It just so happened that my official tasting group, the 12 Angry Men, had their February and March events within two weeks of each other based on the schedules of each month’s hosts, Peter I saw nothing in Vegas. J. and Eric Make em clap to this don’t call me for logistics. B., otherwise known as Eric the Red Wine Bandit from previous Vintage Tastings lore. We.ll start with Peter, who hosted his event in a private townhouse in New York City, where former chef to JFK, a wonderful woman named Anne-Marie, created an outstanding menu to complement an equally outstanding lineup of wines orchestrated by Peter.
I was running a little late due to a meeting downtown, so I quickly caught up on the two aperitif wines, a 1989 Lafon Meursault and 1985 Leroy Meursault Genevrieres. The Lafon showed very well, fully mature but still very tasty. Due to the fact that I only got a swallow, I can.t say much more except for the fact that it had already been open an hour, which is not the recommended procedure for a 16 year-old village wine (90+)! The Leroy was a touch over. mature, ie, showing more age than it should have, and was way too bready (DQ).
The sit-down portion of our evening began with a flight of three more Lafons, starting with a 1992 Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre. Ray remarked that it was a typical 1992. right away, muscling in on the opinions of the group as he is prone and known to do. He tends to be right though, so he can do that. I found the nose to be buttery and toasty, although I had a glass issue that I politely categorized as floral.. The wine was definitely at its peak; I cannot imagine the wine getting any better than it showed at age thirteen on this February night in 2005. Mike was ahead of the curve and noted a banana flavor. on the Perrieres; I noticed it on the Clos de la Barre as well. The wine was bready, tasty and mature (92). The 1992 Lafon Meursault Perrieres had a more intense nose, much deeper and more minerally than its Clos de la Barre brother, with that banana. that Mike picked up on, as well as butter, corn and vanilla. The nose was classic, for Lafon, 1992 and Perrieres as well, although it did not have the power or length on the palate that I thought it would based on the nose. Ray made his pumped up Kistler. analogy that he made regarding the 1990 Lafon Montrachet at the Top 100 weekend. Now you know what not to get Ray for Christmas. Gorky found it racy, and it was in a very elegant and stylish way (93). The wine of the flight for me, and many others, was the afterthought: the 1982 Lafon Meursault Desiree. There were lots of oohs and aahs for its mature, buttery nose that was also full of freshly peeled corn, alcohol, minerals, caramel and bread. It was almost younger than its 1992 counterparts with its great dust and minerals on its finish. Surprise, surprise (94).
The next flight started auspiciously with a cooked 1989 Remoissenet Montrachet (DQ). The next wine rocked the house, however, and it proceeded to sell out a few more shows after its performance on this night! The 2000 Montrachet was extraordinary. The breed of Montrachet, the style of the vintage and the quality of all came through in this bottle. Unlike the 2002 that I had a couple weeks prior, there was no Caliesque impression to its nose, and even Ray was fully erect, a rare sight when it comes to wine. There were piercing aromas of minerals and stones to its racy nose, a nose full of zip, zing and zoom. There were great, taut flavors with toast, minerals, white fruits, citrus and earth. Ray was gushing about the clarity and purity of fruit. while Gorky was admiring its integration and how it is drinking so well, a fact that he interestingly called scary.. Ray had to put something down, so he called the twice the wine of the Sauzet. which followed (97). Well if the was twice the wine of the 2002 Sauzet Montrachet, that would make it about 47 or 48 points, right? Exponential-ism is a good concept, no? Anyway, the Sauzet was flirting with outstanding nonetheless. There was a load of alcohol in its nose, which was also very citrusy, spiny and pine-y. It had an intense nose full of flint and smoke, a veritable Terminator of sorts. The palate was much more drinkable than I thought it would be, very 2000-ish with its clarity and precision. The wine was long and fine, but it seemed like an early bloomer, still outstanding but missing the stuffing that the nose had. Someone noted crayon. (95).
It was time for some red wine, and the first on the menu was a magnum of 1978 Chave Hermitage, courtesy of Jim and the one Angry Woman, Wendy. The nose was the best impression a 1978 Chave had ever given me with its smoky, earthy, lightly rusty and gamy qualities. There was soy, sweet Asian spice and mint, as Wendy observed. There was also alcohol and a touch of roasted earth. The palate was chalky, and some were grumbling that Mike’s advice of extra aeration hurt the wine. It was earthy and chalky, with some plummy fruit there, same as it ever was to me, still excellent but not outstanding. With time in the glass, the wine got more earthy and herbal with a garden impression. Time was not on its side as far as staying in the glass despite the magnum factor (93). Next up was the 1990 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle.. Wendy was all over the chocolate chip cookie dough. aspect, which I saw. The nose was incredibly complex full of deep, meaty, figgy fruit. There were raisins, molasses, menthol and roasted earth as well. The nose was far ahead of the palate, which was tight, rusty and earthy with black fruits. The wine was certainly outstanding, but the fruit on the palate was not in a great spot. The structure was amazing, however, with a huge, long and well-bred finish full of earth, dust and spice (95+).
The next flight was comprised of four Chateauneufs, and they were all very special in each of their own right. The 1989 Beaucastel had a great nose, wild, gamy and meaty with Provencal spice, plummy fruit and leather, earth and cassis as well. It was complex and delicious with lots of flavors of game, Provencal herbs and tangy black cherry fruit. It was very tasty (95). The 1990 H. Bonneau Reserve des Celestins. that followed was spectacular. There were loads of t n a in this enormously well-bred beauty of a beast. The fig, Provencal herb and meat qualities were nothing short of awesome. The wine was incredibly enormous, well-endowed yet super smooth. It was the best bottle of this wine that I have ever had, and it was an Acker auction bottle, of course. It was a wine that needed three hours of air (and got two anyway) , and it was actually drinkable in that hair-raising on the back of your neck kind of way (98). The 1995 Rayas has always been a pet wine of mine, a sweet child in the context of the great Rayases of the 20th century and potentially the last great one ever made. The nose was fabulous with great garrigue, smoke, spice and gorgeous kirsch fruit. There were lots of Ray Ass. jokes going around, and I quickly gathered myself to find stones, leather and more spice; in fact, there was a perfect balance of stones and spice and everything nice. There was great fruit and leather to the palate as well (97). The last Chateauneuf of this incredible flight was the 1998 Beaucastel Hommage a Jacques Perrin.. Its sweet, beefy nose was incredibly rich, full of sweet, beefy fruit, both syrupy and decadent. The wine was rich, creamy, lush, pure and surprisingly smooth on the palate, with fine and gritty tannins (98).
The blind game began with one flight and finished with another. The first flight started with a wine that no one on the planet could guess blind, a 1934 Delphine Cote Rotie. It was the best 70 year-old Rhone I have ever had, delicious, old and smooth (93). The following wine was even greater, but a noticeable left turn to the Delphine. It showed incredibly Rhone-ish-ly this night despite the fact that it was a 1971 Penfolds Grange and got very chocolaty in the glass (96+). The 1985 Rayas was awesome. My note read, Man, I love Rayas.. That about sums it up, aside from the fact that I saw the 1985 as an older brother to the 1995 (97). The second flight started with a spectacular 1983 La Mouline. Perhaps the greatest La Mouline of the last quarter century, the 1983 was rusty, earthy, roasted and rich. There was chocolate, cherry, velvet and more rust. It was awesome (98). The 1989 La Turque was so juicy in that chocolate thunder kind of way. I really felt this wine on this night (96). The 1990 La Turque I did not feel as much; maybe it was the bottle. It was very wound up, tight and lacking weight. There was power to its finish at first, but it flashed quickly. It reminds me of myself, Ray chipped in, a little dirty and very sexy muscular, he continued. Maybe that’s why I didn.t like it as much! (93+) The 1991 La Turque was similar to the 1990, but better. How’s that for a tasting note? (94) After some potential ideas were thrown around, the night ended mercifully, especially since it knocked me out for about four or five days. Of course, despite my illness, I still worked an average of ten hours a day, just at home this week.
Eric the Red invited us all up to his home in Connecticut where we were all at his mercy in a blind tasting. After sticking his toe in the water, Eric decide that all the wines would come from him and that everyone could just bring him a bottle from their cellar as their contribution to the event, which worked out quite well, as Eric put together a tremendous evening out of his tremendous cellar.
Eric isn.t much of a white wine guy, but after we each had about three glasses of 1990 Dom Perignon, we were all pleasantly surprised to see three whites on the agenda. The first white had old and mature white Burgundy aromas and flavors, possibly Leflaive, I mused. There was nut, corn, butter and a lot of earth and yeast. There was also a touch of almond marzipan. The wine was still firm in its alcohol, which was well intertwined with its earth components. The center of the wine was a hair short, but the wine was still very good and bordering on excellent as its texture was very oily. Ray kept insisting how the nose was better than the palate in this surprising 1973 Bouchard Puligny Montrachet Folatieres. (92). The next white had a deep, alcoholic nose that indicated an over-the-top, young white Burg that was wound up like a Swiss grandfather clock from the German part of Switzerland, of course, as we all know that Germans are a bit intense. There was popcorn kernel there and minerals galore. as Gorky pegged. When the word galore comes up, there is only one word that comes to my mind, but I digress. The palate was incredibly precise, and it made me guess 1996 Leflaive Chevalier, but it was the 1996 Leflaive Batard Montrachet. Where is a close friend of mine when you need him? This was a very rare occurrence, that being a razor sharp guess by me when served blind. The acids, minerals and earth were great on the palate, and the wine was stunning (97). The final white of the evening was more flowery but still very wound and intense a la wine #2. Ray guessed 1995 Leflaive Batard, and I could not disagree with his reasoning as there was definitely signature Leflaive. There was earth, yeast and bread dough on its smooth yet gritty palate. It was the 1996 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet, which was strange as it did not seem like it was from 1996 or similar in that regard to the Batard. It was still outstanding (95).
The next flight was comprised of four reds, and they were all the same producer, which we did not know at first. The first wine had a great nose that was deep and meaty with traces of caramel, carob, earth, tobacco, iron and rust. It got metallic quickly, but there was still hickory and gravel, prompting Jim to wonder if it was a Graves, but Ray was all over Spain and old Rioja.. The wine held on the palate well and was sturdy and leathery with flavors of tobacco and chocolate. It was a good showing for the 1947 Lopez de Heredia Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva, better than I remember in Los Angeles last year (92). The next Heredia was the 1964, which got beef bouillon. from Jim, sour milk. from Ray and oysters. from Gorky. Jim felt the clam wine. factor, and Ray jumped on with low-tide marsh, that Gorky felt was more saltwater.. Mike came out of the woodworks with wood shavings.. It was a smooth, satiny wine, and a very good one despite all the controversial adjectives being thrown around (91). The 1968 had a super-duper fruit and nut combo in the nose, and we were feeling the older to younger trend. There were raisinet flavors, almost strawberry dipped in chocolate which I think Jim picked up on first. It was sexy, velvety, leathery, meaty and chocolaty. The palate was very meaty and great, both mature and youthful (94). The 1974 was next, I think, but somehow I missed taking a note. Sorry.
Our third flight started with an Italian kind of wine in the nose. Ray only got tobacco, but I felt the Italian thing more. I did write that it could be Bordeaux. The wine was very leathery and earthy in the nose with lots of tar and alcohol, which was barely reined in on the palate. There was a lot of acid and potpourri, someone noted. The wine was a 1926 Musigny, with no mention of producer, but the problem was that the label also said it was from Bordeaux! I can safely say that this will probably be the only Musigny that I ever have from Bordeaux. Most were convinced that it was old Barolo, and that the wine was still quality, but it wasn.t what it wasn.t, so it had to be disqualified (DQ). Did I mention that Eric was not big on logistics? The next wine made us quickly forget the last wine, as it had a great nose full of chocolate, rose and red, velvety fruits. Gorky came out with a low blow, calling it Dr. Barolet Algerian wine, and someone else said Camille Giroud 1940s, while I settled on La Miss/Haut Brion. due to its gravelly nature. Jim noted its blood and iron. qualities, and there was also nut, minerals and alcohol. The palate was ripe and saucy with a touch of liqueur, definitely mature, and rich and fleshy with hickory smoke flavors. It was a 1928 Haut Bailly (94) , a small vindication of sorts for me. The next wine was real wine. according to RR, aka Big Boy. There was citrus on its finish and a warm, meaty, lush nose that was nutty and full of tobacco, probably La Mission, I wrote. The wine was meaty, fleshy, earthy and leathery with sweet tobacco and hazelnut coffee, someone noted. The wine was more open and lush than the Haut Bailly, and Gorky also noted the citrus peel. in this 1928 Leoville Las Cases (92). The third wine made someone say that this is definitely not a horizontal, although it was! The wine was super chocolaty with minerals, alcohol and long acids. Wendy and Mike were both all over its tapenade. qualities, while Gorky was in a sage. stage, and Jim was feeling lavender.. There was leather to its thick and chewy palate, and Ray started thinking Hermitage and said make sure you quote me.. The wine had band-aids. someone said, and I also noted coffee flavors, and an old Cali Cab camp started to form when it was revealed to be a 1928 Haut Brion (95). Got that, Ray? Unfortunately, the 1928 Latour was maderized (DQ).
We ended with some young bucks, starting with a 1989 Haut Brion. I wonder how many times I am going to have this wine, I thought, and settled on 100 times as a goal. I have already had it at least a dozen times if not more, and it continues to be one of the all-time greats for a young wine, that is. Mike noted lots of spearmint, and it was minty but also long, smooth and earthy, full of leather and alcohol. The wine was amazing: great, long, spicy and intense (98). The 1989 Clinet was no slouch either, possessing an incredible nose that was so pure and chocolaty, earthy and a touch gassy in a positive way. The wine was smooth and lush, great. with lots of charcoal, leather and chocolate flavors and an incredible A to Z balance. Minerals, bacon and length rounded out this kinky and distinctive Pomerol, whose unique flavors held it back actually (95+). The next wine had more spearmint and a meaty, grilled pork edge. Real creamy, Mike gushed. The wine had a chalky, lush texture, lush fruit and good weight despite its feminine style. It was a 1990 Margaux (95+). The last red wine was a curveball from Eric, a 1995 Joseph Phelps Insignia. The wine held its own, although it gave an Aussie impression to some while Ray was on a Tertre Roteboeuf kick. Harlan?. I wrote. The wine was milky, satiny and long, garage-ish but Cali Cab I was righteously convinced. Big boy came up with the big guess of Insignia. and noted its banana and dill, although Mike said it was too sexy for Cali, but I am not sure what he meant. There were meaty, blue fruits to this outstanding wine that I honestly thought was Harlan (95).
The night wasn.t over as Eric served a 1995 Tirecul Cuvee Madame (which was outstanding) and a couple other dessert wines including some Port from the 19th century, I think. I was too busy admiring the guy who couldn.t speak any English, but somehow knew how to hand roll cigars, work away in his cellar. Man, that was a good cigar