Burg/Old Cabs OL in DC

A short write-up on an OL we had last Monday at restaurant Lavandou in DC (nice food at a nice price with free corkage on Monday nights).

We started off with some whites:

  • 1990 Pol Roger Rose
  • 1996 Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Clos St Jean
  • 1999 Carillon Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Les Champs Canet

The champagne was nice but I couldn’t spend as much time with it as I would have liked since I arrived late and moved on to the whites shortly afterwards. The 96 Niellon was in a class of its own at least based on its wonderful nose, it was showing really well and that’s a compelling reason to open some older white burgs (I know we tend to think of the 96 vintage as young but it’s still already 13 years old…). The 1999 showed surprisingly well too given the mixed results I have had with this vintage, with good acidity to lift the wine (I tend to find the 99s a bit flabby in general). Those 2 white burgs were real treats and no premox in sight (although we had a reasonably heated discussion about them later on that night).

Then on to some young red burgs:

  • 1999 Christian Confuron Bonnes Mares
  • 2002 Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Cherbaudes
  • 2004 Jacky Truchot 1er cru Sentiers
  • 2005 Jacky Truchot 1er cru Sentiers

The BM was unfortunately spoiled in one way or another. We started a discussion about what exactly was wrong with that wine until one of us finally said: “we’re REAL geeks - it’s not enough to know it has a problem, we have to determine exactly what that problem is - who cares?”, and we moved on to the other wines. What I can say though is that whatever issue it was, it was more prominent on the nose. The palate was actually quite fine, showing some light, ethereal fruit starting to age elegantly. That sounded very promising but it was at the same time hard to ignore the nose.

The 2 Truchots showed very differently as far as I am concerned. I much preferred the 2004 because it was more approachable at this stage, beautiful fruit with everything in balance. In comparison the 2005 was very fruit forward and concentrated. I’m ready to believe the 2005 will be a gem in its own time, but for now the 2004 is simply nicer to drink.

Finally the 2002 Fourrier was my WOTN. That’s why I love Burgundy, there’s no competition between the different elements in this wine to grab the spotlight, this is more like an orchestra with no solist, every component has a small part to play, and when they all do it’s simply magnificent. I have tasted the 2005s in the barrel at the domaine and they were simply incredible (especially the Griottes which I feel I can still taste to this day), and this 2002 confirms to me that this producer is doing some very serious wine. As a side not, I had almost never had Fourrier before because he sells most of his production to the US.

After that we had a lot of old cali cabs:

  • 1968 BV reserve (2 bottles)
  • 1973 Heitz
  • 1974 Charles Krug Lot F1
  • 1981 Laurel Glen
  • 1982 Ridge William Short
  • 1982 Ridge Jinsonmare
  • 1991 Stag’s Leap Cask 23

I won’t go as far as to say I remember all of them perfectly (nobody took notes), but quite a few of them seemed faulty in one way or another. Here I think we hit the limitations of tasting so many wines during a relatively short dinner. These wines have been “prisoners” of their corks for so long that they probably needed a bit more time to come around. Most of these “flaws” might as well have been some funk that would take a bit of time to dissipate.

In any case the first bottle of 68 BV showed some significant VA, both on the nose and on the palate, and the 2nd bottle showed much better. The 1973 Heitz was my favorite of the night, good balance and clear cab character with the hint of sweetness I have learned to appreciate (and actually seek) in these wines. The 1974 CK was nice but looked like it had known better days and was on a downward slope. The Laurel Glen was promising on the nose but the palate was not on par and the finish noticeably clipped. The two 82 Ridges didn’t show particularly well, I think the William Short was shot in one way or another. The Jinsomare was nice but I would say nothing to write home about either. A decent cali cab but that’s about it. The 91 Stags Leap was nice but so much sweeter than the previous ones that it offered a really stark contrast. It was the only wine that didn’t feel “integrated” yet, with some good potential but still showing some rough edges.

We finished with a flight of sweet wines, both half bottles:

  • 2000 Ca’Togni (Cali sweet red)
  • 2001 Suduiraut

I really liked the Ca’Togni. I actually drank probably half the bottle on my own at the end of the evening. I’m not necessarily a big fan of sweet red wines because I find they can be a bit over the top (usually I like acidity in wines and they can be sorely lacking in this area), but this one was just right. Unfortunately if I want to be totally honest I have to admit it was way simple in comparison of the 2001 Suduiraut. As nice as the Ca’Togni was (and again I finished the bottle so it’s not like I didn’t enjoy it), the Suduiraut was much more complex, great nose jumping out of the glass, super length without ever feeling heavy… that was simply a great bottle of wine.

A small word about the food: I started with some duck rillettes, very good although a bit fatter than I usually like, and then some lamb chops that were really excellent (and cooked to perfection according to my medium rare request). The profiterolles I had for dessert were also very good, and the service was excellent.

Posted exclusively on WineBerserkers, of course [grin.gif]

I’ve had good success with my 96 Niellons. From the village chassagne through many of the premier crus. Alas, I do not have any grand crus. I agree with you that 13 years old for a Chassagne premier cru is plenty of age.

The Washington crowd sure loves their Truchot.

Al Fenster


Sorry I was not available this week to see you. Glad you are having a good time and tasting good wines.

Next time.

Really interesting set of notes, thanks for sharing your impressions.


My luck with 96 Niellons was mixed. The village Chassagne was great every time, the couple bottles of 1er cru were disappointing.

I’ve yet to meet a Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet that I haven’t liked.

Man, that’s too bad about the 1968 BV PR. I have recently had absolutely stunning bottles of this - stunning.

It was a pleasure to meet you. Your note is pretty much in line with my recollection.

1990 Pol Roger Rose
Nice but not terribly complex.

1996 Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Clos St Jean
I purchased a bunch a few years back, loose capsule, perfect fill. Nice minerality, flint, classic.

1999 Carillon Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Les Champs Canet Great
Great contract to the Niellon. Voluptuous fruit but good acidity balances nicely.

2002 Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Cherbaudes
Great nose, pure fruit, more concentrated version of Truchot. Perhaps Gevrey Chambertin version of Truchot.

2004 Jacky Truchot 1er cru Sentiers
Hint of green but overall nice wine. Much more advanced that the younger brother/drinking a few years older which is not a bad thing.

2005 Jacky Truchot 1er cru Sentiers
Great layers of fruit. Very fragrant palate if that makes sense.

1968 BV reserve (2 bottles)
Both not showing well

1973 Heitz
Fresh, classic sweet cal cab. Think older version of the 87 Montelena.

1974 Charles Krug Lot F1
Fruit cake, concentrated but not expressive/muted

1981 Laurel Glen
Classic LG

1982 Ridge William Short & 1982 Ridge Jinsonmare

1991 Stag’s Leap Cask 23
Very good showing, think the 85 Cask 23.

2000 Ca’Togni
Nice and delicious but simple

2001 Suduiraut
Fruit driven, great concentration, more flamboyant then the 01 Climen.

P.S. Lavandou, as Guillaume mentioned, had simple but solid execution. I love this restaurant.

Guillaume -

It was a pleasure meeting you and sharing some wine and DC hospitality. I love the fact that you have a small traveling pack of older cali cabs. It is a shame that we could not have spent more times with a few of these wines to coax out more of the nuances and characteristics that one may desire from older wines. The burgundies definitely stole the show as being, for me, the more pleasurable wines of the night. I took no formal notes but I am in general agreement with those that have been posted.

Safe travels back to France!