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.

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.

FIN
JK

Turning 50 Part II

Turning 50 Part II

There were actually six celebrations, arguably seven, when I turned fifty, it was one heckuva week. This evening in particular was also noteworthy. It was a dinner of only magnums, and 24 of New York City’s finest collectors, most of whom were already friends before (and certainly friends after), all came together to share many toasts throughout the night of their favorite tipples. By the end of the night, I was feeling fuzzy, slightly warm and definitely tipsy.

We started with a trio of Champagnes, the first being a perfect magnum of 1979 Krug Collection. There was great spritz to this long and effervescent Krug, which also had great sweetness of the apple cider variety. There was still the signature cream and butter with a tasty amount of toast on its lingering finish (97M).

A 1971 Dom Perignon took it up a notch, if that was even possible. This was another perfect magnum, perhaps blessed by the birth year glow. It was long and zippy with superb acidity. Bad Boy hailed it ‘a 101-point wine.’ He would know. ‘SUPER’ appeared in my notes on multiple occasions. This was white fruits, white ice and white sugar all combining for a sparkling white wine wonderland (98M).

We dialed it further back with an even older magnum of 1964 Salon. It was another white and wintry Champagne, but it also showed more minerality and white leather chaps. There was cream and sugar in this percolating bubbly, which had a long finish, but it fell a touch short of the sheer pleasure of the Dom P (97M).

The white flight was what dreams are made of. Thankfully, no one had to pinch me, although I was feeling quite punchy after one sip of a unicorn magnum of 2001 Domaine Leflaive Montrachet. Perfect seemed to be the word of the night; here it was again. Its nose was super smoky. This was a rich, creamy and honeyed Chardonnay, showing the botrytis of the 2001 vintage in long, seminal fashion. There was great richness here, but there were more Montrachets to follow (96M).

It is rare when a magnum of Ramonet Montrachet finishes “last” in a flight of wine, but it will soon become obvious why the 1999 Ramonet Montrachet did. There was great acidity and power here, as top ‘99s are prone to have, but it was a bit coy. Someone hailed the flight ‘as spectacular a flight of whites as you will see.’ There was a nice, sweet core on the waterfall and mint side in the middle, but it was still shy. It was also definitively long and lifting…to be continued (95+M).

The 1992 Ramonet Montrachet delivered out of magnum as always. This has always been the wine of the vintage in Burgundy, and even more so out of magnum! Its nose was on the sweet side of this tropical vintage, showing lots of rainwater. Its palate had great texture dripping with sticky honey. Its palate was absolutely gorgeous, sweet in all the right spots. There was a harvest full of corn here, and this regal white sat in my belly as it sparkled on its finish. Thank you, Bill (99M).

There was one more Ramonet magnum that followed, a 1986 Ramonet Montrachet magnum. This was another rich and dense white, the most buttery of them all with a citrusy kiss. Its tremendous finish unfolded like a good plot, and it was thick as a brick. It had the longest finish but it was a hair brawny compared to the effortless 1992. That would what we call nitpicking, and some were in the 1986 camp. Ambassadors are not always right (98M).

A duo of Dujacs was next, and the 1996 Dujac Clos de la Roche had the difficult position of following that extraordinary flight of whites. It answered the bell admirably. This was a classic 1996, screechy and with vibrant acidity. There was great musk here along with mint and leather, and a lot of backside in this large and stylish red (95+M).

The 1993 Dujac Clos de la Roche had great fruit for a 1993, with a wet kiss of game. It was purple and dusty with leather, cream and exotic spices. It had the whole spice cabinet, in fact. The Ambassador found it ‘way better than the 1996.’ He is always very opinionated lol (97M).

A trio of Rousseaus was next, and they were all extraordinary. The night was in full throttle mode, and I must confess that I didn’t take many notes for the spectacular magnum of 1993 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze. I have written this wine up many times over the years, and it has always been one of the most extraordinary wines from this extraordinary vintage, the Burgundy vintage that Robert Parker trashed when he was still allowed to visit Burgundy, remember that lol. For this magnum, my most telling note was ‘finished it first.’ It’s a true story (98M).

The 1995 Rousseau Chambertin magnum that followed was also quite good, make that really good. It admirably held a candle to the blindingly good 1993 Beze, and it was outstanding stuff. Fresh, creamy and with great red fruits, this mag showed the brightest sides of the 1995 vintage. Rousseau does that for every vintage now, doesn’t it? There was still a lot of stuffing to go with this beauty of a bird (96M).

The 1985 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze magnum, just wow. This wine wasn’t just rich, it was wealthy, at least three generation’s worth lol. The energy here was practically existential, and while it was the oldest and wisest of the flight, it still had this baby fat goodness that made me want to make strange sounds and noises with my lips. Its fruits were darker and blacker, and while it had great development, it was still very young. It was immediately crowned WOTN by many. Thank you Peter (99M).

The 1985 Rousseau Clos St. Jacques that followed was a bit disappointing, or perhaps just a bit outclassed by the Chambertins. It was a little musty but still a pretty wine. It danced in the glass and was quite elegant, but it just didn’t stack up to the three beauties and beasts that preceded it (94M).

This is likely the only time I will ever be able to say that I had 1971 DRC La Tache on three consecutive nights, and this time it was out of magnum, one that I had acquired from The Don RIP. This was the most expensive wine I had ever opened on my own; I figured a 50th birthday was as good an occasion as any to do so! A combination of anticipation and trepidation quickly led to jubilation once my nose was in the glass. ‘Perfection,’ was the first thing I wrote; there I went again! It was so musky and full of spice, with an arousing sensuality. Its sweet, red strawberry fruit played with roses and exotic spices. It was definitely time to dim the lights. There was so much minerality to go with incredible acidity and lift. Even though it was the third time this week, it was a once-in-a-lifetime wine, and the magnum stood heads and shoulders above not only the previous two bottles, but also every other magnum on the night. Thanks JK lol (99+M).

The 1970 DRC La Tache can also be exceptional out of magnum, but this one had no shot after the 1971. It should have been served first. Its nose was on the leaner iron, mesquite and band-aid side of things, and its palate was soft, tender and fleshy. Nice wine, but it was on to Bordeaux (94M).

The first Bordeaux of our sinister six was a magnum of 1959 Haut Brion. It was silky and chocolaty, elegant and sensual, soft and creamy. However, this wine often hits the 98-99 point heights, and this magnum didn’t. It was still outstanding, but it is tough to get truly excited when you have multiple, superior reference points (96M).

The 1953 Haut Brion magnum that followed actually took it up a notch, which isn’t easy for a ’53 to do over a ’59 in general. It was also creamy but more honeyed. This was a rich, perfect 1953. ‘So good and so delicious’ kept appearing in my notes, as did recurring notes of chocolate and cream. If served blind, I might have guessed this to be the ’59. 1953 has always been a giving and pleasing vintage, comparable to 1985 per Bipin, someone drinking them for a lot longer than almost anyone reading this (97M)!

Unfortunately, La Mission Haut Brion took the fall for every other wine on this night. A magnum of 1953 was cooked, and a magnum of 1959 was corked. Ouch!!! But we were feeling no pain, and two Pomerols got us quickly back on track. This was the 1982 Lafleur I had been looking for my whole life! Many adore this wine, but frankly most experiences with it have been disappointing for me. I’m not going to get into the whole 1982 vintage thing, nor the ’82 Right versus Left Bank thing either, because this Lafleur changed the narrative. Another ‘perfect bottle’ made its way into my notes, along with so rich and so decadent. This was a purple, plummy extravaganza, dripping with fruit and exuding class (98M).

There was a magnum of 1970 Petrus, but I was starting to run out of gas. Classic, rich and decadent were all I had left (96M). There was an equally exceptional magnum of 1971 Cantina Mascarello Barolo Riserva, which awoke my senses with its unique Italian sensibilities, along with great citrus, rose and freshness (96M). There was also a mag of 1989 Giacosa Falleto Riserva, but I was officially illegible.

As spectacular as my 50th birthday week was, and the two dinners in particular that I wrote up, there was another birthday event that was even more spectacular, and it wasn’t mine. The Rev turned 60, as unbelievable as that is to those that know him, and his celebration was delayed due to the pandemic. He more than made up for the delay with one of the greatest wine dinners of my entire life…

FIN
JK

Turning 50

Best Wines of 2020

This past Fall, I hit a significant milestone – turning 50. My first two observations were that the same workouts keep getting harder, and it takes longer and longer to recover from the previous night lol. Also, my scale refuses to acknowledge or congratulate me quite regularly. I haven’t cut it off yet; we still speak every day. Speaking of every day, I am also still happily married – well, at least three out of four weeks a month 😊. I now have two adult children, and two minors to go, although I should say four to go as they are all still on the payroll, so to speak! I am not sure I am any wiser, but I can say that I am all the richer thanks to a quarter-century of great memories of great wines and great times. This past Fall was certainly extraordinary in this regard, thanks to celebrations on both coasts over the course of a month, a week of which led up to my birthday in New York City. After warming up with a couple of great Wine Workshop events Monday and Tuesday, Wesdnesday saw a group of some of my closest friends and best drinking buddies host an evening of mainly 1971s, which is, of course my vintage. We didn’t always stay on topic, but that can happen with attention span these days. Appropriately, it was chez Big Boy. The gang was all there, Chef Hardy was in the kitchen, and we were ready to celebrate life once again.

The evening had a bit of turbulence taking off, as a magnum of 1971 Salon was a bit advanced, not DQ’d but not perfect. It had nice texture but was soon an afterthought (94A-M).

The first official flight was an oldie and a greatie. I don’t think I’ve ever had close to half a millennium in one flight of wine before. We started with my 1914 Pol Roger. It was Montrachet-like with a nutty and oily mouthfeel. Creamy and honeyed, there were nice wheat flavors to its magnificent texture. This was round and made me want to be Champagne-bound. Richness, roundness and greatness kept appearing in my notes, ‘what a body’ someone remarked. While it had lost all of its fizz, and I have had another bottle or two of this wine this century that hadn’t, there was no doubting its deliciousness and potability at age 107 (97).

The most appropriate wine to follow a 1914 Pol Roger is certainly a 1914 Moet. This was before Moet made Dom Perignon, so all the Dom was still in the Moet. The Moet was a bit grassy, lighter than the Pol Roger but a little fresher to Jetski, and he was right, unusual as that may be lol. It was still round and creamy, ‘so sharp’ per Gentleman Jim, and that was a compliment. There was a lightness and elegance here in an ethereal way, and someone commented on its ‘vitaminy sweetness from dosage.’ There was still enough honey and cream to go around in this ancient wonder (96).

#14) 1988 Roumier Bonnes Mares VV – All I can say about the 1988 Roumier VV is that it remains one of the greatest Burgundies ever made and respectfully request that Roumier makes another, and another, and another. Hands down the wine of the night and thanks to Big Boy for this special treat. ‘Vapor Juice’ according to a very experienced guest, which means it barely exists. For those of you keeping score I would go 99 no question. This was in a perfect spot, its richness, body and length in perfect harmony. Its fruit was rich, its finish was spicy, yet it was still delicate. What a wine!

An original bottle of 1911 Moet followed, and while it was a touch oxidized in the nose, its palate was ‘holy f***’ per Big Boy. It was sugary in an Icee good kind of way, clearly richer than the ’14, with some sasparilla action on its finish. It wasn’t a perfect bottle, but it was still great (97A).

One good 1911 Moet deserves another. This was a later release; in fact, it was released by Moet to celebrate the 100th year of this vintage. When first released, it was sold at auction along with a date with Scarlett Johansson. I’m not sure if the first buyer ever got that date, but I do know that the second buyer insisted if he got that date, Hollywood history might have been a little different lol. There was a ‘bigger finish’ here per Big Boy, and Jetski admired its ‘smokiness.’ There was so much exotic to this bottle – exotic fruits, exotic fireplace. It was clearly the most complex, and most people’s favorite. 110 years old never tasted so good (98).

A couple of DRC Montrachets segued us to the reds, beginning with a 2010 DRC Montrachet, which had a spectacular nose. It had lots of cut, great minerality and a long, elegant and stylish finish. While a bit young, there was no doubting its pedigree. This was hallmark in every sense of the vineyard and vintage, with that extra touch of DRC weight and kink (98).

The 2002 DRC Montrachet was clearly more mature, and some were not sure of its purity. It was nutty and more cloudy, showing more botrytis. While not past its peak, it clearly wasn’t on the fresher side of the daisy. There was a lot of lanolin and game in this still impressive white. It was on the mature side and arguably affected but still outstanding. I think the freshness and verve of the 2010 altered the perception. That’s a real thing and why company is so important (96).

A flight of Monfortino began with a 1971, of course. The 1971 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva was a perfect bottle of this wine, ‘as good as it gets’ per Diamonds. It was ceramic and leathery with darker fruits on the black and tar side of things. Its acidity was tremendous, and ‘straw on fire’ came from the crowd. This was a special bottle of Nebbiolo (98).

The 1958 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva was more elegant with redder roses. It had an stylish finish but was still very strong with lots of stony qualities. Leather abounded, and Lady Agah found it hit ‘the sweet spot.’ This was a gorgeous, mature Barolo (95).

The 1937 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva had some VA but also some sex appeal per The Admiral. I couldn’t do it at this stage. Old Barolos get highly risky after age 70, but sometimes still hit it (90A?).

It was Bordeaux’s turn to take a spin around the 1971 vintage with a couple of Pomerols in charge, starting with a magnum of 1971 Trotanoy. It was much fresher that the bottle the night before, but then I wrote fresher wasn’t the right word. The other was much more oaky, while this magnum was rich, creamy and coconutty, more classical in every which way. This was a perfect Trot, with round and tender leathery supplements, along with citrusy ones and a succulent, plummy core (96M).

The 1971 Petrus was ‘the same as last night’s bottle’ (last night was the Wine Workshop’s 1971 Dinner, btw). I couldn’t fish the note out from that, but the Petrus was richer and more decadent than the Trot. Even Jetski was impressed. It is pretty rare that anything similar can top a Petrus, even when owned and run by the same family (97M).

The Rhone took over with a pair of legends, the top wines from the North and South. A 1971 Chave Hermitage was musky and full of animal aromas – sweat, skin, fur and meat. It was rich, hearty and smoky, crackling with fireplace action. This was a tasty wine with a finish full of mesquite flavors. It is always a treat to have an old Chave like this; I rarely see anything older than 1978 (95).

The 1971 Chateau Rayas took the vintage up a notch. Certain years hit slightly differently in the Northern and Southern Rhone, and the Rayas hit almost as hard as it gets. The Admiral admired its ‘delicious’ and ‘jammy’ personality. It was tender and honeyed, balanced in its body and its sweet strawberry and honeyed flavors. Its palate was fresh and so lively, whistling ‘like the Western wind’ whatever that meant. Old Rayases are super rare, and incredible treasures (98).

We finally made our way to Burgundy, where 1971 sits amongst the pantheon of great red vintages, and a vintage whose wines are still singing at full strength right now. You know I had to be born in a great vintage, right 😉 The 1971 Dujac Clos de la Roche is another wine you don’t see every day. It is the third vintage commercially released by the Domaine! While its nose was a little mushroomy at first, certainly a touch funky, its palate was spectacular. There was a savory decadence here to go with prime earthiness and rich fruit. The full mélange of black, red and purple was on display here. Amazing wine (98).

The 1971 Rousseau Clos St. Jacques that followed had a crispy nose, citrusy and honeyed, reflecting like a mirror in a honey crisp way. It had a musky and sexy nose, and it was dusty, dusty, I wrote twice, make that American Dream Dusty for those of you up on your wrestling references! What was most amazing about the Rousseau was its freshness. That citrusy smack carried over to its flavors, and the wine vibrated on the palate. It was another great 1971, completely different in personality (97).

The 1971 Vogue Musigny VV, which can be great, wasn’t the best of bottles. It was darker, deeper and on the blacker side of the fruit spectrum. Someone also commented, ‘this can be exuberant but this is the darker side of this wine.’ The force wasn’t with it (94).

There was only one place to go for a celebration of 1971, and I will give you three clues. D…R…C. And five of them, no less! I love my friends 😊 We started with the DRC Romanee St Vivant, which was a great bottle of this wine. In fact, it was the best bottle of DRC RSV I have ever had. It had a brothy and foresty nose without the usual minty green goodness, though. Its acidity was bright, and the palate stayed brothy and sexy. This was an overachiever of an RSV, and a Wilf Jaeger bottle, that always helps (97).

I didn’t write much about the 1971 DRC Grands Echezeaux, of which I am usually a huge fan. This bottle got lost in the sauce of the RSV and the Richebourg that followed, even though it can often steal the limelight from both. Citrusy was the main takeaway, and while still outstanding, it was the fifth wine in the Fantastic Four (95).

The 1971 DRC Richebourg was smooth and satiny, special and sexy. It was incredibly sensual, long and unfurling in an elegant, playful way. There was more pitch here, hitting a high note previously unachieved by the last two. The Rev admired its ‘expressiveness,’ while I admired its rosy, red fruits and amazing spice (97).

1971 DRC La Tache. My birthday month was a great one if measured by this legendary wine. Two bottles, one magnum and one Jero. In fact, this was the second of three nights in a row with this wine. I think that’s called peaking lol. This was the second bottle of the week, and the best of the two. I’ll get to the magnum and the Jero in the next couple articles, I promise 😊 This bottle was incredibly decadent. Its nose was full of honey, menthol, musk, black fruits and tar. Its acidity was endless and perfect, lingering like a sunset during summer in Europe. Its palate was minty and dripping with cherry and ceramic goodness. This was a perfect bottle of what will always be a perfect wine to me (99).

Hold on there, fella. There was still a 1971 DRC Romanee Conti to be had. It was much deeper and darker, showing a beefier side than the LT. It had more earth and yeast as well. There was a density here unequalled by the La Tache. This was the masculine to the feminine of the LT, and let’s just put me in the ladies camp lol. While thicker and more substantiative, the elegance and grace of the La Tache stole the show, and stole my heart (98).

There were two more wines on this night, one of which I had taken a note, and I am glad I did, as it was a once-in-a-lifetime, perfect bottle of 1947 Petrus. Knowing the cellar where it came from, and how long it had been there, I was extremely excited to have this bottle, and it didn’t disappoint. I had never before had a bottle quite like this and might never again. The signature motor oil of the Right Bank in this vintage, which isn’t always there, was on full display here. The bottle hadn’t been moved in decades btw. There was so much chocolate and cream, oceans of fruit, and a thickness and richness unmatched by any other wine on this incredible night. ‘Sex appeal’ and ‘wow’ came from the crowd. With its kinky fruit and a sexy, stylish finish, this wine was all dressed up with only one place to go: “In my belly!!!” (99+).

The 1950 Cheval Blanc was another spectacular, old Right Bank wine. It was definitely in the 97-98 point territory, but I was no longer taking notes. I don’t recall how I got home, but I do remember there was another dinner the next night. Twice as many people were attending, so we had to do magnums. The celebration would continue!

FIN
JK

The Best Wines I Tasted in 2021

Best Wines of 2020

Hello again! It has been a while. Let’s talk about 2021 again, a year that began with much uncertainty. In 2020, after everything shut down, I went to New York in the summer and for Christmas, and that was it. No one was really moving around, and the same went for Q1 of 2021. I scooted to St. Barth’s in January for a very select gathering on a very big boat, and then I went to Miami in March for a long weekend. People were actually going to dinner in crowded restaurants, could it really be??? I survived, the vaccines started becoming available, and soon some trips to New York followed, including a month over the summer. My rotation was limited to a few major American cities this past Fall, but there were some spectacular events that happened. The demand to share and care was pent up, some significant birthdays occurred, and the rest is wine history.

I wanted to get this article out about a month ago, but Covid finally caught up to me after nearly two years of “clean” living in mid-January. One of my kids gave it to me, what was the quote back in the day, was it Scooby Doo, “if it weren’t for those damn meddling kids” lol. Feeling better and better as time goes on, and I don’t plan on staying home forever again, either. In New York the week of March 7th for those of you there, let me know 😉

Let’s get to it, the Wines of the (last) Year! For those of you that are new to this, or for those of you that forget, any wine I give 97 points or up is something I consider to be one of the best wines I have ever tasted. It’s a significant hurdle, and there were 182 wines I tasted in 2021 that achieved that status. 149 of them were 97 and 98 points, and here they are, organized by points and vintage. I know, I should be able to find a way to get these things published, but for now, you get the scores, and what will follow are the tasting notes for the 33 wines that achieved 99 points or plus. 33 notes are a lot for a guy that hasn’t published one in a year. Cut me some slack, if you’re nice to me I might try to start getting one or two of these articles out every month moving forward 😊

Without further ado, here are the 149 wines that I tasted this year that were 97 or 98 points. I would put the accuracy level at 95%, as I don’t always take notes, especially as I get older. After this list come the tasting notes, I promise!

1966 Guigal La Mouline (98+)
1985 Ramonet Montrachet (Magnum) (98+)
1990 DRC La Tache (98+)
1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil (98+)
1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil (Magnum) (98+)
1996 Salon (98+)
1999 DRC La Tache (98+)
2008 DRC Montrachet (98+)
1911 Moet (98)
1953 Lafite Rothschild (98)
1961 Haut Brion (Magnum) (98)
1961 Latour (98)
1961 Latour (98)
1964 Krug (98)
1971 Dom Perignon (Magnum) (98)
1971 DRC La Tache (Jeroboam) (98)
1971 DRC Romanee Conti (98)
1971 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino (98)
1971 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino (98)
1971 Jean Gros Richebourg (98)
1971 Krug Collection (Magnum) (98)
1971 Mascarello Monprivato (98)
1971 Rayas (98)
1974 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard (98)
1976 Roederer Cristal Rose (98)
1978 DRC Montrachet (98)
1982 Lafleur (Magnum) (98)
1985 Dujac Clos de la Roche (98)
1985 Dujac Clos St. Denis (98)
1986 Ramonet Montrachet (Magnum) (98)
1990 Chave Hermitage (98)
1990 Dujac Clos St. Denis (98)
1993 Dujac Bonnes Mares (98)
1993 Rousseau Chambertin (98)
1993 Rousseau Clos de Beze (Magnum) (98)
1996 Salon (Magnum) (98)
1999 DRC La Tache (98)
1999 DRC La Tache (98)
1999 DRC Montrachet (Magnum) (98)
1999 DRC Richebourg (98)
1999 DRC Richebourg (98)
1999 Dujac Clos de la Roche (98)
1999 Rousseau Chambertin (98)
2010 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne (98)
2010 DRC Montrachet (98)
1971 Petrus (Magnum) (97+)
1980 DRC Richebourg (97+)
1989 La Mission Haut Brion (97+)
1990 DRC Richebourg (97+)
1990 Dujac Bonnes Mares (97+)
1990 Dujac Clos St. Denis (97+)
1990 Dujac Clos St. Denis (97+)
1990 Latour (Magnum) (97+)
1995 Roumier Amoureuses (97+)
1996 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne (97+)
2002 Dujac Clos de la Roche (97+)
2004 Krug Clos du Mesnil (97+)
2006 Keller G-Max (97+)
1914 Pol Roger (97)
1953 Haut Brion (Magnum) (97)
1953 Krug (97)
1955 Petrus (97)
1958 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino (97)
1959 Mouton Rothschild (97)
1961 Krug Collection (97)
1961 Petrus (97)
1964 Dom Perignon (97)
1964 DRC Richebourg (97)
1964 Jaboulet La Chapelle (97)
1964 Salon (Magnum) (97)
1966 Dom Perignon (97)
1971 Dom Perignon (Magnum) (97)
1971 DRC Richebourg (97)
1971 DRC Romanee St. Vivant (97)
1971 Dujac Clos de la Roche (97)
1971 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino (97)
1971 Penfolds Grange (97)
1971 Petrus (Magnum) (97)
1971 Petrus (97)
1971 Hermannshof Niersteiner Pettenthal Auslese (97)
1971 Trapet Chambertin (97)
1978 DRC Richebourg (97)
1978 Jaboulet La Chapelle (Magnum) (97)
1979 Krug Collection (Magnum) (97)
1980 Ponsot Clos de la Roche (97)
1982 Cheval Blanc (Magnum) (97)
1982 Cheval Blanc Imperial (97)
1982 Mouton Rothschild (97)
1982 Philipponat Clos des Goisses (97)
1985 DRC Richebourg (97)
1985 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (97)
1985 Roederer Cristal Rose (Magnum) (97)
1985 Roumier Bonnes Mares (97)
1986 Ramonet Montrachet (97)
1988 Krug (97)
1988 Krug (97)
1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil (97)
1989 Giacosa Falletto Riserva (97)
1989 Haut Brion (97)
1989 Rayas (97)
1990 Bonneau Celestins (97)
1990 DRC La Tache (97)
1990 DRC Richebourg (97)
1990 DRC Richebourg (97)
1990 DRC Richebourg (97)
1990 Dujac Clos St. Denis (97)
1990 Krug (97)
1990 Latour (97)
1990 Rayas (97)
1990 Soldera (97)
1991 Chave Hermitage (97)
1991 Chave Hermitage (97)
1991 Meo-Camuzet Clos Vougeot (97)
1991 Ponsot Clos de la Roche (97)
1991 Roumier Bonnes Mares (97)
1991 Rousseau Chambertin (97)
1991 Rousseau Chambertin (97)
1991 Rousseau Clos St. Jacques (Magnum) (97)
1993 Dujac Bonnes Mares (97)
1993 Dujac Clos de la Roche (Magnum) (97)
1993 Dujac Clos St. Denis (97)
1993 Meo-Camuzet Cros Parantoux (Magnum) (97)
1993 Rousseau Clos St. Jacques (97)
1995 Dom Perignon (Jeroboam) (97)
1996 Krug (Magnum) (97)
1996 Rousseau Chambertin (97)
1996 Rousseau Clos de Beze (97)
1996 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne (97)
1996 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne (Magnum) (97)
1996 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne (97)
1999 DRC Grands Echezeaux (97)
2000 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres (97)
2000 DRC La Tache (97)
2000 Lafite Rothschild (Magnum) (97)
2000 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (97)
2001 Rousseau Clos St. Jacques (Magnum) (97)
2004 Marc Colin Montrachet (Magnum) (97)
2006 Comte Liger-Belair La Romanee (97)
2007 d’Auvenay Chevalier Montrachet (97)
2008 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne (97)
2008 Comte Liger-Belair Echezeaux (Magnum) (97)
2008 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (Magnum) (97)
2008 Mugnier Musigny (Magnum) (97)
2009 Comte Liger-Belair Echezeaux (97)
2010 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne (97)
2010 Comte Liger-Belair Echezeaux (97)
2017 DRC Montrachet (97)

So the 33 wines that got 99 points or plus I have consolidated to a Top 15, I hope it makes sense!

#15) 1989 Haut Brion – This wine achieved 99 points three times for me in 2021. It almost gets taken for granted given its youth compared to the other Bordeaux that usually crack this list, but make no mistake about it, this is one of the best Bordeaux ever made. Here is my best note from last year:

Another monumental bottle of this wine! I don’t think I have ever had more bottles of a specific wine that have consistently scored as great as the 1989 Haut Brion. I mean, occasionally this wine scores 98 or 98+ and not 99. Never 97! And I must have had it 50 times. It will forever be one of the greatest Bordeaux ever made in my lifetime. Let’s get back to the actual note. ‘Nose so good’ is how mine started; the song remained the same. There were so many minerals, wheat and what I deemed great compost. The fruit flashed sweetness like meaningful eye contact from across the room. ‘So good’ appeared again, followed by ‘the best’. There was a tasty nuttiness to its divine finish.

#14) 1988 Roumier Bonnes Mares VV – All I can say about the 1988 Roumier VV is that it remains one of the greatest Burgundies ever made and respectfully request that Roumier makes another, and another, and another. Hands down the wine of the night and thanks to Big Boy for this special treat. ‘Vapor Juice’ according to a very experienced guest, which means it barely exists. For those of you keeping score I would go 99 no question. This was in a perfect spot, its richness, body and length in perfect harmony. Its fruit was rich, its finish was spicy, yet it was still delicate. What a wine!

#13) 1947 Krug Collection – But that 1947. Big Boy insisted we wait and let it unfold in the glass, but I’m not as patient as him. This was richer and wealthier than the 61 – more raw materials to work with. There were more brown sugar kisses, so many kisses. There was also this incredible smokiness along with a unique nuttiness and a savory musk that put this wine in a different stratosphere. I don’t own my own rocketship, but I’ll take a bottle of this instead any time.

#12) 1953 & 1959 Lafite Rothschild – I need to give a little context here, since this is a combo note(s). These were wines 44 and 45 on the most spectacular wine night of my year, hosted by the Rev for his 60th birthday even though he looks younger than me. Suffice it to say when wines #44 and 45 stand out, you remember them, but you may not write as much as usual. Here is the note: The two greatest Lafites ever made. Superb bottles that were pure perfection with all the classic claret components – cassis, cedar, pencil, nut, caramel, a touch of cream and lots of spice. Exceptional balance between fruit and finish and the sweetness was just right. Superlative stuff!!!

#11) 1992 Ramonet Montrachet (Magnum) – I have had a long love affair with the 1992 Ramonet Montrachet, often giving it 99 points. This one was right there; I am pretty sure the last time I had this made my top wines of the year as well. 1992 was also a sweeter vintage but it didn’t come across as sweet as the Leflaive (a 2001 Montrachet Magnum), and it had more tropical rainwater to it along with absolutely stunning texture. Its palate was gorgeous with honey, corn and burnt sugar flavors lingering both in the mouth and in the belly. It sparkled on its finish. Special wine.

#10) 1945 & 1978 Rayas – Unlike my Lafite combo, these will be two separate notes on two separate occasions. Rayas is one of the world’s most thrilling and unique wines, I guess that’s why its prices have gone up almost 200% this past year or so! The first note references Instagram, where I post most of my notes these days, come follow me lol.

I feel like it might be time for me to go on a run. Not like a real run don’t be silly lol. Like a run of posts and see if I can break my previous record of 20+ days I forget the number. My California trip is off to a sizzling start and reminded me that some of the best bottles are the ones you can’t sell. This Rayas was either from 45, 47 or 49 as that is what my friend bought from a great old cellar decades ago, but the vintage tag had fallen off, so there was no way to verify which one it was. They did not brand the corks with the vintage back then. So we drank it. This is even pre-Jacques, you can see L. Reynaud on the label for Louis, who was one of the first to estate bottle and sell his own wine in Chateauneuf. The wine was glorious, and based on my experience with 40s vintages in general, I think it was a 1945, but that is really irrelevant. The relevance is how amazing Château Rayas is, one of the truly unique and spectacular wines in the world. Having been there and seeing and understanding the unique microclimate there, I am not sure anyone else can do the same with Grenache. The wine aged magnificently, still with fresh strawberry fruit, extraordinary balance and significant length. The Provençal spice and the touch of brand-new leather were the right supporting actors to the fruit, which was the star of the show. So good, so special, so lucky!

Sexy, rich and decadent, the 1978 gave me a cherry cola impression at first. This was all about the Grenache, but the usual strawberry was second place to the rarely seen and under-appreciated lingonberry! Lingonberry!!! I am so glad to have two Rayas in my top wines of the year as I love it so!

#9) 1961 La Mission Haut Brion – It was tough to imagine a better bottle but somehow the La Mission edged out the Latour. It took longer to unwind and show its full frontal. At first, leather, charcoal and gravel dominated. It was a touch musty, which blew off into a beautiful mesquite and sandalwood. The palate was also fleshy and deep, its purple haze balanced by minerals and tobacco, almost a touch of clove. The finish lifted off like billionaires do these days, and that’s what separated the La Miss ever so slightly. Its chocolate components got sexier and sexier and ‘amazing’ appeared numerous times in my notes.

#8) Every 99-point Rousseau of the Year. So here you see how I have consolidated, as there are six of them, including one twice. What is most surprising to me is that 5/6 of them are also Clos de Beze, which can often trade 20% less than the “regular” Chambertin. Hmmmmmm. Regardless of that market inefficiency, no one can doubt that if Rousseau is on the label, the wine will be great, if not one of the best wines you’ve ever tasted. From youngest to oldest:

1993 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze – Long-time readers will know my deep and lasting love for this wine, and this was another spectacular example. This was a thick, rich and heavy wine, with amazing concentration and a wow finish. Its flavors showed the full spectrum of Burgundy greatness. This was a heavyweight boxer compared to anything else, period! This was the one Rousseau that breathed the rare air of 99 points twice.

1991 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze – The Beze was spectacular, with great fruit and musk in its nose. Tender strawberry, cherry and cranberry aromas were amidst a playful pillow fight for alpha status, but it was tough to pick a favorite. Wintry spice blanketed its sexy fruits, and great citricity and acidity began a list of many other greats in my notes. Its spice became ‘unbelievable’ and its leather smacked my mouth around. This was a wow wine. ‘So sweet’ and ‘sweet unctuosity’ came from the crowd. Its palate was bright like Scandavian summers. This was a stone-cold killer of a wine.

1991 Rousseau Chambertin – First 99 point wine of 2021. I’d say more but was too hungover from the forty wines I sampled over 36 hours this weekend. This was the St. Barth’s trip I previously mentioned. It’s tough to take notes when the Admiral is in charge!

1985 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze (Magnum) – Both Bezes were extraordinary. The 1985 was more than rich; it was generationally wealthy, still young and still with a touch of baby fat. Dark, black fruits dominated this sumptuous and sexy wine, which was clearly WOTN so far. I couldn’t stop commenting how impressed I was with its youthful showing. A perfect bottle.

1971 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze – Can someone explain to me why the Rousseau Beze is always less in price than the “regular” Chambertin? Is it the label design lol. Recent head-to-heads of both 1991 and these glorious 1971s had Beze on top by a decent margin. The 1971 was pure magic, silky and sensual with fabulous flavors and a delicacy unfound in younger wines. It was a real treat especially since my vintage. Another thank you to the one and only Big Boy.

#7) 1961 Dom Perignon Wedding Cuvee (Magnum) – The magnum of 1961 DP, the ‘Wedding Cuvee’ for Charles and Diana, was as good as older Champagne gets. Even though it was the 43rd wine I sampled on this day, it got my attention. ‘So good!’ was the initial impression. Rich, vivacious and sparkling as much as anything possibly can; its wintry, white flavors balanced out with its sweet caramel and honeyed finish. So much spritz out of magnum still, that always makes the difference! Rocket fuel!

#6) 1964 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva – This was the first vintage of SSR, and also the vintage of Ray Tuppatsch. Some of you may know him as King Angry; he later transformed into the Cardinal, then La Machina. I may be missing a name or two. To me, and to those that knew him well, he will always be King Angry, ready to let everyone know if someone was not representing appropriately for any given event. Ray was one of my first true friends in wine; we explored and drank our way through everything together. It is with great sorrow that I let all of you know that Ray died in 2021 at the very young age of 57. It was a heart attack. Ray was not a big doctor guy; in fact, he avoided them. All I can tell you is that you need to check yourself every year for everything, and if you don’t this is what could happen. This was my first great loss of a friend, someone my age. When Bad Boy summoned a few of us for a gathering, this bottle reached out to me, and it was the perfect choice for the perfect gentleman, Ray Tuppatsch. The wine was complex with cement, rose, sour cherry and ceramic aromas and flavors. Clay, cigar and more cherry dripped in my mouth. I couldn’t and didn’t stop drinking this nectar of a wine. Italian wines don’t get better, and neither do Italian guys! I love you and miss you Ray Tuppatsch.

#5) 1954 Henri Bonneau Reserve des Celestins – First vintage. Thrilling bottle. Shy on the nose but explosive on the palate. Lots of red fruits and barbecue aromas, great freshness. Consistent with the 1990 I had a couple months ago as to the overall quality, but this was better given the tertiary flavors that came out. Rich and decadent this was a bottle that deserved some singular attention and got it to the last drop. Chateauneuf du Pape in all its glory!

#4) La Tache. La Tache. La Tache. Here is another consolidated combustion of one of the finest wines made year after year. Any time any vintage of this is opened, it is a special occasion. Six vintages, seven notes, let’s roll it back again youngest to oldest:

1999 DRC La Tache – This was the second of the three 99-point wines sampled on my first wine weekend of 2021, and it delivered the apogee of this wine’s experience. It had a sweet core amongst dense layers upon layer of fruit. Rich, dense, chewy, thick, long, this wine was packed with fruit and blessed by a touch of good green. Amazing juice!

1991 DRC La Tache – The 1991 was in a perfect spot. It was redder than the 99, more sensual and less powerful. It was very perfumed with great leather and spices. Still with grip, this was ‘high-toned with bracing acidity’ and reminded another guest of ‘treble versus bass.’ Another found a Barolo-like edge to this beauty of a bottle, and there were classic menthol kisses to this spectacular La Tache.

1990 DRC La Tache – The ’90 La Tache’s nose was a deep, dark forest with lots of iron and the glove to go with it. There was incredible acidity here, and there was no doubting that this was one of the great bottles of this wine. I made a side comment about bottle variation, but let’s focus on the iconic bottle that I was enjoying. Its palate was full-bodied, rich and long. It was so deep and so young still, yet showing evolution with its citrus and leather backside expression. There was so much rust, leather and spice here, I envisioned Marco Polo coming back home with an incredible bounty of goods – all in this singular sensation of a bottle!

I had two 99-point experiences with the 1990 this year. A weekend in St. Barths started my wine year, and this was the ‘wine of the weekend.’ I can’t remember if it was two or three nights, but this was the last wine we tasted and certainly the best of forty wines sampled, although it wasn’t the first 99-point wine of the weekend, as you already know!

1978 DRC La Tache – Big Boy hailed the 1978 as ‘the real deal,’ and I could not disagree. It had all the mint and menthol action, spearmint to be more specific. It was a buttery wine in the mouth, oozing richness and tasty brick and caramel complexities. Its finish was long and full of acidity; there was no doubt that greatness was upon us.

1971 DRC La Tache – The 1971 LT was another level from the rest. Decadence was the first word that came to mind. There was this glaze of honey to go with signature menthol and musk. Its fruits were a touch blacker with a pinch of tar to go with its (of course) great acidity. Mint, cherry and ceramics rounded out this perfect bottle.

1959 DRC La Tache – Heads and shoulders the best LT of the flight, which was six significant samurais of vintages for La Tache. Flat-out awesome, this was indubitably a perfect bottle, brimming like a dozen fresh roses on Valentine Day. ‘Juicy’ came from JB, and it was so rich, so saucy, like the best homemade Italian red sauce. There was a touch of cereal/oat/wheat to it in a tasty way, rounding out this spectacular wine.

#3) 1947 Lafleur – The chances of having a real bottle of 1947 Lafleur is slim to none. But on this magical weekend, Vandermeulen came through with a spectacular bottle of this wine; make sure your Vandermeulen bottles have an embossed label! That is the lesson I learned on two occasions this week. Concentration was what this wine was all about; it came with the expected richness and mouthfeel accordingly. It dripped plums and prunes, chocolate and mocha. It stood out even after the 45 Mouton that was my – spoiler alert – one of my favorite wines of 2021! This wine was deep, deep inside, deep as the Milwaukee Bench, and that’s not basketball talk, that’s oceanography! Incredible wine!

#2) 1945 Petrus (with a Best Supporting nod to 1989 Petrus) – There was a staggering amount of great old Petrus on Bad Boy’s 14th Annual 50th Birthday Party, but none greater than the 1945 Petrus. This was my second perfect bottle of 1945, and I’m not sure I will see a third any time soon. It has been a while since the last one. This was an epic bottle from the greatest vintage of the 20th century. It had it all – the plum, the chocolate, the leather, the minerals. Everything was in perfect proportion including a finish that still hasn’t quit. PS – the 1989 had on this same night is the modern day equivalent of the 1945 and its equal for sure – lock and load up!

#1) So there were three wines that achieved the very rare 99+ points this year. It is impossible to say which one was best as they were each the best wine on three of the best wine nights I ever had. Let’s keep it consistent and go youngest to oldest:

1971 DRC La Tache (Magnum) – So this was one of the crown jewels of my 50th Birthday weeklong celebration. The next wine was, too, but I digress. I’m a very lucky guy. The month preceding my 50th birthday (I was born on 11/21/1971 for those who like to keep score), I was privileged to taste 1971 La Tache twice out of bottle, once out of magnum, and once out of jeroboam. This magnum was definitely the best of all the 1971 La Taches I was fortunate enough to have this past Fall. Here’s the note:

Very thankful to be born in 1971 and having the opportunity to have this wine four times out of three formats this month! This magnum was the best of them all. ‘Perfection’ was the first thing I wrote. Incredible musky spice and a sensuality of sweet red fruits that very few wines can match. Roses, strawberries, Asian spices, menthol…its minerals kept morphing and its spices kept spitting like a great MC. This wine had a lot to say, and it made the whole room go giddy. It had incredible richness and mouthfeel, and its acidity and lift took its finish beyond borders. The 1971 La Tache still remains of the greatest wines ever made.

1947 Petrus – This was a perfect, once-in-a-lifetime bottle of 1947 Petrus. I’ve never had one before quite like this and might never again. The signature ‘motor oil’ of the Right Bank in this vintage, which isn’t always there, was on full display here. This bottle hadn’t been moved in decades before it made its way to me. So much chocolate and cream, oceans of fruit, and a thickness and richness unmatched by any other wine made my wine spine shiver. ‘Sex appeal’ and ‘wow’ came from the crowd. With its kinky fruit and a sexy, stylish finish, this wine was all dressed up with only one place to go: “In my belly!!!”

Last but not least is a wine that usually graces my Top Ten, actually my Top Three, for the years that I am fortunate enough to taste this legendary wine. It doesn’t get any better than the 1945 Mouton Rothschild. And when you taste over fifty of the best of the best of the best wines ever made (Eternal Thanks to The Rev!), and this wine is a step ahead of the rest, there you have it. And here you have my note for one of the greatest of the greats, the 1945 Mouton:

The most extraordinary weekends call for a most extraordinary wine, and make no mistake about it, that wine was the 1945 Mouton Rothschild. This is a wine I’ve had plus or minus 15 times in my life, and it’s been as good as it gets 3/4 times. Thats’s 99+. This is where I write a long love letter to Bordeaux and talk about how no region can age as consistently and spectacularly as Bordeaux, even if you have to wait at least 30 years. Some things are worth the wait! Caramel, mint, eucalyptus, cassis – 25% each and decadent to the last drop. I am licking my lips just thinking about it again.

2021 turned out to be one of the best wine years of my life, and I have been doing this a long time. I’m not sure if I can ever duplicate the above, but I can tell you one thing. I sure as heck am going to try! Let’s get together again!!! Special thanks to the Birthday bashers, where a significant amount of these 99-point wines were sampled – Bad Boy, The Rev, Operation Starfish, and even though we are still waiting for Big Boy’s much anticipated 50th Birthday Celebration, a special thanks to him for always bringing the Big Boy bottles! Lots of love for all of you who read this to the end, and lots of love to the people that make the world’s greatest wines!!!

FIN
JK

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