An amazing night two weekends ago as we gathered at Marque restaurant in Sydney, Australia for a Burgundy themed event, organised by a friend as part of his RareWineDinners business. The attendees included some familiar local faces as well as people that had flown in from Adelaide, Tasmania and even San Francisco!
I can happily report that except for 1 bottle that was really not showing well (unfortunately the DRC!), all the wines had character and life, with many in stunning condition. Of course this underlines the critical importance of provenance with these kind of wines – the majority of these bottles were sourced from two cold cellars in Europe where the wines had been purchased on release and stored until being brought over to Australia, 90 years later in some cases!
A few highlights were;
The 1985 Veuve Clicquot Rare Rose Champagne (disgorged 2007) to start was fantastic and a little bit surprising how much I liked it, considering I very often don’t care much for Rose Champagne.
The 1947 Violland Corton Charlemagne which was in brilliant form, lots of nutty aromas on the nose with richness, minerality and still having plenty of acidity to lift the wine. The 2000 Ramonet Batard Montrachet was the token young gun and it had amazing potential.
For the reds, the highlight of the night for me was the 1929 Drouhin Clos De Vougeot – a wine of exceptionally complex aromas, a classy and texturally beautifully palate that gained weight with time in the glass and above all it was just seductively delicious (a lucky person with experience in the area said that it was utterly classic 1929 Burgundy – unfortunately I don’t have the experience to say the same!). This was followed closely by the 1937 Bouchard Clos De Vougeot, 1923 De Beuverand & De Poligny Nuits St.G and the 1919 Rigault Vosne Romanee.
- NV G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Cordon Rouge Brut – France, Champagne
Served as a palate cleanser and arrival drink. Some lemon curd and apple on the palate. I found the palate to be very light intensity, with decent freshness but a serious lack of depth. Okay value for Champagne, but I prefer many Australian sparkling wines at a similar price point. 86/100
- 1985 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé Rare – France, Champagne
Disgorged 2007. Redcurrant, earthy, lemon and honeycomb notes on the nose. There is lovely vibrant acidity to go along with the medium weighted richness. Great length and really impressive, especially considering Rose Champagne often leaves me underwhelmed. Good bottles will continue at this very high level for some time to come. 93/100
- 1947 Louis Violland Corton-Charlemagne – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Almost the same golden colour as the 1978 Lafon, this was just slightly darker in the core. The nose does have lots of aged elements, but it retains a sense of freshness – there is orange peel, lots of nutty aromas and some old oak and mint. The palate has a fantastic line of acidity, which some felt was clearly added by the winemaker but I thought was nicely integrated. Alongside this bright acid and framing minerality is good richness that built when given time in the glass. A very classy wine in brilliant form. 93/100
- 1978 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
Grilled almonds on the nose, with ginger and a little resin element. The medium length palate is fairly soft but has glimpses of minerality that held my interest. Very good but it would be great with a little bit more drive and persistence. It is holding but I don’t think it will improve from here based on this bottle. 89/100
- 1986 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Montrachet Grand Cru
Quite reticent nose with light florals, honey and some pineapple, possibly from some botrytis influence. The palate has rounded out well and has very good balance, assisted by a flash of acidity at just the right moment. Improved in the glass after some vigorous swirling and while I liked it a lot, it didn’t quite deliver enough complexity to rate this higher. Drink now. 91/100
- 2000 Domaine Ramonet Bâtard-Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
The token young gun at this tasting. Mint, lime, spicy/toasty oak and apple aromas. The palate was especially true to the Ramonet house style – with layered and powerful fruit paired with superb tension, focus and length. Above all, though it is a outstanding wine already, the potential to improve is very much evident. 94/100
- 1929 Joseph Drouhin Clos Vougeot – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
A stunning nose – spices, tea, cherry, roses, autumn leaves and some cocoa. The palate is beguiling, still possessing alluring red fruit and complex earthy spices. The layers of flavour, texture and especially the length are verging on out of this world. While it doesn’t have the outright structure of some of the other wines tonight, it is beautifully balanced and drinking perfectly now. Magic. 96/100
- 1919 Leon Rigault Vosne-Romanée – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée
Bramble, raspberry, rhubarb and very nice clove and earthy aromatics. Medium bodied and with a real purity to the fruit that is just unbelievable for the age. Not only is the palate fresh and lifted by this pure fruit, there is earthy complexity and even has fine structure with tannins still there to guide the wine. Totally outstanding. 94/100
- 1923 De Beuverand & De Poligny Nuits St. Georges – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Nuits St. Georges
Opened up wonderfully even a short time after pouring with tar and roses, musk and ground coffee all present. The structure on the palate had me reeling in consideration of just how good it was – at 90 years of age it was not my expectation but the tannins were perfectly placed and really gave the wine a feeling of great purpose and balance. Not quite as complex as some of the other wines that were highlights tonight, but I loved it all the same. 93/100
- 1929 Pierre Bourée Fils Gevrey-Chambertin Clos de la Justice – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
I adored the nose on this wine right from the first moment, it subdued a little bit over time but they still had me captive – complex spices, incense, cherry, pencil shavings and earth. The nose was hard to live up to, and for me the palate didn’t really manage it – it was taut and not willing to give much back, the length was good but it terms of depth it just wasn’t there as much as I tried to find it. Still very good and on almost any other night it might have starred. 90/100
- 1937 Bouchard Père et Fils Clos Vougeot – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
Incredibly pretty aromas right away – highly perfumed florals, spice, truffle and a wisp of smoke. The palate has superb poise, it is balanced with a precise line of acidity and some delicious cherry fruit. Complex, depth and having great texture, this is a wine of immense class that is both appealing and extremely interesting. 94/100
- 1951 Arthur Barolet et Fils Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
The nose is earthy and nutty, with a fair bit of volatile acidity and a yeasty character. The palate is better with some acidity to carry the light fruit but it is still lacking a bit in interest and depth. There is still life and it is entirely decent to drink, however it was just not up to scratch tonight with the interest that the other wines had to offer. 87/100
- 1961 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru
Very earthy nose, it is smoky with mulch and an edge to it that is port like. The palate for me was showing less obvious aged character, it has a sense of structure and fruit rather than either being obvious. Drinkable but probably not a bottle in great condition and certainly not meeting the lofty domaine reputation. NR/100
- 1961 Pol Mairesse Richebourg – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru
A nose that took some getting used to – there is dettol and deep heat, with lots of charcoal, gunpowder, stems and boot polish. It had plenty of interest, though it is not particularly easy to like. The palate is more conventional, with cherry fruit and some of that stemmy character coming through. The finish is a little bit short. Overall even though I think it was a bit too confronting for me, I can’t recall drinking anything quite like it and I valued the chance to try it. 87/100
- 1928 Chevillot Tâche-Romanée Grand Cru – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, La Tâche Grand Cru
A very fitting way to end the burgundy flights. There was plenty happening on the nose with five spice and hoisin, coal, red cherry and strawberries. The palate was quite elegant and restrained and while it did become a bit more expansive with time, it didn’t end up having the power or weight I might have expected from a La Tache based wine. Despite that, it was still lovely to drink with medium length and a gentle finish. Some people mentioned that it was more what you might expect from a 1928 compared to some of the other wines that were still quite impressively vibrant – not that this was falling over but it was certainly time to drink it. 91/100
- 1976 Weingut der Stadt Frankfurt a. Main Hochheimer Domdechaney Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese – Germany, Rheingau
Good freshness and plenty of style on the nose – there is apricot, pineapple, pear and peach along with dense honey and caramel. The palate is lovely, with the acidity really driving and lifting the wine into a long finish. I do feel like this wine was on the cusp of brilliance and others at the table that have had another bottle indicated that the previous bottle had more intensity while maintaining the same impressive balance, something that I think would take it onto that next level. 92/100