Stepping it up

A group of us that meets every month for dinner decided to kick it up a notch for our last dinner of the year. Depending your reference point, I think we succeeded:

2008 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Premier Cru Coeur de Cuvée - France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru (12/9/2019)
A group of us had this, alongside 2008 Roederer Cristal, a fascinating comparison. Both needed some air to really open up. I’ve had the Vilmart a few times, and it is one of my favorites of the vintage, with lovely medium intensity, mouthwatering light tartness, some nice touches of minerality, finishing with excellent length. Sampling this as the evening wore on, there is even more coiled intensity and layered complexity, great acidity, and beautiful minerality, with a light saline tartness that reminds me of a great Chablis. A simply gorgeous Champagne, elegant, complex, doesn’t try to knock you over with its power, so much going on in this wine. (96 pts.)

2008 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut - France, Champagne (12/9/2019)
Tasted alongside 2008 Vilmart Coeur de Cuvee. This Cristal shows amazing depth and intensity, an opulence that almost goes over the top, but remains controlled. Nose of a good white Burg with a touch of brioche, bit of lemony tartness. I can see how this impresses, it is a fantastic Champagne of richness, power and depth. Still, the Vilmart shows me an elegance and complexity that is just more compelling to my palate. (94 pts.)

2012 Joseph Drouhin Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru (12/9/2019)
A bit of wood noticeable on the nose, medium rich entry, then shows the warmth of the vintage with a bit of sweetness and some background wood notes. Has what I’ve come to recognize as the typicity of many 2012 whites, which is a controlled ripeness, more round and fleshy than a more precise cooler vintage. (92 pts.)

2012 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru (12/9/2019)
Definitely needs time to open, couple hours in a decanter will be rewarded. Light sea spray on the nose, this takes a while to uncoil and begin to show its potential, as it’s still every youthful; so elegant, yet so much depth, mouthwatering acidity with hints of salinity, just a bit of tartness, a controlled richness, and a lovely rich mineral finish that goes on and on. Complex, nuanced, classic Chablis of the highest order. (95 pts.)

2001 Domaine Robert Arnoux / Arnoux-Lachaux Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru (12/9/2019)
Nice, higher toned dark raspberry, quite tasty, though acidity is fairly dominant. Seems pretty well resolved and ready to drink, with the strong acidity I’m not sure this will develop a lot more. (92 pts.)

1989 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage (12/9/2019)
There’s a bit of the signature Chave savory truffle on the nose, though with air it shows more distinctly as low level bandaid brett; lovely deep, medium rich dark red fruit, excellent well balanced acidity, some of the same savory character, showing some nice signs of development, though still very youthful with many good (or better!) years ahead. Wonderful wine. (94 pts.)

1996 Château Léoville Las Cases - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (12/9/2019)
Some nice dark fruit on the nose, hints of shaved pencil; then beautiful deep fruit, there is richness but it’s controlled, even elegant for it’s depth and intensity, tannins are there but in the background, the wine is driven more by its acidity. Delicious now, but still very young with many years ahead of it. (94 pts.)

1995 Château Margaux - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux (12/9/2019)
Wow, tremendous intensity and depth, deep dark purple fruit, strong acidity, more so than tannic structure, long, long finish. Intricate complexity is showing, but I’m sure will develop even more as it ages for many, many years. Fabulous. (96 pts.)

You Emeril’d it. BAM! [cheers.gif]


Wow, that’s a great lineup and notes. The ‘08 Vilmart CdC is on my shortlist for WOTY. I have an ‘09 on deck for sometime this week.


I think the 89 Chave was my wine of the decade. I don’t remember another wine that was in such a perfect place for drinking. The Dauvissat was crazy good as well. In the end I think I also preferred the Vilmart to the Cristal. All the wines we had were super, though.

There are two more sets of notes from these same bottles on CT. You can see that the other tasters are more in alignment with me on the Chave :slight_smile:

I had an amazing long weekend of wines that included drinking 2017 MacDonald and 1990 Latour with the MacDonald brothers (Alan too) but this dinner was the top experience.

Alan’s picture snubbed it too!

Not sure how the Chave bottle escaped our shelf lineup for the picture, thanks for posting [cheers.gif]

As usual, there’s no accounting for taste, lol. As much as I loved the Chave, a couple other wines edged it out for me - though note my scores are pretty much at the top end of anything I ever give (100 doesn’t exist for me, and I doubt I’ve given something 97 or higher more than once or twice, ever). To be honest, as good as the Chave was, I’ve had a few that were truly transcendent, and this bottle didn’t quite get there.

Great notes make me jealous and at the same time motivate to enjoy the hobby ever more.

You posted a GREAT note, thank you!

Really? I know the fine quality of what you imbibe, Craig. That’s a heck of a statement!

We recently did the 08 Cristal comparison with 08 Dom and I was on team Cristal. However, the 04 Dom Rose opened the next day took top prize for that weekend.

"2008 Dom Perignon

2nd taste in the last 2 months. Again, very complete already, and for me quite distinctive. As some of the others comment, you can’t stop drinking it. Real saline character but also plenty of fruit. Smooth and long to taste, it should be a winner for a long time.

2008 Cristal

I last had this in July 2018. It hasn’t budged a millimetre since then. Supercharged acidity and drive, both aromatically and on the palate. This, with lemon and unripe apple, absolutely demands your attention. Nick and I are on team Cristal between the two, while Berto and Dave are on team Dom. I wait to hear from Tran and Jay. But the ceiling on this wine is limitless."

Anton–nice new avatar!

We also had the 2008 Dom earlier this year, but even with that and the Cristal, my two top Champagnes this year were this Vilmart and the 2008 Chartogne-Taillet Heurtebise. A lot of this is just about personal taste, though. The Vilmart was built very much like the Dauvissat with a lot of grip and mineral. You can see from Alan’s notes how either that or the Cristal might appeal more or less.

Mike, I’ve had many great bottles of Chave, including the 89 at least twice before. This one was in a special place. I think the other two CT notes from 12/10 are closer to capturing my experience. Maybe Ashish will check in here.

Since we’re posting notes, here are mine! Really spectacular dinner. I’m with Craig on the Chave… it was essentially perfect for me. Thanks a ton for bringing it. My LLC was good, but I was hoping it would be a little further along especially with the air time I gave it. It could have been a star at one of our normal dinners, but here there were so many standouts. The Suchots was special for me too. And a Chateau Margaux is always a treat. Really, everything was superlative.

DINNER WITH THE WINE GROUP - Zazie, SF (12/10/2019)

Our yearly high end dinner.

  • 2008 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut - France, Champagne
    High intensity aromatics, delicate, elegant mousse, slight brioche but pretty fresh; palate is absolutely searing acidity, but also a wonderful density and complexity to the fruit which holds its own, green apple, delicate mousse, flavors persist through the midpalate; finish is clean, mouthwatering tart lime acidity, immediately freshens the mouth for another sip. This is incredible for such a young wine, great intensity. Once it develops more maturity and complexity it will still improve. 95-96++
    2 hours later: just as exciting if not a bit kore stuffing and complexity. Vibrant and ridiculous. (95 pts.)
  • 2008 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Premier Cru Coeur de Cuvée - France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru
    Lovely richness on the nose and palate, brioche, yeast; palate is lemon-lime, citrus, medium-plus to high acidity, balanced; long finish. Seems a bit more integrated than the Cristal today, though both are excellent. I like the richness and brioche in this, though the Cristal may be more precise. 94-96
    2 hours in: complex, balanced, absolutely lively wine. Ready to go but will age. (95 pts.)

  • 2012 Joseph Drouhin Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
    Moderately aromatic, peach, tropical fruit, pineapple; palate is full bodied, richly textured but not at all heavy, tropical pineapple, good length. This is very nice, but very expensive for what it’s showing. 92
    With 30 minutes air, this starts to open up and develop a bit more complexity. Pretty nice. 92-93
    2 hours air: continues to improve and improve. Richness with lightness. 93-94 (93 pts.)
  • 2012 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
    Some minerals, white fruit, stony; palate is medium bodied, crisp saline minerality, great freshness, still a bit closed; finish is long. 93
    2 hours later: improving, showing more and more. (93 pts.)

  • 2001 Domaine Robert Arnoux / Arnoux-Lachaux Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru
    Superb aromatics, vosne spice, red fruit; palate is light to medium bodied, some prominent tannins for Pinot but very approachable, excellent balance, medium-plus acid; finish is medium-plus to long. Really lovely red burgundy, with all the vosne character I expect. 93-95
    Grows a bit with an hour of air in the glass. Lovely. 94-95 (94 pts.)

  • 1996 Château Léoville Las Cases - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Double decanted 8 hours prior to dinner. Deep ruby, still youthful color; aromatic, blackcurrant, slight tea leaves, slight tobacco, some capsicum; palate is full bodied, tannins still present but approachable, medium-plus fresh acidity throughout, good remaining black fruits for its age, a touch of bell pepper, not a ton of secondary or tertiary complexity yet; finish is medium-plus length and quite clean/precise with a bit of minerality. Right now this seems like a youthful but approachable classically made bordeaux, still with good fruit but not a ton of mature complexity. Nose>palate right now. I’m hoping this will fill out a bit with some air, but it’s still a nice bordeaux now. 92-93
    Really needs at least 7-10 years more age to develop more.
    Day 2: Shows a bit more fine complexity on the nose, a bit more polish and smoothness on the palate as the tannins have integrated more, and overall doesn’t really show any significant oxidation that I might expect with so much air. This definitely has a lot of time left before my next bottle. (93 pts.)
  • 1995 Château Margaux - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    High intensity aromatics, black fruits, slight spice, forest floor, slight bell pepper; palate is full bodied, still plenty of black fruits, medium-plus acidity throughout; medium-long finish. Very nice Bordeaux, still actually seems a bit youthful, though slightly further along than the '96 LLC. 93-94 (93 pts.)

  • 1989 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
    Double decanted 8 hours. Absolutely intense olive, probably the most intense olive that I’ve ever smelled, black pepper, incredible depth, meaty; palate is light-medium bodied, elegant, really stellar medium-plus acidity, black fruits that seem almost young, gamey but just barely and not at all overwhelming, incredible balance; finish is long. This is absolutely stellar, one of the best northern Rhône wines that I’ve had, and honestly the most interesting thing is how drinkable it is for such a complex wine. Elegant, not brawny, but still powerful. 99
    2 hours into dinner, this started to fade just a touch. Though it had a lot of air at this point given that it was double decanted in the morning. Fresh bottles could go for many more years to 1-2 more decades. (99 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

I am offended

Umm…the new normal? [grin.gif]

Sorry, I have no memory of Sunday night.

Perhaps this might jog your memory…


Paul is dead.

Great night, here are the usual suspects.

Well done, gents! [cheers.gif]

So jealous! What a wonderful evening :slight_smile:

It was an amazing line up, and a lovely evening with good friends.

I won’t post all my notes, but I rated the Cristal as a notch above the Vilmart (though loved them both). The Cristal showed much more youthful, and had tremendous depth and complexity already. The Vilmart is awesome to drink now, the Cristal for decades.

Another vote of near perfection for that 1989 Chave. Yea, it was all that.

So who is who in this pic? [new-here.gif]