Restaurant: Valentino Santa Monica [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
Location: 3115 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 829-4313
Date: March 4, 2015
This dinner is the second part of the annual White Burgundy Premox test series, hosted by Burg-meister Don Cornwell. This dinner covers 2007 Batard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, and associated BBM and CBM. Part 1, covering Chablis, Meursault and Corton can be found here.
2007 was a vintage was cool and acidic.
This particular dinner is at Valentino, which has been a mainstay of the LA fine dining scene for decades. I first started coming here in about 1995 and it was a mind blowing change from the usual trattoria and red-sauce style Italians. Valentino is much closer to Michelin 2 star restaurant in Italy, although not as modernist as some of those are in recent years. If food in Italy turns you on, check out my Eating Italy segment.
Our private room. Notice the large table with a lot of space. This is important when you have 30ish glasses a person!
Notice the awesome array of glasses. Only about half of them are visible. Few restaurants can handle this sort of thing, as they need over 400 stems of the same type and a dedicated Sommelier with sufficient experience and skill. Ours tonight handled the whole wine service with extreme professionalism and personality.
Tonight’s special menu.
Flight 0: Champagne
2002 Claude Cazals Champagne Blanc de Blancs extra Brut Cuvée Vive Clos Cazals. 93 points. Very nice acidic champy.
Bruschetta with wild arugula, prosciutto, and grana padano “Schegge.” Really nice, and I don’t even like tomatoes. The ham and cheese were what made this, that was a very nice hunk of grano.
Ahi tuna tartare with micro celery greens. We’ve all had tuna tartar before and this was a fine example.
Burrata caprese. The first time I ever had burrata was at Valentino!
Flight 1: BBM & CBM
A word about tonight’s format. Every bottle was served blind, except we were aware of what flight it was and what was in the flight, just not of which wine was which. The reveal was held until the end of the entire evening so that we could vote on favorite wines without bias.
Personally, I’d prefer a reveal halfway through each flight for a number of reasons. True, this would compromise the voting a bit, but that’s not super important to me. I’d prefer to be able to taste the wines both not knowing which was which and knowing, so that I can continue to build up my subjective memory for each house style. I also find it very difficult to remember back across multiple flights for “best” comparisons. I took notes and marked my favorites of each flight and compared those.
agavin: Also, some general comments on this flight. Like the Chablis night, the BBM/CBM flight had a LOT of green apple and a lot of acid. The noses were much more expressive (as is typical of Puligny/Chassangne wines. These wines improved in the glass for the most part and only 2 of them (#2 and #8) were actually enjoyable to drink. Like all tasting at these dinners they suffered from the format in terms of hedonistic enjoyment. It’s a great format for revealing minute differences, but the excess of sameness in a single flight devalues the wines that aren’t drinking as well right now. In a different dinner where they were the only white burgundy and there was a higher food to wine ratio they might be quite enjoyable.
2007 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. Burghound 94. A mild hint of exotic fruit combines with honeysuckle and a slight oak influence before giving way to rich, full and notably generous medium plus weight flavors that possess outstanding mid-palate fat and extract, which serve to buffer the firm acid spine on the wonderfully fine and lingering finish. A lacy, long and stylish wine of finesse rather than power and 2007 is undoubtedly one of the better vintages for the Leflaive Pucelles.
agavin: simultaneously rich and acidic, perhaps a touch advanced.
2007 Louis Carillon Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 39, July 2010: As would be reasonably expected, the Bienvenues possesses a distinctly more elegant if presently highly restrained nose of airy notes of honeysuckle, subtle spice, lemon peel and cool green fruit that is in keeping with the refined, pure, dry and strikingly precise medium-full flavors that coat, and stain, the palate with ample dry extract and outstanding length on the citrusy finish. This achieves its usual stunning quality but the Referts is closer than it usually is. This should peak at about 8 years of age. 94
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Good pale color. Very closed nose hints at citrus peel, clove and stone. Tactile and chewy but still quite tight and classically dry, with a strong spine of acid and minerals keeping the rich flavors of citrus fruits, peach and stone under wraps. A distinctly cool style, and very 2007. Finishes with excellent verve. This is about 13.5% alcohol, with a bit of chaptalization. 92+
agavin: very nice. great, great nose. some reduction. Sour but nice with long acidic finish.
2007 Leflaive Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A reserved and quite discreet nose reflects notes of spice, honeysuckle and ripe white peach that complement well the rich, full and intense flavors that are delicious, textured and have a wonderful mouth feel on the beautifully balanced and powerful finish. This is a classic Bienvenues with impressive levels of dry extract yet this finishes quite dry. Lovely, understated and impeccably balanced. 91-93
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Pale, green-tinged yellow. Pure aromas and flavors of lemon, lime and crushed stone. Wonderfully high-pitched in the mouth, with citrus peel and violet notes lifting the wine and giving it a magically light touch. Very precise Bienvenue with superb acidity and captivating leesy complexity. 93+
Don Cornwell, Wally’s Leflaive Dinner, Mar. 16, 2010: yellow-green color; prominent honeysuckle and sweet green melon (Midori liquer) aromas; fresh lime and green melon or almost lee chee fruit flavors; very good acidity and decent minerally finish; again surprisingly forward but great balance. I liked this. 94
agavin: green apple nose. Taut, with a jolly rancher like vibe.
2007 Pernot Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: An almost invisible trace of wood highlights a similar nose of honeysuckle, rose petal and orchard fruit aromas that slide gracefully into more obviously mineral-driven medium full-bodied flavors that are at once generous yet detailed with excellent volume on the round, naturally sweet and mouth coating finish. This is also quite forward and while it will benefit from a few years of cellar time, this is not a vintage of Pernot’s BBM built for the long haul. 93
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Subtly complex aromas of white peach, honeysuckle, minerals, hazelnut and vanillin oak. Sweet and silky yet penetrating on the palate; more expressive today than the Pucelles and relatively open for a 2007 grand cru. Finishes persistent, but without quite the authority of the Batard. 92
agavin: green apple nose. Very tart. After some time hints of tropical.
2007 Ramonet Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: It’s relatively rare when I find the Ramonet Bienvenues to be superior to their Bâtard (though there are any number of vintages where I have found them to be qualitative equals) but 2007 is one vintage where it is. The primary reason is not so much because there is a noticeable difference in the respective underlying materials but rather because the balance of the BBM is better and the acid support is better integrated as well than in the Bâtard. Moreover, after 2 hours of aeration, the BBM had softened considerably and rounded out into something genuinely sublime where as the Bâtard remained taciturn and angular after the same period. The open question of course is whether the Bâtard is simply much more primary and thus less evolved but ultimately will follow a similar evolutionary curve? For those who are risk averse, buy the Bienvenues. And for those who are fans of both wines, buy both but to the extent that you have the choice, I would favor buying more of the Bienvenues because it’s a really, really lovely wine and a surer bet. 94
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Pale, bright yellow. Citrus peel, iodine and lavender on the nose. Citric, tightly wound and light on its feet; seems a bit leaner and less filled in than the Ruchottes today but this is a baby. Will this put on weight with time in bottle? 92+?
agavin: closed at first, then a bit of honeysuckle on the nose. Too tart at first. I didn’t like it for a while, then it opened up a bit.
2007 Hubert Lamy Criots-Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A discreet note of pain grillé frames a ripe and exuberantly fresh nose of concentrated citrus and floral aromas that precedes superbly intense mineral-laden flavors that possess a beguiling texture and positively huge length. The abundant sap coats the mouth and despite the density, this flavor profile is linear and crystalline on the explosive and almost painfully intense finish. Terrific juice and highly recommended if you can find a bottle. 94
Stephen Tanzer: not reviewed
agavin: funny detergent funk smell. Overly sour, never liked.
Ringer. 2007 J. Rochioli Chardonnay Sweetwater Vineyard. VM 94. Light green-gold color. Intense, mineral-accented citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complemented by smoky lees and iodine. Deep, spicy lemon and bitter orange flavors stain the palate and are given depth by a hint of sweet butter. The mineral qualities gain strength on the finish, which is strikingly pure and very long.
agavin: thinner at first, with lots of reduction. But turned out to be quite pleasant.
Grilled mediterranean branzino topped with fresh fennel, oranges and olives. At first I was like, boring fish. But this was not only a generous portion but very nicely done and a first rate pairing with the wine.
Flight 2: Batard
Stepping up to the next level.
agavin: This flight was so big I accidentally put two of them in the next flight’s group photo! An overwhelming 9 wines! There were more “drinkable” wines (0, 9, 12, 16), but the flight also contained a lot more deep yellows and seemingly advanced wines, plus a few funky ones. Several seemed nearly undrinkable. When I open 12-15 year old Batard/Chevalier (which I do weekly) I have about a 20-25% premox rate, but generally they are generally much more rounded and expressive than these wines. I’m not at all convinced that 8 years is a good age to actually be enjoying Batard. So it’s entirely possible that the heavily oxidized examples will end up as those premoxed bottles, but the others that are closed or funky will resolve themselves.
2007 Vincent Girardin Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A tighter and less expressive nose offers up apricot, floral and grapefruit aromas trimmed in a deft touch of wood that dissolve gracefully into rich, full and concentrated flavors that are actually quite fine even though there is ample dry extract, all wrapped in a powerful and mouth coating finish. This is a big wine yet it has grace and class. Note though that patience will be required. 93-95
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Good bright yellow. Pure, complex aromas of orange peel, peach, apricot, hazelnut and iodine, along with a faintly exotic suggestion of lichee. Ripe, juicy and energetic, with a more obvious underlying structure and less easy sweetness showing today than the Bienvenue. Sappy, powerful and rich in extract: this really coats the mouth. Quite backward in style, with strong oak spice showing today. The tactile, almost dusty finish is accentuated by strong acidity. 94+
agavin: Slightly darker, with reduction. Very nice though, somewhat rounder although still apple tart.
2007 Colin-Morey Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: In contrast to the nose of the Corton-Charlemagne, there is reduction present here that does compromise somewhat the expressiveness of the otherwise pure and layered white flower, spice and brioche nose that merges into beautifully defined medium plus weight flavors that evidence a discreet minerality on the balanced, long, deep and driving finish. This is less evolved than the prior wine but with great potential. 92-95
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Pale yellow. Very sexy aromas of orange blossom, oily peach, pineapple and smoky lees. At once thick and bracing, with outstanding concentration and layered texture. This huge wine shows strong vanillin oak and outstanding sucrosite that no doubt had a lot to do with the fact that it only finished fermenting its sugars in December of 2008. The parcel is in Chassagne-Montrachet, but at the border with Puligny. Incidentally, Colin sealed his 2007s with soft wax capsules in an attempt to give his bottles additional protection against oxidation. 96
Don Cornwell, Dinner at home, June 14, 2011: (opened because slight leakage detected) Wow. What an impressive Batard. This had the density of a Ramonet Montrachet from an incredible vintage and the minerality of Chevalier. A truly awesome wine. One of the best young white burgundies I’ve ever tasted. 96
agavin: also liked. Pale. Batard + apple nose. Rounder, with jolly rancher finish.
2007 JN Gagnard Batrd-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A discreet touch of brioche highlights the restrained but ripe nose of green apple, honeysuckle, anise and apricot aromas that are elegant, pure and wonderfully refined before merging seamlessly into sweet, intense and unusually detailed big-bodied flavors that reflect slightly more minerality than I typically find in this wine before culminating in an energetic and palate staining finish. A stunner of a wine by any standard but it’s worth noting that while it’s bigger and more powerful than the Caillerets, it’s not finer or more elegant. 94
Steven Tanzer: not reviewed
agavin: deeper color. Cider smell, more advanced.
2007 Leflaive Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: This is also on the ripe side for a 2007 with an ultra elegant nose that is pure, airy and cool, indeed this is unusually elegant for the appellation with its white flower, citrus, pear, menthol, white pepper and light spice hints that are in perfect keeping with the rich, full and broad- shouldered flavors that possess the usual volume and power of a classic Bâtard but do not lose any of the precision or detail on the expansive, mouth coating and hugely long and very dry finish. Like a number of examples in 2007, this is an elegant yet forceful Bâtard. 95
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Pale, green-tinged yellow. Knockout nose combines musky pineapple, lime and powdered stone; seems less exotic than the 2008. Wonderfully silky on entry, then explosively ripe and sweet in the middle, with powerful, palate-staining flavors of lime and flowers. Very rich and impeccably balanced, with its sweetness perfectly countered by firm buffering acidity. A great showing for this extremely long grand cru. 95
Don Cornwell, Wally’s Leflaive Dinner, Mar. 16, 2010: (tasted from two different bottles over four hours) Light yellow-green color; some light S02 here [Meadows noticed this too and quietly asked me about it as well. We both agreed this was slightly reductive]; citrus and sweet basil aromas; surprisingly forward and supple for a Batard, doesn’t have the power I expected; very good acidity and a long finish. My separate notes at dinner were almost verbatim identical. Meadows says he thinks the 2007’s will be open for business early but will live for a long time. 94(+?)
agavin: also deeper golden color with ripe cider smell. considerably advanced seeming.
Ringer. 2007 Ramey Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard. VM 94. Greenish yellow. Vibrant aromas of lime, lemongrass, powdered stone and anise. At once supple and energetic in the mouth, with impressive precision to the peach, citrus and smoky mineral flavors. Tightly wound and taut but not austere, showing a distinct spiciness on the back half. Lively citrus and mineral flavors carry through a rising, spicy finish. These grapes are sourced from four different blocks, all of them planted to the Wente clone, according to Ramey.
agavin: liked this. Medium color. Some reduction on the nose, and a LOT of vanilla oak. Thought it might be new world. But it was rich and balanced.
2007 Ramonet Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 36, Oct. 2009: Initially, the pure, elegant and refined nose of citrus and white flowers was extremely reticent and it required over an hour before it really blossomed. The focused, intense and precise flavors are compact and very tight before culminating in a distinctly angular and only moderately long finish where the acidity is notably prominent. This is unapologetically built for the long haul and while there are some wines in the range that could be enjoyed now, at least with sufficient aeration, it frankly is a complete waste to open this now. The ’07 version is also not especially fleshy or powerful but the balance appears to be good enough to allow it to be great in time but that time is at least 10 years out. In short, don’t buy this if you have any expectations of drinking it within 5 years and again, 10 years will likely be required before it’s ready. 93
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Bright, pale yellow. Rich aromas of stone fruits, yellow currant, lees and iodine, plus a complicating whiff of rye bread. Dense and powerful but not at all heavy. Quite youthfully closed but aeration brings up captivating inner-mouth floral character and penetrating talc-y minerality. Wonderfully precise, classy Batard with uncommon complexity. 94+
agavin: closed and flat, didn’t like.
2007 Chateau de la Maltroye Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: The first wine to display any appreciable wood influence that frames the elegant, pure, broad and classy white flower, spice and citrus hints that continue onto the focused but equally broad-scaled flavors that culminate in a rich, full and exceptionally powerful finish that stains the palate with seemingly limitless reserves of dry extract. This is backward but the impressive potential is not hard to see. In a word, stunning. 94
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Very pale color. High-pitched citrus peel, powdered stone and violet on the nose. At once powerful and penetrating, offering uncanny lift and weightlessness for a wine from this grand cru vineyard. A bit closed in on itself initially on the middle palate, but showed much more white peach and citrus fruit flavor with aeration and finishes with almost painful intensity. This, too, needs several years of aging-or a lot of time in a carafe. 94+
agavin: deep colored and cider like, more advanced.
2007 Niellon Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A highly nuanced and layered nose frames elegant, expressive and densely fruited white flower and peach aromas plus strikingly rich and powerful full-bodied flavors that possess so much dry extract that like the Chevalier, this is almost painfully intense. The acid/fruit balance is especially impressive and despite the size and weight, like many examples in 2007, this is actually quite refined. In a word, marvelous. 95
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Pale color. Lemon, lime, mint, clove and crushed stone on the nose. Rich and pliant but at the same time juicy and powerful; this really resounds in the mouth and grips the palate on the aftertaste. Already showing some personality but needs bottle aging to expand. 93
agavin: medium color. Different somehow, weird. Sour to the taste.
2007 Sauzet Batard-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A discreet hint of post-bottling SO2 is just noticeable enough that I would suggest decanting this for 30 minutes first if you’re tempted to try one young. Otherwise, a restrained and pure nose features notes of white flower, fresh citrus peel and a mix of pear and white peach which lead to richer, fuller and more powerful if not necessarily more concentrated broad-shouldered flavors that possess relatively fine detail and balance on the explosive and gorgeously long finish. 95
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Very pale bright yellow. Deeper-pitched on the nose than the Bienvenues, with peach and white flowers dominating. Large-scaled and rich but precise, saturating and filling the mouth with flavors of white peach, minerals and crushed stone. Offers outstanding intensity without any impression of weight, not to mention superb energy. Terrific juice: I’d wait five or six years on this beauty. 94+
agavin: One of the better ones in the flight. Reduction on the nose, tasted like sweet tarts.
Scallops in porchetta, pancetta wrapped, with pappa al pomodoro & parmesan. The bacon notched this up big time.
Flight 3: Chevalier part 1
And everyone’s favorite vineyard.
This was probably the worst flight (considered as it was drinking now) and a major disappointment. There was a lot of deep colored wines, advancement, and a general closed quality that didn’t favor current enjoyment. 20 was a notable exception.
Ringer. 2007 Ceritas Chardonnay Porter-Bass Vineyard. 93 points. Trademark Ceritas richness, though some of that has been tamed as the days go by, wonderful acidity and overall balance, lovely, complex flavors, nothing ripe or out of place, even some hints of minerality on the finish. Terrific wine. Maybe I’m dreaming, but this could be a top vintage Chablis Preuses, which tends to be a richer vineyard.
agavin: deep color. Rich with caramel tones and maybe a hint of sherry. less acid.
2007 Bouchard Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A discreet touch of oak highlights the naturally spicy floral and high-toned orchard and green fruit aromas before giving way to textured, sappy and almost painfully intense full-bodied flavors brimming with both dry extract and ample minerality on the hugely long and impeccably balanced finish. This is a really lovely wine that possesses everything it needs to deliver a first-rate drinking experience with a decade of cellar time. As good as this is, and it is very impressive, it’s not necessarily superior to the magnificent Perrières though it may require a bit more bottle age to arrive at its peak. 94
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Pale yellow. Citrus peel, wet stone, flowers and a saline nuance on the nose. Wonderfully ripe, broad and rich but classically dry, with the stony quality currently dominating the middle palate. Best today on the extremely long, grapefruity finish, which opens like a peacock’s tail. 94
agavin: medium color, tart.
2007 Michel Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: This is a study in elegance as the positively stunning nose displays breathtaking purity of expression with incredibly complex and airy white flower and ripe green fruit aromas that precede beautifully balanced, harmonious and chiseled, indeed even crystalline middle weight flavors that possess outstanding length and knockout depth. This is class in a glass with terrific vibrancy and the palate staining finish is almost painfully intense and about the only nit is a trace of warmth though this is as much due to the superb transparency as the actual level of alcohol. If you can find it, buy it. 95
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Good medium yellow. Deeply pitched nose dominated by pear, clove and wet stone. The most vibrant and lightfooted of these 2007s, with penetrating, mouth-saturating flavors of pear, clove, crushed stone and saline minerality. Compared to the Batard, this shows less volume and sheer size but more finesse. Finishes intense and very long, in need of considerable aging. Niellon recommends giving it eight to ten years. 93+
Don Cornwell, tasted April 9, 2010 at 2007 tasting: Light yellow color; aromas of SO2 and meyer lemon; great acidity and grip here; again lots of minerality, but this wine is slightly angular and yet viscous — ever so slightly disjointed at the moment; with considerable time in the glass, this improved a lot, and developed a nice citrus and minerally finish. Hence the split score. 94+|95+
agavin: closed and reduced, disjointed, with a sour tropical finish.
2007 Jean-Marc Pillot Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: An expressive nose blends stunningly pure fruit laced with citrus and lime notes that are highlighted by abundant pain grillé influence and leads to rich, full-bodied and sweet flavors of remarkable precision that deliver a strong wet stone character where the firm and bright acidity beautifully frames an impressively long finish that also really coats the palate. This is almost painfully intense and I very much like the underlying sense of energy and overall sense of balance that suggests that the ’07 Pillot Chevalier should age well. 92-94
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: (fermented in a new barrel, then racked into a used barrel for aging until April of 2009) Lemon ice, crushed rock and strong smoky oak on the nose. Wonderfully rich and lush, with a slightly aggressive character to the lemon and spicy oak flavors. Best on the back end, where the wine saturates the entire palate without any impression of weight and fills the retronasal passage. But less open now, and drier, than the Clos Saint-Marc, as the oak is currently blocking the wine’s fruit and mineral components. 93+
agavin: medium colored. I liked this. Rich with some reduction and a searing finish.
2007 Sauzet Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: As with the Bâtard, there is a discreet hint of post-bottling SO2 that is just noticeable – decant. A classic, and radiant, Chevalier nose offers perhaps the purest fruit in the range with a mix of upper and middle register acacia blossom and fresh lemon aromas that are seductively enveloping before sliding seamlessly into strikingly detailed, stony and almost Chablis-like flavors carrying a similar sense of salinity and this is like rolling tiny pebbles around in the mouth, all wrapped in a palate-etching finish of spectacular length. This is breath-taking stuff and the focus and linearity are superb. This should age well for years. Textbook Chevalier. 96
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Very pale lemon-yellow color. Vibrant aromas of lemon, lime, crushed stone and vanilla. Penetrating and precise, with great elegance and definition to the lemon and crushed stone flavors. A distinctly more feminine style than the Batard, with the lowest acidity of these 2007s but plenty of supporting white-soil minerality. This will be the easiest of these grand crus to drink young but should nonetheless age well. 94
Don Cornwell, tasted April 9, 2010 at 2007 tasting: Yellow-green color; white flowers and fresh pineapple aromas; the most fat of the entire group; an “easy” wine; very nice rounded fruit with good acidity and some minerality. Very nice. Later: acidity is now becoming more apparent in the finish. 94+
agavin: medium colored. Rich and tart.
2007 Louis Latour Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A more subtle touch of wood sets off the lightly spiced floral, green apple, white peach and pear aromas that lead to very pure, detailed and stony medium weight plus flavors that possess superb intensity and huge length on the mouth coating finish. This is presently quite understated and does an impressive job of blending power and finesse in a package of impact without heaviness. 94
Steven Tanzer: not reviewed
agavin: Deep colored. Quite advanced and sherry like. Not drinkable.
Sauteed santa barbara prawn with herbs & white wine and served on risotto. The prawns weren’t the largest, but they were sweet and tender with a lovely briny taste. The risotto was very delicate, but rich and delicious. Notice the good sized portion too, and we got seconds of the risotto too.
Flight 4: Chevalier part 2
This is the flight everyone was waiting for, as it has the real big guns.
This should be a flight of incredible wines, but there were major disappointments (along with a couple gems). 27 (the Girardin) was incredible, but I thought the Ramonet had an undrinkable potty/sulfur quality (and I love reductive wines). Maybe it will blow off. Again, hard to tell how much the awkwardness reflects their youth.
2007 Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Database, April 15, 2012: A strikingly complex nose offers seriously impressive breadth with its aromas of ripe, pure and airy nose of white flower, spice and subtle pear aromas. There is excellent richness to the mouth coating flavors that are built on a base of fine minerality, all wrapped in a sappy and mouth coating finish that oozes dry extract. This is really a lovely effort that is at once refined yet powerful with an almost painfully intense backend. A very impressive effort that is positively Zen-like in its poise and quiet sense of harmony. A ‘wow’ wine though note that it will need plenty of time to fulfill all of its vast potential. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 96
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 39, June 2010: A strikingly complex nose that is even more complex than that of the Bâtard as there is a great breadth of aromas to the ripe, pure and airy nose of white flower, spice and subtle pear aromas that complement to perfection the rich and mouth coating flavors built on a base of fine minerality, all wrapped in a sappy and mouth coating finish that oozes dry extract. This is really a lovely effort that is almost as powerful as the Bâtard but as one would expect, finer and even a bit longer with an almost painfully intense backend. A very impressive effort that is positively Zen-like in its poise and quiet sense of harmony. A ‘wow’ wine though note that it will need plenty of time to fulfill all of its vast potential. 96
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Ineffable, discreet aromas of powdered stone, lemon peel, tangerine and flowers are complicated by an almost metallic minerality. Wonderfully succulent and silky in the mouth, but with a firm stony edge that gives it a rather uncompromising quality. An ethereal essence of wet stone minerality, this powerful, concentrated, classically dry wine is also compellingly smooth on the reverberating aftertaste. 96
Don Cornwell, tasted April 9, 2010 at 2007 tasting: Light yellow-green color, closer to gold than the others; the aromas are more floral than most and there’s some citrus as well; this wine seems bigger, fatter and softer than the others [N.B. for Leflaive, not what I expected] yet has good acidity; after about two hours this was showing some meyer lemon and good minerality and length in the finish. 95+(?)
agavin: Deep colored. Somewhat advanced but acidic.
2007 Henri Boillot Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: A discreet, indeed almost invisible, touch of wood frames extremely primary aromas of white flower, wet stone and a spice component that are very cool, pure, elegant and restrained with brilliantly detailed, classy and refined medium plus weight flavors delivering a borderline painfully intense and palate staining finish that goes on and on. This seems to be extracted directly from liquid rock and this has that ‘wow’ factor in spades. Don’t miss it. 97
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Knockout nose combines apple, white flowers, crushed stone and saline minerality. The palate delivers the mineral energy of this vintage in spades, with citrus and stone flavors offering outstanding precision and staining the palate on the back end. This was a knockout from barrel and has turned out splendidly. Boillot rates this as one of his best Chevalier vintages to date. He also told me that it was always his dream to make Chevalier-Montrachet. “I would sooner lose all the other crus,” he told me. “Chevalier-Montrachet is the greatest terroir for white wine, while Musigny is the greatest for red.” 96
Don Cornwell, Middle Eastern Dinner at Michael Zadikian’s, Aug. 8, 2009: (Wine now open two days) Light yellow color; aromas of white flowers and meyer lemon; this had a wonderful density to it – strong minerality, citrus and power yet with viscosity not unlike Batard in a great vintage; very long minerally/citrus finish. Really impressive for two-day open 2in3. 96
agavin: medium colored. Closed nose, with green apple taste and a lean finish.
2007 Colin-Morey Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: This too is mildly reduced which also knocks down the expressiveness of the reserved, cool and classy floral, citrus and subtle spice aromas that complement the textured and relatively concentrated flavors that exhibit really beautiful detail and an exuberant minerality that culminates in a long, explosive and tension-filled finish. A stunner of a wine that should also be capable of aging for the next 15 years. 93-96
Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2008: Crushed stone and a violety topnote on the highly aromatic nose, with a complicating saline nuance. Superconcentrated, dense and sweet, with superb inner-mouth lift to the mineral-driven flavors. This, too, boasts a chewiness rare for the vintage. The finish is penetrating and utterly palate-staining. This may still have a gram or so of sugar yet to ferment. 94-97
Don Cornwell, tasted April 9, 2010 at 2007 tasting: Light yellow green color; Light to medium gold color; very light lemony a4romas; tight, lemony flavors which expanded a lot in the mid-palate and had good acidity and grip; very long citrus and minerals finish.. Impressive. 95+
agavin: paler yellow. A bit of spritz and tartaric acid crystals. Reduced on the nose. Acidic, but quiet nice.
2007 Ramonet Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 35, July 2009: Given the almost extreme reticence of the Bâtard, I was moderately surprised to see how wonderfully expressive this positively brilliant wine is already. The nose is simply stunning with a supremely elegant and kaleidoscopic range of spice, floral, citrus, stone and pain grillé notes that is the perfect complement to the racy, detailed and equally complex middle weight flavors brimming with the underlying minerality advertised by the nose, all wrapped in a driving, delineated and explosive finish. As good as the Ramonet Chevalier is, in the 10 vintages that it has been made, I can’t think of one where it’s the equal of the Montrachet. However, 2007 just might be that vintage. 96
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Pale, bright yellow. Citrus pith, green apple, Anjou pear, licorice and dusty stone on the nose. Dense, tactile and sappy, with superb mineral lift and precision. This boasts a tight core of crushed stone and citrus flavors and terrific purity and energy but will also require extended aging. Expands impressively on the back half and finishes with superb mineral persistence. 93+
Don Cornwell, tasted April 9, 2010 at 2007 tasting: Light yellow-green color; white flowers and pears aromas with a very faint hint of mint; bright, indeed brilliant citrus with very strong minerality on the mid-palate and fabulous acidity; the finish is quite long and very minerally. Superb wine [Ramonet?] 95+
agavin: straw pale, but a terrible potty nose of sulfur. Tasted like toilet too. Yuck.
2007 Girardin Chevalier-Montrachet
Allen Meadows: not reviewed
Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Sept. 2009: Bright medium yellow. Very ripe, expressive nose offers yellow peach and white flowers. Opulent, shapely and very ripe, in a distinctly sweeter style than the Batard. Gives an impression of lower acidity too, but there’s plenty of acid here. I suspect this one will shut down in bottle. Girardin, who bottled most of his crus in April and May of this year, noted that the 2007s really only started to express themselves in February, and that many of his fellow producers bottled this vintage too early. 94+
agavin: best wine of the night. Straw pale, lots of reduction, and a massive massive palette and finish.
Veal tenderloin with wild mushroom sauce served with rosemary roasted potatoes, haricots verts, carrots. Also a lovely dish, and a good bit of it. The meat was nice and tender and the sauce was fabulous.
Flight 5: Dessert
2001 Château de Fargues. GV 93. COLOR-beautiful dark golden; NOSE-much more honey; honey meets chlorine; very intriguing; hints of apricots; TASTE-outrageous weight on the mid-palate; Honeycomb cereal; really, really heavy pear component; I’m loving the orange peel aspect; very youthful Sauterne, not ready yet – it’s gonna get better from here; solid acidity, but a little flabby in the mid-palate which concerns me a tad; nice long finish; very bright; star fruit on the finish; little hints of pineapple; I’m enjoying this wine; it’s got BIG potential; RP-94/96; GV-93
agavin: a nice young sauternes. Not super thick or unctuous, but good.
Pistachio creme brulee. I like creme brulee and this was a great one, not so unlike a green tea one I’ve had at Takao. Great stuff.
Above is the flight list after being revealed.
And the full array of revealed bottles.
That’s more or less two people’s glasses!
agavin on food: There is a lot to say about this tasting. First of all, Valentino did a great job as usual. The wine service was impeccable, and this is a difficult task (pouring lots of big blind flights). Overall service is absolutely first rate. It’s a large quiet room, and the staff was highly attentive. Last month when we were here for the Chablis tasting, the food was solid but not enough of it. Not only did they drastically increase the quantity but the mix of dishes was far superior. Valentino might not be the modern Italian in town but they still really know how to cook.
agavin: 2007 as a vintage has this super acidic green apple vibe across the board. Interesting, like with 2005 we had a much higher percentage of advanced wines with these bigger grand crus than with the Chablis and Meursault. Overall, there were a lot of disappointing wines for hugely scored big whites from great producers. It’s hard to totally assess. The really oxidized wines are probably dead, although bottles probably vary. But a lot of the wines might just be in a funny state. I’m not sure 8 years from vintage is a great time for huge grand crus. I don’t drink them at this age myself, usually waiting at least 5 more years. I can’t help but think a bunch of these will outgrow their ungainly youth. What remains to be seen is if all that acid integrates and rounds out.
Don: The top six wines of the night by group ranking/voting were:
1. 2007 Girardin Chevalier (with 8 of 13 first place votes)
2. 2007 Ramey “Hyde Vineyard” Chardonnay
3. 2007 Colin-Morey Chevalier
4. 2007 Carillon Bienvenues
5 (tie) 2007 Colin-Morey Batard Montrachet
5 (tie) 2007 Girardin Batard Montrachet
David Ramey’s wine was the first California ringer ever to finish in the Top 5 wines. The Rochioli Sweetwater made a very good showing in the Criots/Bienvenues flight as well, tying for seventh overall. Several people, myself included, thought the Rochioli was Bienvenues. I thought it was the Ramonet BBM and it was my second favorite wine of the flight after the Carillon BBM.
The oxidation results this time were closer to prior years. Six of the 27 wines, or 22%, were either oxidized or advanced.
But what was the biggest shocker of the night was that both the Leflaive Chevalier and Leflaive Batard were oxidized, the Leflaive Puligny Pucelles fully ready to drink (one participant felt it was advanced) and the Bienvenues, while not oxidized or advanced, didn’t impress anyone. This is definitely NOT a good development.
Don’s reviews of each wine can be found here.
Other big tasting dinners from this dinner series: