Tag Archives: DRC

High End Burgundy Dinner

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.

Champagne Flight

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.

Montrachet Flight

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.

Massandra Ending

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!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

Medieval Burgundy Dinner

For the second year in a row, a group of us got together at Estate Restaurant in Sonoma for our annual “Medieval Burgundy Dinner”. It is part birthday celebration, part Sonoma Burg Team grand finale, and all around amazing time where we pull cellar gems to share among good food and friends!

Two examples of some amazing wines opened are pictured, a 1957 Remoissenet Richebourg and 1969 Leroy Echezeaux. Both were surprisingly youthful and drinking extremely well. Among the group, 16 wines were opened and enjoyed over the span of a long evening. Brief observations of all wine opened follow. Within each flight, wines are sorted in order of personal preference.

Coche Dury Flight

2004 Coche Mersault Genevrieres – The wine of the flight, was the most pure and clean of the white wines. Distinct Coche in style, noted cedar, flowers, pine nuts, with a thicker more textured mouthfeel than the other wines. Acidity was well buried but present.

2004 Coche Mersault – Big nose of sulfur and matchstick, lemon, almost loamy texture, the wine was very powerful. No question a young wine, would age this one for some time before opening. Not minding White Burgs on the younger side, found it highly enjoyable.

2002 Coche Mersault les Rougeots – Less sulfur and more resolved than the other two Coche, a gorgeous drinking wine with firm acidity, toasty oak and a pleasant yeasty component. Had far more in common with the 04 Mersault than the 04 Genevrieres.

White Burgundy Flight

1996 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet – A blind village white wine turned out to easily be the wine of the flight! Accurately guessed it as Domaine Leflaive, pre 2000 prior to its reveal. Noted petrol and crisp citrus in an elegant drinking wine. Showed extremely well!

2002 Remoissenet Montrachet Thenard – Very strong orange peel with a deep yellow color suggesting a much older wine. A huge wine at first with high acid, went through some odd changes over the span of a few hours, got astringent, than balanced out, then caramel, ultimately becoming funky. Overall, thought it off and uninspired.

1999 Leroy Les PucellesPremoxed! What was particularly sad about this bottle, opened the same wine less than a month ago and it was gorgeous, absolutely everything you want in a well aged White Burgundy. Very disappointing and again pointing out that White Burgundy can be quite a minefield.

Aged Burgundy Flight

1969 Leroy Echezeaux – Very youthful looking in color, initially showed brighter blue fruits than expected and notes of forest floor and spice in a highly nuanced and complex wine. With some air, some of the exotic aged rustic components came out in a very appealing way. Was an awesome wine, and strong contender for wine of the night.

1957 Remoissenet Richebourg – Like the Echezeaux, youthful in appearance and taste. Noted primary fruits, cranberry, spice, mint, and grass with firm acidity and structure. It was also an excellent wine that tasted significantly younger than a 1957. Only on the finish, an hour after being open, did you notice some slight aged characteristics.

1999 Dujac Chambolle Musigny – A wine served blind, was stemmy, with bright fruits, and some mint, immediately guessed it as a Dujac. On reveal, we were surprised to see a bottle of 1996 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux! Turns out it was a little joke funneling a Dujac into a Jayer bottle that seemingly lead to the quote of the night, “It’s the person, not the bottle that matters.”

Leroy Flight

2001 Leroy Clos Vougeot – Initially thought the 89 Leroy Chambertin was the better wine, but with time, came around to think the Clos Vougeot best. A flashy, big, bright ripe blue and black fruit wine that was both spicy and powerful. Became more nuanced in time and had an exceptionally long finish.

1989 Leroy Chambertin – A gorgeous wine, though more toned down in style than the Clos Vougeot. Showed more mineral, earthy, dryer fruits, the wine was more consistent from the point of opening through finish. Plenty of youthfulness and structure that would allow for extended aging.

Miscellaneous Flight

1991 Leroy Corton Renardes – A highly concentrated, dense, and gorgeous wine. Found it had more in common with the 01 Clos Vougeot than the 89 Chambertin, brighter blue fruits, minus the spice, it was an equally powerful wine. Very young, would cellar for many years before opening again.

1988 A. F. Gros Richbourg – Lighter in style than the 91 Corton Renardes, what it lacks in power, it makes up in balance and complexity. More earth and mineral with a hint of blue fruits, showed extremely well and viewed by others as the wine of the night. No question, an excellent wine.

DRC Flight

1991 DRC Richebourg – A gorgeous highly complex wine that was more earthy and had darker fruits than the 88 Richebourg, combined with some asian spice. Found it balanced and elegant with exotic secondary fruits. A wow wine that will age considerably longer, however could easily be enjoyed now.

1989 DRC Romanee St Vivant – Wet grass and some spice, baked fruits, a nice, but not a profound wine. Had a similar experience recently where we tasted a 91 and 93 DRC RSV, had high expectations, but ended up thinking other RSV producers would have shown much better.

Massandra Finish

1937 Massandra MadeiraPredominately coffee, bitter dark chocolate, sweet butterscotch and caramel. An awesome end of meal wine.

Several of our high end wine dinners are held at an excellent and highly recommended restaurant in Sonoma called Estate. Chef Chris Jones and John Toulze prepared a special menu for us that was simply outstanding. As always, service was excellent, and the food well prepared. The specific menu was game focused, and included some wonderful items: Beausoleil Oyster Gratin, Mediterranean Rouget, Burgundian Escargot, Autumn Game Terrine, and Roasted Bison Strip Loin.

Cheers to another wonderful evening among good food, friends and wine!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

Burgundy Dinner

This past Thursday, got together with local friends in San Francisco for a high end Burgundy Dinner, one of which was a lovely 1926 Musigny pictured at left! There were a total of 14 wines opened among the 7 of us, paired with a mult-course meal prepared by a local personal chef!

Each person brought 2 bottles, which is probably just about right for any normal dinner, but not so sure with wines of this level. Normally a dump bucket is actively used, but not in this case.

What made this dinner interesting beyond the excellent wine, was the distinct impact the glass type had on your perception of a wine. We tried many of the same wines in different high quality glasses and noted profound differences. That said, some future experiments are in order! The following is a list of all wines opened and brief notes sorted in order of personal preference.

White Wine of the Night:
2001 CocheDury Corton Charlemagne

Red Wine of the Night:
1990 George Roumier Bonnes Mares

Champagne:

1985 Krug – The Krug was reminiscent of a lighter 1985 Dom Perignon tasted at a previous wine dinner. Somewhat honeyed, a little oxidized, slightly flat, with a full mouth feel and fully mature. Having had an excellent 1982 and 1988 Krug in the past, expected more, especially more crispness and youth, so overall considered it just an ok wine. The wine was not flawed by any means, stylistically however, not personally enjoyable.

1981 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose – An interesting bottle of wine. When first opened, one of the guests immediately said it was a flawed bottle! Always curious to learn, several of us took a quick taste. Half immediately agreed it was flawed, a few others not so sure. At first, thought the wine was very light, but pleasant. In about 5 to 10 minutes, faded further and was just flabby and tasteless. Agree, a flawed bottle.

White Burgundy:

2001 CocheDury Corton Charlemagne – The Coche was the white wine of the night. Initially closed, crisp and balanced, had some diesel and toasty oak notes up front. It was very elegant, could sense the hidden potential richness that slowly came out in time. This is a wine you really want a full bottle to enjoy slowly over a long evening, buckle in, and get ready for quite a ride!

2004 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues Batard Montrachet – The not too distant second best white wine of the night, take the diesel of the Coche and multiply it by 10! Along with it, add tons of citrus, black tar, burnt matchstick and you have this Leflaive! It was intense, brutal on the palate, a monster wine! Set aside a glass and enjoyed throughout the evening as it opened up and balanced out. Domaine Leflaive is a world class producer and makes awesome White Burgundies.

1985 Joseph Drouhin Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet – How often can you say that the least enjoyable bottle opened at a wine dinner was a Montrachet? Such was the case with this dinner. The wine was funky, a little oxidized, and not too enjoyable. There was some discussion the funkiness might blow off, but skeptical it would ever come around. Tend to think it was just a bad bottle, the fill was pretty low. Would be interesting to revisit a different bottle.

Red Burgundy:

1990 George Roumier Bonnes Mares – The red wine of the night, the Bonnes Mares was slightly barnyard on the nose in an appealing way, with rich, almost candied cherry notes on the palate. A gorgeous wine with perfect balance and awesome complexity.

1990 Leroy VosneRomanee Beaux Monts – A close second for red wine of the night was the Leroy. It was drinking far younger than the Roumier. Noted the wine as closed, but with significant depth dominated by chewy boysenberry fruits and distinct acidity. A huge wine!

1926 Jules Belin Musigny – The oldest Burgundy tasted to date, the Musigny was spicy, leathery, and tart with dark chocolate notes and surprisingly toasty. It had an absence of oxidation with firm acid and tannin. Once opened, started to decline in about a half hour.

1988 Bouchard La Romanee – An elegant smooth cola dominated Burgundy, initially tight, opening up quickly into a mature easy drinking wine. Have been fortunate to taste a lot of 1988 Burgundy and consistently pleased with the overall quality across producers.

1988 DRC Echezeaux – A very young 1988, the Echezeaux was gamey with big fruit, and subtle balance. It was clear the wine had a lot of life ahead of it and drinking wonderfully. It exceeded expectations and was a surprisingly lush fruit forward wine.

1998 DRC Echezeaux – Interestingly enough, the 1998 DRC Echezeaux was more mature drinking than the 1988. It was brighter, with strawberry fruit, and good underlying structure. It also has a long life ahead of it, but slightly more mature drinking at present than the 1988.

1993 DRC Romanee St. Vivant – Better than the 1991 RSV, it showed high acidity when first opened, and was relatively grassy, some spice, but predominately green notes. With air, it did put on some weight, but quality was not as high as both Echezeaux. Good wine to revisit.

1991 DRC Romanee St. Vivant – Had high expectations for this wine, but fell short. Found the wine light in style, somewhat grassy and forest floor. Not very complex, just an ok wine. The wine may improve considerably with air as some suggested, making it a good wine to revisit.

Dessert Wine:

1937 Massandra Rose Muscat Gurzuf – Second time tasting this wine with consistent notes, it is liquified maple syrup, honey, thick and rich, and this is said in the most positive way. In the last year, have increasing become a big fan of Massandra as the ideal end of meal wine!

Cheers to world class Burgundy!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/

A trip back in time in 2009

Looking back on 2009, had the fortunate pleasure of attending quite a few enjoyable fine wine dinners! The aged bordeaux dinner we had in San Francisco was amazing, and a smaller dinner at Bungelow 44 in Mill Valley equally outstanding, how could we not mention our incredible Cajun Harvest Party, but the one we had in early December may arguably be the best wine get together of the past year! Nine of us over a nine course meal and over 25 fine and rare wines at Estate in Sonoma!

The lunch opened with a lovely magnum of 1975 Deutz Brut. It was as young and fresh as any Champagne I have had in recent years. First time having had this wine, it was a crisp and nutty. A champagne starter is always a nice way to open up a lunch or dinner. It is a good way to cleanse the palate before more seriously getting into the wines to come!

Champagne

1975 Deutz Brut Vinotheque 1.5L

After the Champagne and some conversation, we moved onto the White Burgundies. The 2004 Laflaive Chevalier Montrachet was the top wine of the flight. It was full bodied, petrol, yeasty, some citrus, just an amazing complex wine. Lighter in style but still enjoyable was the Batard Montrachet. Take away the petrol characteristics of the Chevalier Montrachet and some of the richness and you have the Batard Montrachet. The final wine was the lightest of the three, the Les Pucelles, which was fine, but in tough company.

White Burgundy Flight

2004 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet
2001 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet
2001 Domaine Leflaive Pulighy Montrachet Les Pucelles

A lot of folks like to finish the evening with a Sauternes, but find them more enjoyable as the last flight just before opening red wines. The d’Yquem was simply too young and sugar driven to fully enjoy. Do not think in the long run this is going to be a world class d’Yquem. It will likely be an average wine. The 1923 La Tour Blanche on the other hand was a lovely aged Sauternes, quite young looking in color and balanced to the palate. The more Sauternes I taste, the more I really like them well aged.

Sauternes Flight

1923 Chateau La Tour Blanche
2003 Chateau d’Yquem

Instead of opening the oldest Burgundies first, we moved on to the DRC’s realizing they will likely be young drinking, and would need to sit in the glass and revisit several times throughout the afternoon. Sure enough, the first taste of each showed they were incredibly young! The 1996 was the most complex of the group. The 2000 started out with a funky nose, but fortunately blew off in time, and ultimately opened up quicker than the others. Ideally, all will be much better with age and would not rush to open them.

DRC Flight

1996 DRC Grands Echezeaux
2000 DRC Grands Echezeaux
2001 DRC Grands Echezeaux

An excellent year for Burgundy, 2 of the 3 wines in the 1969 Burgundy flight were outstanding. Like all wines this old, provenance and condition are key. Primary fruits are long gone, but what sometimes remains is great structure, earth, mineral and game meats along with resolved tannin and light acidity. That was the case for all the 1969’s. Having had a lot of new Burgundy, find the older ones in great years to be highly compelling.

1969 Red Burgundy Flight

1969 Belin NSG Clos Des Forets Saint Georges, Cuvee Hors Ligne
1969 Forey Malconsorts
1969 La Tour Corton Grancey

The mid aged Burgundy flight was also outstanding. The wine of the flight had to be the Jadot Bonnes Mares, which was in a real sweetspot, perfectly balanced, rich fruits, and great structure. Close behind it was the 1988 Leroy. Both 1985 and 1988 are excellent Burgundy years. Approaching 25 years old, these wines were ripe, fresh, and great drinking.

Mid-Aged Red Burgundy Flight

1985 Jadot Bonnes Mares
1985 Leclerc
1988 Leroy Beaumonts

After some pretty rich mid aged Burgundy, opened the aged Bordeaux. The 1952 Calon Segur was the best wine of the flight. Similar to the 1969 Burgundy, primary fruits are long gone and you have what remains, a lot of saddle leather, meats, mineral earthy components. Was refreshing to taste no significant signs of oxidation with it or the 1949 Cos d’Estournel. The 1982 Calon Segur showed well as did the 1986 Haut Brion.

Bordeaux Flight

1986 Haut Brion
1982 Calon Segur
1986 Latour
1949 Cos d’Estrounel
1952 Calon Segur

The wine of the Rhone flight was the 1994 Guigal La Landonne. Think the Guigal LaLa’s are among the best Syrah based wines in the world. Having had many years of La Landonne, La Mouline, and La Turque, always thrilled to see one on the table! It was a seductive, rich, dark fruit based wine with an incredibly long finish and awesome mid-palate. The 1989 Jaboulet was better than previous times opened.

Northern Rhone Flight

1994 Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne
1991 Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie Blond
1989 Jaboulet La Chappelle

After so many great wines, you would think everything starts to taste the same! In this case, not at all. The Massandra was nothing short of world class. The 1929 Tokay Ai Danil was as rich, gorgeous, complex, and distinct as any end of meal wine you could open. This was the best Massandra I have ever had, and certainly left a big impression on all of us!

Sweet Ending Flight

1929 Massandra, Tokay Ai Danil
1937 Port
1977 Calem Port

What a great wine year it has been. We at Santa Rosa Fine Wine wish everything a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year filled with great wines, great friends, and great experiences!

Cheers to 2010!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/