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TN: 3 Mature Beauties and 4 for Science


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Kudos to Oliver for putting together this event. Limited to six people so the pours were generous. So, by the way, is Oliver. He contributed several gems from his cellar, including the Lafleur. While I was promised that it was well-bought a while back, I'm simply thrilled and honored to have been chosen to share the benefits of his foresight!


Amuse of a muniere-style oyster and a beautifully light hash of squid and raw tomato. Followed by a perfectly simple but delightful parsley-seasoned sauté of wild mushrooms.

  • 1985 Krug Champagne Brut - France, Champagne
    Deep maturing yellow, but what really catches the eye are the beautiful billowing ribbons of fine bubbles that just dance and twist through the glass. Nose initially shows lemon pastry over a tremendous depth of fruit that features delectable peach skin. On the palate, it is at that great transition from a young fine pointal texture to cream – like cream that prickles. That almost overbearing sense of sweetness on entry that stays just on the delicious side of cloying – almost like the exotic sweetness of Indian spices that threaten to be sickly sweet but instead delight. Never gets fat or anything less than graceful, but there is simply no edge or angularity there – absolutely seamless. Finishes with a very long sweet brioche element. This seems to get a little tighter (in a good way) as it sits. Simply delicious.


Another simple but delightful dish -- madai (sea bream of a sort not found in American or European waters) in a butter sauce.

  • 2002 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Charmes 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
    The linens and tableware were a mix of saffron gold and bright white, so it was a little hard to assess color, but this seemed to be on the light side for Lafon, but not versus other producers. Nose is high-toned with an intense fruit and minerality that completely hides the oak. So very young and tight that it is very hard to pull the detail out, but there certainly is sweet apple, stone, a little floral element, and some kind of round and rich stone fruit. So young and intense that there is almost a textural waxy quality to the nose. On the palate, the oak shows very strongly, but not strongly enough to blunt the same fruit and mineral attack from the nose, which is joined by a honeyed oat quality. This was amazingly smooth and integrated, but oh so tight even through the very long finish. At every stage, the wine showed an incredible purity of fruit and site that it promises to be tremendous. A great hedonistic beam of fruit pleasure now. I could drink this everyday, but it is a crime not to let it evolve for another ten or more years.

Mid-meal decadence

A cold confit of foie gras with an eclectic array of garnish including vegetable, fruit, and cornichon. (Someone please help my failing memory here!)

  • 2000 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc L'Orée - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
    Beautiful deep gold and evident viscosity. Despite a good decanting (several hours?), the nose was very closed at first. I got a good workout swirling this try to get it to open up. Finally, it does open up to show a rich, deep, and almost undefinable nose that passes through stages of Armagnac, fresia, ginger spice, and tropical and stone fruit. This wine is quite a workout for the arm. Swirl vigorously and it opens to show something new. Let it rest a second and it closes back up. Swirl again and there’s something else to enjoy. Let it sit and it closes up again. Palate is relatively more closed than the nose, showing mostly a rich and clingy fruit-sweet texture that never quite gets spirity. Dominant note other than fruit is white pepper on the otherwise mostly textural finish. This has all of one foot and most of the other over the “shut down hard” line. Give it a decade or more. Not sure it’s equal to the Parker review at this point in time, but there’s no question it will have a lot to offer when it comes out of hibernation. I’d love to try it then.

Meat -- for a meaty young wine

A roasted venison dish that the proprietor was dead right in pushing us to have with the Grands.

  • 1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Flagey-Echezeaux
    Deep and rich burgundy red, one can almost taste the density with the eyes. Wickedly pure pinot nose with a centerline of typical beetroot fleshed out by red and black berries and dark cherry. With a little time, a certain smokiness is joined by the sweet oak. Amazingly true to its terroir, this is textbook Grands Echezeaux. It has none of the exotic spice of RSV or La Tache, but has every possible ounce and nuance of pure and sweet pinot fruit. I always think that, if Cali pinot aspired to be Burg (which it shouldn’t), this is where it should aim. On the palate, it is still strongly tannic but has an amazing combination of youthful vigorous strength and size with almost impossibly deft dancing delicacy. On the finish it is just starting to spread out to show the breadth that will come with another fifteen years in hand. Like a ’98 Mugnier Moose tasted last year, this is the essence of what I look for in very young Burg – that sappiness that feels like you’ve gotten every drop of concentration between root tips and grape pips combined with enough of a fantail on the finish to make the future enticing.

A beautiful interlude

We selected a couple of hard cheeses to accompany the Lafleur. Anything else would have been interference. As it was, I drank the Lafleur mostly alone and saved the cheeses to soften up the Haut-Brion. (Which Haut-Brion was not in the original plan, but we were on a roll and needed something big and young. Anything attempting aged beauty and complexity would have been wasted in the wake of the Lafleur.)

  • 1982 Château Lafleur - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Showing definite orange at edge, but that’s all the visual assessment this gets as an intense, super-concentrated purée of blackcurrants simply leaps out of the glass. Creates such a visceral reaction that we suddenly find six adults sitting around the table cooing like children, “Ooh! Blackcurrants! Yeah, and even more blackcurrants! Oh man! Blackcurrants!” Okay, when we all calm down, there is also this beautiful velvety licorice joining it. Liquid sex in a bottle, this is. Behind the intense fruit, there is also a certain spiciness and earth, but it’s hard to get past that velvet and fruit. On the palate, the velvety texture continues with more absolutely pure blackcurrant fruit joined by ripe plum and chocolate. Beneath the suavity, there’s still an element of tannin lurking – that classic iron-like merlot tannin that I think defines Pomerol structure. I don’t score wines and I don’t really care about others’ scores, but I do need to admit that if I did, I might be echoing the Parker 100 here. This just presents an amazing combination of Pomerol typicity and lush, rich, hedonistic concentration. Absolutely redefines Pomerol for me!
  • 1996 Château Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Still very deep and almost purple in color, with a density that promises much. The nose starts out with a less intense strain of blackcurrant than the Lafleur, but is still blackcurrant-focused. With a little vigorous aeration and persistent sniffing, there is a smoky and leathery quality, as well as some herb. Deeper dark plum lurks in the background. And lurk is really the word here – there’s a lot in the background but it refuses to be teased out with any ease. On the palate, there is strong tannin from front to back that is a little rough on the finish. Deep plum and some hints of berry provide a small degree of mid-palate sweetness before the finish turns to tobacco, tar, and tannin. Beware that this started to close up tightly in the glass after a very short time. Drinking young and tight Bordeaux is a fun academic exercise and I’m glad to have this data point, but I still don’t understand how people find such great pleasure from such young claret. Give it years…many of them!

And now to finish

A pear and pastry conconction of some sort. My mind and palate were awash enough with pleasure and awe (and alcohol) that my memory fails to provide the details. Sufficiently restrained that it let the delicacy of the Huët shine.

  • 1985 Huët Vouvray Moëlleux Le Mont - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Middle-deep yellow just heading toward gold, this looks quite youthful for its age. Initially reduced on the nose, I make my constant mistake of worrying that we need to go to the backup bottle. I find such reduction in probably half the chenin blanc and German riesling I drink, but it always causes me that momentary worry. But it’s okay here, this just takes a moment to clean up. On the nose, it shows only the slightest hint of honey with the very pure and pleasantly light apple and nectarine fruit. Behind it is that cold stoniness that I love from these wines. I can’t say for sure whether there is any botrytis, but I don’t find the zingy beeswax that many of the deeper Huët moëlleux often show. On the palate, this has plenty of stuffing and a fair degree of sweetness, but the overwhelming impression is of a Nahe-like dancing delicacy that keeps the sweet stonefruit fresh. I’m relatively experienced with these wines and absolutely love them, but after the big wines preceding, it takes me a bit of time to appreciate the balance and delicate sweetness of this wine. Decidedly lighter than some of the big Huëts from ’89 and ’90, it is no less pleasing.

Sometimes things just hit on all cylinders. The food was great, the service was gracious, and every wine was perfectly clean and showed very well -- whether it was showing glorious development or mere potential.

The Krug and the Lafleur are certainly wine of the year candidates. In fact, the Lafleur is a wine of a lifetime candidate. Believe the hype. I'm unlikely to buy such a wine due to the crimp it would put in my budget, but it is living proof that a wine CAN be worth that much.

Posted from CellarTracker

Edited by jrufusj (log)

Jim Jones

London, England

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

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Nice wines indeed. Glad to see the 99 Grands showing well after all the concern about its relative youth; I suspect it had been decanted rather far in advance. The 82 Lafleur has taken a while to come around, but I agree that the best examples (like your bottle) are magnificent.

FYI, the 85 Krug has been recently re-released and a few bottles remain in the shop downstairs from your office. Did you source the Huet there as well?

I hope January 20 goes as well as this night did.

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Last week I noticed that the Krug 85 was in stock downstairs. Haven't picked any up yet. I'll probably do a quick bit of shopping around as I recall the price was relatively steep, even for Krug 85. But I've just discovered that '85 Krug is the absolute favorite wine of a close friend, so I need to pick some up somewhere. I find my shop downstairs sometimes to present very fair (even good) prices and other times to be a bit dear. In any case, though, I always know things have been well shipped and well stored. That's worth more than a few dollars in my book, when buying mature wine.

The bottle Friday night was from the wine bar list, as they had it at a pretty good price. It was one of the politeness bottles one always buys when doing BYOB.

I did pick up the Huët downstairs. They've still got it, as well as the '90 Clos de Bourg Premier Trie.

The Grands was double decanted then recorked the night before. It got about two hours in the decanter on the night of drinking.

I've got high hopes and anticipation for Jan 20th. Not high expectations -- I never have high expectations for older wines, as it's a recipe for disappointment. But I do have high hopes and am very excited about it.

I'd be ecstatic over any night when the wines perform as well as they did Friday night.

Take care,


Jim Jones

London, England

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

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