New York is a hell of a town. Its finest wine lovers are so close both physically and spiritually, but schedules can make everyone seem so far away. It isn’t often when a gathering of Vintage Tastings ‘All Stars’ is possible, but thanks to the triumphant return of The Big Ticket from a recent hiatus, I had the pleasure of gathering with a few of the merriest men that I know, along with Lady Agah, of course.

Wine Harvest

We started with the ’05 Margaux, the 1905 Margaux, from the Vanderbilt cellar, per The Big Ticket. I had this bottle with him once before, and it was spectacular. This bottle was a bit musty with aromas of tabasco, old book and cobwebs. It had a tender palate with light cigar and citrus flavors but was still long with nice acidity. There were light soda flavors and some nice freshness to this very good wine. The last one I had a few years ago was much more impressive, but at 108 years old, I had to give it the credit it was due (92).

Oldie & Goodie

The 1979 Krug Collection gets better with each day that passes. It is finally starting to show some skin, and this magnum was oh so good. Aromas of vanilla cream and honey were plenty prevalent in its saucy, sexy nose. There was some laser and razor to it, and its honey kept blossoming. The palate was rich and zippy with more honey flavors, almost spoon-like in their personality. A wafer-like complexity emerged as its honey dissipated. I think we had The Cardinal to thank for this treasure (96+M).

A quartet of white Burgundy followed, and the first wine was thanks to Gentleman Jim, and extra thanks were in order since it was a 1996 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres. There was a touch of gas to its snowcapped fruit, along with ice crystals. Its fruit was wealthy, and its acidity was incredible. There were flashes of yellow to this young and impressive white. It still felt 5-10 years away from being there. Someone admired its oily mouthfeel (96+).

The 1998 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne was cleaner and more elegant than the Perrieres. It had that signature Coche nuttiness but was still very icy and coy. There were minerals and earth underneath this flirtatious wine. The acid stayed strong and the finish long in this almost rich white. We could thank Lady Agah for this one, or visa versa on the Coches (94).

The Shylock pulled out a 1996 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet next. It had a smoky, great nose that was toasty in the Leflaive way but not over the top and too sulfury or kernel-y. There was a pinch of yellow fruits, and the nose came back to the smoke, but the palate was whiter in its fruit, leather, earth and ice components. It was full-bodied, zippy and lively, but the DRC that followed smacked it back a point (95+).

White Is Alright

There is something about a bottle of DRC Montrachet that makes any occasion a special occasion. It doesn’t even have to be great, but the 2001 DRC Montrachet sampled on this night certainly was. I had to apologize to The Punisher and Bad Boy, as they had this vintage four days prior, even though they forgot to give me the call. The Punisher quickly recognized this as a ‘great bottle,’ while Bad Boy hailed it as ‘advanced stratisfication.’ Look it up if you don’t know J. He meant the Monty was the best of the whites, and he was right. It had a very complex nose with great aromatics and pure musk. It was the essence of Chardonnay, and it didn’t suffer from the overt botrytis that many vintages of this wine can have. The palate was round with excellent spice, although the sweetness factor kicked in on the first few impressions in the mouth. Its mint, spice and zip were still all that and then some, tall dark and handsome, if you look me in the eye, I’ll tell you where I come from. It was a Punisher 97 as well (97).

It was time for some red, red wine. Dapper Dave just happened to stop by right before the flight of ’61 Bordeaux, talk about good timing. He also happened to find out the wines in this blind flight before we did, and then proceeded to ruin it for everybody lol. The first wine’s nose was great, with creamy, sexy fruit. Make that nutty, black fruits along with smoke and chocolate butter. Plum and more cream smothered themselves all over the crotch of this sexy wine. Its palate was rich and creamy with lots of gravel and great acidity. Plum up front and slate on the finish had me wondering if this was La Mission, but it was actually the 1961 Haut Brion. Honey started to dominate, and my girl wasn’t even in the room. Gravel and acidity surged back, and The Punisher picked up some ‘red cayenne pepper’ (97).

Which Way Did It Go?

The Cardinal noted ‘a little VA’ in the second wine of this flight. It was quite stony in its earthy and sweaty nose. The palate was long and tight, make that long, tight and hot. It had a zippy, muscular finish, but The Punisher also found it ‘affected.’ Its acidity was stronger than the HB, and its finish was hotter and longer. A smoky, dry mesquite edge emerged on this probably (96+A) wine.

Gentleman Jim was talking about ‘Thai Stick,’ I think about the wine lol. It was open, fleshy and gamy but not great. It was a bit weedy for me, quite chewy with some secondary Campbell’s Soup aromas. The palate was also weedy. It had excellent acidity but was short on flavors. I have had many, many better bottles of 1961 Palmer (93).

Big Ticket Cashing In

We began another flight with a tight and tannic nose. Plum, cassis, mineral and slate paved the way for this ‘earthy’ wine. It wasn’t as bright as the previous flight per Lady Agah, but its palate recovered with a flash of fruit and a long, alcoholic finish. It was quite tannic, and I thought it could have been Right Bank or La Miss, but it was 1982 Latour. It was less open than the last three or so bottles I have tasted over the last year, but it got bigger and more open with time. I do love this wine (97+).

The second wine of this now ’82 flight was a 1982 Margaux. There was a touch of must to its nose, but plummy fruit behind it, and it eventually blew off into chocolate, cream and honey. The palate had more fruit, although every wine in this flight felt tight; perhaps more air time was needed. There was a long finish that was still firm and acidic. This wine felt strong and invigorated, and its acidity continued to impress (96).

1982 Mouton Rothschild was a good way to end this flight. Aromas of matchsticks and deep, cassis fruit were dominant. All three of the ’82s had this Stonewall Jackson action, showing off minerality and rocky complexity, one that required small sips to navigate. It, too, had a long finish and possessed more charcoal flavors. It was a deep, concentrated wine (96).

1982 To You, Too

We figured out rather quickly that we went across the river for a flight of Pomerols, beginning with a figgy and gamy 1989 Le Pin. It was tighter on the palate, with a finish that unfolded over time. The nose was a stark contrast, very open and almost easy. Its gamy, coconutty qualities amongst its aromas merged on to its palate, and I have to say that I was disappointed (92).

What might likely be paired with the two prior wines? Yes, the 1989 Petrus. As good as the Lafleur was, the Petrus smoked it, it was so good and so wow with loads of plum, coffee and chocolate along with earth and the goodness of what milk bones might be if I were a dog. It had enough t ‘n a for an entire chorus line; the 1989 Petrus will always be one singular sensation (99). (PIC -)

The 1989 Lafleur didn’t disappoint. Never has, never will. It was soupier and grapier in its obvious complexity. The nose had more royal garden to it, but also the open plum, cocoa and grape perfume that whispers Pomerol. The palate was tasty and strong, stronger than I ever remember it to be, quite zippy with its acidity, thick and tight like an all-star athlete before warmups. This was still a beast (97+).

3, 2, 1 – In That Order

There was one more wine on this starry night, a 1958 BV Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Old BV’s are true California classics, and this ’58 was open, sweet and chocolaty with smooth, creamy flavors. It had some nice Napa asphalt to it and a pinch of garden goodness, although someone noted ‘aborigine ass.’ Yes, it was about that time (93).

It was good to see so many familiar faces both at and on the dinner table. When The Big Ticket is in town, I will always be standing in line, eagerly anticipating showtime.


In Vino Veritas,

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