Vintage Tastings

By John Kapon

Experience the finest and rarest wines in the world through the eyes and palate of Acker Chairman and globally renowned master taster, John Kapon (our “JK”). “Vintage Tastings” is a written journal chronicling the incredible bottles opened at some of the most exclusive tastings, wine dinners, and events all over the globe. These entries represent JK’s commitment to capturing and sharing the ephemeral nature and ultimate privilege of tasting the world’s rarest wines. Although ratings are based on a 100-point scale, JK believes there is no such thing as a 100-point wine. Point scores assigned to each wine are his own personal attempt to quantify the quality of each experience.

The RC RC Tasting

There will be a lot of great Burgundy drunk this week at La Paulée events and auctions, and that had me thinking about a special day where I tasted some of one of its finest.  Eighteen vintages of Romanee-Conti is practically a lifetime worth of experience, but thankfully one Sunday this Fall, it was one spectacular tasting.  The 1990 was a head above the rest, but there was a lot of jockeying behind it.  A tasting this historic needs detailed notes, so I figured I better plant a flag to make me do it before this fades into the graveyard of never “posted” bottles.  It’s a big plot of virtual real estate lol.  All this dang work gets in the way a lot!  Big thanks to King Richard and Sir Michael for organizing an unforgettable afternoon.
The 2015 had a deep, dark nose with lots of stalky and rocky fruit and a whiff of good wood from the forest.  Red and purple flowers were abundant in this deep wine.  Its palate was rich and long, and while still young it didn’t feel too young.  There was lots of garden goodness to the palate in a royal way.  There was a great, tight, rusty edge and loads of acidity on its “luscious palate of extraordinary power,” noted one.  James Suckling noted “dried strawberry and baby fat – for a baby that goes to the gym” 😂 (98pts)
The 2014 didn’t thrill me as much as a bottle I had on its own recently, but it was still outstanding.  The (wine) company you keep can affect your experience!  This bottle had a more cedary edge this time, with much more acidity than I remembered.  It was another rich and hearty red, with a beefier side but still a delicate finish.  It got leaner in the glass as cedar and ‘tea’ came out along w ‘wild herbs and fennel.’ (95pts)
The 2010 was extremely tight and unyielding at first.  It, too, was on the cedary side but times two with lots of dry components like desert, rock and minerals.  Its terroir and acidity unfurled, and this really benefitted from air more so than any other – its finish flexed its superiority with time but it still needed it! (96+pts)
The 2009 had a great nose of beef blood, rose, meat and iron.  It was more open and deep and ‘a stunner’ per Suckling.  The ‘09 had a great broth to it and was lush and round with hues of blue and black to go with the red and purple.  There was a tenderness here I don’t usually see in 2009.  It had the best balance of the quartet and was super stylish.  The finish on all four wines set them apart in general. ‘Harmony and seamless tannins’ noted JS. (97pts)
The 2008 immediately signaled the next step of maturity.  There was a lot of good herbaceousness to go with a cedary and lemony personality, and plenty of wild herbs in this rusty RC, along with a bit of sweaty pheromones…these are all compliments!  There was great richness to the palate with plenty of red fruits and a touch of tomato goodness.  Its finish was more mellow than I expected, but it still had some vim and skip.  I loved its emerging tomato flavors. There was a delicacy and spice with an Asian glaze to its flavors, and a nice oily edge.  Great spice and rust appeared again in my notes, as did leathery finish.  JS also noted a little greenness, and Hollywood Jef it’s ‘peppery finish.’ (96pts)
The 2005 was deep, dark and brooding. It was wound up, but in a regal and reserved way.  There were aromas of cola, spice and cinnamon to go with its rich but very shy fruit.  The palate came across extremely wealthy, ‘towering’ above anything else so far.  The richness and flesh, and balance between the two, were extraordinary.  This was red velvet city, dripping with jewels of fruit.  It was still a bit shy, but everyone knew it was a star.  This was a va va voom wine, so pure!  Suckling summed it up succinctly as ‘stunning, emotional wine, perfect.’ (98+pts)
The 2001 had more exotic fruits on the apricot and peach side.  There were orange hues to this very musky RC.  There was lovely flavor and texture, but it wasn’t as long as the others.  It seemed ready to go and very open.  It was tender and friendly but light and advanced compared to everything else.  Similar observations of ‘a little lean’ and ‘drying out’ came from the crowd. (94pts)
The nose on the 2000 was singing like Christmas with its spice and aromatics.  There were red fruits and a bit of purple here, and a round and long nose intrigued.  The 2000 continues to resonate as a connoisseurs’ vintage, and this was a great example.  This was full-bodied with great minerality and spice – super special!  Everything was in the right place at the right time, and food brought its greatness out even more.  Hailed as ‘the surprise wine of the tasting,’ I already knew better 😉 (97pts)
Where were we RC?  Right there with the 1999 which had a deep nose full of t n’ a and spice.  Our host observed the relationship between ‘99 and ‘05.  This was rich, explosive and plush with the oil and the pop.  It had a darker, oilier palate than most and a touch of caramel in a rusty way.  Rich rich rich with endless acidity, it reminded me of a recent 1990 but not quite there.  BC found it ‘spectacular’ and King Richard ‘beautiful and powerful, worthy of its reputation.’  There was great length and spice on its finish. (98pts)
The 1995 had strawberry, cranberry and brighter red fruits.  ‘Extraordinary, sexy wine’ came from the crowd.  There was a gingerbread goodness to this elegant and well-bred wine.  It had a sexy, delicacy type style.  It was ‘peppery’ per the King and while outstanding, it was the least of this flight. (95pts)
The 1991 had such a deep nose with dark, Black Forest qualities and a touch of rust in between.  It was smoky like a great BBQ with great balance between its meat and fruit.  There was clarity to its style in its ‘supple and smooth’ ways.  Delicacy came up in my notes, but the tannins expressed themselves here more than the 1995, which was considered even more tannic for many years. (97pts)
The 1990 was once again a rock star. Twice in one year, 2022 thank you 🙏 This will be the benchmark RC against which all others will be judged.  Wow again – so concentrated, this was another level of richness from everything else that preceded.  It almost had that signature 1947 Cheval motor oil.  Smoky, nutty, rich and decadent, the 1990 had a super strong finish with layers of whips and chains. ‘Wine of the tasting,’ ‘ethereal, weightless, floating in the clouds,’ ‘has everything’ all came from the giddy crowd.  Give it up for the 1990 RC!!!! (99+pts)
The 1985 DRC Romanee Conti had a tough act to follow.  This was a typical showing for many 1985 DRCs, showing that dirty birdie side, a bit of shit if you will.  It was earthy with tootsie pop flavors, and there was a meaty, horsey, animal quality to the palate.  The finish was still zippy and lifted with its leather, but it couldn’t shake the dirt or the tootsie (94).
The 1980 DRC Romanee Conti was so good, much better than the 1985 and back to the Promised Land.  It had gorgeous spice, and this expressive, oily and musky personality.  Its length was impressive, and my lips were smacking with its musky greatness.  ‘Such great cola’ emerged in this leathery and spicy wine, and menthol joined the party.  ‘So 1980,’ I wrote.  It was up there near the top of the food chain (98).
The 1979 DRC Romanee Conti was similar to the 1980 but with less menthol and cola.  It had a rocky edge to it, but it was round and sweet, also with a nice oily component.  This was a polished beauty, with a honeyed palate that was long and elegant with a flash of grip.  This was a tasty wine that mellowed more in the glass (95).
Lastly, there was a 1966 DRC Romanee Conti.  There actually was a 1978 and a 1971, but they were both DQ’d.  That was a tough pill to swallow, but everyone was still giddy for all the other great bottles.  The ’66 was exotic and sweet, a bit of a candygram compared to the others, with some exotic apricot to it.  Acidity again unfurled on its finish, a trend for all the wines as they got older.  The wine ended on a tropical note, and the day ended on a high note thanks to this legendary tasting (95).
Thanks again to King Richard and Sir Michael for organizing, and I hope to see many of you this week in New York so we can share more great Burgundy together at La Paulée, whether at our auctions Thursday or Friday or the Gala on Saturday!  I won’t have more RC, but I will have some DRC to share and lots more goodies all week long 😊 .  Come see us!



Tastings Notes From The Emperor’s Cellar

Tasting Notes from The Emperor

The Emperor’s incredible wine empire is featured in our February 10th Hong Kong Auction in ‘The Return of The Emperor’ (Lots 317-577) , nearly 300 selections (over 100 of DRC!) where every lot is a star! The Emperor has opened some great bottles for me over the years in Hong Kong. Here are a few of the best ones I have shared from The Emperor’s cellar!

The Emperor kept himself and his other guests busy with a magnum of 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil, which was a big, rich, buttery beast, all the more so since it was out of magnum. It was razor sharp and mountainous in its character, long and strong. ‘The longer the better,’ The Emperor sagely advised, and it was easy to see why Clos du Mesnil is the Romanee-Conti of Champagne. This was a laser of Star Wars proportion (98+M).

The Emperor flew back from London just for our dinner together. I felt like a diplomat of significance, so I brought some significant wines accordingly. What I did not bring was the stunning bottle of 1976 Dom Perignon with which we started. One accurately noted, ‘crushed walnuts and quince peel.’ It was creamy and lush with nice apple juice flavors and a touch of burnt granulated sugar. It was tasty, round and fresh, still youthful but about as good as it will ever get (95).

The Emperor definitely started with a 1-2 punch, as the next wine was a 1996 DRC Montrachet. Damn. This was an extraordinary bottle of white wine, showing that signature botrytis along with that Versailles garden action. Rich, long and buttery, this was still young by DRC Monty standards, as most are more developed by age twenty. There was this stony, mahogany edge that melted into an oily finish. The wine kept getting richer, and it developed this sexy, smoky caramel quality (98).

We inched into the reds with a 1937 Haut Brion. While the 1930s is generally considered a lost decade when it comes to Bordeaux, this HB showed admirably. It had a complex nose with aromas of caramel, bookshelf, mocha and some forest. Its palate was creamy and lush, fresh yet mature. There were candle wax kisses to its palate and nice leather on its finish, along with a touch of signature gravel. Secondary flavors of celery soda and molasses rounded out this toasty Haut Brion (94).

The 1928 Leoville Las Cases was recorked by Whitwham’s, a British company I believe, back when recorking was a little less controversial. The LLC had a chocolaty and earthy nose, and some green crept out. Vanilla and cream joined the party, and the longer tannins of the legendary ’28 vintage really shined. There was still finesse to this glassy red, and while the length and finish were superior to the Haut Brion, the character was not (93).

We went back to HB with a 1959 Haut Brion, which had a great nose that possessed rich cedar and smokehouse aromas and loads of cassis. There were black, smoky fruits here, along with rich, buttery flavors with lots of tobacco and more cassis. Iron aromas emerged, along with band-aid and Worcestershire flavors in a tertiary way. There was solid acid to this rock star Haut Brion (97).

The next wine was also from 1959, and ‘the best bottle I ever had,’ per Dr. Feelgood. I think he meant the particular wine, but it could have been every bottle ever as this 1959 Lafite Rothschild was staggeringly good. This was classic in every sense of the word. The cedar, the wheat, the pencil...this was a rich and thick wine that was as good as Bordeaux gets. Sebastien found it ‘deep,’ and there was super sweet fruit with a dry edge. The Emperor found it ‘flawless’ (99).

Now the Emperor was just showing off, pulling out a spectacularly good bottle of 1982 Le Pin. I have an on-again, off-again love affair with Le Pin. Some vintages are everything I could ever want, yet others I find disappointing, bordering on uninteresting. This ’82 was an exciting bottle. ‘From strength to strength,’ was said, and this was a perfect bottle. It was rich, chocolaty, chunky and lush. Chocolate merged into chocolate bar in the mouth, with more raisin and nut flavors. I never had an ’82 Le Pin this good; it was delicious (97).

The Emperor pulled out a 1971 Roumier Musigny. That’s why he is the Emperor. Someone compared it to ‘God singing in the glass.’ It definitely had an incredible, wow nose. There was so much brightness here, along with amazing spice and red citrus fruits. A thick forest added complexity. There was just a hint of autumn in its flavors, along with a kiss of BBQ. There was beautiful freshness to this satiny, sexy wine. ‘Stones up’ (97).

The Emperor started rolling - now it was a 1985 DRC Romanee Conti. There was gorgeous fruit in the nose with sweet red honey, garden and cherry. Fresh, citrus flavors and a kiss of good dirt accompanied green cedar and tobacco. There was lots of earth expressing itself more and more in the mouth, with more tobacco coming out. Some preferred the ’85 best over time compared to the Roumier, but the Roumier thrilled more initially (97).

The 1968 Vega Sicilia Unico was a nice way to end the evening. Its unique, leathery and kinky aromas and flavors showed off that edgy Tempranillo edge, but it was still so young and purple. This was an absolutely delicious wine, classic Vega and perhaps its finest vintage ever (96+).

The Emperor has been a dear friend of mine, one whose kind heart and soul has translated into so many great times together. This is one of the greatest collections I know in Hong Kong, filled with many bottles such as the ones above. I hope you enjoy what is on offer this Friday night in our Hong Kong auction and can add a few bottles from The Emperor to your own collection!


The Greatest Wine Day Ever?

Happy New Year! May 2023 be one of your best and brightest years ever. I couldn’t think of a better way to ring in a new year than an article about arguably the greatest wine day I have ever had. I will let you be the judge. This has been an article over one year in the making. Time flies, and business has been busy, and before you know it, another year is gone. As Confucius once said, ‘the days are long, and the years are short.’ A month or so before my 50th birthday celebrations, The Rev hosted his delayed 60th celebration, one delayed by that pandemic thing. Remember that? Seems surreal at this point, but one of the benefits was giving The Rev more time to procure more incredible bottles, about half of which he provided himself. The other half he got by with a little help from his friends, including Vintage Tasting alumni such as Big Boy, Bad Boy, Hollywood Jef, The Ambassador, Dr. Evil, the Attorney General and JBL. I am pretty sure that a record was set for most points ever awarded in one session by myself. Did we break 5000, it has to be close? Let’s see and let the (recap of the) games begin!!!
There aren’t too many events that begin with a Jeroboam of 1971 DRC La Tache as an aperitif!  Well, here we were, and this Jero delivered a fabulous experience.  It had a deep, dark nose that was a little woodsy but more on the autumnal side with some brick, rust and rose fruit behind it.  It had black fruits but also had menthol and cream to go with its great richness and lots of body.  Its acidity was endless, and the only complaint I might muster was that there was a touch too much forest floor.  Its citricity and brick flavors housed its finish.  It wasn’t the peak of what this wine can deliver, but it was close (98J).

A duo of Champagne took us to the afternoon dinner table, and it was quite the duo being from 1928.  The 1928 Moet was smoky and toasty, full and rich.  While it lost most of its bubbles, there was still a delicious persona with lots of vanilla cream.  It was rich and fleshy with burnt sugar and great caramel flavors on its finish.  Despite no bubbles, it was still so creamy with great oil and honey flavors (95).

A 1928 Roederer was another great aged bottle of Champagne, and while the nose had less vanilla, it was deeper with more citrus.  There were oatmeal flavors with some brown sugar kisses.  More austerity and vim marked the Roederer, along with brighter citrus and a touch of ceramic flavors.  JBL commented that the Roederer was ‘more Pinot driven,’ and he would know!  Big Boy was also in the Roederer camp (96).

A trio of Krugs followed our duo of 1928s, beginning with an apple-y 1976 Krug Collection typical of 1970s Krug.  There was nice soda and seltzer vivacity compared to the ‘28s, and some good earthiness.  The 1976 was balanced and elegant with nice citrus and wheat flavors (95).
The 1961 Krug Collection clearly had more richness and body than the ’76.  There was also that touch of apple, but a touch more meat to go with its great style.  Its wealthy fruit blasted and lasted in the glass (97).

Big Boy immediately said to wait on this superlative 1947 Krug Collection.  As the ’61 took the ’76 to another level of richness, so did the ’47 to the ’61!  While more mature brown sugar kisses, the 1947 was by no means too mature.  There was an incredible smokiness here in this great flavor profile.  There was a unique nuttiness and smokiness to go with the most savory and complex of these three heroes (99).

It was on to white Burgundy, and a pair of DRCs, beginning with a magnum of 1999 DRC Montrachet.  Ok, if you insist lol.  ‘So good,’ I wrote, so rich I continued, along with buttery, smoky and toasty with incredible yellow fruit.  Its palate was a beast with a monster finish to match.  There was so much acidity here, with a searing richness out of magnum.  It was admittedly too young out of magnum, but what proper grand cru white Burgundy wouldn’t be?  Big Boy found it positively ‘fat,’ while the Attorney General said it was ‘like a red wine.’  Someone else seconded my ‘monster’ emotion (97+M).
The 1978 DRC Montrachet that followed brought back so many memories, memories like dinner at Georges V with Bipin, Wolfgang and Aubert probably two decades ago!  Some dinners you never forget.  The ’78 was tropical and fully mature, kinky with its touch of apricot.  There was a honeyed, milky and creamy style to it.  ‘Awesome,’ I wrote, along with ‘so rich, so honeyed.’  While its flavors were mature, its finish was strong and still youthful.  Uni aromas developed in its exotic and complex nose (98).

The next wine was a bit tangy with a sour nose that was milky in the wrong way.  It had vim and a touch of tropicality but was not interesting compared to the others.  There was a bit of a morning mouth finish in this 1959 Bouchard Montrachet.  I have had spectacular old bottles of Bouchard, but this wasn’t one of them (90?).

‘Great nose, great wine’ started my note on the magnum of 1985 Ramonet Montrachet.  This was smoky city, with that kinky, corny and minty Ramonet sweetness.  There was heavy cream to its palate, along with lots of butter – this was a French chef’s dream white lol.  More corn and mint effused out of its tasty palate, and the Ambassador agreed with me on my 98-point rating, although he disagreed with me on the DRC, which he gave 99 points.  I can see him being impressed with the DRC; like the ’99, he is still so young lol (98).

There were two more Montrachets to go, and we were walking this way towards the 2012 DRC Montrachet.  It was so young yet so exotic, with cleavage spilling out of its shirt, pick your own sex lol.  It was long and deep, a bit painfully so, but its showy fruit more than made up for it (96).

There was one of these cooperative 2016 L’Exceptionelle Vendange des Sept Domaines Montrachet that was a collaboration between DRC, Lafon and others due to the tiny crop that year due to inclement weather.  This was a sweet, young baby, and while it had some richness and decadence, it was too young, and one could see the effects of that devastating vintage (95).

The first red served was spectacular and one of the wines of the night.  It was a 1971 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze.  This was so good, singing with its leather, autumn, citrus and rose aromas.  Its spice was catnip to my inner feline, and this exotic potpourri blended into a garden worthy of Versailles.  Its alcohol and acidity seeped and creeped out of its nose, while the palate seconded all emotions in both a rich and elegant way.  There was great mouthfeel and lots of spice to go with light iron on its magical finish (99).

The 1971 Rousseau Chambertin was similar yet lesser in every way, with more autumnal qualities.  At this age, it always comes down to the bottle as much as the wine.  While this bottle was still solid, it was showing a touch older and with less vim than the Beze (95).

A litter of La Taches were next beginning with a near 80 year-old 1942 DRC La Tache.  There was sweetness in its nose, along with a bit of old library.  It was on that ‘shroomy, earthy and foresty floor side, more brown than red, showing its signs of age (93).

The 1943 DRC La Tache was more on the touch oxidized side but still nice.  It was richer with more tomato and weight, better with air but not a better bottle than the 1942 (93A).
The 1959 DRC La Tache was flat-out awesome, heads and shoulders better than the others so far.  It was a perfect bottle, dripping with rose and its oil.  JB admired its ‘juicy’ quality.  It was also saucy, full of juicy red tomatoes to go with its juicy red fruits.  ‘So good,’ appeared over and over again in my notes, and a touch of benevolent cereal.  This was a La Tache firing on all cylinders (99).

There were some questions about volatile acidity in the blind wine that was served next by the Attorney GeneralI liked its sour cherry flavor to go with its long citrus and earth core.  It was dusty and tasty, a bit leathery like an old Italian before tobacco took over.  It might not have been perfect, but it wasn’t a bad bottle either, this 1964 Burlotto Barolo (94).

We got back to our usual programming, and the 1978 DRC La Tache delivered the same level of experience as the 1959.  Big Boy hailed it as ‘the real deal.’  Mint, menthol and spearmint punctuated its permeating nose.  It was rich and almost buttery with tasty caramel and brick flavors.  It had a long, long finish like a long, long time ago but still had plenty of legs left in it.  So complex, so much fruit, so much length and acidity in all the perfect places; this was true greatness (99).

The 1979 DRC La Tache was the second wine that felt out of place.  It was woody and full of celery, which is my least favorite food on the planet for those of you that don’t know lol.  There was good texture, but its flavors were sickly.  I have had much better bottles of 1979 DRC out of large format, I should add, and that’s a whole ‘nother topic (88).

1980 DRC La Tache has always been a pet wine of connoisseurs of this majestic vineyard, and this bottle delivered.  At first, it was a touch shy with its lighter impressions of mint and leather in the nose.  Its palate had great flavors of rust, citrus, strawberry and more leather, and this vintage of La Tache found the perfect harmony between flavor and balance (96).

The 1985 DRC La Tache was smooth with clearly lots of acid and nice, mature autumnal edges.  There were lots of classic characteristics in this vintage, one that is holding onto its outstanding status but just barely, although large formats might disagree (95).

The 1990 DRC La Tache was ‘dirty’ per The Rev and ‘as usual’ per me.  There were chocolate and earth flavors to go with its solid concentration, but as great as it was, it didn’t deliver the knockout experience (96).

The last of our La Taches was nipping on the heels of the ’59 and ’78.  The 1999 DRC La Tache has long been one of my favorites, ever since Aubert told me it might be the greatest vintage ever for the Domaine.  Does he say that every year lol.  This was rich, concentrated, ‘great’ and ‘special.’  It was deep and dark, full of black fruits and forest and would normally be 99 points, but not in this company (98)!
It was time for a refresher, and we had one of the best guests in the world for that, known as ‘JBL’ to his closest friends, although I am not sure how that translates into French.  We were all saying ‘ah oui oui’ when the ex-Domaine 1976 Roederer Cristal Rose came out.  This was a ‘lights out’ bottle, disgorged in 1982, and despite twenty years later, it still had so much freshness.  It was so good and so zippy, possessing light strawberry flavors and a touch of splendid sweetness.  A touch of complex pine needles emerged on its spectacular finish (98).

The 1982 Roederer Cristal Rose magnum had a cinnamon-y nose with a porridge-like richness.  Its acid was screechy and extraordinary, with a ‘wow’ and bigger finish, as it should out of magnum.  The Attorney General found it ‘tight,’ and Big Boy was heralding its ‘pitch and acidity.’  Its ‘cheesy’ quality was admired by another, a good thing for those of us that love cheese (96M).

The Rev was born in 1961, so a bunch of Bordeaux had to happen before the end of the night.  Now seemed like the right time, especially when a magnum of 1961 Haut Brion.  Its nose was the perfect blend of deep purple, chocolate, charcoal and tobacco.  ‘A little too young for you,’ Dr. Evil smiled, but I was more than content with its rich plum and chocolate flavors.  This was creamy, long and wealthy with long acidity.  ‘So good’ appeared in my notes repeatedly (98M).

A bottle of 1961 La Mission Haut Brion usually is a length ahead of the Haut Brion, but this bottle couldn’t keep pace with the magnum.  There was classic band-aid and charcoal, but it softened in the glass sooner than I wanted, but it was still outstanding with decent richness and long acidity that gained back (96).

The 1961 Palmer was our first off-ish bottle.  At this level, for wine #29, I will take it every time – no rating was necessary.  The 1961 Latour was another small hiccup, another soft and plush bottle, and while it wasn’t great, it wasn’t a bad bottle either (95).
The 1961 Petrus was a touch tight, but all its Pomerol goodness expressed itself.  There were clay and ceramic borders to its deep purple fruit.  Rich and decadent with great minerality, this was a superlative bottle of Petrus, so fleshy and a ‘Burgundian style of Petrus’ per one guest (98).

This was now officially wine number 35, and it was all Ponsot, Dujac and Roumier.  I took a break before this flight, and it was tough to focus for a minute, but I managed.  Here is the summary: 
1979 Clos de la Roche 95
1980 Ponsot Clos de la Roche  97
1985 Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV 94
1985 Dujac Clos de la Roche  98
1990 Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV  94
1990 Dujac Clos de la Roche 95
1991 Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV  97
1988 Roumier Bonnes Mares VV  95

A summary paragraph would go a little bit like this.  The ’79 had a milky goodness along with lots of zippy, citrusy fun.  The ’85 disappointed given its reputation, but it had lots of strawberry and earthiness to go with its roundness.  The 1980 was delicious and minty, with its acidity lifting the wine to new heights along with its menthol, red cherry and oil.  This was a superb wine with lots of rust and spine.  The Dujac announced itself on the scene admirably.  The 1985 was rich and saucy with autumnal action and an enticing herbal goodness.  It was fully mature but so good with a lot of how now brown cow action.  The ’90 Ponsot was meaty and yeasty with nice concentration in a softer way, while the ’90 Dujac was not as great as I wanted it to be but still solid.  The ’91 Ponsot took it up a notch, noticeably better than the 1990s, decadent but still elegant with its fruit.  After having a blockbuster ’88 VV within the last year, I ‘just couldn’t do it,’ I wrote, meaning I was hitting my limit.  This wine usually scores near the top of the food chain, but perhaps I was done with ‘young’ wines at this point.  It was wine #42 after all.

I needed a palate refresher, and I could ask for none greater than a magnum of 1961 Dom Perignon Charles and Diana Wedding Cuvee.  This was a come to Jesus wine, and I’m not sure how anyone who attended that wedding didn’t have a religious experience or a baby.  Either or.  This was one of the, if not the, greatest bottle of Champagne I ever had.  It was electric on the palate, bringing the zippedy, doo dah and beautiful day all in one.  It was so young but had such maturity and wisdom to its flavors.  Bready, meaty, oily and long, this was rich, decadent and full of itself, as in its finish and length.  So good as in so great (99M).
There were two more flights, well, technically three, arguably four, but let’s just say I consolidated what I could handle.  The ’61 Wedding Cuvee did me a huge solid, as it resuscitated my palate, and it needed to be for the fantastic four wines that followed.  The first was a 1959 Lafite Rothschild.  It was deep and dark with rich purple fruit and classic pencil, cassis and carob.  This was a rock star bottle of Lafite and the greatest of all-time along with the 1953.  Everyone was in the ‘older is better’ zone, one I agree with more with every passing day lol (99).   

Right on cue came the 1953 Lafite Rothschild.  This was another spectacular bottle, perfect in every way, another ‘holy shit’ wine I eloquently wrote.  There was more caramel in the ’53, and while softer like the vintage, it still had great concentration and unbelievable sweetness.  The two best Lafites showed the best they could be on this magical night (99).

You didn’t think we could complete this night without a bottle of 1945 Mouton Rothschild, did you?  The wine that I once ranked as my #3 bottle of all-time delivered yet again, and it confirmed its previously ordained position (1945 RC is #1, and 1945 Petrus is #2, although a 1947 Petrus late last year has a legitimate claim to a top three slot.  Need to think about it 😊) Back to the 1945 Mouton, half my notes I can’t even read today, but I could read ‘so deep and so insane.’  I could also read my infatuation about its eucalyptus, pine, sage and herbal greatness.  This was a caramel sex machine and the greatest bottle on this greatest day (99+).

There was a 5th bottle in this flight, but I believe it was corked, unfortunately, as it was a 1947 Cheval Blanc.   I can’t quite read my writing again, could have been cooked, whatever it was, it wasn’t on (DQ).

There was one more bottle of Bordeaux to go, and it was one I expected to be a dud, but it was another incredible Pomerol.  While most 1947 Lafleurs would be DQs within seconds, this was a Vandermeulen bottle that had the embossed crest on the label, and I was a believer.  The concentration on the ’47 reminded me of only two other wines, and both ‘47s: Petrus and Cheval.  Its plumminess played with my senses in erotic ways, and its concentration was as intense as any other wine on this night.  This was as hedonistic as wine gets (99).

I know it seems like the 99-point ratings were getting handed out like candy at the end of the night, but believe you me, that’s what happens on the greatest wine day ever!  There was only one wine that could keep me interested at this point, and that was Chateau Rayas.  The legendary trio of ’78, ’89 and ’90 were on call, and the 1978 Rayas delivered another near-perfect experience.  Cherry cola oozed from its sexy nose, and the art of Grenache was on full display with that fleshy decadence and red fruit gamy greatness.  Strawberry, cranberry, lingonberry, if you were a red berry, you were invited to this party, and all the gentlemen in attendance were trying to introduce themselves this late in the evening lol (99).

The 1989 Rayas had a touch of cotton candy and bright acidity (97), while the 1990 Rayas was ‘wow’ concentrated, with loads of cherry and oil (98).
There was one more wine I took a note for, and seven more I didn’t (all Rhones and Port, no disrespect intended), but 52 wines is my limit.  I think I did a pretty good job.  The 1966 Guigal La Mouline seemed like a great place to finish.  The acidity on this bottle was impressive, and the violet and white pepper were dancing with the stars together.  It was another ‘so good’ wine, and at this point I was officially done (98+).

A million thanks to The Rev for this pandemic delayed party.  I am not sure you can ever outdo yourself, but I look forward to you trying for many years to come.  Anyone that wants to try to achieve the greatest wine day ever in 2023, you know where to find me!  Happy 2023!!!!




Escape From New York

Escape From New York

There has been a lot of news about the exodus of people out of New York over the past couple years; heck, I made the move six years ago myself after 44 years in the city. However, I do come back often, and my favorite trip of the year is every summer, when I spend three weeks towards the end of July and early August in the Hamptons. My folks and other extended family live out there, not to mention a very illustrious list of fine and rare wine lovers. But after three weeks in the Hamptons and night after night after night out, not to mention a few days as well, it is always time again to “Escape from New York.” My last three nights there were a pretty good illustration of how it can become very dangerous, and the need for an effective escape plan!

Sunday lunches are usually of the lighter fare, but this was my last Sunday in the Hamptons, so I should have known better. A 2004 Bollinger VVF started us off with that biscuity, bready Blanc de Noirs goodness, with the freshness to go with its weight. I liked its citrus and kumquat fruit action, as well as its salty finish. It stayed fresh while getting gainfully gamey (95+).

A taste of 2008 Raveneau Chablis Les Clos from the night before was also salty, but it was so rich, meaty and ‘bracing.’ There was an ocean of sea breeze blowing in, settling in around a nice yellow core. This was a savory white wine that got richer in the glass despite it being kept overnight in the bottle. I often do that with many wines and find that just recorking and putting back in the fridge does just fine for evaluating over 2-3 days more, sometimes longer. This was a perfect example of that and as good as this wine gets (98).

We had to open at least one white for lunch, and a 2004 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres was a superlative choice. Wow wow wow. ‘Best Coche MP ever?’ I wrote. What a nose, it was smoky and full of gunflint and gunpowder. I also got salt here. Its acidity exploded amongst its flavors if white fruits and honeysuckle goodness. So much acid! Can’t recall a better experience with a Coche MP (98).

It was time to say goodbye to the two glorious whites and say hello to a 2002 Rousseau Chambertin. I must have been enjoying myself as I already can’t read everything I wrote oops. Wine number four is a bit early for that! The Rousseau had a great nose full of lots of earthy and tannin expression, showing off that t ‘n a and that va va voom. Its terroir was crackling in its nose, along with a full spice cabinet extraordinaire. Amazing red cherry tied the whole wine together, and leather snapped on its lengthy finish. There was strength and true grit here. The was the first official orbit of the Gastronaut, who was also enjoying the red, creamy, berry goodness of the Rousseau. Three in a row that hit (98)!

Everyone should aspire to have at least one bottle of Jayer every year, and out came a 1990 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux. Yes, please. The voluptuousness of a Jayer wine cannot be understated. The producer that comes closest today is Comte Liger-Belair. There was so much deep purple fruit, with a hint of benevolent mushroom. Its palate was satin city, wealthy and decadent, luscious ad honeyed. Blue fruits came and joined the purple party, and this was so sweet and so fleshy, ‘so pleasing’ per our host. Why not 98 again – well, as good as it was, its finish was completely integrated, perhaps seamless to some, but I always like a little bite at the end. Our host was in the 98-point category, I would attribute his score to his initials, but HR has banned that combination (97).

One good Jayer deserves another, so our host dug deeper into his cellar and pulled out a 1991 G&H Jayer Echezeaux. The ’91 seduced us immediately, one even calling it ‘more exciting,’ although that might have been a bit premature. There was a great spiciness here, along with a saucy personality. There was excellent vim here and more acidity than the 1990. It was stylistically different but tough to say it wasn’t qualitatively equal, but it didn’t keep up over time in the glass. It was high-toned but got sappy compared to the 1990. It was sweeter, with more dried fig and raisin emerging, and the wood was more noticeable in the end. It was ‘grippy’ but didn’t improve, but it was still an extraordinary wine. It just couldn’t keep up with its counterpart (96).

There was one more wine on this magical afternoon, and it was a divine bottle of 1978 Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline. There were Coches and Rousseaus and Jayers oh my, but this Guigal was wine of the day. There were all the signatures here – the bacon, the violet, the garrigue, the smoked meats, the menthol, the white pepper – if you ever had any aroma or flavor in a Guigal wine, it was here. There is something transcendental about the first twenty years of La Mouline, whose first vintage was 1966. Not that the younger ones are lesser, but over time those first two decades have hit some legendary high notes over and over again. The 1978 had a body wouldn’t quit, and there was no doubting this was one of the greatest Syrahs ever made (99).

It was time for an Uber. Lunch had run late, and we went straight to dinner. Jetski was hosting, and we were primed and ready. We were welcomed with an aged magnum of MV Krug, estimated to be from the 1980s. While all the “multi-vintage” Krugs, also known as Grande Cuvees, now come with ID numbers to identify the blend of vintages within, for anything significantly old, it is a guessing game. This was a treat, drinking beautifully and a classic, old Krug. This is arguably the best buy in the world of fine and rare Champagne, although now that there are official batches, the older ones are escalating in price now (95).

A 1981 Roederer Cristal was interesting as you don’t see this vintage too often, and perhaps with good reason lol. It was a touch mature and a bit of celery soda to its usual buttery bomb self, but it didn’t quite have the usual definition (93).

It was a Coche kind of day, and out came the 1999 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres. It was musky, nutty and smoky, standing out right away. This was a rich and decadent wine, apropos for the vintage, quite buttery on the palate with more signature white smoke flavors. This was a thick and masculine white wine, flexing the strength of 1999 while still maintaining that Cochy sexiness. I was oscillating between 97 and 98 points so settled on (97+).

The 2008 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres that followed was spicy but also milky. This was another butterball of a Coche; the 2008 has long been adored by Coche connoisseurs as a hedonistic vintage for them, and it was a good pairing with the 1999. The ’08 was so honeyed, Winedaddy noted ‘flamboyant and open for business!’ It was quite creamy and ostentatious, and buttery appeared over and over in my notes (96).

A pair of 1991 Red Burgs changed our course, starting with a 1991 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche. There was a lot going on in its nose as it unfolded and found itself in the glass. It was milky and yeasty at first, morphing into nutty with a jasmine spice. Its palate was clean and fresh, opening up into a beefy, bouillon edge with an earthy finish. The earth took over a bit on its finish, overpowering its delicate mintiness (94).

The 1991 Rene Engel Grands Echezeaux also had a touch of milkiness, is this an emerging vintage trait, I wondered. This was much meatier than the Lignier, with a hint of spit on the grill, so to speak. Its finish was long and smooth, quite sensual despite its beefy richness (96).

A trio of two Rousseau vintages came out next, as we put to test the 1990 vs 1993 debate again. The 1993 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze was ferocious; ‘totally nuts’ per one. It had the royal garden trumpeting out of its nose amongst its manicured landscaping, along with a gravy-like goodness that had me licking my lips. Its palate was spicy and earthy, smoky and beefy, but beefy in a bloody way with lots of iron and rust. This was a ‘benchmark’ Rousseau, ‘dynamic’ per the Gastronaut and another exemplary bottle of this legendary wine (99).

The 1990 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze was much more lush with its red fruits and tomato goodness. This was a breadbasket of a wine, including the buttered croissants. Winedaddy noted ‘a touch of vegetal’ and another some ‘mushrooms,’ and while not up to challenge the 1993, the 1990 Beze remained an outstanding Rousseau that’s starting to mature (96).

It is always fun to compare the “regular” Chambertin vs. the Beze, as either one can come out on top any given Sunday. I still don’t understand why the Beze trades 10-15% less; consider it a better buy in general, but yes the label isn’t as pretty lol. The 1990 Rousseau Chambertin also had that maturing vibe, with a bit more jam than the Beze, along with more game. This was a saucy glass of red, with more spine, leather and (good) rubber. There was more intensity here on its finish. Chalk up one for the “regular” (97).

There were three wines to go, so I chugged down a glass of water and slapped myself a couple times to get ready for this grand finale. That’s right, it was still Sunday. Out came a 1990 DRC La Tache. I have had my share of legendary bottles of this wine, but there is also a batch of this that is on the “dirty birdie” side, and this was one of those. It was more on that chocolaty, tootsie pop side of things. While still a deep, dark and brooding wine that was rich and dense, the chocolate tootsie pop was the dominant trait. Blood and menthol fought their way out on the finish, but I wanted this wine to hit the heights that the next wine did (95).

The 1991 DRC La Tache delivered quite the show, leaving the confused 1990 in the rear-view mirror. All kinds of spice hit all kinds of treble notes in this vimful and ‘double stuffed’ wine. This was bitey and spiny in a great way, nibbling on my senses surely and with confidence. It was strong, long and ‘ding dong,’ yes, it was that time of the night, I suppose I was trying to rhyme and signify that the ’91 was hitting all the right notes, or a welcome guest, work with me people! This was a zippy and clearly better bottle next to the 1990, and even though it had a bit of chocolate to go with its rosy red and berry black fruits, it was very complementary and subtle. A truly great wine (98).

The 1990 LT sent off a signal that there was trouble in Gotham, but the Batman came to the rescue for DRC and the 1990 vintage with a spectacular bottle of 1990 DRC Romanee Conti! Now this was the alpha 1990 DRC that I remembered, but never quite like this. It is not often I get to taste “RC RC,” and this bottle delivered everything I could possibly ask for. It was deeper and darker than anything day or night. It had this leathery intensity in its nose, a nose that unfurled in spectacular fashion. Its finish was also long and intense, such a strong finish, practically endless! This was clearly a special wine, a mouthful like no other in Burgundy. It was a black hole of greatness, leaving me mesmerized with its rich and honeyed palate. There was a bunch of illegible notes at the end, but one note clearly stood out: ‘ENERGY!!!’ (99).

This was the first of three days in a row, well actually four, but in the interest of getting something published, let’s end it right here and TBC. It was a heck of a Sunday.


  • Sign Up
Lost your password? Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.


Sign up for Acker exclusive offers, access to amazing wine events & world-class wine content!