My friend Eric Cotsen’s house is again host to another amazing food & wine event. French chef Christophe Emé, formerly of Ortolan, “whips” up an epic dinner with wines brought by the gang — with the organization of the evening arranged by Stewart.
Then the first time I’ve eaten at the inside table.
And chef Christophe Emé works had in the kitchen — he was slaving away intently the whole evening.
1985 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. BH 94. I have had a number of bottles, even from the same cellar, that have been showing plenty of age and even occasionally flirting with oxidative hints yet this most recent bottle (from my cellar) was among the freshest I’ve had in a while with its intensely yeasty and toasty aromas of white orchard fruit, citrus peel, marmalade and orange peel. This is arguably the most complex vintage of the 1980s (though not necessarily the most vibrant or the most complete) and in particular I like the way that the mousse has managed to maintain most of its original vigor on the sweet yet ultimately dry finale that delivers very fine persistence. While this bottle was admirably fresh it’s clear that it’s time to drink up sooner than later unless your taste runs to post-mature characters.
1998 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame. VM 90. The house’s 1998 La Grande Dame reveals notable clarity and precision. This focused, poised wine emerges from the glass with well-articulated flowers, pears, smoke, crisp apples and minerals in a medium-bodied style. The wine appears to have enough freshness and sheer depth to support another decade or so of aging. La Grand Dame represents a significant step up from the estate’s other wines. In 1998 La Grande Dame is 64% Pinot Noir (Aÿ, Verzenay, Verzy, Ambonnay and Bouzy) and 36% Chardonnay (Avize, Oger, Mesnil-sur-Oger). This is Lot 510 2572, disgorged between December 2006 and January 2007.
1998 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé La Grande Dame. VM 92. Copper-pink with a frothy mousse. Smoky strawberry and cherry aromas are complicated by buttered toast, blood orange and dried flowers. Deep and chewy, with vivid red berry and bitter cherry flavors underscored by dusty minerals. Gains power on the broad, focused and gently nutty finish. Already complex, and ready to drink.
1995 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé P2. VM 95.5. The just-released 1995 Dom Pérignon Rosé P2 is stunning. Young, delicate and vibrant in the glass, the 1995 has it all; expressive aromatics, crystalline fruit and fabulous overall balance. Cranberry, mint, hard candy, cinnamon and dried rose petals are laced into the super-expressive finish. The 1995 P2 is sweet and layered, but with lovely veins of chalky minerality that give the wine its sense of energy. A delicate, floral finish rounds things out nicely.
1997 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 95. One of the surprises in this vertical, the 1997 Salon is super-polished, delicate and refined. The 1997 offers lovely detail and nuance throughout. Hints of candied lemon peel, white flowers and white pepper add an element of brightness that complements the wine’s natural richness. Although 1997 doesn’t belong to the group of elite vintages at Salon, it does come close to that level. Perhaps even more importantly, the 1997 is aging gracefully and should continue to drink nicely for a number of years.
1990 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. BH 95. This is a wine that I know extremely well from 750 ml and it’s one that is beginning to tire though I hasten to point out that it’s still enjoyable and just beginning to show signs of fatigue. However there are no such concerns with the same wine from magnum that remains magnificently fresh and while it’s clear that the aromas are mature, that’s not at all the same thing as describing the yeasty and baked apple suffused nose as tiring. There is equally good depth and vibrancy to the beautifully delineated flavors that are supported by a fine and firm mousse that allows the texture of a well-aged Dom to be easily appreciated. For my taste this has arrived at its peak though note well that it should easily be capable of effortlessly holding for years to come.
2001 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Montrachet. BH 93. Perfumed aromas of honeysuckle and ripe peach that display just a hint of secondary development introduce rich and solidly concentrated big-bodied flavors of limestone, citrus and an attractive nutty quality that are underpinned by good depth and outstanding length. This has lost the robust character that it displayed early on and has now matured into a delicious, round and relatively forward effort that is drinking perfectly for my taste even in magnum format though it should easily continue to drink well for much longer. As is often the case, I preferred the magnum to the 750 ml version (see herein), if only slightly.
From my cellar: 2000 Domaine Ramonet Bâtard-Montrachet. BH 94. Like all great examples of Ramonet Bâtard, the nose is simply gorgeous with immensely complex aromas of peach, white flower and ample minerality, which leads to big, rich and muscular full-bodied flavors that retain excellent focus and incredible intensity plus first rate precision on the hugely long finish. While approachable now, for my tastes I would be inclined to wait another year or two first as it still is on the way up. In a word, masterful. Tasted multiple times with consistent results.
1998 Coche-Dury Meursault. BH 88. A touch of botrytis adds nuance to the otherwise clean, pretty and notably elegant aromas that merge into relatively dense, pure and round flavors that are supported by solid finishing acidity. As is often the case with this wine relative to its upper level siblings, this isn’t really built for the long haul and 2 to 3 more years of cellar time should see it at its best.
1996 Domaine Leroy Richebourg. VM 94-97. Restrained but vibrant aromas of violet, licorice and cassis. Offers great volume in the mouth, but this is more muscular, more musclebound, than the Romanee-Saint-Vivant. Fabulous subtle flavors of black fruits (creme de cassis!) and minerals. Superb richness and powerful structure. Less giving and perhaps less subtle, but even more impressive on the finish. Will be more difficult to taste early on than the Romanee-Saint-Vivant.
From my cellar: 1996 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes. VM 94+. Very good deep red-ruby. Black cherry, boysenberry, rose petal, licorice, minerals, shoe polish, mint and white pepper on the nose. Extremely unyielding today in the middle palate, and dominated by its rather large structure. Exotic hints of citrus fruit keep the flavors bright and sharp. Then extremely long and authoritative on the back end. A wine of great potential, but it’s all nose and finish today. May ultimately merit a considerably higher score.
agavin: very elegant.
2006 Camille Giroud Vosne-Romanée. BH 86-89. eduction. The delicious and rich flavors are attractively sweet and full with fine depth of material and good punch on the firm finish that offers just a bit more overall complexity. A serious villages.
Opened up to reveal the fish.
1998 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline. Parker 97-100. The awesome 1998 Cote Rotie La Mouline is a seamless, full-bodied classic with many characteristics of the 1997 La Landonne , but more structure, tannin, and muscle. It will need two years of cellaring, and will last for twenty years. Stylistically, it is reminiscent of the 1988.
1990 Montrose. Parker 100! The final blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc was harvested between September 14 and October 3. The spring was cold, yet summer was extremely hot and dry – one of the hottest vintages since 1949. The fact that virtually no rain fell in September served as a catalyst to get all the grapes ripe and in cellars. Some bottles of this wine have a definite brett population that gives off the notes of sweaty horses, but this one did not. The ones I have had from my cellar – where I have had it frequently – are quite pure and clean. I suspect that the brett population is in all of them, but unless the wine hits some heat along the transportation route or in storage, the wine will not show any brett. This one tasted at the chateau, as well as those I’ve had from my cellar, have been pristine and not showing the sweaty horse notes that can be in evidence in brett populations that have flourished in the bottle because of external temperatures. This wine has an incredibly complex nose of spring flowers, blackberry and cassis liqueur, scorched earth and barbecue spice. It is full-bodied, majestic and opulent, with low acidity and fabulous fruit. It is close to full maturity. The wine should continue to drink well for at least another 30 or more years, but it is showing secondary nuances in the perfume. The wine is absolutely magnificent, broad, savory and mouth-filling. This is one of the all-time modern legends from Bordeaux as well as Chateau Montrose.
2006 Haut Brion. Parker 96. Tasted at Bordeaux Index’s annual 10-Year On tasting in London. The 2006 Château Haut-Brion has a more ostentatious bouquet than the comparatively reserved La Mission: quite feisty blackberry, briary, kirsch and red plum scents, hints of leather and sage tucked just underneath. This is a bouquet determined to make an impression! The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity, a gentle build to a concentrated, earthy, truffle-tinged finish that lingers long in the mouth. This seems to have the upper-hand over the La Mission and probably has a longer future. A thoroughbred from Jean-Philippe Delmas and his team. Tasted January 2016.
1986 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve des Célestins. Parker 96. Few Chateauneuf du Papes from this vintage turned out well, and the few that did required consumption during their first decade of life. Bonneau’s 1986 is just hitting full maturity. It offers a concoction of jammy, concentrated licorice-infused black cherry fruit, with hints of tobacco, cedar, beef blood, smoked herbs, and Asian spices. As the wine sits in the glass, aromas of licorice, Peking duck, and other exotic scents emerge. An amazing effort, it may be the only Reserve des Celestins I own that can be classified as fully mature. Anticipated maturity: now-2020.
1989 Chateau d’Yquem. Parker 97. The favorite sweet wine of millionaires, Chateau d’Yquem has, not unexpectedly, turned in a brilliant effort with their newly released 1989. It is a large-scaled, massively rich, unctuously-textured wine that should evolve effortlessly for a half century or more. It does not reveal the compelling finesse and complexity of the 1988 or 1986, but it is a far heavier, richer wine than either of those vintages. It is reminiscent of the 1976, with additional fat and glycerin. The wine is extremely alcoholic and rich, with a huge nose of smoky, honey-covered coconuts and overripe pineapples and apricots. As with most young vintages of Yquem, the wine’s structure is barely noticeable. These wines are so highly extracted and rich yet approachable young, it is difficult to believe they will last for 50 or more years. The 1989 is the richest Yquem made in the eighties, and it has an edge in complexity over the powerhouse 1983. It remains to be seen whether this wine will develop the extraordinary aromatic complexity possessed by the promising 1988 and 1986 Yquems.
Artisanal gelato by moi. On the left macha green tea white chocolate straciatella and on the right rose water white peach sorbetto. Eric Cotsen called it by describing the rose one as like eating a “perfectly textured really high end bath soap” (he loved it though).
Overall a really epic evening. Super great combo of superb food, crazy sick wines, and great company!