This past Saturday Peter Czyryca descended from on high (aka Boston) to share some wine with us. After a long, lazy and liquid Saturday afternoon (including a long lunch at Momofuku Ssam followed by a 2007 Foillard Morgon Clos de Py and a VERY bretty 2006 Raphet Bourgogne Rouge and a 1981 Riesling whose name is lost in the mists of my hangover), we invaded Peking Duck House. As usual, we made fools of ourselves, thoroughly disgusted and frightened a visiting family from the Midwest (I was tempted to lean over and ask “How much for the little girl?” from the looks we were getting), and shocked and dismayed passing pedestrians, sitting as we were in the glass room out front.
In other words, a typical evening at PDH.
We started with the 2000 Pol Roger Rose, which was very tight at first, but slowly uncoiled to show lovely flowery notes backed up by soft red berries, and a gorgeous mouthfeel that was both mouthfilling and elegant at the same time. I kept going back to this over the course of the evening and kept getting happier and happier with it. What a great way to start the night.
We had decided to do old to young, and so the first pour was also one of the best, the 1986 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill. It was poured alongside the 1988 Sir Winston Churchill in an attempt to revisit the Eighties. Almost from the start, the 1986 was showing better, with gorgeous notes of dark yeast, apple pie, caramel/toffee, cafe au lait, brioche, and hints of red berries. It also had that lovely musk that older Champagne sometimes gets, but which blows off quickly as the wine breathes. Gorgeous, and it developped nicely over the course of the evening. The 1988, on the other hand, had something weird going on. I thought it might be slightly corked, as I got whiffs of TCA every now and then, but then again I am SUPER sensitive to that (lucky me). Others disagreed about the cork but did agree that there was something off with it. Too bad, as I had been looking forward to trying it next to the 1986.
Next up came the Nineties, with the 1990, the 1995, the 1996 and the 1998 Sir Winston Churchill. Of the four, my favorite was the 1998 and 1995 to drink right away, the 1990 to hold and watch evolve in the glass, and the 1996 to hold for another ten years. Profile-wise, as expected, they were all relatively similar, with vintage variations coming through in terms of their openness and power. The 1990 was extremely full-bodied, as was the 1996, but the 1995 and 1998 were more (relatively) lean and easy to drink. These last two were also not as complex or promising, IMHO, as the 1990 and 1996, both of which seemed to be teasing us with greatness to come.
Since that wasn’t enough wine for 7 people, we began popping some more corks. First out of the gate was a 1996 Vogue Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru, which was big and ripe on the nose but not so much on the palate. Still, a very nice wine, especially with the flocks of duck we were eating. Izzy whipped out a 1985 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine which reminded me why I love older CA Cabs and dislike the newer stuff so much. Big and minty but also elegant at the same time, this isn’t a super-ripe fruit and alcohol bomb as so many these days are. Somehow, a 2006 Puffeney Arbois Trousseau Cuvee les Berangeres got into the mix, beautifully redolent of light red berries and super stinging acidity that stripped the enamel off my teeth.
I am pretty sure we were kicked out of PDH at this point, so we herded ourselves off to Izzy’s new place in the Flatiron district. Since we were still thirsty, and since Kevin had brought it, showed it to us and bragged about it, we let him open his 1937 La Tour Blanche with the color of Cognac. Wow, this was a wine I had to sit with for a while, if only for the history that it represented. It was gorgeous, with lovely aromas of honeyed caramel brule, figs, almonds, with whiffs of herbs, and a thick, slightly oily mouthfeel that covered the palate and then faded slowly away into the mists of time. Fantastic, and extremely generous on Kevin’s part.
Finally, Izzy reached into his cellar and pulled out a 1989 La Chappelle. At this point, it was more for pleasure than tasting as my palate was pretty much dulled between the bubbles and the sticky, but I do recall enjoying the Rhone somewhat. Maybe someone else can post better TNs?
All in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday, especially after having had a liquid lunch at Momofuku Ssam (notes to follow). It was good to see Peter again, even though he visits NYC so much taht he is becoming an honorary citizen. Soon we’ll have to start taxing him appropriately too. Thanks to all who generously donated such lovely Champagnes and other wines, and a special shout to Kevin for that La Tour Blanche. I can still taste it.