Our fine wine dinner group recently held its 18th annual Millennium dinner that represents the pinnacle of all our bi-weekly dinners held throughout the year featuring various quality wine themes at various quality local restaurants.
On this occasion, we returned to our most frequented venue, the perfect ambience of the Cork Room of restaurant, bouchon. The menu [see attached] and service is dedicated to providing us with the optimal experience and that is exactly what we had for this year`s event.
Each of the eighteen of us individually ordered our personal preferences from the choices provided. We paired them with 27 top class wines, many in magnums, a couple in smaller formats. We began with an array of some super star sparklers which set the stage for some more world class wines to follow:
First flight of 5 champagnes:
1999 SALON CUVEE `S` LE MESNIL BLANC de BLANC- 750 ml; many will say this was way young and not close to its maximum potential; for me, the pleasure factor was very high and yes, it can definitely benefit from some more time in the bottle, but I`m happy with the joy this bottle gave and do not regret opening it; there was bright acidity, fresh and expansive citrus fruit with an emphasis on lemon lime; ginger and spicy toasted brioche notes add to the pleasing taste profile and it kept on unfolding and giving; it`s really fine now with finesse, charm and elegance; I anticipate it to be fabulous in years to come.
1995 BOLLINGER R.D.- magnum; a great bring and so delightful to taste and explore; this was the antithesis of the Salon in that the flavors are massive along with much more weight and substance; the one common character between the 2 is the obvious high level of acidity; this was rich and complex, tangy and spritzy, but not to a fault; it had lots of honeysuckle infused stone fruit with some citrus coming in late; this full bodied treat was expansive and long on the palate.
1992 PHILIPPONNAT CLOS des GOISSES BRUT- magnum; another fine bring in an appropriate size bottle where individual pours were having to be monitored judiciously from regular 750s; this was creamy rich, full bodied and beautifully mature providing correctness and delight throughout; lemon lime was more dominate in the taste profile; it was round and seamless and oh so giving; sensational bottle.
2002 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT- I`ve been blessed to have quite a few of this gem and this bottle held up against those before it; in a great place now with all of the stuffing to be all it can be many years down the road; this was complex and full bodied, but with elegance and sophistication; one could get the sense it was made for a Czar as it was stately and exuberated class; the fruit consisted of fresh, ripe citrus with spice, minerals and saline notes supporting the cast; later on, a hint of peach and pear came in; loved it.
1996 MOET & CHADON DOM PERIGNON OENOTHEQUE- 750 ml; I failed to get the disgorgement date which is pertinent to this vintage; nonetheless; this bottle was my WOTN; it had everything I`ve ever wanted in champagne exuding class and elegance, in perfect balance and so tasteful with ever expanding flavors all the way to the back end; the creamy rich smooth mouthfeel was a hallmark; the aromatics and taste profile was redolent with spicy, ginger, lightly toasty and white pepper flavored lemon and kiwi fruit amongst other notes coming in; it just kept on unfolding and evolving; as good as I`ve had from this vintage for an Oeno.
I add in some input from Brad Baker, the Champagne Warrior, regarding the disgorgements: “The 96 DP Oeno or P2 has 2 main disgorgements available - 2008 and 2013. The 2013 is the better, but, like the 1995, both are very good. I have also had a couple non-public disgorgements of the 1996 (done in 2006 and 2007). DP was wise to wait a bit longer. The 2013 disgorgement is a real treat as you normally can't get a DP disgorged at 17 years old (and now 20 years old) at this price. They had a supply/demand issue with 1998 P2 not being ready yet so released the 2013 disgorgement as a regular Oeno/P2 when in reality it was more like a release they would normally charge double ($500-600) for.”
Second flight of 4 white Burgundys:
2004 DOMAINE ROULOT MEURSAULT CHARMES 1ER CRU- this was a great bottle; it was so good that I had it as my WOTN along with the Oenotheque at the end; in perfect balance, this gave glorious aromas and tastes including a mild touch of white pepper to assist the large dollop of spice that accentuated the fresh, vibrant citrus notes; a hint of minerality also was perceptible; the texture was smooth and creamy and my palate was coated with all of the goodness which extended forever at the end; this just nailed the essence of what white Burgundy is all about.
2008 DOMAINE LEFLAIVE les PUCELLES PULIGNY-MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- this is consistently one of my favorite white Burgundys coming from a Grand Cru quality vineyard not classified as such; this bottle shined as those before it from the last 4 decades; it had rich and full on spicy, toasty, mineral and graphite accents to the ripe apricot and pear notes; the mouthfeel was typically creamy and rich and the finish was climatic with all components coming together for a grand finale.
2014 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY ABBAYE MORGEOT CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- magnum; another gem from PYCM that hits all of the right sensory spots; it gives and gives of splendor which starts with the aromatics of spicy citrus and moves on with some graphite infused lemon, pear and green apple notes; it has bright acidity which is in nice balance with everything else; this needed some time to evolve in the glass and with 100 more wines coming at me from both directions, I moved on.
2012 DOMAINE BLAIN-GAGNARD LA BOUDRIOTTE CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET 1ER CRU- another nicely balanced wine that offers elegance and grace to compliment the mild expression of all of its attributes; it is really mellow and refined; there`s a bit of lemon, lime and kiwi along with some minerals; it`s medium bodied with a silky texture and pleasant and mellow finish.
Third flight of 3 [to compliment the foie gras course for those who ordered it]:
1996 CHATEAU CLIMENS BARSAC- 750 ml; dark amber color; this had an amazing amount of energy with full throttled intensity carrying the concentrated nutty apricot flavors all the way through to the back end and then some; it was thick and almost chewy; it might have been better served in a soup bowl.
2014 WEINGUT KELLER WESTHOFENER KIRCHSPIEL RHEINHESSEN TROCHEN RIESLING- magnum; the bottle was almost as impressive as the contents, in fact, both were pretty spectacular; the bottle shape was affectionately and appropriately called a torpedo by the one who brought it; the nose had a perfume so inviting, that it begged one to go further; inside was a bounty of goodness with ripe and full on grapefruit notes supported by a backbone of minerality; great bottle, great wine; a complete package.
2015 VON WINNING FORSTER PECHSTEIN TROCHEN PFALZ RIESLING- this provided a massive hit of honeyed, minty flavored grapefruit with a dollop of lime coming in late; it was heavily perfumed, refreshing and palate cleansing; a great transition wine for moving into the reds.
Fourth flight of 2:
2002 DOMAINE COMTE GEORGES de VOGUE MUSIGNY CUVEE VIELLES VIGNES CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY- a quintessential red Burgundy replete with the lightly Bretty, earthy, mushroom notes that seem to add character as opposed to constitute a flaw; there`s nice cinnamon spice and clove accented red and black fruit that is seamlessly bound together in a silky soft texture that carries all to the welcomed finish; I`ve had a couple of bottles of this wine in the past, probably from the same source and my recall is that this was showing fairly consistently with those bottles.
1985 TENUTA SAN GUIDO SASSICAIA TUSCANY- magnum; a fav of many in our group and therefore a great bring by one who has gifted us with previous bottles although in 750 format; this was another fabulous one giving serious and still youthful and vibrant tar and spice laden black currant and blackberry fruit; the pure, initial color alone was suggestive of its vitality and exuberance and the underlying structure is such that this has many more decades of joy to offer; certainly, I considered this as a candidate for WOTN and it landed # 3 which is indicative of the quality factor on this night.
2007 OUTPOST TRUE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON HOWELL MOUNTAIN NAPA- my palate is already satiated with so many wonderful, approachable wines, most of which were delightful and easy on the palate; we immediately moved into a portion of the wines for the evening that changed the landscape majorly; this is a powerful, full on Cab and is so young and vivacious, it seemed almost too much, but I mothered through; it had huge ripe black cherry/ blackberry fruit with sandalwood and licorice notes, was full bodied, seriously complex with firm tannins to support longevity seemingly forever.
2014 GRIMM`S BLUFF VINEYARD BLUE CONTANGO HAPPY CANYON CABERNET SAUVIGNON SANTA YNEZ VALLEY [SANTA BARBARA]- from a local source becoming more renown for fine Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and a few other warmer climate varietals, this bottle showed significant oak influence with vanilla and sandalwood overlaying the sweet red cherry flavors; made by winemaker, Paul Lato.
1986 BEAULIEU GEORGES de LATOUR PRIVATE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- magnum; from the nose through the tail, this offered some treasures and pearls; after a hit of earth and mushroom, came some spicy, peppermint black currant with a touch of eucalyptus and pine in the background; it had medium weight and a full body; still young in color and some primary fruit, it gave much to like and deserved to be on a pedestal as opposed to just another bottle of 27.
1992 JOSEPH PHELPS INSIGNIA NAPA- 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot; a fair amount of oak shows up in this bottle along with nice black currant/ cherry/ berry notes; there`s some earthiness and a bit more wood oak with some talc coming in by mid palate; it was silky smooth and long; there`s ample structure to suggest a longer, continued pleasurable life with this wine.
1966 CHATEAU PALMER MARGAUX- this bottle seemed somewhat flawed or at the least off; beyond tertiary fruit, it was showing some strange chemical compounds [my guess is mercaptons] giving off pungent damp earth and skunky, moldy mushroom notes and more; I moved on.
2001 GREENOCK CREEK ROENNFELDT ROAD SHIRAZ BAROSSA VALLEY- this is really serious and intense; it has some heat even from the nose; it`s inky black color personifies the taste profile which is highly concentrated blackberry and black cherry with cough drop accents; it`s really a brut and almost overwhelming on my palate as it finished really hot, but I`m a wimp.
2009 SINE QUA NON “THIS IS NOT AN EXIT” ELEVEN CONFESSIONS VINEYARD SANTA RITA HILLS SYRAH- still exuberating the wimpiness, I struggled to get through this wine as well; it had layers and layers of intensity with multiple flavors unfolding and requiring major focus and attention and on another night, I might have been able to give it what was required; I could pick out some blackberry jam with dark chocolate, licorice, coffee and smoke plus a taste of dried figs; this wine needs a night all unto itself to explore.
An after thought wine:
One of our esteemed members brought a back up to the Musigny and possibly another bottle. When he showed it to our end of the table, there was no way it was going out the door unopened:
2011 LOUIS JADOT MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- magnum; youthful, vibrant and giving, it had loads of nice fresh pineapple, kiwi, passion fruit and green apple with minerals, flint and spicy accents; I loved the mouthfeel with its creamy texture; it was long in the saddle and a magnificent wine in an early expressive stage from magnum.
Seventh flight of 4 dessert wines and 1 champagne:
1971 CHATEAU CLIMENS BARSAC- 750 ml; dark amber color; intense, concentrated honeyed apricot nectar with a thick and creamy texture; in great condition and with so much more time and substance to delight; dessert in a glass.
1976 SCHLOSS-BAUER RULANDER TBA- 700 ml; I need some help here in that Rulander in Germany is a white wine [Pinot Gris], but this is from Austria and that should not change anything as I see it; nonetheless, this is a red wine with notes accordingly; it tasted like a sherry with honeyed soaked cherries on top and had embellishment from a hit of clove and eventually some maple flavoring; it was thick and syrupy and sweet on sweet.
2002 CHATEAU SUDUIRAUT SAUTERNES- 750 ml; honeyed caramel, butterscotch, tropical fruit with pineapple notes highlight this concentrated beauty from the not so well thought of 02` vintage; I just had the 01` version as well as a few previous samplings and they all were stellar; this has a much different profile and is also delicious.
2009 CHATEAU RIEUSSEC SAUTERNES- 750 ml; sweet, creamy, rich and powerful, this was replete with honeyed apricot, pear and lemon with a touch of pineapple; it had bracing acidity and the liquid coated the palate for a long lasting retrieval of all of its goodness captured from the aromatics on.
NV BILLECART-SALMON BRUT- I`m not sure where this came from, but I suspect it was from the restaurant as at least 3 bottles were poured [as if we needed more wine]; actually, it was OK as it served to kind of wrap up the night and cleanse the palate of all of the traces of 26 wines before it; it was very light and easy, had nice crispness, was very refreshing, had a mild creamy mousse and bright acidity along with fresh citrus notes.
Yes, this was an over the top evening with way too many wines and yes, we would have been better served by having only a few of these gems as opposed to the onslaught and palate challenging mass. For some reason, I survived and hung in there with notations and small sipping enjoyment of so many treasures. Would I do this again? Yes, this time next year for our 19th Millennium dinner and possibly before.