When in Hong Kong, it is always a great pleasure to be a guest of honor of The Emperor. Alexander The Great and I came straight from Singapore for dinner in Hong Kong, and we were running 15 minutes late due to the natural course of events. Thankfully, The Emperor has an open door policy, and he did not remove our seats from the table for tardiness. If he did, I would have missed an incredible wine night fit for an emperor, The Emperor, to be exact.
The Emperor kept himself and his other guests busy with a magnum of 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil, which was a big, rich, buttery beast, all the more so since it was out of magnum. It was razor sharp and mountainous in its character, long and strong. ‘The longer the better,’ The Emperor sagely advised, and it was easy to see why Clos du Mesnil is the Romanee-Conti of Champagne. This was a laser of Star Wars proportion (98+M).
No Better Way to Start
The Emperor definitely started with a 1-2 punch, as the next wine was a 1996 DRC Montrachet. Damn. This was an extraordinary bottle of white wine, showing that signature botrytis along with that Versailles garden action. Rich, long and buttery, this was still young by DRC Monty standards, as most are more developed by age twenty. There was this stony, mahogany edge that melted into an oily finish. The wine kept getting richer, and it developed this sexy, smoky caramel quality (98).
So So So Good
We inched into the reds with a 1937 Haut Brion. While the 1930s is generally considered a lost decade when it comes to Bordeaux, this HB showed admirably. It had a complex nose with aromas of caramel, bookshelf, mocha and some forest. Its palate was creamy and lush, fresh yet mature. There were candle wax kisses to its palate and nice leather on its finish, along with a touch of signature gravel. Secondary flavors of celery soda and molasses rounded out this toasty Haut Brion (94).
Trust Me It’s a 37
The 1928 Leoville Las Cases was recorked by Whitwham’s, a British company I believe, back when recorking was a little less controversial. The LLC had a chocolaty and earthy nose, and some green crept out. Vanilla and cream joined the party, and the longer tannins of the legendary ’28 vintage really shined. There was still finesse to this glassy red, and while the length and finish were superior to the Haut Brion, the character was not (93).
Still Going Strong
We went back to HB with a 1959 Haut Brion, which had a great nose that possessed rich cedar and smokehouse aromas and loads of cassis. There were black, smoky fruits here, along with rich, buttery flavors with lots of tobacco and more cassis. Iron aromas emerged, along with band-aid and Worcestershire flavors in a tertiary way. There was solid acid to this rock star Haut Brion (97).
The next wine was also from 1959, and ‘the best bottle I ever had,’ per Dr. Feelgood. I think he meant the particular wine, but it could have been every bottle ever as this 1959 Lafite Rothschild was staggeringly good. This was classic in every sense of the word. The cedar, the wheat, the pencil…this was a rich and thick wine that was as good as Bordeaux gets. Sebastien found it ‘deep,’ and there was super sweet fruit with a dry edge. The Emperor found it ‘flawless’ (99).
We finished with a pair of Burgundies, DRC, of course. The Emperor never disappoints! The 1985 DRC Grands Echezeaux was typical ’85 DRC with a lot of dirt and earth behind its sweet citrus and red fruits. It had a spicy, thick finish, but its palate was definitely riding dirty (94).
Close but Only One Cigar
The 1978 DRC La Tache was special, as always. Its nose was complicated in a good way with aromas of beef, bouillon, autumn, dried roses, citrus and menthol. This was all one could want from this vintage for DRC. It was briny and spiny, possessing excellent acidity. When we took votes for favorite wine of the night, three of the ladies in our group picked La Tache. Ladies love La Tache (96).
The Happy Recap
The four most experienced palates voted for the Lafite, while the Haut Brion got two votes. Bordeaux showed why it is still great, just give it some time. Long live The Emperor.
In Vino Veritas,