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Mature Burgundy: Barolet, DRC, Giroud, Roumier, and more

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A group of us recently gathered to taste mature bottles of Burgundy.  Due to everyone’s generosity, several different flights were formed.  We began with a blind flight of three different Champagne from the 1996 vintage.  This was followed by the main focus on both the 1965 and 1966 vintages of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche and Romanée-Conti.  A very old bottle of Burgundy was then served.  A pair of Champagne Brut Rose was served while dinner was prepared.  After a slew of dinner wines, both young and old, dessert wines were deployed.  Several of the wines were off but due to everyone’s generosity, there was plenty to drink at a generally high level of pleasure.

1996 Champagne

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We kicked off the evening with a trio of Champagne from 1996.  The guest who generously brought these bottles poured them so we could taste them blind.  Of course I had no chance of guessing correctly, I have far too little experience with Champagne.  But I suspect with that experience these wines could have been identified blind.  The Gosset is mature and vinous, a wine to drink now. The Billecart-Salmon is elegant and lively, delivering its tart and chalky flavors with verve.  The Philipponnat is intense, rich and ripe, yet balanced by green apples and lemons.  I particularly enjoyed the last two.

Blind #1 – 1996 Gosset, Grand Millésime, Champagne Brut
Imported by Vieux Vins.  Alcohol 12%. A touch of stink eventually blows off. In the mouth are mature flavors followed by ripe fruit in the middle. Age has given it a vinous quality. Additional air reveals this is a wine to drink now.  *** Now.

Blind #2 – 1996 Billecart-Salmon, Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart, Champagne Brut
Imported by Vieux Vins.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Elegant on the nose with a fine mousse and lively precise nature in the mouth. The flavors cut through the palate, supported by acidity. Quite enjoyable with attractive verve. It wraps up with tart citrus and a chalky finish. **** Now – 2029.

Blind #3 – 1996 Philipponnat, Clos des Goisses, Champagne Brut
Alcohol 13%.  A touch more aged yellow in the glass. The most intense nose with an intense offering in the mouth. The bubbles explode upon drinking, leaving a short-lived mousse which is replaced by a green apple note. It moves on to rich and ripe flavors with a lovely lemon finish. **** Now – 2029.

1965 and 1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

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I was fortunate to purchase a small parcel of old wines including the following quartet of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The wines were originally purchased by a couple in the Washington, DC area who bought their wines from MacArthur Beverages. For decades these bottles were stored in the basement.  I am not sure what happened during those years, perhaps a basement flood, for the labels and fills varied.

These were not the best looking bottles but given the scarcity and generally insane pricing of these wines  I had to organize a tasting around them.  For I doubt I could ever again taste the 1965 and 1966 vintages of Romanée-Conti and La Tâche in one sitting.  And what a pairing of vintages, the disastrous 1965 with the very good 1966.  But I had another reason for pairing the two vintages.

Neal Martin wrote in Fermented Grape Juice: Romanée-Conti 1953-2005 how Aubert de Villaine recently served the 1965 Romanée-Conti to a large group.  Michael Broadbent rates this soggy vintage zero stars yet the very late October picking resulted in a wine that Neal Martin found “mocks its vintage reputation and defies all expectations.”  One guest with deep Burgundy experience believes he had never before tasted any Burgundy from the 1965 vintage.

The wines were single-decanted then immediately poured.  With all four glasses in front of us it was obvious our bottle of 1965 Romanée-Conti was flawed as was the 1966 La Tâche.  The 1966 Romanée-Conti was suffering a bit but the 1965 La Tâche was in fine form.  Despite being less than ideal, the 1966 Romanée-Conti  initially offered a complex nose I had trouble describing.  The 1965 La Tâche was the star of this flight for me.  A lovely wine all around and complete shock given the vintage.  Compared to some of the other wines with similar age, this has quite a bit of substance.  I held on to my glass for a long time.

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1965 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, S/N 01281
Imported by Frederick Wildman. Very clean on the nose, revealing incense and perfume. Elegant yet with depth. This is a mid-weight wine which still sports some supporting tannins. With air it reveals a silky nature, infused with fat, and a baking spiced finish. **** Now but will last.

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1965 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti, S/N 00578
Imported by Frederick Wildman. The stink on the nose is hard to get around. Shame as it is round and dense in the mouth with a mineral cut. The flavors have power but the nose reveals it is a flawed bottle that eventually falls apart. Not Rated.

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1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, S/N 03090
Imported by Frederick Wildman. Shame, the worst nose and gross in the mouth. Not Rated.

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1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti, S/N 01221
Imported by Frederick Wildman. An exotic nose with perfumed aromas that I have difficulty describing. In the mouth it is supple and elegant with some spice. *** Now.

A Blind, Rather Old Bottle of Burgundy

After the DRC flight we were treated to a bottle of Burgundy served blind.  Two lines of inquiry developed as to the vintage and appellation.  Though one guest eventually narrowed in on Pommard, I do not possess that sort of experience so I focused in on vintage.  It was certainly older than 1964.  Based on a handful of bottles I have tasted from the 1940s and 1930s I decided it had to be older, perhaps 1920s or even 1910s.

The bottle was revealed to be 1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots.  I was excited to guess the general age but more so to finally have tasted a Dr. Barolet wine.  The excitement level rose even more when we next learned that it was acquired at the 2006 Acker auction of Rudy Kurniawan’s “THE Cellar”.  I will write more about this particular bottle in a subsequent post but whether it be a real or fake bottle, it was very good.  Michael Broadbent writes that the 1928 Epenots and Rugiens were among the best of original bottles at the 1969 Christie’s auction.  At our tasting, it was one of the best bottles as well.

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1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots
Purchased at “THE Cellar”, Acker-Merrall & Condit, January 2006. The lightest and most mature brick color of all wines tasted this night. Clear in the glass. A fine, scented nose with ripe hints. It develops with air showing apple orchard and hints of red fruit. In the mouth it is red fruited, tart with some vein of very old wine flavor. There is a meaty note. Precision comes from the spine of acidity. It focuses with air.  **** Now but will last.

Champagne Refreshment

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A pair of Champagnes acted as a palate refresher while the preparation of the Coq au Vin was finished.  The Paul Bara, Special Club is on the sweet side for my preferences.  I can imagine serving it outside at a BBQ.  I prefer the Tattinger, Comtes de Champagne.

2012 Paul Bara, Special Club, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by Envoyer Imports. Alcohol 12%.  A burst of sweet fruits comes with the initially firm bubbles.  A creamy mousse persists along with the sweet fruit.  *** Now – 2024.

2006 Tattinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Aromatic.  Focused flavors and firm bubbles lead to dry, baking spices.  There is a vein of sharp acidity around which rounded, berry notes form until picking up a racy hint in the finish.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

Dinner Wines

With dinner we moved on to several old and a few young Burgundies.  Some of the oldest Burgundies I have drunk comes from Maison Camille Giroud.  Founded in the 19th century, this negociant firm still believes in long barrel aging.  They hold back stock, releasing some wines decades after the vintage.  The 1949 Camille Giroud, Volnay Santenay Premier Cru and 1966 Camille Giroud, Volney 1er Cru Clos des Chenes reflect perfect provenance.  Both wines sport some old-wine concentration but the 1949 is more tangy and elegant from age whereas the 1966 is completely different with its attractive baked cookie notes.  It was my second experience with the 1978 Mongeard-Mugneret, Grands-Echezeaux and I still like it very much.  It is a hedonistic wine for drinking now.  In moving forward nearly two decades, the 1994 Domaine G. Roumier, Chambolle-Musigny is certainly younger but still full of character.  I particularly liked the scented nose and understated complexity.  In contrast, the 2002 Domaine Annick Parent, Volnay Les Fremiets  is very young and tonight, in need of more age.

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1949 Camille Giroud, Volnay Santenay Premier Cru
Burgundy Wine Company Selection.  Round with sweet and sweaty flavors with a beautiful, old-wine concentration.  The finish is initially a little short and there is some heat but there is plenty to engage with.  The wine does flesh out with air, taking on tangy citrus, spices, and stones in the long, lifted, ethereal finish. **** Now.

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1966 Camille Giroud, Volney 1er Cru Clos des Chenes
Imported by USa Wine Imports. Burgundy Wine Company Selection.  A deep mahogany color.  The array of spices on nose reminds me of Nurnberger Lebkuchen.  A round and sweet start brings on some old-school flavors carried by a structural vein.  Sandalwood. **** Now – 2024.

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1978 Mongeard-Mugneret, Grands-Echezeaux
Shipped by Robert Haas Selections. Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Exotic perfume on the nose.  The cherry fruit flavors persist with good acidity.  This is a weighty, expansive wine with fat in the finish.  Hedonistic and drinking well right now.  **** Now.

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1994 Domaine G. Roumier, Chambolle-Musigny
Alcohol 12.7%.  Nice with a strawberry scented nose.  An elegant wine with some gravelly density.  It balances youth with complexity leaving the impression of a lovely, characterful wine.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

2002 Domaine Annick Parent, Volnay Les Fremiets
Very youthful, pure, almost candied with flavors of red grapefruit.  In the end, I think this wine needs more time.  *** 2022-2032.

Dessert Wine

With a chocolate tart we had a small grouping of dessert wines.  In order of age, the 1946 Bodegas Albala, Don P.X. Convento, Montilla-Moriles is perhaps the most concentrated wine I have drunk.  With notes of dried figs and baking spices, this unctuous wine has enough acidity to keep it balanced.  There is so much flavor packed in that you only need the tiniest of pours.  The 1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen continues to deliver unctuous flavors with tea notes but this bottle showed a touch less acidity than before.  It is always a treat to taste these old bottles of Riesling.  Finally, the 1968 Lodovico e Piero Antinori, Vino Santo Rosso Riserva offered a good surprise.  The nose was pungent, evocative of Madeira, with dried fruit and spices, along with a touch of red fruit.  I had no idea what to expect so I was pleased.

1946 Bodegas Albala, Don P.X. Convento, Montilla-Moriles
Imported by Classical Wines.  Alcohol 17%.  Bottled in 2011.  Surely, the most concentrated wine I have tasted.  Incredibly dark and viscous enough to stain the glass brown.  Lifted aromas of dried figs and baking spices.  An acidity driven start followed by a knife-edge of acidity pierces through the unctuous and sweet flavors.  Fresh, wet baking spiced flavors coat and persist in the mouth for a long time.  One of the most concentrated wines I have ever dried, you only need a tiny pour.  **** Now until whenever!

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1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars. From the Don Stott Cellar.  A youthful yet aged golden yellow color.  Baking spices on the nose.  A sweet core with weighty flavors of apricot and tea.  A bit soft, plumped up with fat and perfume.  There is less obvious acidity but the tea and tannins keep the wine fresh.  *** Now.

1968 Lodovico e Piero Antinori, Vino Santo Rosso Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 16%.  Wow, of course I like this wine for the pungent aromatics remind me a bit of Madeira.  There are flavors of sweet, spiced, dried fruit and plenty of texture around the fuller bodied wine.  There is enough acidity to be supportive.  The wine tastes of mature flavors with old leather and old-school notes in the finish.  Towards the end this viscous wine becomes more red-fruited.  ***(*) Now – 2039.

Wines That Were DOA

The following three bottles were bad!

  • NV (1970s) Simi, Burgundy, Sonoma
  • 1978 E. Guigal, Hermitage
  • 1985 Comte Armand, Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux

1980s Beaucastel and Burgundy at the Woodberry Kitchen

Darryl and Nancy organized a small wine dinner at the Woodberry Kitchen in order to partake in ramps and old Châteauneuf du Pape.  Roland, Richard, and I joined them one fine evening this week.  Fortunately we had extra bottles in tow for this evening was marked by an unfortunate series of off and underperforming bottles.  A shame then that two vintages of 1983 and 1985 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, from two different sources were off.  A 1981 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape had a bad cork and despite a heroic effort by the wine to correct itself, it remained ultimately marred.  The 1978 Chateau Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe was more advanced than I had expected.

Thus the white wine highlight of the evening included the fine 1992 Zind Humbrecht, Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain, Alsace which still needs air for full pleasure.  It has a kiss of petrol followed by nuts and lively acidity.

For the red wines my favorites include a 1982 Thorin, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Chambolle-Musigny.  This represents a smaller and gentler example of an old-school mature Burgundy.  I enjoyed my glass and would happily have this as a house wine.  The mature Burgundy set the stage for a well-cared bottle of 1981 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape.  The last time I tasted this wine, my glass came from the dregs.  This time I had a proper pour which I kept around for an hour or so.  Good stuff!  This deep wine should drink at its peak for several more years.  In complete contrast the 1986 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape is yet to reach full maturity, instead it offers brighter, fruitier red flavors.  It will not achieve the depth of the 1981 but it does have that Beaucastel familiarity.

 

2011 Champy, Chassagne-Montrachet
Imported by Schneider’s of Capitol Hill.  Alcohol 11%.  A golden straw color greets.  The flinty nose makes way to a rounded, slight dense start backed by glycerin.  There are yeast and chalk flavors but the wine lacks verve from enough acidity.  ** Now.

NV Bereche, Vallee 66 Mois de Cave, Champagne
This wine is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay.  Bottled 07/07/2010.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is slightly oxidized with aromas of apple orchard.  The bubbles quickly become creamy with a fine vein of prickle.  The flavors have strength with chalky, fruit, and a slightly bitter finish.  It tastes fully mature.  *** Now.

1985 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, Riesling Spatlese Abtsberg, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Consigned from a private source to Zachy’s 2016 Rieslingfeier auction. Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  The nose is very aromatic and smells exactly like pure gasoline.  There is a fruity start backed by the petrol note a bit of grip then the wine completely fades off.  There is a strange lack of acidity.  Not Rated.

1992 Zind Humbrecht, Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain, Alsace
This also sports a bit of petrol on the nose.  In the mouth is a nutty, bitter, and coconut start.  This wine has ample acidity providing a lively start then drier middle before the acidity returns in the end.  With air it fleshes out a bit to bring the acidity in balance.  *** Now but will last.

1982 Thorin, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Chambolle-Musigny
Acquired from private collection by Acker Merrall & Condit.  Alcohol 11.9%-13.9%.  There is sweet fruit on the nose then violets and attractive, sweaty leather aromas.  In the mouth are sweet flavors that coat the tongue and a slight vibrancy.  A small example of a well-tasting old Burgundy.  *** Now.

1981 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Robert Haas Selections imported by Vineyard Brands.  This is in fine condition with sweet aromas and wood box complexity.  In the mouth are gently sweet flavors of perfumed strawberry which eventually take on fat.  There are pervasive flavors of leather, animale notes, blood, and an old-school perfumed aftertaste. **** Now – 2023.

1981 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape
No signs of seepage but cork was loose with a bit of wine on top of it.  Prominent volatile acidity and band-aids on the nose.  With air it cleans up a bit but can’t shape it.  The wine is fruity, supple, and weight but is marred by a band-aid flavor.  Not Rated.

1986 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by the Rare Wine Co.  Lighter in color than the 1981.  In the mouth are surprisingly young, reddish fruit flavors, a grippy nature, and brighter acidity.  This wine has both more structure and youthful grip.  It is not yet at full maturity but is gaining fat.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

1978 Chateau Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe – $18.95
Shipped by Les Vieux Celliers.  Imported by  The Stacole Co.  Dried banana on the nose.  In the mouth this is more advanced with red fruit, bananas, old greenhouse infused flavors, and a short finish.  ** Now.

1983 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, Reisling Auslese Abstberg  No. 125, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Acquired from a private collection by Chambers Street Wines.  Imported by Schenk USA.  Alcohol 9%.  Signs of seepage and the cork dropped in the bottle.  A beautiful orange color and attractive, scented marmalade nose.  Sadly it is undrinkable.  Not Rated.

An Elegant and Mature Old School 1er Cru Chambolle Musigny

Kermit Lynch writes that “Bertheau’s holdings would make any lover of great Burgundy drool”. David Bloch’s latest tasting note also makes me drool.

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2002 Domaine Bertheau, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
As many 1er Cru C-M are, this is a blend of vineyard sites: Baudes, Groseilles, Gruenchers, and Noirots.   I opened the bottle about two hours before dinner and poured off half a glass.  The wine was really showing well after popping the cork.  Two hours later, the wine was hitting on all cylinders.  Very, very pure pinot – a brightness of red fruit – cherry, strawberry – against a developed backdrop of mushroom, tea, and a potpourri of spice.   The remaining tannins were very silky.  Midweight wine, no perceptible wood.  Lovely smooth and silky mouthfeel.  This bottle was simply one (small) gear off from a Grand Cru.

Incredible bottles of old Burgundy

September 5, 2015 Leave a comment

When Lou and I decided to tuck into some old red Burgundy we stood up multiple bottles fully expecting a few to be undrinkable.  We started with a single bottle of white as we snacked on cheese and charcuterie.  The 1988 Louis Jadot, Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Grand Cru was interesting enough with its apple-orchard oxidized profile but it ultimately left me wanting to try the red wines.

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Each of us had selected a few, somewhat random bottles which we had stood up for a few days. We pulled the bottles from Lou’s cellar into the tasting room.  I first removed the cork on the most ullaged bottle from the pair of 1961 Domaine Amiot, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru.   A quick taste revealed this bottle was in great shape, fruity on the nose and in the mouth, with plenty of life.  I honestly expected it to be dead.  Lou poured us the 1979 Robert Sarrau, Chambolle-Musigny.  Incredibly, this did not just seem young compared to the 1961, it was young compared to its 36 years of age!  Next up came a strong example of the 1983 Bernard Amiot, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes.  I was floored.  How could these three bottles of wine all taste so good?  Lou was pretty excited too.  With no need to open up any backup bottles we sat down to further enjoy our wine.

The 1961 Amiot reminded me of the 1959 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe.  Still possessing fruit, this old Burgundy continues to live, not by tannins and acidity but through a compact vein of power.  This is then, a great example of traditional Burgundian winemaking from the post World War II era.  The years immediately after the end of the war saw the return to transportation within France followed by increased international exports.  Ronald Avery of the 18th century wine merchants Avery’s of Bristol noted in 1961 that stocks of Burgundy were not very plentiful except for “old-fashioned wine merchants”.[1]  In fact he felt that “sales of wine labelled Burgundy must amount to at least three or four times the legal output so great is the demand.”

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Demand in America for quality Burgundy was increasing as well.  Coupled with the reduced yields of the 1961 vintage and the view that this was the best vintage since 1929, The New York Times stated “The 1961 Burgundy vintage will be the most expensive ever.”[2]

The traditional way of making Burgundy, dubbed methode ancienne, involved keeping stems on the fruit and a long fermentation period.[3]  This meant it could take four years before the wine was bottled and around eight years before it could be drunk.  To meet the continually increasing demand for wine a new style of winemaking quickly took hold in Burgundy.  This methode nouvelle involved nearly complete de-stemming of the fruit followed by leaving the must on the skins for a much shorter period.  This resulted in softer, lighter bodied wines with less tannins that became drinkable in a shorter period of time.  The side-effect was that the wines did not last as long.

Cyril Ray wrote that wines produced by the methode ancienne had “greater body and staying power.”  While this certainly helps explain our lovely bottle of 1961 Domaine Amiot, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru what of the bottle of 1979 Robert Sarrau, Chambolle-Musigny?  The demand for Burgundy in America continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s.  This caused so much back pressure in Burgundy that prices rose 300 percent during the 1970s.  Frank J. Prial wrote in The New York Times during 1974 that many Americans had finally become “appalled by short life of some of the finest Burgundies”.[4]  While the 1959s were excellent and still improving, newer vintages beginning with 1961 had “peaked and declined”.  Joseph Drouhin remarked to the Circle of Wine Writers, that he thought “many of us will be going back to the old way.”

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I cannot determine whether the negociant Robert Sarrau returned to the methode ancienne or never abandoned it.  What is clear is that the 1960s saw the introduction of temperature controlled fermentation, enamel and glass lined tanks, and stainless steel vats.  According to H. W. Yoxall there was a developing view that common wines were appropriate for methode nouvelle or quick fermentation and storage in the latest vats.  Quality Burgundy should be raised in wood.

The wines were not just excellent, they were exciting.  They were not just old, they were lively with fruit.  When I returned home with my share of the leftovers, Jenn and I decided to see the 1961 Domaine Amiot, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru and 1979 Robert Sarrau, Chambolle-Musigny to the end.  After all, one could not risk the wine deteriorating over night!  The 1961 Amiot continued at its glacial pace of development, somewhat impervious to air.  It is true that the finish was a bit short but I did not mind, the wine transported me back in time.  The 1979 Robert Sarrau continued to develop, taking on a creamy almost buttery quality.  Jenn was thrilled and I could see how this wine should be double-decanted.  It was more complete than the 1961 and on emotion alone, I would score it even higher.

There was another wine in our trio of reds, the 1983 Bernard Amiot, Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1er Cru.  It was a completely different wine beyond the apparent youth.  Both on the nose and in the mouth were earthy, old-school animale flavors that existed in a lighter, more delicate wine but there was ripeness and the impression of plentiful flavor.  It is also a wine that should absolutely be cellared for further development.

I went to bed that night with bittersweet thoughts.  This was (and still remains) the best experience this year of drinking older wines with Lou.  Old bottles of Bordeaux and Rhone from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s are still available at a reasonable price.  These old Burgundies are more difficult to find with prices beyond what I can afford.  After we exhaust this small tranche of Old Burgundy, I fear it might be many years before I can drink such vintages again.

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1988 Louis Jadot, Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Grand Cru
Imported by Kobrand.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a light amber-apricot color that matched the decently aromatic nose of apple orchards and some perfume.  In the mouth, the fresh, salivating acidity existed with some structure that came out by the finish.  The flavors became puckering with a touch of weight in the finish.  Ultimately, the physical aspects of the wine were more appealing than the flavor itself.  ** Now but will last.

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1961 Domaine Amiot, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
Shipped by F. Hasenklever.  Imported by Great Lakes Wine Company.  Alcohol 12%.  This was the darkest wine of the lot with rather mature fruit on the nose.  In the mouth, there was a burst of blue fruit then black and red fruit flavors.  There was a short finish in terms of intensity but the flavors persisted throughout the long aftertaste.  With air a mature, ripe hint of fruit developed with tart acidity throughout.  The finish eventually took on spices and wood box flavors.  **** Now but will clearly last.

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1979 Robert Sarrau, Chambolle-Musigny
Imported by Sarrau Wines USA Inc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose revealed fruit accented by toasted and roasted nuts.  In the mouth were youthful flavors of purple and red fruit that were subtle compared to the sure and rich finish.  With extended air, the wine took on some salty flavors as well as a smooth, not quite buttery, finish.  **** Now-2020.

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1983 Bernard Amiot, Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1er Cru
Shipped by Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchants.  Imported by Select Vineyards.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  The nose revealed ample leather aromas and other animale notes.  There earthy flavor was pervasive through the finish where some juicy, cherry and strawberry fruit mixed with acidity.  Overall the wine was lighter in nature with an old-school perfume, and drying structure.  It took on attractive, delicate ripe fruit flavors followed by a tart and strong middle, ultimately leaving the impression of ample flavor.  ***(*) Now-2025.

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[1] Avery, Ronald. Burgundy years. The Guardian (1959-2003); Nov 21, 1961; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Guardian and The Observer. pg. 15

[2] ’61 BURGUNDY TOPS IN COST AND TASTE: May Be Best of the Century, Experts Say — and Pay
By ROBERT ALDEN Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1961; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times. pg. 21

[3] Adopted by the British press by the late 1960s.  See Bottles for stockings. Ray, Cyril. The Observer (1901- 2003); Dec 10, 1967; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Guardian and The Observer. pg. 29 and H. W. Yozall’s book The Wines of Burgundy (1978).

[4] Burgundy Maker Predicts A Return to ‘the Old Ways’: WINE TALK The … By FRANK J. PRIAL. New York Times (1923-Current file); Sep 14, 1974; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times. pg. 14

An Evening of Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee, and one Gevrey-Chambertin

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I was very lucky to be Roland’s guest when he recently hosted his wine tasting group.  As always, the host picks the wines which are tasted blind, as well as cooks dinner.  We gathered around at first, eating charcuterie and cheese which was accompanied by an excellent 2012 Willi Schaefer, Himmelreich GG, Mosel Saar Ruwer.  It had textured, somewhat ripe flavors with excellent acidity.  I drained my glass before we sat down to the wines.  We eventually learned the wines were arranged in flights.  The first which clearly contained the ringer, showed more tart and tannic than the second excellent flight.    There were some guesses of Italy but the group quickly spiraled towards Pinot Noir from Burgundy.  Phil thought hard, swirling his glass, eventually announcing Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanée.  Roland confirmed the guess and added that they were all of the 2005 vintage.  Suitably impressed I rapidly smiled because I had never drunk a wine from Vosne-Romanée.

In the first flight I thought both the 2005 Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru and the 2005 Serafin Pere & Fils, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Baudes were not giving up much.  The noses were tight, reduced, and the flavors came across as locked in structure.  They had breathed for almost three hours and though they did improve some with additional air, this pair should be left in the cellar for several more years.  The 2005 Louis Jadot, Domaine Gagey, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Baudes showed the best of the three.  I was particularly attracted to the earthy component.  It came across as more mature with a touch of softness.  I would recommend the 2010 Cristom, Pinot Noir, Sommers Reserve, Willamette Valley for its nose alone.  Tasted blind it was “easy” to work out it was from Oregon.  Roland commented that other vintages of the Sommers Reserve has appeared in previous blind tasting and even come out on top.

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2005 Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru –
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  The nose had a touch of sulphur, eventually revealing smoky aromas of black-red fruit and toast.  In the mouth the black and red fruit was integrated with acidity and very fine tannins.  The flavors became a bit tart and red but the wine did not reveal much and remained tannic.  Cellar further.

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2005 Serafin Pere & Fils, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Baudes –
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  The nose was a little earthy.  In the mouth were tart red fruit flavors, a little more complexity, some minerals, and touch more acidity.  The finish was attractive with grippy tannins.  Showing young.

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2005 Louis Jadot, Domaine Gagey, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Baudes –
Imported by Kobrand Corp.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was more open with an earthy touch, sweeter fruit, and meat.  In the mouth the slightly riper red fruit  morphed into black fruit.  The flavors came across as more mature.  The wine became rounder with air, had some density and a touch of softness in the finish.

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2010 Cristom, Pinot Noir, Sommers Reserve, Willamette Valley –
Alcohol 13.5%.  This was highly aromatic.  In the mouth were more clean Pinot Noir flavors, approachable red and black fruit and minerals.  The mouth clearly followed the nose.  There was a cinnamon note, ripe tannins, and some ripeness in the finish.

Chemical characteristics of 1870 Groffier, Chambertin and 1870 Vosne-Romanee. “Medical Use of Wine”, The Lancet, Vol. 2. 1880.

In the 19th century the wines of Vosne-Romanée were medically noted for their increased percentage of alcohol, almost complete absence of sugar, and low proportion of tannins.  As such they were recommended for “diabetic patients who can afford so expensive a luxury, these high-class red Burgundies appear to be especially well fitted.”   After tasting through he Vosne-Romanée flight I cannot help but wonder how much wine was leftover for drinking after The Lancet Commission on the Medical Use of Wine finished their laboratory work.  This was a great flight, the wines not only showed more open than the Chambolle-Musigny but they were more rounded and complex.  The 2005 Frederic Magnien, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Brulees has a lot going on right now but seems perfectly balanced with stuffing for continued development in the bottle.  I think the 2005 Domaine Gros Frère et Sœur, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Les Chaumes was the weakest of the flight despite its aromatic nose.  The 2005 Louis Jadot, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Les Beaux Monts had a great combination of vintage perfume and meaty fruit on the nose followed by attractive grip in the mouth.  It was the perfect prelude to the 2005 Domaine Francois Lamarche, Vosne-Romanée Grand Cru Monopole La Grande Rue.  It clearly had good depth and an attractive mix of maturity, wood notes, and fruit.  Not knowing anything about the monopole La Grande Rue I was instructed to look at the back label of the bottle.  It was surrounded by legendary names I have only read about.

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In 1793 Duncan M’Bride wrote in his General Instructions for the Choice of Wines and Spirituous Liquors (1793) that “of all the wines of Burgundy, that called Romanée is most valued.”  Our bottle of 2005 Domaine Francois Lamarche, Vosne-Romanée Grand Cru Monopole La Grande Rue  was made from fruit sourced at La Grande Rue.  This 1.65 ha strip of vineyard is sandwiched between La Tâche on the west and both Romanée and Romanée Conti on the east.  The land was a wedding gift given to Henri Lamarche in 1933.  When the area was classified in the 1930s, Henri Lamarche believed nothing was to be gained through the grand cru status but more taxes.  So this strip of premier cru vineyard was surrounded by grand cru vineyards until it was reclassified in 1992.  This reclassification was based on the geology and exposition.

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2005 Frederic Magnien, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Brulées –
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  The nose was a little stinky with perhaps some tobacco notes.  There were tart blue flavors, minerals, good acidity, and some attractive grip.  The flavors were drier and had a citric lift.  The flavors showed some maturity that mixed well with the wood and tobacco flavors.  This wine was good now but setup for strong development.

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2005 Domaine Gros Frère et Sœur, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Les Chaumes –
Imported by Wine Cellar LTD. Acquired from a private collection.  This was very aromatic with fresh, floral aromas stepping out of the glass.  The nose followed the mouth where there were red, citric flavors.  The acidity was there along with a very fine, gentle ripeness, a spicy hint in the finish, and a fresh aftertaste.  Overall this came across as riper.

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2005 Louis Jadot, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Les Beaux Monts –
Imported by Kobrand Corp.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The meaty nose was followed by ripe flavors of vintage perfume, meaty red fruit and some black fruit.  The wine was compact and became younger with air.  There was grip and attractive red cranberry flavors in the finish.

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2005 Domaine Francois Lamarche, Vosne-Romanée Grand Cru Monopole La Grande Rue –
This was young on the nose showing more grip on the aromas.  In the mouth the flavors mixed with nice cedar notes, some tart fruit, and good depth.  There was a subtleness roundness as well as lift.  Good flavors.

Clos Vougeot and Chambertin

With the blind tasting complete it was only natural to drink more wine.  Roland poured the 1997 Claude Dugat, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Lavaux St Jacques into his giant wine glass shaped decanter.  Claude Dugat typically makes two premier cru wines from Gevrey-Chambertin.  Lavaux St Jacque is produced from a 0.3 ha parcel of vines planted in 1980.  After Roland swirled the wine for quite some time our bottle revealed itself to be aromatic with perfume.  In the mouth were excellent flavors of blood and minerals.  With the bottle finished the evening was complete.

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1997 Claude Dugat, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Lavaux St Jacques –
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This had an aromatic, attractive perfume to the blue fruit.  In the mouth the vintage perfume continued as lovely flavors of blood and minerals came out.  There was good grip to the tart, black graphite finish.  A lovely wine.