Everyone wants to know, ‘how is Hong Kong?’ It has certainly been a tumultuous and strenuous second half to the year for one of the world’s greatest cities, and after a bit of recent and extended calm, things unfortunately escalated again on New Year’s Day. The hospitality business has definitely been hit hard, and the city regularly feels emptier than usual due to a spike downwards in tourism. When there are major protests in a certain area, local businesses are basically screwed. People do not go out on the weekends or holidays as much since most of the protests are on weekends or holidays, unless they are protesting, of course. Reports of recession have emerged, and everyone to whom I have spoken yearns for a return to normalcy.
It was a very busy week in Manhattan. The Wine Spectator was holding its annual Gala, and many important wine people were in New York City. One of those important wine people was none other than Martine Saunier. I was in the mood to drink some Jayer, as in a real retrospective of one of Burgundy’s most revered winemakers of all time. Martine didn’t hesitate to come to New York and enjoy. Of course, Martine was full of unique stories about Henri, being his first importer and having a relationship with him since the early 1970s. And when Martine speaks, you listen!
Henri and Martine
The opening act was one of two NSG’s of the night, being a 1988 H. Jayer Nuits St. Georges. It was round and delicious with those nice ’88 tannins. The wine was full of vitamins, musk and game. Though there were some grumbles that this was slightly corked, I didn’t see it and was into the wine’s tasty spice and spine. It was a successful expression of the vintage (93).
We immediately got serious with a series of Echezeaux, beginning with the 2000 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux. I didn’t notate which Echezeaux bottles were under Georges’ label versus Henri’s; according to Martine, they are the same wine anyway, so I will just call them all both! The 2000 Jayer had an explosive nose with great freshness and zip, full of garden and purple flowers with so much lilac. This was long, sexy and elegant. The 2000 was truly in a great spot, with nice earth flavors, too (95).
The following bottle of 1999 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux was a touch gamy and stewed, not a perfect bottle, though the palate was still impressive. It had tremendous richness and density though it was definitely affected. There was a second bottle of the same wine, and it turned out both bottles were the same, even though from different sources. Was it the wine, a specific batch? Will require further investigation. It was firmly in the tootsie pop camp and not as clean and pure as the 2000 (93?).
The 1998 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux was clearly made in a different style than the previous wines. This had me pause; it was intense for the vintage, rich and powerful, though a little dirty at first. The power was impressive and expressive. This matched the 2000 in a completely different way, even though Jetski felt it was ‘two points off the 2000,’ dragging down all scores as usual (95).
The 2001 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux was deep, darker and had more intense richness. There was a beefy style here that felt atypical. It had great creaminess and vitamins with an intense plushness. It took charge of the first flight, for sure (96+).
Ready Set Go
A Standout Vintage
The 1993 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux had a touch of inviting herbal, in a spice cabinet way. Its spice was ticklishly good, and it had great, honeyed aromatics. The palate was rich, long and stylish in an outstandingly sexy way. This was 1993 at its finest (97).
The 1991 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux took a while to come around, as it started a little gamy, too. It did get better showing sweet, sweet fruit. I had drunk a 98 point bottle in San Francisco so I was a little disappointed here (95A?).
The 1989 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux was a little corked on both the nose and the palate. Behind it, I was able to find some rubber tire, rich leather and citrus. The flaws got worse, but the palate stayed sturdy (94A).
The 1988 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux was fantastic. It was so rich and heavy, with such amazing length. I wrote, ‘Soooooo good.’ It was so rich, with blood and sausage flavors and that leathery, Jayer smack. Someone remarked that it was ‘a blazing bottle’ (98).
The 1985 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux was slightly corked again, and there was starting to be a noticeable problem with the number of affected bottles. It was solidly structured but flawed nonetheless (94A).
Was It All A Dream?
It was Cros Parantoux time, beginning with the last vintage ever made, the 2001 H. Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux. It was nice and a little stalky, but it was also coiled up like a venomous snake, ready to strike. It had a brothy sex appeal and was a bit of a beast in a good way (96).
The 1997 H. Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux was that soupy 1997 style. It was open for business in that sweet and soupy way. It was still a bit wound up given the vintage but expressed tootsie pop action (93).
The 1996 H. Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux was a rock star wine that will outlive everything else served so far. The Wine Daddy found some ‘umami’ and crowned it ‘another animal.’ It was oh so rich with beefy satay notes, zipping and zinging its way to my heart via every sense possible. Wine of the vintage (98).
The 1995 H. Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux was no slouch either! The wine was a little hard, but The Queen was looking for ‘very hard or not at all’ LOL. The 1995 was rusty and spiny and super stuff (95+).
Someone thought that the 1993 H. Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux was ‘close to a perfect wine.’ It was so rich and perfectly spiced. Martine chimed in that she found ‘more similarities amongst the multiple years in Cros Parantoux’ than the other Jayer parcels, which made sense. This was rich in a wow wow way, like making the Forbes 400. Everything was in the perfect place, while still ascending (99).
The 1991 H. Jayer Vosne Romanee Les Beaumonts was a little corked and musty, but I managed to find some good spice. Jetski couldn’t pick up on the nuance of the wine’s corkiness, though, he was hammered (93A).
Martine explained that the Brulees vineyard gets little wind, and the grapes get a little sunburnt accordingly, which the Jackal thought made for ‘perfect ripeness.’ The 1980 H. Jayer Vosne Romanee Aux Brulees was a touch stewed with lots of sassy grassy. BJ called it ‘oxidized,’ but I wasn’t sure. The palate was better than the nose, and its vimful citrus kept my mouth smacking (95).
The 1980 Georges/Henri Jayer Echezeaux would have been great had it not been corked. Its nose was swampy, but its palate grinded it out, showing some crazy soup qualities (96A).
Rough and Rugged
A Proper Retrospective
The nose on the 1980 H. Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux was a little milky up front, but it blossomed quickly. The sexy, brothy soup stepped up again, and the wine got exciting. I was wowed by this one, and Wine Daddy called it ‘the best wine of the night.’ Few argued with that proclamation (98).
The 1978 H. Jayer Nuits St. Georges Murgers was full of rich, beefy broth and more earth. There was a hint of soy and more beef flavors. It was rough around the edges (94).
The Cros Parantouxs brought us back to a very happy place after some Echezeaux issues, and everyone was on the giddy side by the evening’s end. It helps when you have twenty bottles lol. It was an amazing night thanks to the amazing Martine Saunier, and the amazing wines of Henri Jayer. In that order!