This past week, attended a very special Burgundy Dinner with friends at Fifth Floor Restaurant in San Francisco. Part birthday dinner, part end of the year tasting that marked a year of enjoyable wine dinners, we all dug a little deeper than normal into our respective cellars for this special evening. Pictured are two examples, a gorgeous 1969 Leroy Echezeaux and 1969 Henry Lamarche La Grand Rue.
What was remarkable about this dinner, no flawed bottles! All were excellent drinking, profound wines that in and of themselves could have easily been the centerpiece of any fine wine dinner. Given the overall high quality, the preference of one wine over another is minimal at best. Wines are sorted in order of personal preference by flight. Brief observations of all wines opened follow.
1996 Krug – Youthful, very youthful! Crisp green apple, mild yeast, and sweet honey in time. Acidity was firm and present the full duration. The more it sat in the glass, the more it improved, never peaking. Have had this wine 4 or 5 times now, highly consistent, and really a wine that should be aged many more years before enjoying.
1996 Bollinger La Grande Annee – Sweeter than the Krug, bread dough, some acidity lurking underneath, and creamier. Picked up a hint of what I perceived to be oxidation, but it was subtle and perhaps had more to do with the Bollinger style than anything. The wine improved greatly as it sat in the glass, and paired well with the food. Normally not a big fan of Bollinger, this was a nice bottle.
2004 Domaine Blain Gagnard Le Montrachet – Lemon cake, complex, tight, steely, and slow to open up. In time, picked up an interesting and appealing floral, mint quality. A stunning, exceptional wine that was incredibly slow to open up over the span of the evening. This is one of the wines I kept thinking about for a few days after the dinner, if offered up so much quality.
2004 Jadot Montrachet – Strikingly similar to the Gagnard initially, advanced quickly and became more full bodied and rounder. It was creamier with hints of vanilla and lime. This was likewise an excellent wine, though a far more mature Montrachet that will not likely improve with additional cellar aging. Enjoyed the wine a great deal, and it was fun to taste next to the Blaine Gagnard.
Burgundy Flight # 1
1969 Leroy Echezeaux – Game, earth, asian spice, barnyard, balanced, and excellent structure, this was another outstanding wine. The bottle was in near pristine condition. Interesting enough, had this wine last year, and it showed quite different. This years bottle did not show the brighter blue fruit, and thick dark color of last years, showed more elegant secondary characteristics that made for an extraordinary wine. My top wine of the evening, could taste it for days.
1969 Domaine Henry Lamarche La Grande Rue – Leather, dry, sweaty, earth and meat, was a lighter bodied elegant wine that initially had a funky nose, but blew off in time. Acidity was present, and subdued, did not pickup any signs of oxidation. Tasting this wine reminded me of a lesson learned many times over with burgs, don’t judge them too quickly, give them time in the glass and see where they go. In this case, a funky nose blew off and the result was a lovely aged delightful Burgundy!
Burgundy Flight # 2
1991 Vogue Bonnes Mares – Firm acidity, clean dark fruits, and very youthful. This was a big wine, that would benefit by years of additional cellar aging. Thought the Bonnes Mares showed a little more subtle characteristics right now over the Musigny.
1991 Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes – Jammy raspberry fruit, firm acid backbone, tart, and also youthful. Another wine that would be wise to cellar for years before enjoying. Of the two Vogue, the more age worthy, and in the long run, suspect the better made wine.
Burgundy Flight # 3
1990 DRC Grands Echezeaux – Ripe sweet cherry fruit, clean and pure, flashy, candied, menthol, thought it was a fantastic wine. Along with the 1969 Leroy Echezeaux, one of the top two wines of the evening. Was interesting to taste this after the 1991 flight and served as a distinct contrast, age worthy 91 vs ready to go 90.
1990 Jean Gros Richebourg -Dense, dark fruits, brooding, reminded me of the 1991 DRC Richebourg opened last year, but more powerful and concentrated. In time, noted some subtle components, barnyard, menthol, it became more open knit in time. A fantastic wine that will age very well, no rush to open.
Burgundy Flight # 4
1999 DRC Vosne Romanee Cuvee Duvault Blochet 1er – Red fruits, clean, ripe and easy drinking medium bodied wine. First time I have ever tasted a Premier Cru DRC, found it a very nice enjoyable wine. Would continue to age this as well, has a long way to go before it hits maturity.
2002 DRC Vosne Romanee Cuvee Duvault Blochet 1er – Barrel sample like initially, took a long time in the glass to open up, and when it did, noted some spice, cherry, and pomegranate. Best to age this wine for many years. Should have opened this flight prior to the Vogue to give it plenty of time to breathe.
Blind Bordeaux Flight
1989 Lynch Bages – Black tar, asphalt, smoke, black berry, a youthful and compelling wine. Have had this wine numerous times and it was beautiful. This wine was served double blind for the group, where it was easy to identify as Bordeaux, but tough to identify the year, it showed young. One of my personal favorite Lynch Bages.
1989 Montrose – Earthy, green and notable brett. Having had this bottle several times, and not perceiving any brett, was surprised to pick it up on this go around. Showed uncharacteristic in style from bottles tasted in the past. Like the Lynch Bages, was served double blind.
Guigal LaLa Flight
1994 Guigal La Landonne – Rich dark fruits, toasty, and meaty, had excellent balance and complexity. Thought this was the best wine of the flight, a lovely Guigal. It was at this flight I started to feel the effects of having no flawed bottles, and limited use of dump buckets.
1994 Guigal La Mouline – Elegant, clean, and earthy wine, picked up coffee, bitter chocolate and black cherry. Also, a very nice wine. Was still thinking about how fortunate we were to have no flawed bottles and wondered what was the ideal number of bottles a person at a wine dinner. We had 18 great bottles among 8 people.
1994 Guigal La Turque – Unapproachable, so youthful, could pickup almost nothing from this wine. Swirled and swirled the wine to no effect. Was a little surprised how barrel sample like this bottle tasted. Sadly, don’t think any amount of time was going to bring out the true qualities of the wine, it simply needs to rest in the cellar for a decade.
1932 Massandra Red Port – After all the wine we went through this evening, did not take notes on the Massandra. Recollect a fortified quality to the wine, medium body, palate coating. Was not disappointed. Have to admit a strong personal preference for a very aged Massandra to end a special dinner over nearly any other wine!
Cheers to my good friends from San Francisco for what was easily my wine dinner of the year. It combined all that makes for a fantastic evening, good food, good wine, and good friends!
Santa Rosa Fine Wine