Three months and no tasting notes, I know, but I assure you that there have been plenty of tastings, an absurd amount of great events come to think of it. January flew by, and so did February, but before February came to a close, I paid a visit to a special collection, one of which you might have heard, The Chalet Collection. I have said before and often that I have been treated to some great dinners by the owner of the Chalet Collection, and here are some of the wines I had this past year from him. I needed a kickstart to get going, nothing like a spectacular auction this weekend to get me in the writing mood again : )
Let’s Get It Started
Take My Word For It
Rare Sauvignon Blanc
On one occasion, actually every occasion with the Chalet Collector, we began with a great vintage Champagne; this time it was a 1964 Krug. This was rich and apply with a great swathe of oak at first, along with honey flavors and strong acid. This was so rich and ‘foamy in the mouth.’ It had great apple juice mousse on the loose and rich buttercream on its nose (96).
The 1955 Louis Roederer (not Cristal just Brut) had more rust and lanolin and was deemed ‘much older.’ There was big apple and rainwater elements with ‘nut’ and rich, waxy, sweet toffee flavors, but the apple juice still stayed on top. This was quite close to the Krug in quality and ultimately kept it close. The old ‘regular’ Roederers are one of vintage Champagne’s great secrets (95).
The wines were served blind, as our host enjoys the sport of tasting, and our first white had a toasty, smoky Leflaive-like nose. It had yellow corn and citrus aromas, and if it wasn’t Leflaive, then it was definitely Coche. I tasted the toasted kernels and thought it was so elegant but still intense with super length. Then I learned it had been double decanted 8 hours ago! Like wow. Soon thereafter I would debate with Mr. Chalet the amount of air time on some older reds, but I had no objections here. This was a perfect, super bottle with rich, creamy, white ice flavors. It tasted like diamonds look on the perfect neck, and I was stunned to find out this was a 2001 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres. Why, because it didn’t have the botrytis that ’01 usually has. Strong showing (97).
The next wine the French Paradox initially thought was Clos Ste. Hune with its minerals galore, but I considered the possibility of white Bordeaux with all its very waxy guava flavors. The wine came from old vines, not late picked and not touched by phylloxera. Hmmmm. Clues, clues, clues, ok we gave up! It was a 2002 Didier Dagueneau Asteroide. This was super exotic and the richest Sauvignon Blanc I’d ever had with insane acidity (95).
A Rare Chalet Treat
We then got into old Burgundy, at least I knew that much. The first red had plum on the nose and coffee in the mouth but maintained its freshness. There was wet forest, ‘leather,’ and pine needles with rich stalky flavors and great minerals. The finish was intense and I learned it had been opened at 5PM, and we came to it four hours later! The Paradox found ‘menthol,’ and I saw some cedar with a touch of bell pepper. This was a 1971 DRC La Tache! The bottle was still outstanding, but I could not help but think it would have been the usual two points higher if not opened so long ago. To each their own, I still finished every drop (96)!
1953 Sunken Treasure
A Rare Chalet Treat, Part II
We then got into another bottle that had withstood the four hour double decant, this time an even rarer 1952 DRC La Tache. This had more brown sugar with rich, decadent, spiny mahogany spice. Mr. Chalet found ‘sous bois and forest floor like old DRC.’ I’m not sure if that was a clue or an affirmation, but he definitely said it lol. This was oily and a little warmer on its finish than the ’71, with a kinder acidity profile, and lots of cola and root beer flavors. There were ‘faded flower and rose’ qualities per the Paradox. Ultimately, I preferred the ’52 ever so slightly, and I think this could have been a 99 point experience without the excessive air. It is a legendary vintage for DRC for the few that know. Still, 97 points is not so bad, and I finished every drop of this one, too (97).
The next wine was Bordeaux for sure, Left bank, I thought, but I was surprised to learn it was, in fact, 1953 Petrus (I guessed La Miss!). This had dark cassis, deep ocean and was super sexy. The French Paradox was transforming into his alternate identity, aka the Dirty Frenchman, as he said it reminded him of the ‘red light district at 3AM.’ Will take your word on that one buddy lol. Alexander the Great chimed in and thought it was even ‘dirtier.’ Not sure if that was the wine or the district. Check please. Personally, I found it delicious, with so much sexy Pomerol chocolate and even a touch of tootsie pop. Old Petrus never gets old (96).
I was convinced the next and last wine was an old white Bordeaux, and Mr. Chalet commented that it was full of ‘rainwater.’ I was convinced I tasted a certain Sauvignon Blanc richness. In fact, it was 1971 Raveneau Chablis Butteaux. Doh! This was rich and round with not much on the mineral front, but it was a very delicious bottle. It towed the line being fat but still tasted lean in the glass, and it showed lots of cream on the nose. It was an impressive wine, and a rare look into super old Raveneau (94).
Why, thank you, Mr. Chalet, may I have another?
The next night we had together was at a 3-star Michelin place that shall remain anonymous. The meal was amazing; however, there was not enough food! I was starving like half the meal, only amplified by the eleven bottles amongst the four of us. That is what I call being ready for dinner, but the dinner not being ready for us!
The first wine we had was a delicious bottle of 1971 Lanson Red Label. This had an old, apply, sweet, tangy, cola, sugared goodness to it. Is that too many adjectives? The Paradox noted ‘dry, refreshing acidity,’ and I loved its vivacious, zippy palate. ‘Layers and toast’ came from Mr. Chalet, and I agreed, also finding crème brulee flavors on its finish. Maybe it was a touch too sweet if anything was wrong, but it delivered (94).
The next wine we plucked off the list, a 2014 Keller Rielsing G-Max. Mr. Chalet had never had one, so I had to pop his G-Max cherry! Ok, that probably came out wrong lol, let’s get into the wine…the G-Max was so sweet in the nose, more so than usual, but it still possessed an amazing fruit medley. ‘Passionfruit,’ noted Mr. Chalet. It was round, lush and sweet with all the orange, peach, apricot, mango and ‘mochi fruit.’ The wine was super smooth and satiny but the acidity was buried alive by its fruit. This was a rich, decadent and round G-Max, perhaps a vintage that will give more pleasure sooner, although every bottle of G-Max gives pleasure. There’s another joke to be made in there somewhere (95).
Purchased On Release
‘Rainwater’ came from Mr. Chalet, and that should have been a clue already, given how many bottles of this producer I have had with him, and the fact that he probably says this every time for one. I got wet corn first thing on a sunny morning after a rainy night. Who grew up in Iowa, are you with me? There were delicious, nutty flavors with a kiss of banana, what could it be? A 1993 Raveneau Chablis Valmur purchased on release! I drank it like water, although it still had a touch of minerality. Someone noted, ‘some similarities in elegance and finesse between the two whites.’ There was signature citrus and oyster to this ‘more refined’ Raveneau (95).
There were two more whites, the first being so smoky and so toasty that it was a veritable tub of buttery popped corn. Mr. Chalet agreed, admiring its ‘rich nose.’ The palate was very citrusy by contrast, with lots of character, minerals and hot stones. The palate was spectacular at first, although it lost a step with some time in the glass. That was ok, it was a 1996 D’Auvenay Meursault Narvaux with a touch of a lower fill (like 4cm). So good and so delicious appeared in my notes, and while I gave it a gushing 96 points upon first kiss, I settled for 95 points and a cab ride home lol (95).
The next wine Mr. Chalet was just fucking with me, but it was damn good, I will confess. No one could figure it out. It had a smooth nose, with much more perfume. There was white spice and a delicate, floral tanginess. There was a tropical twist to its fruit, so tropical I wrote again. The Paradox noted, ‘candy on the nose,’ and its smooth, icy flavors reminded me of sorbet. This was a Loire white, a 2014 Guiberteau Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes or something like that. It was a Chenin Blanc Monopole from Breze I was told. All my Somms out there put your hands up (94).
Just One More
The French Paradox picked up on ‘pickle’ right away in our first red, while Mr. Chalet noted ‘green herbs and dill.’ There was a deep nose to this young wine, and the Paradox came back with some ‘fresh pepper.’ This was clearly a young, intense Burgundy, very shy and tight. There was an herbal style and ‘green pepper’ to this 2013 Bizot Echezeaux. Only 1047 bottles were made. I should note that I had a 2016 a couple days prior that was absolutely smoking, I think 2013 is not representative of this Domaine’s budding superstar status (92).
The second red was also a 2013 Red Burgundy, but in a different weight class. There was much more rich, decadent fruit in this better wine. There was a great mélange of fruits: red, purple and blue. Of course, it was from the modern master of Echezeaux, the Comte, but not even his own Domaine wine. It was a 2013 C. Marey Hospice de Beaune Echezeaux Cuvee Jean-Luc Bissey. Type that twenty times. I am still waiting for Louis-Michel to make a bad wine – ain’t gonna happen. I should know I have had at least a couple hundred bottles of his delicious juice (95)!
For fuck’s sake, 2014, 2013, 2013…what the hell was going on? Had Mr. Chalet come down with a fever, what was up with all these very young wines?!! The next wine calmed me down and had me saying ‘mmmmmm.’ One or two more m’s possible. Aromas of band-aid and gravel gave way to a smoky nose with rose and citrus. And lots more gravel. There was a bit of bamboo and forest to its tasty and balanced palate. This was fresh and pure, drinkable and smooth. ‘Delicious’ and ‘fantastic’ came from the crowd, and the Somm even jumped in with ‘incredible.’ I wish he jumped in with a basket of bread ; ) Delicate and floral, there was ‘carob’ and ‘bacon fat’ in this special bottle of 1953 DRC La Tache! And it was from a 6cm bottle. Like whoa….it’s all about the color for those old Burgundies, all about the color (96).
The next bottle was an equally rare, old Burgundy, a 1952 Rousseau Chambertin. This is the third time I had a bottle of this batch thanks to the Chalet Collection, the second of which we had with Cyrielle Rousseau in Burgundy on one rainy afternoon. The first bottle, however, was the most memorable: epic, legendary, insert your own superlative here. This bottle was still outstanding, but it did not achieve the heights of that first time. It’s all about the bottle for those old Burgundies, all about the bottle. There was similar sweetness to the LT, but the Rousseau was more autumnal. It was smooth and nice with good brown sugar and earth flavors. ‘Tasty’ came from the crowd, and I concurred (95).
Mr. Chalet noted ‘light mint’ in the next red, followed by ‘tobacco and soil.’ There was a maturity to this wine, and its flavors were full of coffee with a touch of egg cream. This was a perfect bottle of 1967 Vega Sicilia Unico. It was salty in a great way with lots of cocoa butter on its finish. Yum (96+).
There was one more bottle ordered off the list, because I’m a ‘just one more bottle’ kind of guy. ‘Rosemary, super dark, balanced and elegant’ came from the crowd. This was a great red for cheese, full of black raspberry flavors. It was a 2002 Henschke Hill of Grace. It was an Aussie wine to make one say ‘oy oy oy’ (95).
There was another night with Mr. Chalet, but it’s past my bedtime. I’ll save that one for the archives. The Chalet Collection is one built on a true love for wine by a gentleman who loves sharing and caring for it. I hope you have a better glimpse into his heart and soul, which are as big as they come. Let’s recreate some Chalet magic after this weekend, I am happy to participate again and again, buyers please note!
In Vino Veritas,