Started off my periodic visit to Manhanttan on a high note. Large holiday dinner with much bottle sharing last night at Tribeca Grill. Level of TN detail dependent in large part on what was enjoyed at the table all evening versus quick pours generously shared by other guests. As a general rule, everything was opened and double decanted at least 45 minutes before tasting.
1999 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses - magnum
medium champagne color, sweet lemons and toast on the nose, on the palate wildly good, orange peel, zesty lime acids, grapefruits, hints of cream and undeveloped mousse, great length, with time a rich brioche note emerges, this has not started to show a lot of cream yet but being on the exotic side is showing very nicely and already a grand indulgence, bottles may well be further along but I would sit on magnums another 5 years or so.
()+, easily 5 stars if it develops those lovely layers of cream as I hope. 2025-2040+
2004 Henri Boillot Montrachet
rich yellow-gold color, intense and ponderous nose, buttery, substantial, laden with coated mineral notes spiraling around a profound core of orchard fruits, on the palate the grand scale and intensity of Montrachet in full effect but somewhat closed on the mid-palate, fine long finish, excellent balance, an impressive wine but not quite fully open yet IMHO, this needs a few more years to show its best.
()+?, check in again in 2025,
1995 Chateau Rayas
medium young red color, wild berries and game on nose infused with mineral sparks, forest notes, on the palate fiery with firm tannins still developing, venison, bursting cherries, underbrush, fine length, lively and very young- far less developed than the 2003 recently tasted, the real thrill of a mature Rayas is yet to come- but today was a great day to check in on this beauty, this could be quite a long-lived vintage.
2002 Comte de Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes
deep young purple red color, intense baking spices on the nose, plums, dark berries, sleek cherries, intense forest notes from the oak which is integrating magnificently, on the palate a giant of a Musigny with the full measure and depth of fruit quickly leading into equally massive tannins and then a long dry finish, plums, cloves, blackberries, cherries, white chalk streaks, incredible length. Ever since I got into wine in the mid 90s there has been much debate about whether the Vogue Musignys of today could ever develop like the great vintages from the 40s to the 60s. Having been astounded by the quality of many of those older vintages and having had a few good to very good- but not quite great- early to mid 90s examples, I can see where the debate arose. But whatever has happened since then, I think the 2002 is absolutely spectacular and behaving just as I would expect from a truly great 2002 at this point in its evolution. Very high hopes here for greatness, but patience is a must.
2010 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet
yellow color starting to gold, refined and racy buttery nose, gloriously tense with lime notes, on the palate quite young yet, buttery fruit, orchard notes, with lemon and lime tones on the finish, fine depth, elegant, full bodied with superb length, at present a bit closed and so difficult to read, but a fine future ahead.
1988 Chateau Lafleur
medium red color just starting to brick, peppery nose, pine needles, underbrush- all from the influence of an excess of oak relative to the structure of an otherwise lovely 1988, on the palate a genteel cherry fruit throughout with tertiary notes, chalk and dark underbrush, however here the presence of undeveloped oak also remains, all in a very nice wine and for those who like oak probably a very good one.
***, drink soon, the fruit is nowhere near falling apart but the oak is not going anywhere and will become more relatively dominant in time
1998 Chateau Lafleur
intensely dark red young color, no signs of age, a nose of grand scale with dark berries and red cherries, oak starting to integrate but noticeable, on the palate like the 1998 Magdelaine recently tasted a primary baby built on a massive scale unlike many vintages before or since, another 1975 perhaps, totally primary and accessible fruit- cherries, plums, game, sauvage, with time racy chalk streaks emerge on the back of the palate, thrilling potential here for a wine of enormous scale that will at some point explode into greatness, my only concern is the oak- the scale of structure and fruit here will keep it in check, but it may be sufficiently strong to leave some small unharmonious mark down the road, highest potential here- but much patience required. As with a 2000 Latour recently tasted- don’t think years, think decades.
2008 Chateau Lafleur
rich young purple-red color, quiet and closed nose, subdued cherries and plums, a good bit of spicy oak with a very slight sting on the tail end, on the palate a real beauty- lush and yet detailed on a mid-weight scale like a number of other great 2008s, ripe blueberries, cherries, racy chalk notes, spicy oak that is integrating well but a bit rough on the tail end, a very pretty Lafleur with good mid-term potential- a good one to have around while waiting for the 1998 to mature.
1995 Chateau Margaux
lovely medium red young color, classic Margaux nose of violets and cassis, hints of cherry, pretty cedar notes, on the palate a beautiful and pure delectable fruit, almost punchy, joyous, cherries, red berry, cassis, open on the mid-palate and starting to develop, all that said- it quickly leads into a long dry finish which is not yet astringent but appears to be moving in that direction, time will tell but I think the next 5 years will be critical- by then the back end will have either opened to some extent or will continue down the path toward the wine drying out without ever developing thoroughly, the fruit is still primary enough to allow for time and an open mind- though I confess I am not optimistic, I would drink soon and enjoy them as they are or be prepared to wait a very long time to see if a good balance emerges.
**** right now for the nose and front half of the palate, (***)+/- overall for the future, 2025 should confirm once and for all what to expect.
1996 Chateau Margaux
deepish red-purple color, cedar and violets on the nose, cassis, the cedar presence from the oak is nicely integrated coming in pebbled little bursts like the violets but the overall intensity is a bit distracting from what is normally a very genteel and feminine wine, on the palate fairly open but still somewhat primary, very pretty, cassis, red fruits, dill note from the oak which- as on the nose- is well integrated but more of a presence than I consider ideal, smooth and elegant despite the large scale imparted by the vintage, fine long finish, drinking well but I think a good bit of development is yet to come.
1996 Chateau Latour
deepish red color, pure cassis on the nose with elegant notes of oak and walnut, on the palate a great depth of fruit still developing but on the surface a very approachable elegant cassis framed by a firm- but balanced- structure, plum notes, regal, drying tannins on the tail end, fine length, young days for this and a great future ahead.
1985 Chateau Figeac
good medium red color with some bricking at the rim, soaring nose, fresh cut lily pads, pungent brush notes, cherries, blueberries, quite an intense aromatic array- almost a bruiser- even compared to the 1996 Latour immediately preceding, on the palate pure sweet cherries, limestone notes, long elegant finish, a poised and charming 1985, the only peculiarity here is that the great array of sensations on the nose are not mirrored in the simpler palate presentation, but that does not detract from the sheer beauty of this wine and the comforting pleasure it provides, ready to go but time in hand, a superb 85.
****, now to 2035+
1985 Chateau Lynch-Bages
medium red color- still young, on the nose relaxing cassis and cedar, classic and restrained, light dose of green pepper, on the palate ripe and inviting cassis fruit, dark spice notes, hints of chocolate, fine length, every bit as good as the bottle earlier this year- we just had less time with it given the number of wines on the table.
*****, ready to go but time in hand
1985 Chateau Magdelaine
medium red color with light bricking, gorgeous velvety nose, violets, mulberries, cherries, on the palate- perfection, sweet and gentle aged fruit, bramble notes and a bit of underbrush in perfect harmony and not as forceful as in some other mature vintages like the 1989 tasted a few days ago, charming, in such a frenzied setting it is difficult to relax and find all the little subtle delights- but as did the 1989 last week in an ocean of CA Cabs, so too did the 1985 tonight quietly work its magic in an ocean of many larger and younger wines, a hauntingly beautiful persistent note of mulberry and clove that is clear in the mind the day after as I write this note.
*****, ready to drink but no signs of decline
1989 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion
small pour from another table at the end of the night, bright ruby color with some bricking, on the nose blueberry and cherry, bands of dark sand, on the palate almost explosive, cassis, cedar, forest notes, herbs and racy oak notes, pure mineral tones coated and almost concealed by the massive presence of fruit, while this has developed beautifully and is showing some secondary notes- I think there may be more in store, and it certainly is nowhere near decline, a modern legend (one of the few deserving of the title) just starting to really come into its own, magnificent.
***(), now to 2040
1990 Chateau Pichon-Baron
what a perfect way to end the evening, dark red-purple color with light bricking, on the nose a blaze of ripe cherries and animale, game, on the palate sauvage, ripe cherries, tasted blind one might even think this Chambertin, but with time in the glass classic cedar and cassis notes develop showing this to be a great and classic Bordeaux, stone notes with time, dark spices, a blazing beauty just as dazzling and captivating as it was a decade ago- and no signs of slowing down, it remains one of the truly great Bordeaux of the 1990 vintage.
*****, now to 2035 and hopefully beyond