A holiday dinner with Amy and Barry
I recently met up with Amy Ray and Barry Wiggins for a holiday dinner. It was a casual affair, seated at the corner of the bar of Restaurant Eve. Amy and Barry are long-time fans of Chef Armstrong’s cooking and Todd Thrasher’s care of their wines. While we limited ourselves to a handful of courses, the number of wine selections required both hands.
We opened with a brace of Krug Champagne. The 2002 Krug, Champagne Brut is young with white fruit, chalk, and a fine mousse of precise bubbles. Though drinkable now it really is a wine to be aged for at least another five years. One may guess this because our bottle of 1989 Krug, Champagne Brut has just entered full maturity. This wine coats the mouth with weighty, mature flavors which are still racy. The 2009 Jean Noel Gagnard, Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru is a wine that delivers nothing but pure pleasure. The nose delivers an impressive volume of aromas matched by the round, weighty flavors in the mouth. Like the 1989 Krug before it, I savored my glass until the end.
We drank our mature red Burgundy side by side. The 1978 Georges Lignier, Clos Saint-Denis from the excellent 1978 vintage and the 1979 Domaine Dujac, Clos La Roche from the not quite as good 1979 vintage prove interesting to compare. The vintage differences are immediately noticeable with the 1978 Lignier still concentrated and powerful. The 1979 Dujac is rich at first but it is more linear towards the finish with less weight. The 1978 Lignier offers meat on the nose with cranberry flavors accented by meat and earth. On the other hand, the 1979 Dujac offers wood smoke aromas, an oily start, and mineral middle. Both are outstanding wines but the 1978 Lignier is a touch more impressive. There was no point in attempting to match these two bottles so I thought it would be fun to open the 1979 Charles Abela Cellars, Ernie’s, Pinot Noir Special Selection, Napa as it is the same vintage as the Dujac. With a double-capsule, short yet firm cork, and brilliant color this fine conditioned bottle comes across as closed. The nose was reluctant to open up but an animale flavor eventually added some curiosity. Not bad for an old liquor-store wine. I would double-decant this for an hour.
With our meal complete we required another Champagne. Out came the 2005 Tattinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Blanc de Blanc. This too is a fine wine, requiring a bit of air to properly show itself. It is more evolved than the 2002 Krug so you could be excused for drinking several bottles now.
2002 Krug, Champagne Brut
Alcohol 12%. There is an impression of freshness with dry, white fruit matching the chalk. The bubbles turn into a fine mousse carrying minerals before the persistent aftertaste. Needs more age. **** Now – 2037
1989 Krug, Champagne Brut
Imported by Wine Cellars Ltd. Acquired from Zachy’s. Alcohol 12%. There is a gentle, golden color of maturity. The nose bears hints of yeast and apple orchard flavors. With air the wine puts on weight with gently coating, racy flavors which mix with dried herbs and some wood. These mature flavors are delivered with the freshness of a well-stored bottle. ****(*) Now – 2027.
2009 Jean Noel Gagnard, Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by c’Est Vin. Alcohol 13.5%. The youthful color does not prepare for the rich, aromatic nose of spices and that sweet kiss of oak. The wine is round in the mouth with supportive structure and a slight edge. With extended air there is a density to the white fruit, grip, and notes of nuts. Drinking great. ****(*) Now but will last.
1978 Georges Lignier, Clos Saint-Denis
Imported by Robert Chatterdon. From Wally’s The Roy Welland Collection. There is a complex, scented nose with notes of meat. In the mouth are sweaty, pungent flavors of cranberry/red fruit and bloody. There is clearly a focused concentration and power from this excellent vintage. With vintage perfume flavor picks up earthy notes with air. This remains a fresh wine with persistent flavors in the middle and a grippy finish. ****(*) Now – 2022.
1979 Domaine Dujac, Clos La Roche
Imported by Frederick Wildman. The nose is both sweeter and muskier with hints of wood smoke. In the mouth this is a rich wine, almost oily at first but it straightens out with air. The flavors turn brighter at the beginning with a mineral edge and overall less noticeable weight and strength. **** Now.
1979 Charles Abela Cellars, Ernie’s, Pinot Noir Special Selection, Napa
Alcohol 13%. It is a youthful, very bright and clear color. There is a very subtle nose which takes much air to open up. In the mouth is red fruit flavors with a touch of citric grip. It does take time to relax adding an animale depth to the clean, focused fruit. **(*) Now – 2027.
2005 Tattinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Blanc de Blanc
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines. Imported by Wine Cellars LTD. Alcohol 12.5%. This drinks well after half an hour of air. It is racy, glycerin infused wine with ripe apples and a mixture of yellow, white, and green fruits. It has tons of grip and when the bubbles calm down the earth, chalk, and yeast flavors are noticeable. It has a lovely future. **** Now – 2027.