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.

La Paulée with Jean-Marc Roulot

One of my favorite times of the year is La Paulée. The week-long event orchestrated for over 20 years by Daniel Johnnes is the celebration of all things Burgundy and all the people that love it.  It’s an amazing week-long wine party, and if you have never been, meet me in Los Angeles the last week of February!  You can sign up for events starting this week at  Let’s not forget all the great winemakers that show up year after year after year.  One of my Top Ten dinners of 2023 was one of these La Paulée events, and of course it would be – it was hosted by Jean-Marc Roulot, and the food was being cooked by La Famille Troisgros.  If I were speaking French, that would translate as ‘Ah oui oui’ lol. 
Now anyone that knows me, and knows White Burgundy, knows that Jean-Marc Roulot is one of my favorite producers, and one of Chardonnay’s masters.  We started with a “degustation” of the 2018 vintage, a vintage that Jean-Marc compared to 1982 when I tasted it out of his cellar a few years ago.  We had two village wines and three premier crus, even though village would be an understatement given the quality of these vineyards year after year in the hands of Jean-Marc.
The 2018 Luchets had a lean nose, still with nice richness. It was cut with good acidity and nice grit, very minerally with yellow fruits. It had some angles that needed to resolve themselves at its early age (93).
The 2018 Tessons ‘Mon Plaisir’ was impressive. The richness really stood out along with its honeyed supple, sweet and round personality. This was 2018 on full display. Its sweetness and richness were provocative (95).
The 2018 Charmes was from ‘a big vineyard,’ we were told. This was a round Meursault with a big butt, broad and brawny yet still excellent. However, it was a touch clumsy compared to the Tessons, at least for now (94).
The acidity and finish of the 2018 Clos des Boucheres was clearly bigger and longer than any other wine served so far. Its palate was also big and long with zippy acidity and a dusty finish. It screamed louder than the others (95+).
Last and not least was the 2018 Perrieres. This was the finest and most stylish of the bunch, marrying the sweet fruit of the vintage with a much more elegant counterpart. Royalty was in the house (96).
Not bad for a warmup, huh? Next up were two flights of 2011, a vintage that Jean-Marc hailed for its ‘great transparency. The terroir is obvious and more expressive.’ Not only were they all 2011; they were all also served out of magnum.  Big bottles matter!  We began again with the (2011) Luchets, which was very yellow in its personality. It was tangy, bright and citrusy with an elegant style. The fruit was exotic and its minerality quite pleasant (93M).
The 2011 Tillets had a more dusty minerality and more vim than the Luchets. Its fruit was sweet and icy, more white in hue, along with a little Christmas spice to add some pizzazz(95M).
Next up was our first (2011) Meix Chavaux. Again, there was excellent richness here. This was a full-bodied heavier style of Roulot, but not in a negative way. This was a chunky monkey, no doubt helped by the nature of the 2018 vintage (95+M).
It was back to the (2011) Tessons, and it was ‘Mon Plaisir,’ so to speak, the Clos in the vineyard this bottling is from. This was a smoky and toasty wine with lots of acidity. It was a touch corky, though, and despite its rich and long personality, I think this magnum was slightly affected (94A-M).
The 2011 Boucheres was so intense. There was great minerality here with a beautiful kiss of reduction. The intensity was another level from all the other 2011s. There was lots of lift off on the palate in this powerful white. It happened to be perfect with the caviar, I noted, who needs Champagne when you have Roulot (96M)!
It was time for the showstopper otherwise known as the 2011 Perrieres. While the Boucheres was stronger, the Perrieres was still just as long in a more sensual and elegant way. It fanned out and passed the Boucheres in terms of richness, minerality and style. Are you sensing a signature right now for the Domaine (97M)?
There was a special intermezzo, a new project from Jean-Marc.  Roulot is also a world-class producer of spirits, mainly liqueurs but also now eau-de-vies!  This was the debut of his ‘L’Espirit des Lieux,’ which refers to the spirit of the place, or terroir.  We were served five different eau-de-vies, each from one of the vineyards we were drinking all night long.  Exciting stuff!  If I ever start doing spirits notes, I’ll let you know 😊
Enough of those magnums, we needed something bigger! Jeroboams, you say?  Ok, deal!  Everyone should know my propensity for large formats, and while it made a significant difference for all the magnums that preceded, it made even more of an impact for the even bigger Jeros. The first Jeroboam we had was the 2008 Tessons, Clos de Mon Plaisir, technically. This was a rich and hearty wine even though it was a little hot and yeasty. It was definitely gamey and a little more rock’n’roll, a fact that I attributed to the vintage for sure.  2008 is comparable to 2018 as well, certainly a sibling (93J).
The 2004 Tessons was cleaner and a beautiful ‘04. The fruit was pure and sensual, and its richness tickled my fancy. There was great acid to this long and delectable white. The Jeroboam factor really flexed its muscles here.  For those of you that have given up on 2004 whites for being too old or risky, I would strongly urge you to reconsider (96J).
There one more Tessons, the 1999 Tessons. 1999 is a great, long-lived vintage for White Burgundy. This was another fabulous wine which had the vintage written all over it. There was an austerity here, a tightness that I wanted to unwind. It was tight and tough, but in a good way, I really wanted to spend the time to unwind it!  And it was Jean-Marc’s favorite of the three.  He hailed it as ‘classic, old White Burgundy,’ and he was right on the money.  He would know after all lol (95+J).
Where do you go after three Jeroboams of Tessons?  Four Jeroboams of Perrieres?  Makes sense to me!  The first of the quartet was the 2009 Perrieres.  This was a sweet and candied wine, almost a bit sugary. It was also a little hot, chewy and not as great as the other Perrieres so far. It was still excellent, but a bit clumsy on its spiny finish.  2009 continues to slip down the ladder of vintage rankings, for both whites and reds.  Well, maybe it was never there for the whites (94J).
The 2007 Perrieres was singing and in a great spot. There was beautiful sweetness and freshness along with a candied kumquat and lychee goodness. There was a ‘much higher acidity level,’ according to Jean-Marc. ‘Many 2007s were harvested too early,’ he continued, but he waited one week longer, and it resulted in a wine of high ‘energy’ and perfect balance. There was a kiss of lime on its slaty finish (96J).
The 2000 Perrieres was also gorgeous. It was the most open of the Jeros so far and also sweeter in its personality. While the 2009 lifted with its sweetness, the 2000 landed the plane (94J).
While there was one more Jero to go, there were also two more magnums, the first being a1996 Perrieres.  It was a touch musty but still so solid. The mustiness blew off with a little extra swirling, and it revealed a wine that was creamy and thick. This was a classic and on a perfect plateau, but I think it’s there.  1996 is a heralded vintage for white wine, but there is no reason to defer its pleasure.  Its acidity still tingled in a caressing way (97M).
It was back to the Jero, a Jero of 1992 Perrieres. 1992 is well-known as a botrytis vintage, and it was incredibly tropical and exotic accordingly. It was the sweetest of the night; the botrytis showed up in starry fashion, along with lots of smoky mango qualities. Even though it was out of a Jero, the 1992 felt like it was a touch past its prime, though (92J).
There was one more wine on this incredible evening, and it would end the night in incredible fashion.  The first vintage of any wine is always a thrill, and the 1976 Roulot Meursault Perrieres did not disappoint out of magnum.  ‘Wow!’ was the first word out of my pen.  ‘Incredible’ followed, along with young, fresh and a whipsaw finish.  So rich, so great, so honeyed, I continued, so wow!  Yes it was that time of the night when ‘bam’ and ‘kapow’ start showing up instead of citrus and forest lol.  This was a honey biscuit of a wine, with perfect balance, zip and meat.  It is a white wine that I will never forget (99M). 
Bravo Jean-Marc!  Bravo Famille Trosgros for a superb meal by the way!  Bravo Daniel and Raj!  And Bravo La Paulée!  See you in LA!

A Day at the Tilsons

Day Two for our Tilson weekend was actually at John’s home, a beautiful sanctuary in Montecito, far away from Meghan and Harry lol.  When I walked in the front door, I could feel the fine wine energy seeping through the walls and floors.  Who’s afraid of seepage?  Not me!  The day was beautiful, the view was magical, and the wines were of an extra-terrestrial nature.  This was to be a DRC day, and the youngest wine would be from 1978.
The 1978 DRC Richebourg was perfection.  The ‘78 was also served out of magnum.  It had an incredible nose, even better than the bottle I had the Thursday prior.  Is that too douchey lol…just the facts!!!  It had all the classic elements of mint, menthol, iron, blood, forest, ceramics and rose wrapped, as complexly as possible.  Its fruit was special, and the ceramic flavors were unreal.  This was at maturity but still young, endlessly plateauing in a pool of perfection.  What a superb start – quite the liftoff (99M)
There were more Richebourgs…and friends 😊 The 1971 DRC Grands Echezeaux was another thrilling nose with great balance of fruit and meat.  There was more purple fruit here along with a dustier personality, and a touch of fuzzy goodness to its smooth, lovely and rusty finish.  This bottle was a touch drier than the ‘78 Riche (96).
The 1971 DRC Richebourg had a deep nose, ‘better than the ‘78 magnum,’ noted one.  It was sweeter with more menthol and orange citrus flavors with the perfect rust and iron components.  This was a meaty and saucy red that hit the highest of notes with its cut and freshness.  It had a finish that lifted way up there; its acid, leather and lift were truly remarkable and as good as it gets (99).
The 1971 DRC Romanee Conti didn’t disappoint either.  This was clearly the most concentrated and deepest with a more brothy and soupy edge.  Its exotic fruit had all the colors – red, purple, black and even blue, and there was great bricking to its flavors.  This was a perfect bottle that oozed oil and the richness that followed.  This was another perfect bottle; they just kept coming!  This super smacker had a kiss of celery soda to go with its oily concentration (99).
It was time for another flight, and we took a trip almost two decades away.  Starting in the 1950s, you start to see the mature and savory side of great Burgundy, and the 1953 DRC Richebourg delivered that leather and brown sugar goodness with a kinky, salty spice.  So rich and so sweet!  Someone remarked that the 1953 was a peacock and the 1952 a sparrow.  That’s coming!  The 1953 was truly divine, with more body than even the ’71 in a fat and juicy way.  There were lots of brown sugar flavors to this kinky, sweet and mature Pinot (98).
The 1952 DRC Richebourg was more mature and gamier with lots of animal and earth components; this was certainly the cat’s meow!  Its palate was fleshy, earthy, gamey and long.  The animal kept creeping, and its maturity translated into wisdom.  While not quite the bottle that the 1953 was, the ’52 grew on me in that great mushroomy way (97). 
The 1949 DRC Richebourg was the most delicate of these vintages but still had unreal texture and a long and sensual finish.  This was flirting with oxidation, but it wasn’t over the hill.  It just needed a cane and had to walk slowly!  It also had great richness and flesh and really came out in the glass after we were able to blow the cobwebs away.  The texture was unreal, and it ultimately proved to be a strong, long and sensual wine (96).
There was ultimately a younger 1991 DRC Richebourg served instead of a corked 1945 (aaarrrggghhh!).  On any normal day, this wine would be considered amazing, but in the presence of these senior statesmen, the 1991 seemed like a child.  It showed so young by comparison, and for many Burgundy lovers this is already considered old!  Go figure.  The ’91 was a bit milky and ‘out of its element,’ one sagely surmised.  It was deep and interesting but primary by comparison.  There was more intensity to its t ‘n a but still a baby, and earthy on its finish.  Great old bottles remain undefeated (95+)!
Man cannot live on Richebourg alone.  We returned to 1952, but this time it was a 1952 DRC La Tache, and it was also served out of magnum.   The 1952 shined with its sappy and concentrated fruit.  It had a similar style to the Richebourg with more elegance and reserve.  There were animal, bouillon, and black tea flavors, all in an elegant way, and a long, stylish and sensual finish.  This was another outstanding DRC from the fifties (96M).
The 1966 DRC La Tache was also served out of magnum, but it was earthy and dirty in a chocolate tootsie pop way with some secondary garden goodness.  There was some freshness and a citrus twist, but the wine stayed dirty.  Truthfully, I have never been a huge fan of this vintage for DRC given its usual greatness (93M).
There were four more La Taches, and three from the forties, but we started with a 1962 DRC La Tache.  There were no wrong answers and only thrills for every smell and sip of them all.  The 1962 was in that perfect spot of youth meets maturity, gently plateauing with endless acidity and elegance.  It really bridged the gap between all the ‘70s and ‘50s we had already sampled.  There was great Christmas and gingerbread spice to it.  There was also great meat, menthol, mint, tea, spice, and all types of fruit.  Its mint and menthol really stood out, as did its endless acidity and elegance.  There were nuances of tea and leaf on its finish.  The wine just dripped – with everything whether it was sauce or jewels or juicy greatness.  The 1962 La Tache still has it all (98).
The 1949 DRC La Tache saw that extra kiss of oxidation again.  There were hints of game and musk, but the wine was defined by this nutty, island-style complexity – dates!  That was it.  There was some soy saucy goodness, and it still had good richness.  It was ‘an exotic, hot vintage,’ said one guest, and it had the great gyro meat drippings to match lol.  However, I couldn’t help but think this wine would have been best ten or twenty years earlier (95).
The 1947 DRC La Tache was on that brothy and bouillon-y side, also displaying some exotic coconut.  It was richer and more sensual than the ’49, creamy and concentrated on the palate with more coconut.  I wrote that the lesson is that generally 50-60 years if the best window for great Burgundy; in other words, while these wines from the forties were still outstanding and great to try, my memories of bottles here and there from twenty years ago proved more thrilling.  Its palate was beefy, almost heavy, with a honeyed finish.  It was right there on the 95/96 border (95+).
There was one more wine to this historical flight, that being a 1945 DRC La Tache.  This is a legendary vintage for DRC, Burgundy and the world, and this bottle delivered more freshness than its previous two counterparts.  There were lots of red cranberry fruits and citrus smack to its nose.  I wondered whether it was possibly reconditioned at some point, as it had that edge to it.  There was a subtle, smoky edge to it and great minerality, but it had a hint of ‘simpler’ to it despite the freshness.  It got creamier and fleshier in the glass, becoming lip-smacking.  It opened up quite nicely in the glass (96). 
There was one more flight, a grand finale to the grandest of DRC tastings.  There were two magnums, and they showed what a difference large formats make over time.  I had previously commented how the bottles from the 40s and 50s were in that savory phase, and how I felt the 1962 was the peak of the balance between youth and maturity.  These magnums recalibrated the equation.  The 1938 DRC Echezeaux magnum made me write ‘hey baby,’ but then we both got serious thanks to its great mint and smoke qualities.  It was a bit grapy but not in a bad way.  It was also spicy in a fun way.  It got more brawny over time, but it was 85 years old.  And the fill was a touch low, but it didn’t matter.  It was still special stuff, especially given the lower fill (95M). 
The 1938 DRC La Tache magnum was my WOTD along with the 62…and some 71s…and those 53 and 78 Riches, but I digress.  If I had to pick one, it would be this magnum.  This was another ‘sex machine’ wine – JK the III’s new favorite term lol.  Its brightness was insane for its age.  This was like driving through menthol city in a citrus Phantom.  It was so long, unfurling with each sip.  ‘MAGNIFICENT,’ I wrote in all caps.  It maintained its spicy goodness on the palate and was so vimful.  Its brightness shined to the last sip, and it also stayed clean the whole time.  I wish I had more of that time with this wine that I will likely never try again, especially out of magnum.  What a thrill (99M).
The whole afternoon was what a thrill!  Many thanks to John Tilson for opening up his cellar and home for this incredible weekend.  If you ever get invited to his home, my advice is to accept immediately!  The weekend will be one of those tastings that stays with me for the rest of my life, and that’s what Vintage Tastings, the Wine Workshop and Acker are all about.  It’s been a nice 25 year run, and here’s to the next 25!  And here’s to the next eight articles, I know I owe you some more to make an official Top Ten for 2023!

A Top Ten for 2023

Hello and Happy Holidays!  This year my Top Ten will not be wines, but rather nights.  Evenings filled with great wines and great times.  Can I get ten articles done after a year’s hiatus?  Let’s see…
2023 had its share of great wine events with so many great people all across the globe.  But when I think of its greatest wine event, I keep going back to the Tilson weekend we did in May.  This was actually a Wine Workshop event, one that was open to the public, although the public didn’t let wind or word of this event get too far, as it sold out quickly and deservedly so.  John Tilson was opening up his cellar and some of his best bottles for a sampling of extraordinary proportions, and he was also opening up his home for Day Two.  Day One was at the nearby San Ysidro Ranch, a beautiful location in its own right, and we started with all things Cabernet, meaning Napa and Bordeaux, of course. 
The first flight was a flight of two wines but ultimately one as the 1976 was corked.  The 1974 Joseph Phelps Insignia had an incredible nose with the classic asphalt, tobacco, cedar, black fruits, melted chocolate and great spice. There was lots of chocolate and coffee and a bit of wood to the finish but such great fruit.  This was super tasty, a rich ‘Bordeaux style/Bordeaux Blend’ was noted.  I should mention the 1976 felt superior behind the corked quality (95).
A trio of Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignons followed beginning with the 1969.  It had a big nose which was more square and muscular but still classy.  It was a little green and a little lean with a touch of citrus.  There was nice slate and minerality to its finish but dry fruit.  It underwhelmed after the Phelps (91).
The 1970 Mayacamas was a bit leaner as well.  Someone commented ‘mountainous fruit’ and its drier, smokier nose exuded deep woods.  There was great smoke here and even more citrus along with more grit, but it still was not a super wine (92).
The 1978 had the best nose of the three.  It was long, smooth and gritty in a similar style but with much more deep, dark fruit.  There was a bit of pine complexity, and its palate was smooth and tasty.  Its tannins and acidity emerged as it improved in the glass.  It supposedly had a lighter style due to the addition of Atlas Peak fruit although I’m not sure if I I’m interpreting that correctly.  It definitely delivered the biggest experience of the three (94+).
The first wine of the third flight was spectacular, and it was the first vintage of a legendary and benchmark Napa Valley Cabernet.  The 1966 Heitz Vineyard Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was an epic bottle, a testament to the heights that Napa can achieve, pun intended!  There was a minty and sexy nose that seeped caramel and eucalyptus.  There was this great herbal complexity that was so expressive.  Insane expression!  ‘So good’ was written over and over in my notes.  The palate was creamy, long and smooth with tasty and fresh caramel flavors.  Divine stuff (98).
The 1968 had more dark fruit, more chocolate and more wood but not too much – it just felt like it needed more time.  The herbal eucalyptus qualities were trying to fight through and again I wrote that it needed more time.  It integrated with that time, balancing out well, with its signature caramel coming through.  However, it was no match for the 1966 (95). 
The 1970 was like a blend of the two with less weight and leaner qualities.  However, it had more eucalyptus, more slate and still a long finish.  It got mintier and fresher as red fruits tried to emerge along with more tobacco.  It improved in the glass (94).
We went from one Napa Valley legend to another, that other being the 1968 Ridge Monte Bello.  I suffered through a touch of glass issues but moved forward to find an extraordinary wine that had a lot of fresh field to it along with that super sexy Cali Cab fruit.  It was rich and grapy with smoky coffee flavors.  Superbly elegant, its great smoke and great fruit carried it to outstanding status (96). 
The 1970 was unfortunately corked (DQ).
The 1971 had a great nose of asphalt and chocolate wrapped inside of a smokehouse.  It was another deep nose that was also a touch oaky on its tail end.  Its palate was dry like a desert, but it also improved in the glass, becoming richer and grapier, even a bit sappy in a clean way.  There was definitely a signature style coming through in all the Ridges (95).
There was another 1971, this bottling being an Eisele Vineyard.  ‘Perfect fruit,’ I wrote, along with ‘super’ and ‘wow.’  There was this sprinkle of sugar and great balance to its perfectly purple kink.  Perfect kept appearing in my notes along with a touch of greeny leaf in the greatest of possible compliments. This rare bottling of Ridge proved to be the most exceptional of the flight (97).
There was one more flight of Napa wines, and we would end on a high note thanks to the 1978 Diamond Creeks.  John’s intimate relationship with Al Brounstein became apparent as we dove into this flight.  The first wine served was the Gravelly Meadow which had another ‘wow’ nose.  There was lots of rockiness to its great fruit – that asphalt, smoke and melted chocolate Napa thing came shining through.  This was ‘the southernmost vineyard,’ I assume John said.  Coffee abounded on its spectacular finish and its acidity lifted off.  There was a great, sparkling minerality to its finish.  This was a truly great wine (97).
The 1978 Red Rock Terrace had more tang, more smoke and more asphalt.  The vineyard got its name from its red iron soil and terraced slope, per either Dave or John.  Dave definitely observed more minerality and iron in its profile.  There was more iron for sure, along with more spice and a grapier quality.  There was lots of mahogany in its spice cabinet, and a smoky and smooth finish (95).
The Volcanic Hill was more gamey; in fact, it was the most gamey.  It was fleshy, smooth and round and clearly the least of the three while also the most grapy.  It didn’t elicit as many notes despite still being an excellent wine (94).
The last wine of this flight was certainly not least, as it was the first vintage of Lake.  I soon discovered that this was a sub-climate of Gravelly Meadow, and I definitely saw the GM terroir right away.  I also learned that John was the one who convinced Al to bottle the Lake sepatrately in 1978!  This bottle had certainly come full circle.  It had an explosive nose with endless acidity.  It was still so young and so beautiful.  Sexy charcoal flavors graced my palate, and its finish was spectacular, make that insane.  It had the classic asphalt and chocolate but wrapped in such an exquisite package, with the finest form and penmanship if you will.  This was as good as California wine gets (99).    
We ended our California portion of the afternoon on a high note, and so we began our Bordeaux portion as well, thanks to a 1929 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion.  Its nose was very intense with lots of benevolent barnyard, game, wheat, band-aid and gravel.  The fruit was very gamey, and its mesquite flavors came out in a creamy and horsey way – that’s a good horse, by the way lol.  There was ‘more opulence and richness’ and lots of grassy goodness with cereal and citrus skin on the finish.  Grapefruit! That’s what it was, and the horse continued to gallop away on its finish (95).
The 1959 La Mission was more chocolaty and rich with a decadent personality.  There was great acidity and superb spice in this incredible wine.  Its chocolate flavors dominated, and light gravel complemented.  This was a special wine woven in the finest cloth that Bordeaux has to offer (98).
There was one more La Miss, that being a 1961. This was another ‘super-duper’ nose that had incredible cut and a lean and mean acidity.  There was a great minerality here, and a leathery finish that screamed luxury goods.  The La Miss sparkled without the bubbles, thanks to the fantastic lift it had on its finish.  Its flavors were classic in every which way.  While it was a dogfight, ultimately the 1961 surpassed the 1959 (99).
Three Trotanoys were next starting with the 1934.  There was lots of Tootsie pop and dirty chocolate dug out of the earth here.  It was a little leathery and a touch confused, although there was another glass issue here for me.  One guest did comment later how they thought it was one of the best wines of the day, but I had a more limited view of it (92).
The 1945 Trotanoy was silky and chocolaty.  There was an earthy and nutty greatness here, and its acidity kept it frolicking in a field.  It had/got game and wowed the crowd.  This was Pomerol power, and its spicy finish showed off deep, deep purple fruit (97).
The 1961 felt so much younger, ‘like it’s from the 80s!’ exclaimed one.  This was a sturdy birdie, long on its finish.  There was a lot of brick, and it got more Tootsie poppy with time in the glass, but this flight was ‘very close to perfection,’ per Tilson (96). 
Speaking of perfection, the 1950 Petrus was close.  It was deep, dark and rich with a minty freshness, not like that California mint, though.  There was a blueberry appeal here to go with fresh and honeyed flavors.  This was a perfect bottle, both rich and creamy.  It was so plummy and tasty, and its sexy motor oil ignited everyone’s palate.  This was a blueberry bomb that delivered the rarely experienced legend of 1950 Right Bank wines (98).
The 1952 Petrus comes from another vintage that’s rarely experienced on the Right Bank, and also a vintage that can deliver a legendary experience.  The ‘52 was more twangy, with a citrus twist to its chocolate core.  This bottle had real heavy cream to its creamy goodness.  This was a voluptuous and concentrated ‘rich rich rich’ wine.  It got a lot of lot of pluses after the check lol.  But this was serious stuff – ‘so great’ and gigantic in personality.  It equaled the 1950 although not many expected that outcome coming in (98).
The 1952 Cheval Blanc was a Negociant bottling but a solid one.  It was wine #24, however, so my pen stayed on the table as I was feeling goooood (93).
There was one more wine, one last wine, one that made me pick my pen up off that table, as it was as good as anything served on this glorious day.  The 1955 Cheval Blanc had a scintillating nose that was rich and sexy.  There was an exotic, coconutty edge to it that put it in a unique place, despite the number of wines served before it.  It was full of red fruits and cranberry joined the party, along with spice and gingerbread.  This was a fleshy wine with a great, robust, rocket-fueled finish.  It had the motor oil greatness, and the kinkiness to keep it company.  It kept lifting more with each sip, wanting to be known better by anyone lucky enough to have a sip.  I have been fortunate to have had this wine a few times in my life, but never as great a bottle as this.  I think I am writing sexy a lot more as I get older, I need to start compensating at my age lol, but this was so sexy, with the exclamation point!  I always love the bottles that outpunch their weight class (99).
What an incredible beginning to our weekend, and there was tomorrow’s lunch next, and that would be no ordinary lunch.  It would be lunch of only DRCs.  Sixteen wines would be served, and the youngest wine would be from 1978.  A Richebourg magnum, to be precise.  Superlatives would be required for one of the greatest wine meals I ever had.  The sequel was coming! 

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!



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