There was one night in 2019 that I just could not forget, the birthday celebration of The Aginator. The Aginator is a very large German fellow who is a long-time friend that has a New York soul. Having lived in New York for nearly 45 years, I can appreciate that! On one summer night on an island north of Germany, a grand celebration was held in honor of our dear friend. Grand as in food and wine, does anything else really matter?

I got there a bit early, so I grabbed a bottle for myself of 2012 Keller Morstein GG off of Herr Big Ben’s award-winning wine list. It had a fabulous nose reeking of soil and minerals. The Morstein was full of taut peach, a touch of lychee and orange sex appeal. It needed decanting but still showed its fine length, acidity and elegance despite its youth. The ‘GG’s of Keller are some of the best white wines on earth, they are Riesling, and they are ‘regular’ alcohol levels and dry (95+).!

A 2005 Coche-Dury Bourgogne Blanc made its way around the table as a cocktail white. It had a very oaky nose with some mint, too. It was dry and woody on the palate, and it was thin with some lemon traces. Someone claimed the wine had ‘no fruit’ at all, and it wasn’t inaccurate (87).

We moved on to Champagne with a 1979 Pommery Cuvee Louise which was full of ‘honey’ per The French Paradox and ‘cinnamon buns’ per the Somm. The nose was packed with gingerbread, mushrooms and sous bois. A bit of wood shone through, but the palate was a little dry. Though the nose was yeasty and complex, the palate was meh, like unsweetened corn pops (90M).

The 1979 Cristal was full of super butterscotch and a perfect magnum. There were buttery corn and lemony kisses, and the sunny Cristal core was intact with great length. The wine still felt young and the fruit was just starting to show secondary characteristics. The Aginator was impressed and called it ‘so fresh’ and ‘very young,’ while the Paradox noted ‘dry honey.’ I just kept wanting to drink this stunning magnum (98M).

Served blind, the 2008 Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots had a sweet nose with honey, tangy citrus, dust and lots of flowers. It had a note of powdered fruit and a pinch of yeast. The roundness of the wine had me considering 2009, but the palate was frankly a little unpleasant. The aftertaste was bad, and the group was disappointed when the wine was revealed. It was just too yeasty on the finish per Jakob. I’m not sure if it was an off bottle or not (90?).

A magnum of 1979 Krug was big, brawny and wound up. It was packed with tangy, green apple flavors and acidity. Someone said, ‘the Cristal gives more pleasure, but the Krug shows more reserve and potential.’ This had a better body and more all-around structure (97+M).

The 2007 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres had a fantastic nose that was clean and fresh with great class and style. There was nice minerality and mintiness. Someone thought it was ‘so light aromatically,’ but I didn’t mind as I was wrapped up in the smooth and nutty palate. It was outstanding but not the upper bar of this wine (95).

Next up was the 2013 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres which was classy and classic. This was another solid white and deemed ‘much better on the nose.’ This was big, round and outstanding with a flinty finish. Ingo preferred the ’13 to the ’07, as did I. I was impressed with what Coche did with this vintage (96).

We moved on to a couple of reds with a 2005 Coche-Dury Pommard Vaumuriens. It had that hard nose of Pommard with a minty and ceramic edge. There were taut red fruits that made the wine simultaneously round to go with its hardness. This was a manly Burgundy, still on the young side, just out of college (93).

The 2006 Coche-Dury Pommard Vaumuriens was much creamier on the nose. Its palate was simple and soft, not so fleshy and a bit one dimensional (89).

We ricocheted from reds back to whites and a fascinating side by side. The 1979 Ygrec d’Yquem had great forest and woody notes in the right way. There was sweet apricot and more wood on the slightly dry palate, but it was very complex. The Sauternes element was clear in this dry Bordeaux white, and I found this to be very solid stuff (93).

In contrast, the 1979 Yquem had a classically great Yquem nose with smoky candle wax. It was smoky, musky and caramel-y, and one heck of a rich, easy and sexy drink (93).

Champagne came back with a bottle of 1979 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. The nose was smoky and grainy, and the palate with dry with some good yeast, but I was missing the fat (91).

It was back to Coche and a 2005 Coche-Dury Meursault Genevrieres which had that smoky, fat ’05 Coche style. There was some waterfall kink, but the palate was a touch too yeasty. It was simple compared to the Meursault Perrieres. Jakob found it ‘so heavy,’ and the Paradox thought it was ‘not well balanced’ (91).

The 2013 Coche-Dury Meursault Genevrieres was the same story but better as it was more two-dimensional. It was simple and round but still felt more negoce than Domaine, so to speak. There were nice aromatics, but the Paradox felt there was ‘too much makeup on the wine’ (93).

The Paradox immediately called out the ‘smoky milk’ on the 1979 Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos and Jakob noted the ‘buttery yogurt’ on this rare wine. It was very smoky on the nose, but very complex as well, showing lots of twigs and branches. The Aginator was into the ‘marmalade bonbon’ flavors. The palate was smoky and dry with not a lot of fruit but a lot of acidity. The Aginator kept digging and found ‘sesame’ while Big Ben called it ‘crispy’ (94).

We came back to Coche with 2010 Coche-Dury Meursault Genevrieres. I guess now is as good a time as any to explain the seemingly random order of wines. There were really two tastings happening simultaneously, one being The Aginator and his 40th birthday celebration, and the other being a Coche-Dury dinner organized by Herr Big Ben. My present to The Aginator was sharing the Coche ‘seat’ with him while attending his dinner, so Ben was busy shuffling Coches to us based on the pace of the other dinner. The 2010 had a classic ’10 nose with lots of fresh zip, lemon sorbet and white ice. It was light but showing sparkling minerals. However, the palate again was a bit simple, more so than I wanted. It lacked that third dimension one would expect, and the palate had no stuffing (92).

We kept on with a 2012 Coche-Dury Meursault Genevrieres. This was much better, and I considered that maybe this Cru got better with time-based on the ’12 and ’13. It was much richer and thicker with a lovely, honeyed palate and more cream on the nose. It was full-bodied with excellent acidity (94).

The other theme of the evening was 1979, and we kept that train going with a bottle of 1979 Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Pucelles. It was an excellent bottle of aged white Burg with perfect color. It had that rainwater nose with light corn. It was almost too smooth, lacking definition on its palate and not fully delivering on the promise of the nose. The Paradox and Jakob still thought it was better than the white that followed (92).

The 1979 Lafon Montrachet was similarly in great condition, and the wine was excellent. It had caramel on the nose and was ‘rich and creamy’ per Jakob. This had that Monty magic but was not the top of the Montrachet mountain as it was a bit yeasty. The Paradox found it ‘well built’ and it had great richness, but it fell short of outstanding (94).

We had a brief foray back into red wine with a magnum of 1968 Vega Sicilia Unico that had spent 20 years in the cellar. It was rich and sexy but shy, showing all the classic characteristics of ’68 Vega but also so young out of magnum. It had that great leather on the finish and a pinch of kink to its flavors. It needed more time to open (96+M).

A bottle of 1979 Bouchard La Romanée came next which was immediately deemed ‘dirty’ by Dr. Uni and was clearly imperfect. It showed too much wet mushroom and tangy Worcestershire notes (DQ).

We rebounded quickly with our first Coche CC, the 2007 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne. It had all the great smoke and waterfall and that Coche ice kink. The palate was similar to the Meursault Perrieres with nice flesh, good roundness, balance and length. The continuity of the vintage between the wines was evident. The CC’s solid finish snuck up on me (95).

The 25th wine on this joyous, vinous occasion was a 2013 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne. There was that ’13 richness again and that Coche rockiness. It was outstanding stuff and great toast flavors added to the palate. There was so much freshness here and a great finish (96+).

The birthday party kept going with a 1979 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape which showed all those roasted and gamy CdP notes. It had great red fruit and spice, much better than I expected, and was rich, saucy and hearty in all the right ways. Someone remarked how Clos des Papes was exceptional until the early-to-mid Nineties (95).

A bottle of 1979 Cantina Mascarello Barolo showed its maturity and nice, old Italian flavors (92).

My notes were fading but the Whites stormed back with a final Coche parade, led off by the 2008 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne. It was smoky, fat and had a beautiful coconut city nose. It was rich and heavy but a bit too exotic for me. Jakob found some ‘banana.’ The signature Coche was trying to break out but couldn’t quite do it (94).

The 2010 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne was a breakout rock star. It was near perfect, a classic with lots of vim and vigor. It was young and tight but oh so seductive. Its potential was crystal clear (98).

The 2002 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne was equally as impressive, but in a more mature way. It was in a perfect spot, on a bridge between youth and wisdom, with extraordinary balance and tension. I think that the 15-20 year mark is a real sweet spot for great vintages of Coche CC. Ooh la la (98).

A trio of 1979s finished me off, starting with a 1979 Chateau Musar that was tasty, fruity and zippy with that signature Musar kink (94). The 1979 Pichon Baron was nice and a simple, classic claret (90). The 1979 Chateau Margaux was rich, creamy and fully mature (93).

There was a second night, and just for educational purposes, here were the wines:

1979 Heidseick & Co. Diamant Bleu (95)
2007 Raveneau Chablis Montee de Tonnerre (93)
1992 Sauzet Batard Montrachet (95)
1992 Ramonet Bienvenues Batard Montrachet (95+)
1990 Jadot Chevalier Montrachet Les Demoiselles (94)
2011 Keller Kirschpiel (93)
1983 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche (94)
2010 Comte Liger-Belair Vosne Romanee Aux Reignots (97)
1990 La Mission Haut Brion (95)
2007 Castello Luigi Rosso del Ticino (93)
1999 Palmer (94)
1996 Ornellaia (95)
1942 Murrieta Castillo Ygay Rioja Gran Reserva (96)

Ok I guess I have to make a few, brief comments. I can’t help myself lol. The Heidseick was delicious and a great example of a mature Champagne from this legendary vintage. The Raveneau was easy to drink, but no match for the other white Burgs. The two 1992s were at full maturity and pleasures to drink. People forget how good Sauzet can be. The Jadot and Drouhin were both more than fully mature, very open and sweet but still alive and kicking. I have never not enjoyed a bottle of Keller, and the Kirschpiel continued that tradition. I urge white wine lovers to seek out his wines and the GG Rieslings in general. What can I say about the wines from Comte Liger-Belair that I already haven’t? They are simply amongst the most delicious, sexy and pleasure-giving wines in all of Burgundy, and even though this 2010 was tight, it was soooo good. The La Mission was served blind, and I nailed the vintage. I might have even nailed the wine. The ’90 La Miss is an outstanding wine, but not close to the other-worldly 1989 even though some critics think so. The next wine was a Pomerol ringer but from Ticino! It was quite impressive and quite tasty. The Palmer was classic claret, and I guessed the Ornellaia to be St. Emilion! Oops. It was an outstanding wine, standing toe-to-toe with all the distinguished Bordeaux served before. It was another impressive showing, as was the great finale of aged Rioja. Old Riojas are still the best kept secret in fine wine; they convene with great old Bordeaux while maintaining that unique Spanish, leathery kink. The Ygay was delicious. That’s all, folks.

It was a Happy Birthday for the big man. The Aginator will be back!


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