2014 has been a happy new year, full of great wines. I’ve been tasting a lot, and Hong Kong started the year off on the right foot, not a lucky Rabbit foot, but a strong Horseshoe. It was only fitting that the first truly great tasting of 2014 would be with the Emperor.

The Emperor flew back from London just for our dinner together. I felt like a diplomat of significance, so I brought some significant wines accordingly. What I did not bring was the stunning bottle of 1976 Dom Perignon with which we started. Gil accurately noted, ‘crushed walnuts and quince peel.’ It was creamy and lush with nice apple juice flavors and a touch of burnt granulated sugar. It was tasty, round and fresh, still youthful but about as good as it will ever get (95).

Let’s Get This Party Started

A 1982 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet was gorgeous, with ‘cheerio and wheat thin’ aromas. It was sweet and buttery with a honeyed nose, along with some creamed corn. The palate was round, soft and tasty, its sun just starting to set. It was smooth and flavorful, but it had just turned the corner (94).

A 2002 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet was slightly corked, unfortunately, but once past the nose, the palate still sang. This was a rich, long and sexy wine, perfect at age 12, with lush fruit and supporting corn and butter flavors. This could be an all-time classic Leflaive (95+A).

White White Baby

The 1998 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues Batard Montrachet was sweet and a bit simple by comparison to the two vintages prior. It was a touch overly sweet, and after 82 and 02, this was (89), although it might have snuck up a point if served first.

Another affected bottle was next, this time it was a gorgeous bottle of 1947 Petrus. Tant pis! Again, the nose was completely DQ’d, oxidized not corked, but the palate impressed despite the flavor handicap. The texture was so rich and unctuous, so ’47, it had amazing concentration. The plum and chocolate just wanted to bust out, but it was definitely affected. The texture and indicators all told me this would be in 98+ territory were it a good bottle (DQ).

Legends of the Fall

The Emperor pulled out a 1971 Roumier Musigny. That’s why he is the Emperor. Someone compared it to ‘God singing in the glass.’ It definitely had an incredible, wow nose. There was so much brightness here, along with amazing spice and red citrus fruits. A thick forest added complexity. There was just a hint of autumn in its flavors, along with a kiss of BBQ. There was beautiful freshness to this satiny, sexy wine. ‘Stones up’ (97).

Appropriate Backup

The Emperor started rolling – now it was a 1985 DRC Romanee Conti. There was gorgeous fruit in the nose with sweet red honey, garden and cherry. Fresh, citrus flavors and a kiss of good dirt accompanied green cedar and tobacco. There was lots of earth expressing itself more and more in the mouth, with more tobacco coming out. Some preferred the ’85 best over time compared to the Roumier, but the Roumier thrilled more initially (97).

The Full Monty

Now the Emperor was just showing off, pulling out a spectacularly good bottle of 1982 Le Pin. I have an on-again, off-again love affair with Le Pin. Some vintages are everything I could ever want, yet others I find disappointing, bordering on uninteresting. This ’82 was an exciting bottle. ‘From strength to strength,’ was said, and this was a perfect bottle. It was rich, chocolaty, chunky and lush. Chocolate merged into chocolate bar in the mouth, with more raisin and nut flavors. I never had an ’82 Le Pin this good; it was delicious (97).

The 97-point goodness came to a screeching halt with exhibit B, the 1989 Le Pin, which was flat out smoked by the 1982. The ’89 was soft and tender, easy with some classic components but very simple in the mouth. There was a touch of slate to its one-dimensional plum flavors, and I just didn’t feel this vintage at all, and this wasn’t the first time, either (91).

Dirtier Can Be Better

The 1968 Vega Sicilia Unico was a nice way to end the evening. Its unique, leathery and kinky aromas and flavors showed off that edgy Tempranillo edge, but it was still so young and purple. This was an absolutely delicious wine, classic Vega and perhaps its finest vintage ever (96+).

I Owe You One

The bottle of Vega came crashing to the floor a few minutes thereafter, as our invigorated crew began to shake their tail feathers away from the table. The bottles may fall, the bottles may break, but the Emperor still rises.

Crime Scene

In Vino Veritas,

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