A Guide to Wine, Food & the Good Life


John Tilson • 4/15/11        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

A few years ago, my friends and contributing editors, Edward Lazarus and John Brincko, and I, along with John’s wife, Debbie, and my wife, Laurie, decided to form a group dedicated to drinking old Burgundies from our cellars. We named the group The Old Burgundians, not because of our ages, but because of the old Burgundies that would be our focus. All the wines come from our cellars and most have been cellared for many years. As a result, bad bottles are few and far between.

The idea is to meet three or four times a year. We rotate the location between our respective homes. The host sets the theme, provides the food, including Champagne and appetizers to start. We each contribute a Red Burgundy and the host and sometimes one other member contributes the White Burgundy.

Late last year we had an event at the home of John and Debbie Brincko. John selected 1971 and 1978 DRC as a theme for the reds and older DRC Montrachet for the whites.

John began with a magnum of 1996 Dom Pérignon Rosé. This was followed by a 1985 DRC Montrachet from my cellar and a 1988 DRC Montrachet in magnum from John’s cellar. For the red wines, I put in a 1978 La Tache, Ed contributed a 1971 La Tache, and John, who was in a magnum state of mind, put in a magnum of 1971 DRC Romanée St. Vivant.

To accompany the wines we had an assortment of appetizers with the Champagne and  with the Montrachets, John’s world famous fresh white truffle pasta. (I’m working on getting the recipe from him and, if I can pry it loose, I will publish it. It is simply the greatest fresh white truffle pasta ever. John came up with the recipe by eating fresh white truffle pasta all over the world for many years and obtaining recipes wherever he could. He then experimented and combined the recipes to create his recipe.) A wonderful grilled rare prime rib eye steak and then an assortment of cheeses accompanied the Red Burgundies. This is about as good as it gets folks.

Here are my notes on the wines:

1996 Dom Pérignon Rosé (magnum). Light salmon pink in color with a faint golden hue, this Champagne exhibits a gorgeous perfume of citrus, mineral and berry fruit. It is rich, creamy, and flavorful, yet elegant with berry, spice, citrus, and mineral elements and a very long, lingering finish. Like most of the great 1996 Champagnes there is no hurry on this. Drink now or for many, many years into the future –- Extraordinary. 4-yellow-stars

1985 Domaine de la Romanée Conti Montrachet. Golden in color, this Montrachet is simply perfection. It has a deep, complex perfume that is honeyed with hints of hazel nut and spice. Complex, rounded, rich and lush, the wine is honeyed with citrus and hazelnut nuances. With great balance and a tremendously long finish, this is a very great Montrachet in a long line of very great DRC Montrachets. Now at a peak –- Perfection.5-yellow-stars

1985 Domaine de la Romanée Conti Montrachet

1988 Domaine de la Romanée Conti Montrachet (magnum).With a golden color, this Montrachet has a deep perfume of citrus and minerals with a faintly honeyed quality. The wine has great depth and flavor with a firm backbone. It is honeyed and faintly spicy, yet is still youthful and a bit restrained. Destined for a long life ahead, the evolution of this wine over the next 10-20 years will be most interesting. My guess is that with more time this wine will also reach perfection –- Extraordinary/Perfection in time. 4-parentheses-stars

1988 Domaine de la Romanée Conti Montrachet (magnum)

1971 Domaine de la Romanée Conti Romanée St. Vivant (magnum).This wine has a lovely color just faintly amber at the edge. It has a deep perfume with hints of spice and an exotic, faintly smoky nuance. Very elegant and velvety  with lovely floral tinged flavors accented by exotic spice, the wine is beautifully balanced with a long, lingering finish. At a peak, but with many years of life ahead –- Extraordinary.4-yellow-stars

1971 Domaine de la Romanée Conti Romanée St. Vivant (magnum)

1971 Domaine de la Romanée Conti La Tache. This La Tache has a lovely color, just amber at the edge. The perfume is intense with exotic fruit and spice, beet root, and a faintly smoky nuance. The flavors are rich, round and complex showing a candied nuance along with oriental spice, beet root and a faint smoky nuance. This is a very great La Tache now at its peak, but with a very long life ahead –- Extraordinary Plus.4-n-half-yellow-stars

1971 Domaine de la Romanée Conti La Tache

1978 Domaine de la Romanée Conti La Tache.WOW! This is a phenomenal wine. It has a deep color, just amber at the edge. The perfume is extraordinarily intense and complex with oriental spice, beet root, and a floral, faintly smoky nuance. With deep oriental spice infused flavors the wine is lush, rich, and perfectly balanced with a very long, lingering finish. One of the very greatest La Tache’s, this is a wine for the ages –- Perfection. 5-yellow-stars

1978 Domaine de la Romanée Conti La Tache

Without question, these are some of the best wines one could hope to drink. And, there is absolutely no substitute for drinking old wines that have been perfectly cellared. And this is especially true for Burgundy. This was an unbelievable group of wines. They will be long remembered.

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2 comments for “THE OLD BURGUNDIANS”

  • Darrell Jang says:

    Hello John,

    I haven’t had the 1978 La Tache yet, but will have to try one bottle soon due to the start of ullage. Great to hear the bottle might be quite enjoyable. I have a bad habit of letting bottles, both CA and French, linger in the cellar. While researching older bottles, I came across your newsletter and haven’t read the newsletter since the late ’70s. Glad I across your site and will be commenting further on other articles.

    In vino veritas,

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