. Its nose came across edgy accordingly, but there was real depth here to the fruit, in a blacker way. Its fresh fruit was pure and long on the palate, and it had nice minerality and noble richness. This ended up being the best bottle of 1991 Rousseau that I can remember having (96M).
There was one last flight to our sit down portion of the evening, and it was all Jayer, beginning with an amazing 1987 Henri Jayer Echezeaux. Jayer was a master of the ‘off’ vintages aka the lesser years, and this was exhibit A. The Cardinal found it ‘best of flight.’ There was great fruit here for an ’87. This was a delicious and creamy wine with perfect maturity. This was an unbelievable wine given the vintage, fine yet substantial, in a perfect place with a nutty complexity (95+M).
The 1990 Henri Jayer Echezeaux that followed took it up a notch. Despite the three-year age difference, it came across at least a decade younger. Superhero qualities of oil and sauce oozed out of its concentrated nose. There was amazing, deep purple fruit to this youthful wine. The palate was rich and honeyed, equally incredible with its youthful personality and almost adolescent fruit. This was a Godzilla of a wine (97M).
A 1993 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux was unfortunately a bit corked, although in time, it could be appreciated. This was a big, rich, hearty wine, with lots of earth and mineral components, a bit of a behemoth but still a ways away from entering a mature phase. I just hope enough of these wines are still around to drink when they are mature! Although affected, I felt like this wine would have been on the heels of the 1990 (96+A-M).
Dujac was the official wine of the afterparty, and people started pouring in from every which way. Winemakers and sommeliers seemed to be the bulk of the later revelers, including notables such as Lafon, Roumier and Mr. Seysses of Dujac himself, and there was even an Inspector sighting. It got so busy and so full that I missed sampling the three-liter of 1988 Dujac Clos de la Roche. Sheesh, thankfully I had a couple of bottles of those a month ago. There was actually a bunch of other wines to taste through, but I couldn’t really focus on more than the last couple of magnums, beginning with an outstanding 2002 Dujac Clos de la Roche. This blew me away; after so many great and legendary wines, the ’02 didn’t blink. It was absolutely delicious, deep and sweet with purply and edgy fruit. There was a sprinkle of milk chocolate to this delicious wine. This was 2002 Burgundy at its best (96M).
One last, brief note was taken for a 1996 Dujac Clos St. Denis. This was showing the better qualities of the 1996 vintage, which is finally fleshing out and showing more and more minty fruit. This was creamy and lush, which many 1996s aren’t. It was tasty and fleshy, quite enjoyable as a late night quaffer (95M).
It was a great night all around, but a terrible day after. Ouch. Good thing there were no pictures allowed, otherwise there might have been even more ugliness lol. I struggled through that Friday, took the night off, and buckled up for the main event the next evening, La Paulee 2013.
In Vino Veritas,