As Autumn seizes the season with its crisp, cool hands, I can’t help but reminisce about summer nights. There aren’t many evenings better spent than ones with The Mogul, and I was fortunate enough to have two significant soirees out East, from a New Yorker’s perspective. While The Mogul is one of the biggest American lovers of Bordeaux that I know, we kept the food groups these rounds mainly to Champagne and Burgundy. Nothing wrong with that.
There was definitely a pre-game before our first evening, but those notes are temporarily misplaced. Thankfully, I had a picture from an Instagram post (follow john.kapon if you want to see more of what I drink), so now I remember having 2001 Raveneau Clos, 2001 Ramonet Batard, 2000 Rousseau Chambertin(s) and 2002 DRC RSV. See Exhibit A. I can’t give you any details at this point, but I can tell you they were all pretty freaking good : )
Since I still have 40+ notes for these couple of special occasions, I will just start rolling with the 2002 Krug, the first wine at dinner. The newly released Krug is another exceptional release from Champagne’s top dog. It was a delicious, long and zippy bubbly that exuded the word ‘great.’ There were nice flavors of yellow fruits, corn and bitter, along with a little cream and a touch of scotch. While young, it was still fun to hang out with (96).
The 2002 Krug Clos du Mesnil was more shut down, on the leaner and shier side. It was served first on purpose, although I didn’t taste it first, assuming it was served first in error. While longer and more cerebral, the ‘regular’ Krug vintage stole the show…for now. The Falcon noted ‘brioche’ while The Mogul found it more ‘bagel dough.’ Nicole noted how a ‘pinch of heat gave this vintage incredible fruit.’ 1982 was a vintage that came up in a comparable conversation, and while intuition would say this was the best wine on the table, it wasn’t quite yet (95+).
We had a couple of MV Krugs next, #158 was a blend back to 1988 held for over twenty years! It was a bit grassy and lighter (93),and I much preferred the #164, which was mostly 2008 (95)You can never go wrong with an MV Krug, it is one of the best possible ways to start a dinner party, or a date, or Sunday breakfast alone lol.
A trio of great white Burgundy producers and vintages followed, led by a 2012 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres. Coche is on absolute fire right now; its prices have practically doubled over the past year or so. This MP was rich and long, displaying signature acacia and honeysuckle aromas. ‘So rich’ appeared in my notes again, but it was a touch oaky at first. With air, though, that resolved itself. This was still heavier than I expected, and Mr. Pink admired its ‘laser focus.’ I can’t remember who Mr. Pink is, but he has a name lol (96+).
The 2011 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche had more approachability, to be expected for a 2011, one of my favorite young white Burg vintages to drink young. This was a buttery and forward wine with much more open flavors, but it didn’t have the staying power in the glass as the other two (94).
I didn’t have much to say about the 2010 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet other than ‘long, clean, racy and classic.’ That about sums it up (95).
Speaking of Leflaive, a trio of them followed, beginning with the 1992 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet. Someone noted it as ‘Sauternes-like,’ and that comment was dead on. The sweetness of the vintage manifested itself into a Sauv Blanc wanna be, but of the highest order. There was amazing apricot and stone fruits here, and this was a rich and hedonistic wine that was kinky and open with a ‘woody finish.’ The Mogul threw some controversial ‘dirty sock’ in the Leflaive hamper. His laundry always gets done on time (95).
A 1989 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Pucelles was unfortunately corked (DQ).
The 1983 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet was a spectacular bottle. I have always liked this vintage of Burgundy for both red and whites, and the top wines remain delightful. The Blue Jay found its mid-palate ‘restrained’ and more ‘Batard.’ I just found it delicious. I was impressed with its atypical acid and length for the vintage. This was a full, rich and regal Chardonnay (96+).
The reds began with a flight of Roumiers and the 2006 Roumier Bonnes Mares. There was a chalkiness to its nose, and some gas in the mask, so to speak. Someone noted about Roumier, ‘the darkest fruit of the Cote de Nuits.’ Slate, hot rubber and acid were prominent in this dungeonesque red. Hamburger called 2006 ‘an underrated vintage’ (94).
A 2001 Roumier Bonnes Mares was similar to the 2006 with its brooding, dark personality, in contrast to the vintage. The Mogul saw it too, comparing both the ’01 and the ’06 to an unopened peacock plume. He would know; he has a few on his property. The 2001 was serious, but restrained, and there was a touch of dirty diaper there that needed time to blow off (94).
The 1996 Roumier Bonnes Mares was far and away the best of the flight, but it clearly needed lots more time. I think Roumier is almost Bordelais in that it needs three decades to shed its skin on the top level. This was a classic ’96 with its bristling acid zipping, zigging and zagging. This was both classy and gorgeous which is not always an easy combination to come by lol. The whips and chains of the ’96 vintage were on full display like…like…let’s just say that when 1996s are on, they are fantastic (96+).
Three 1993s followed, two if by Dujac, one if by Leroy. The 1993 Dujac Bonnes Mares was super serious. The Blue Jay said something serious, but my handwriting was starting to let me down. Possible comments include, ‘deer hunt, derelict or doorknob.’ If you know the Blue Jay, they all make sense lol. This wine was deep and long with lots of forest floor, purple fruits and cream. It was sweet as in a good spot and luxuriously good. In fact, it was the best wine so far. Elegance and class mingled with chunky and cherry. The Falcon found ‘rhubarb and mint’ in this fantastic Pinot (97).
Surprisingly, the 1993 Dujac Clos de la Roche was decidedly different, very furry and dirty, with some diaper and ‘coffee grinds’ per The Mogul. There were some black fruits here but a tootsie pop thing that simplified its situation. ‘Dirty South’ summed up this possibly affected bottle (91?).
The 1993 Leroy Vosne Romanee Beaux Monts was rich, deep, dark and heavy. It was decidedly a different animal than the other Burgs, and it also had more animal along with Asian and allspice. This was a long and brooding wine, classic Leroy Domaine style (96).
There were three to go, and what better place to finish than in the vineyard of La Tache. Well, the 1969 DRC La Tache was a skunked bottle (DQ),but the 1989 DRC La Tache was not. My notes were waning at this point, but I gathered enough momentum to observe purple and black fruits, with excellent acid and a zippy personality. This was definitely in outstanding territory (95).The legend of all legends, the 1999 DRC La Tache, delivered another near perfect performance. ‘Amazing,’ was all that needed to be said. This is one of the greatest Burgundies ever made (99).
About a month later, we did it all over again, but this time I didn’t lose my ‘pre-game’ notes. And the Vintage Tastings Alumni turnout was strong, led by Lady Agah and Gentleman Jim, Wild Bill, Jennie P and the one and only, Big Boy. Lights, camera, action.
The afternoon started on the boat, with a magnum of 1988 Dom Perignon. This has never been considered a great DP, and one could taste why. It was a bit watery and yeasty, simple and one dimensional. Someone found it like ‘a dirty puddle.’ Tough crowd, tough crowd. Big Boy quickly started pontificating (and I say that in the most loving way) how ‘only the ’49, ’55 and ’61 are great DPs.’ The ’88 was level headed, but I could not see it ever improving, or really wanting to pop one again compared to other years around it (90M).
The 1988 Louis Roderer Cristal magnum was much better. This was quite full-bodied, with super spritz and a long, zippy finish. It had signature flavors of butterscotch and a sweet citrus thing happening. There was nice length and balance to this tasty Champagne (95M).
The 1988 Krug magnum was clearly the biggest and baddest of them all, but the Cristal was giving it all it could handle in the ‘drink now’ category. With a little bit of cheese, the Krug took off, really coming into its own for the ‘Best of Class’ in 1988 (97M).
A 1976 Salon quickly got everyone’s attention. Wild Bill was admiring its ‘sophistication,’ although it was a bit shy on the spectrum of flavors. There were white ice qualities, almost diamond-like impressions could there be an aroma and flavor as described as such. Big Boy observed, ‘salt,’ that it was ‘too young’ and that ‘other bottles have been six stars.’ He would know (94+M).
A bottle of 1979 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose got us out of magnum territory in decent fashion. It was lacking some bubbles but not lacking in acid. ‘Orange peel,’ rust and dried strawberry co-mingled in this round and solid Champagne. This bottle seemed autumnal, which could have been the wine, or the bottle, but it didn’t strike me as off (93).
I had brought along a rare bottle of 1966 Lafon Meursault Charmes from Wolfgang’s collection that I was dying to try. The fill was a touch lower, but I had a hunch it would be good. It was a solid bottle despite the handicap – that ol’ Grunewald magic! It had a nutty and minty nose, with some animal fur and unsalted butter edges. It was a yellow siren of a wine, smooth and round, a touch gamey but great, and a thrill to try. Of course, Big Boy had to shit all over it lol. You talkin’ to me??? (94)
A 1992 Raveneau Chablis Montee de Tonnerre was matchstick city. Lady Agah found it ‘ashy’ and full of ‘sage.’ There were lots of oyster shells and some exotic lime to this long and creamy Chablis. Limestone joined the party thrown by this smooth and satiny white (94).
The Mogul threw in a bottle of ‘boat wine,’ a bottle of 1996 Maison Leroy Meursault Charmes. Gentleman Jim was all over its ‘clove cigarettes.’ This was a buttery, polished wine, more like a touch of aged butter, with a caramel thing happening. This was definitely a ‘boat wine,’ aka easy, great drinking (93).
We had a pair of reds with the last of lunch, and things went up a notch. The 1999 DRC Grands Echezeaux was no La Tache, but it was all ’99 DRC. It felt young by comparison to that LT a month ago, but it didn’t have the same air time. As young as it was, it was so great, with amazing red and black fruits to go with tomato and animal aromas and flavors. Its acid smacked that and then some. If I could only own one vintage of DRC for the last forty years, it would be 1999 (96).
The Mogul reached deep into his hull and pulled out a spectacular bottle of 1985 Dujac Clos de la Roche. There was a divine mÄ©lange of fruit flavors to go with its citrus, ‘rose petals’ (Lady Agah) and lavender. The Mogul found it ‘so complex,’ and it damn sure was. A touch of leafy goodness rounded out this just maturing red, and everyone was purring and humming along (98).
There was a quick swim, and a couple more quick Champagnes to wind down our day. The 1969 Krug Collection magnum was rich and buttery, with light vanilla and toffee flavors. There was lots of cream without the creamy, and this was a solid bubbly, a fastball right down the middle (95M).
One last bottle of 1983 Salon was delicious. There were hay, caramel and smoky flavors in this rich, mature bubbly (94).Everyone proceeded to disappear for about 90 minutes, as the main event was actually dinner. Everyone needed to cool down after a fairly epic warmup.
The 1992 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet that followed took immediate charge of the flight. It was bigger and in a perfect spot. It was also minty, ‘more tropical’ per The Mogul, as a 1992 should be. Its flavors were nutty and creamy with an herbal goodness and some ‘lemon oil.’ It was sweeter and rounder, with great acidity, and citrus and pineapple exploded in the glass with time (96+).
The 1988 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne, however, was the flight’s most delicious wine. Wild Bill was in awe, commenting ‘GD what a wine!’ It was creamy and wintry with great supporting earth characteristics. Delicious kept appearing in my notes, and Lulu and The Mogul noted together, ‘oyster shells and shellfish.’ There was this menage a trois of salt, butter and citrus flavors in this rich, bright Chardonnay. There was also slate, cream and dry honey. There was a lot going on in this overlooked vintage for white. This wine was a bruiser without being brutish, and ‘so delicious’ appeared for a third time (97).
A quartet of Rousseaus was about as good as it gets, which each bottle delivering a full throttle experience, beginning with the 1996 Rousseau Chambertin. Lady Agah noted, ‘mushrooms,’ and Wild Bill ‘cherry.’ There were loads of vitamins in this healthy, virile red. It was intense with its acid, another whips and chains ’96, with loads of menthol, meat and oil flavors. Its spicy and spiny personality was ‘oh so good’ (96).
The 1993 Rousseau Chambertin was another ‘so good’ wine. It was more foresty than the ’96, with lots of earth and the raw material goodness that comes with it. This was a rich and heavy wine that was still light on its feet. It was chewy with a great soupy complexity. More forest and earth flavors went with its dark, brooding fruit. This definitely was the wine of the night so far, and Gentleman Jim admired its ‘minty’ flavors (98).
What a Flight
The 1985 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze also had lots of acid, despite the vintage usually being more forward. The quality of the producer was really shining. It had a brothy and sappy personality, along with tea biscuit qualities. It was another delicious wine, with nice ‘leaves’ to it along with excellent fruit. It was a veritable leather fun pack unto itself (96).
The 1999 Rousseau Chambertin was so ample, yet still a teenager. There was more purple to its deep fruit. Jennie P. admired its ‘awesome make up and complexity.’ Despite being so young, it opened up in the glass a bit, resulting in the best bottle of this that I can ever remember having. It was thick, long and spectacular. Gentleman Jim, who was starting to resemble One-Eyed Jack lol, hailed it ‘my favorite at some point.’ What a flight (97).
It’s not often a flight of DRC can be anti-climactic, but it was tough to top that Rousseau flight. The 1990 DRC Romanee St. Vivant was open and chewy with beefy and rich aromas. It was spicy and spiny with lots of acidity to go with its tomato and menthol flavors. This was a hearty and happy 1990 (95+).
I Can See the Finish Line
The 1999 DRC Romanee St. Vivant was even better, as 1999s have proven to be, just in this article alone! There was iron and spice in this muscly wine. Lady Agah noticed ‘hoisin,’ and I noticed loads of black and purple fruit to go with its fine finish (96).
The 2002 DRC Romanee St. Vivant was a dirty bottle, a bit off-putting and somehow off, although it wasn’t cooked or corked (91?).Someone threw in a 1995 DRC Grands Echezeaux, which was rock solid (95).
Everyone was hammered at this point lol, but there was still one flight to go! Help!!! Bordeaux finally reared its head after two spectacular nights (and days) of summer fun. It was such a great flight, too, and all Right Bank 1961 and older, but I didn’t have a lot of gas left. The 1947 L’Evangile was (DQ),but the three that followed were outstanding bottles. The 1947 Vieux Chateau Certan took best of flight; ‘delicious, spectacular and great’ were about as far as I could get in my descriptions. It was a textbook 1947 with decadent plum and chocolate flavors, and an oily and hedonistic personality. The 1955 L’Evangile rocked; I do love 1955 Bordeaux (96).Even the 1961 Ausone was outstanding; Ausones from the 1960s and older are one of the better kept secrets in old Bordeaux – if you can find them (95).
While an ambitious afterparty was planned in advance, there would be no after thereafter. It was lights out, a TWKO, technical wine knock out. Nights like these already have me looking forward to 2018’s Summer Nights.
In Vino Veritas,