On Saturday night, James Kennedy and I joined a couple of wine goons for Philip Togni mini-retrospective, highlighted by Togni’s self-proclaimed all time greatest hit, the 1969 Chappellet. We held our event at Petra and the Beast in Dallas, which is really an exceptional restaurant. Dinner service is show up, sit down. A set menu and welcome cocktail are put in front of you and then you just sit as courses arrive. Once done, you pay at the register. Service is impeccable, the food is interesting, wonderful, and undeniably Michelin star quality, and the atmosphere is unpretentious and relaxed. A unique dining experience and one I absolutely loved.
2008 Dom Perignon - A distinct nose of smoke, mint, rocks, and pear. It’s so unique and lovely and the palate is so refined, perfectly integrated and creamy. A layered, super complex wine that is just so smooth. The definition of a fine mousse, creamy delivery, and pure sophistication. A special champagne and a distinct Dom. 97
Krug MV 166eme - A very different wine than its counterpart, the Dom. Big, burly, with a less refined mousse. Notes of apple, dried mango, orange, lemon curd, fresh biscuit, candied spicy ginger. It’s long, it’s intense and concentrated, and is really extraordinarily delicious. It’s so different than the Dom, but excellent. 95-96
Tasting these two champagnes next to each other is probably unfair. They are so different that their strengths highlight each other’s weaknesses. And I use the term “weaknesses” loosely. The Krug 166 is not unrefined, but it does seem bigger and slightly rougher hewn than the Dom. The Dom is not as fruit driven as the Krug. Both of those things are okay, and each is spectacular.
1969 Chappellet - Base neck, good color, pristine label. Cork is long, a bit saturated, but comes out 97% whole and smells like old wine. No TCA. Hurdle No. 1 cleared and we are all relieved. JR (James) pours the wine and it is much darker than I expected and a better color too. Some bricking, but holding its color well. A sniff and a taste leaves everyone with toothy grins. We all feared a massive waste of money, but this has clearly delivered on its promises. It is bright and expressive on the nose. Huge mint, pipe tobacco, bright cherry and potpouri, with nice lift followed by hints of sage and leather. It is complex and bright and wonderful and the only downside is that it is, perhaps, just a little clipped on the finish. It is holding onto a decent tannic structure that is nearly hidden by the remaining fruit and beautiful complex aromas. Brighter than I would have ever expected. It unfortunately fades after an hour or so in the glass. That’s okay. I had most of my share at its peak. What an experience. 98
1991 Phillip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon - Big aromatics of tobacco, meat, black cherry, and leather with a lifted herbal note. Most everyone at the table said bell pepper was giving the aromatic lift. I was pushing tobacco but they’re probably right. But regardless, I’m also getting tobacco leaf and a hint of cedar. Lovely structure and a long finish. I liked this a lot. 96.
1997 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon - I do think that Togni’s signature is pretty consistent. This does not have the undercurrent of lift that the 91 has, but is carrying a big meaty savory note, tobacco, and black cherry (albeit a bit richer here), with anise seed providing complexity. Good long finish. I think this is about as mature as the 91 but, even so, this is better than my last bottle’s showing. I preferred the 91 Togni. Good showing though. 94
2013 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon - Again, the signature, though this is carrying more dark fruit. Black currant and black cherry with a meaty note, smoke, pipe tobacco, licorice, and spices. Solid structure. It is quite complex and should last decades. Really good wine. Tough to go from 22+ years old to 6 years old, especially on Togni’s wines, but this was still very obviously excellent, complex, and structured. Really good stuff. 96
1990 Rieussec Sauternes - Light caramel color. Sweet, high glycerin feel with okay acidity. Sweet, candied apricot, baked apple tart. Perhaps a bit on the sweet side, but Sauternes is generally not my jams. Would prefer a bit more pop of acid and a little lighter body, but this appears to have been toasted to rave reviews at the table. I wish I shared excitement about Sauternes, or any sweet wine, really. I’ve had legendary ports, 150 year old madeira, Y’quems, and many other huge scoring big name stickies. They’re typically very complex, and I get the appeal, it’s just not my thing.