TN: 98 RH Coutier, 02 BdM CC, 02 Beaune, 66 Lalande, 98 Kracher

Little dinner on Thursday night. Very manageable number of wines, some nice treats. It really is such a pleasure when an unplanned line-up turns out so complete, starting with bubbles, going into white, Burgundy, Bordeaux and ending with a dessert.


  • 1998 René-Henri Coutier Champagne Brut Millésimé Grand Cru - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
    Took awhile to get going when first poured, but when it did, it was really solid. Guessed it as a 1998 on the palate, but the yellow gold colour really suggested more age than the wine actually carried. Lovely nose also seemed rather developed. Just that slightly oxidative hint on the edges, so that flowery tones and sweetish apple fruit was paired with a white meat component, some slightly browning fruit and some yeasty, nutty notes. Very expressive, and really nice - this more or less just bloomed out of the glass on first pour. The palate was a little less “together” at first, but it slowly knitted together with time in the glass. It was really nice when it did. Consistent gentle beading gave the wine a nice velveteen texture, which framed lovely flavours of flowers, with some toffee nut, lots of Brands chicken essence, along with some sweet apples and rather fleshy cherry fruit, so that the wine from attack to mid-palate was all friendly and charming. Past that though, this just zoomed into lime and lemon territory, with a really dry, minerally finish. Respectably long here, and it blossomed with time in the glass to show a whole panoply of new flavours, with some white plums and kumquats nestling amongst the minerally notes. Very nice - lots of character on this wine. I thought it was starting to drink really nicely, with the acidity nicely integrated into the body of the wine and secondary flavours starting to emerge. However, one or two more years of bottle age certainly would have pushed it up a notch higher. (92 pts.)


  • 2002 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
    Lightly stained by premox, but it was a testament to the strength of the wine that it was still drinking well and gave plenty of pleasure. The nose was quite incredibly expressive, almost beautiful in spite of the oxidative edge. Complex, singing, almost intoxicating when first poured, it showed plenty of earthy goodness, with rich cream scents, all sorts of savoury white meatiness, some very Corton chalky minerally and then the telltale slightly browning apple smells. Lovely palate too. Tons of character. Spice, saline mineral, tons of dry extract, along with typical white chocolate and honey note on the mid-palate. This had positively mouth-staining intensity. Pity about the pre-mox, which haunted the wine with more browning fruit notes. Finish was a little shorter than the rest of the wine might suggest as well. It had some amount of staying power, but dissipated rather suddenly past a certain point, with the hollowness on the back end getting more and more apparent as the wine warmed up in the glass. On this showing, I can only imagine how good a fresh 2002 would be. Pity. (91 pts.)


  • 2002 Domaine Rossignol Trapet Beaune 1er Cru Les Teurons - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
    Wow, this really punched above its weight (and the ratings given by several notable critics on release!). A real, real pleasure to drink on the night. Lovely nose. Rich plums, blackberries, dried earth, a little smoky spice and some meatiness. Lots of powerful scents here. Palate had lovely balance, perched somewhere between the dark fruitiness of 2002 and the bright acidity of 2001 I thought. Great flavours too. Dusky dark fruit, more blackberries, some very dark cherries, all carried along by soft velvety tannins that still had some backbone. Something in the tannin structure just spoke of the Cote de Beaune rather than something from the north, but the power and structure on the wine made me think Pommard rather than Beaune. Finish was long, with mineral, spice and some bittersweet earthiness flecked with herbs. The wine was very full, very complete, and its fresh acidity meant that it came even more alive when drank with our Peking Duck dish. With time and food, some wonderful perfumed, flowers just blossomed from the glass and filled the mouth. HM noticed a cola-ish edge to it as well. Maybe not the most complex of wines, but this was a real joy to drink. It really is wonderful when Brugundy throws up a surprise like this - yum! (92 pts.)


  • 1966 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    My favourite wine of the night - this was a really nice Lalande, and boy, it was stunningly young and fresh. There was a certain Merlot softness to the wine that made me guess it was right-bank at first, but when I was told it was a leftie, I called it a 1986 Lalande! 20 years off the mark. On reflection, the nose was quite classic Pauillac, classic Lalande too I would say, with long gentle pulls of leather and tobacco, earth and wet leaves, with a little touch of sweet incense - almost like smoking a cigar. Wonderful. Palate was rich, lush, plush, with that little Merlot softness I spoke about earlier and lovely flavours of wet tobacco leaves, sweet cassis, cherries and stewed tea. Amazingly juicy acidity kept the wine fresh and supple throughout. This was just a wonderful example of mature claret, where every part of the wine, from the nose to the palate, the structure, the acid and the flavours were all perfectly integrated. The only less than stellar part of the wine was probably the finish. Not great length, but it certainly had decent legs for a 40+ year old wine, with a glide of velvety tannins and a long pull of cigar box and some cedar, a touch of and a final kiss of mouthfilling perfume. What a lovely wine. (93 pts.)


  • 1999 Alois Kracher Welschriesling TBA #8 Zwischen den Seen - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee
    I liked this quite a bit when first poured - but once the temperature drop just that little bit, it became too sweet and cloying for its own good. Still, a pretty good dessert wine on the night. Beautiful, beautiful nose, really enchanting, with just layers of prunes, plums, orange blossoms, marmalde, apricot jam and high toned florals. Wow. Really rich palate. Lots of heavy botrytis flavours here - rich treacle, molasses, tons of orange marmalde, apricot juice and super-rich honey tones winding down into Pu-Er tea at the back end seasoned with a twist of hrebs, Strangely, all those honey and herb scents, along with a little bittersweet tail made finish taste remarkably like Hong Kong turtle-shell jelly. Really impressive power and intensity, and I thought it was pretty well balanced in spite of all that sweet richness when it was first poured from the ice-bucket. However, as the wine warmed up and the flavours opened up, it grew more and more cloying, until the balance seemed a bit off, and the sweetness got a bit intimidating. I think there is just tons of quality here, it just needs much, much more time to tone down. It is well nigh indestructible, and will probably only reach a point were it can be easily drunk in another 20 years. (93 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Paul - great note on the Coutier. One of my favorite Champagnes, that '98 - wish I had more, but I only have '02 sitting to see how it does in a few years. Such a great expression of Ambonnay fruit.

Todd - Even the NV Coutier is damn tasty. Greg at EFW has some.

Terrific notes again.
Enjoy reading your stuff.
Bummer the Bonneau wasn’t all there.
I’ve got one and a couple '00s that I worry about.
Seems a good bit of premox in recent BDB notes.
We’ll see…

Exactly what I thought when it was unblinded - a great advertisement for what Ambonnay is. It was really good.

Dennis, tell me about it man - a real bummer… I have had great luck with my white Burgs overall, but it was a real pity that such a wonderful bottle out of the many good one in the past year had to be shot.