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OLD RED BURGUNDIES PLUS A COUPLE OF ZINGERS AT TWO VERY DIFFERENT RESTAURANTS

John Tilson • 12/7/14        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

vicente restorante

Recently I attended two dinners. One was with my old friend and Underground contributing editor, John Brincko. John brought the red and I brought the white. The dinner was at the long established Vincenti Ristorante in Brentwood – Los Angeles, CA. The food and service here is consistently great as it was this evening. We had Hamachi crudo with the Montrachet and grilled veal with the Musigny. Both were great dishes. Beautifully prepared and delicious. What more can I say, except that Vincenti Ristorante is definitely worth a special trip for dinner.

The other dinner was at the Stonehouse Restaurant located at San Ysidro Ranch very close to where I live in Montecito, CA. In fact, it is so close that we can walk there. No question, it is a drop dead beautiful place. But, sadly, we have found the food and service consistently disappointing as it was this evening. The event was for 12 people where all the attendees brought wines. The wines were an eclectic group, but mostly Burgundies.

Below are notes on the two Burgundies at the first dinner. This is followed by my notes for the wines I really liked at the second dinner – One White Burgundy, three Red Burgundies, and two wines that I found very strange.

FIRST DINNER

 

Musigny and Montrachet2

1989 Domaine Gagnard Delagrange Montrachet
Light yellow gold in color this wine shows a really complex perfume. Floral, honeyed, and citrus notes are intertwined with hints of cream brûlée and roasted almonds. Rich, yet with a lot of underlying structure, this is a Montrachet that shows classic honeyed flavors with hints of spice and mineral nuances. It is very long on the palate and while delicious now shows no sign of fading any time soon. This is simply an amazing wine – Exceptional.
This wine was produced in a very small quantity. It mostly was sold in France and the name with all the different family connections is very complicated, yet very interesting. As a result, the wine is not well known. But, the wines from here in the 80s and 90s are simply great. (To read about the history of this domaine with notes on more of the great old Domaine Gagnard Delagrange Montrachets click here)

2000 Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Musigny
Deep in color this Musigny really delivers. With a stunning perfume showing lots of floral fruit and exotic nuances, it is also velvety on the palate with a lush and beautifully balanced richness. The flavors show a myriad of exotically tinged fruits and the finish is very long. Without question, this is an all together stunning wine that should age effortlessly for many more years – Exceptional.
This wine exemplifies the great purity and elegance of this domaine. (To read more about the history of this domaine with notes on the 2009s and 2010s click here)

SECOND DINNER

BURGUNDY

White

There were three Grand Cru White Burgundies and one was really terrific.

04 CC

2004 Domaine Georges Roumier Corton Charlemagne
A beautiful white Burgundy from a vintage I have like from the start, this Corton Charlemagne is now at a peak and showing no sign of fatigue. It has a great perfume and is beautifully balanced with lovely fruit and a nice brightness underneath. Elegant, but flavorful with a long finish, this is a really gorgeous Corton Charlemagne – Outstanding Plus.

A Trio Of Beautiful Red Burgundies

There were 6 Grand Cru Red Burgundies (one of the others was from 2009 and 2 were from1996) and there were three that stood out for me. One was from a highly acclaimed vintage (1999), the other two were from vintages not so highly acclaimed (2001 and 1998). Interestingly I have long been a fan of the 2000s and the 2001s have a distinct resemblance with perhaps a bit more acidity. As evidenced by the gorgeous 2000 Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Musigny, the 2000s have been delicious from the very beginning and continue to drink beautifully today. The similar 2001s started a bit tighter, but have evolved beautifully and are also drinking really well now. The 2001 Domaine Dujac Clos St Denis is a perfect example. The 1998s were never thought to be great, but they can also be really lovely as was this Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux Vielles Vignes. The point is that with Burgundy you have to keep an open mind.

Today most Burgundies are evaluated from barrel and many people buy only the vintages that get the most accolades. But, this is what creates opportunity for those in the know. Highly acclaimed vintages often shut down and can stay closed for years. Other less lauded vintages can be more closed or lighter at the outset and open or lush out with age. Lalou Bize Leroy of Domaine Leroy once told me that for the great Red Burgundy vintages you can drink them young. But that the lesser vintages should be laid away for the future. I think this is very true. The 2000 vintage was a so called “lighter vintage”. It followed the 1999 which was widely acclaimed. The 2000s were mostly overlooked, but the wines were delicious from the start and have remained so right up until today. And, they show every indication that they will keep for many years into the future.

clos vougeot label

1999 Domaine Méo-Camuzet Clos Vougeot
Some 1999s are now in a period of restraint with a promise of opening over time. Not this one. It was open and very expressive. Great color and perfume with lots of supple floral tinged fruit this wine shows lots of depth and flavor. It is beautifully balanced and promises a long life ahead – Outstanding Plus.

98 Echezeaux2

1998 Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux Vielles Vignes
A really lovely wine with a lot of charm, flavor, and complexity, this Echezeaux shows what an under the radar Burgundy can be. It was a delight to drink and promises to age well into the future – Outstanding Plus.

2001 Clos St Denis

 

2001 Domaine Dujac Clos St Denis
Simply delicious, this was my favorite wine of the night! The wine had a beautiful color and a stunning perfume. With lots of elegance and real breed and depth this is a Burgundy that really delivers richness wrapped in a seamless package with a finish that goes on and on. Great now with a long life ahead, this is a great tribute to this great vineyard and producer – Exceptional.

A COUPLE OF ZINGERS

Lightning strike

As I mentioned earlier, there was a eclectic selection of wines that were brought to this dinner. Here are the two that I found the most strange. But, they are different. The older one I am not sure will ever come around. The younger one is already dead.

1999 Penfolds Grange Hermitage
This was very youthful. Showing virtually no age, the perfume was decidedly oaky with a lot of vanilla and spice. On the palate the wine had loads of vanilla and spice tinged fruit and could pass for a wine 10 or more years younger. It obviously needs a lot more time. But the fruit is very muted at this stage. How will it age? I don’t really know. I have old Grange Hermitages back to the 70s and they are remarkably good. I rarely taste the young ones anymore so this came as a real surprise. It was a real oak bomb. If you have it, try it again in 10 years.

2004 Harlan Estate
One of the Napa Valley cult wines, someone said this was a 100 point wine. You couldn’t prove it by me. I found it strange with a very curious musty perfume and not a lot of fruit. At 10 years old this is even more curious. Not my style. Maybe this wine is like the proverbial can of sardines that was always sold but never consumed?  So maybe if you own it,  it is best to sell it.  And, if you don’t own it, don’t buy it.  This seems to be the best bet given the absurd triple digit price. But, if you do own it, don’t wait too long. It’s a game of musical chairs. Just remember, nothing lasts forever and one day you may be left with nowhere to go!

can of sardines

 

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