The Inspector and The Don got together soon after Don’s Birthday bash for a small retrospective of 1973 whites. Even though I was a bit under the weather, I couldn’t resist such an invitation. We were joined by Nick and Geoffrey, and it was one of those rare evenings where the whites ended up being older and rarer than the reds. We still started with the whites, of course.
A 1973 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche had aromas of old honeycomb, wax, dried nut, yeast and orange marmalade. Secondary aromas of minerals, ale and white meat joined the party. The palate was round and waxy, old but not bad, with hints of dirt, stone and earth flavors. Geoffrey and Doug noted a touch of botrytis, and caramel did come out with a touch of cotton candy. It was flirting with excellence but missing that extra definition, which seemed to come out after a little food, and it gained in its acidity. It was likened to a ‘dry Sauternes.’ Honey and a hint of floral ‘sexy back’ rounded out this mature yet pretty wine (93).
The 1973 Lafon Montrachet had a big, bold nose, and Geoffrey was immediately preferring it to the Drouhin. There was almost cinnamon in the nose, along with aromas of tree bark, butter, game, smoke, toast and lemon. The palate was richer, lusher, toastier and longer, with a creamy, sexy quality. Geoffrey called it ‘gorgeous,’ and Doug ‘brilliant.’ The palate was round and rich, with flavors of cobwebs and nice texture and length. There was this almost cardboard edge that bothered me a little, but besides that this was a classic – fleshy, buttery and tasty stuff (95).
We had a head-to-head showdown of 1973 Montrachets, an original release versus the recent re-release from the Leroy cellars. The original had aromas of sweet acacia and honey, and then wildflower and lavender, almost like two pairs. Additional aromas of waterfall, morning dew, and more honey emerged. In the mouth, the was rich, big and tasty with great acid. Doug added, ‘lemon spice cake.’ This was long and longer with extended vim and vigor, but it fell off a cliff after about 15 minutes, becoming overly yeasty and full of morning mouth flavors. I couldn’t tell if the bottle was slightly affected or not. It was spectacular at first, but became perplexing shortly thereafter (93A?).
The re-release came across more artificially at first, with aromas of cinnamon and cleaner. Fresh and zippy, there was a hint of the original here but cinnamon dominated. The palate was round and long with nice acidity, and although this was leaner than the original, it did come across fresher. ‘One for the bitch,’ quipped the Inspector. He quickly got a call from headquarters and was instructed to attend sensitivity training the next morning. The re-release kept growing on me; it was clean and fresh, with almost a spritz-like zest, and the acidity was long. In the end, it came across pure and stylish, although it did need some time to find itself (95).
Geoffrey and I preferred the ‘Lalou’ bottling of , while Doug and Nick preferred the Lafon, although I did admit that if a 10 minute rule was in effect, the original might have won.
A 1985 Ramonet Montrachet was a welcome transition to the red wines. There was a yellow pungency to this wine, almost urine-like, but it was also buttery like a sautéed scallop with additional aromas of smoke and corn. Clean with aromas of smokehouse, sandalwood and charcoal, there was a lot going on here. Curdled flavors of rainwater and tang without the vitamin C were on the palate, along with white barbecue flavors. It was excellent but not as thrilling as other bottles of this wine that I have had (94).
A 1991 Grands Echezeaux had aromas of stems and bay water, salty and with additional aromas of dirty rose, beefaroni and lime. The palate was soft and polished, stemmy yet simple overall (91).
I must have been complaining about collections when someone said the following, ‘Whenever your tailor starts bothering you about your debt, order four more new suits.’ I am not sure who said it, but I had to include it!
The 1991 Meo-Camuzet Richebourg had a similar nose to the . Milk, stems, rose were there, along with that tangy, salty bay water thing. There was more definition and substance here, and the Meo was quite earthy. Although 1991 has a bit of a sleeper reputation for the reds in Burgundy, this duo left me a bit under-impressed compared to their usual lofty status (93).
We had to have one bottle of Rousseau to make up for its omission at Don’s birthday party, so we settled on a 1985 Rousseau Chambertin. The nose was classic 1985 with its sweet and nutty profile. Rich and gamy, the fruit was all about the cherry, but pruny as well. It was very aromatic, milky and foresty as well, with good bases of minerals and earth. Round, soft, easy and tender, the wine was gamy and friendly in the mouth, in a nice 1985 spot, but just missing a degree of ‘oomph’ that I was yearning. Nick and Geoffrey found it ‘fantastic’ (94).
It was another nice evening of Burgundy, a reverse night of old whites and younger reds, and a fitting encore to The Don’s birthday bash.
In Vino Veritas,