TNs--LCBO Vintages Gala Auction Tasting--32 Top-end Wines...and 1928 Latour

Vintages Auction Gala Tasting, November 4, 2010

This is an annual tasting they put on just before a giant auction over 3 days. $275, it is usually money well spent, as it was again this year, with the chance to try some unique and ungettable wines. Unlike the last couple years, there wasn’t anything this time around that knocked it out of the park, but still quite a few great wines and it was a treat for me to do the Palmer mini-vertical.

I hope other board members will chime in with their thoughts, especially on wines I didn’t get to.


1959 Chateau D’Yquem

Had to start here, they had one bottle and couldn’t risk it being consumed. Look at it—soooo dark, almost molasses-coloured. Massive caramel and dried fruit aromatics. This? It’s like port tones are an overlay to still light-on-its-feet dates, raisins and other dried fruits and spice. If not fall-on-your-knees adoration material, it’s still extremely fascinating. I am happy to have tried.

1990 Chateau D’Yquem

Rich, rich nose. Still very big botrytis component with pineapple, touch of mango and coconut joining in. Very suave…very. A lovely ginger edging to this. Feels like it could stay here for an eternity. Very fine. #6 tonight.

2000 Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnere

Fresh washed stones, seashell, lots of rocks in the nuzzie. Actually drinkable in terms of structure, not searing at all. In fact, this is pretty light for Raveneau, centring on lemon and fresh water.

2002 Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru La Foret

Much more reserved to sniff, with white pepper and lots of slate. “tastier” with some back-end dry mustard to go with very clean ginger-infused lemon and grapefruit. Nice.

2004 Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux

Ginger, some vanilla bean and maybe even a backstick of aniseed. A glimpse of seashell too. Young yet, but a sort of cream, even sour cream accent to lemon, citrus and green apple. Very promising but waaay infant right now.

1996 Comte Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre

And this is older white burgundy. The first 2 bottles were shot. The 3rd bottle? Brilliant. Great pear, butter, toast, nut and toffee in the bouquet, and all of that comes through on the palate with an incredibly bracing freshness framing it all. Yu-ummm. Classic and classy Meursault, my #5. But who can roll the dice with a 1/3 conversion rate? Not me, matey, not me.

1996 Comte Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrieres

In trouble, but only a little sherried apple. There’s still some white truffle parts and pear to find. Still holding out, barely, but some hazelnut in a narrow band down the midpalate. Should be better.

1996 Comte Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrieres

Delicious light butterscotch accent to terrific spiced pears. Wow. Some wine this is here. Full of life with pear, unripe green apple, spices and some juniper berry too. It all works and it’s all wonderful. If not the butter and nuttiness I often see and seek out in Meursault, this is still an arresting wine. I’m beginning to see why Perrieres is the ‘grand cru’ of this commune. #4

1990 Chateau Cheval Blanc

It’s Bordeaux all right. Graphite, green peppercorns, earth and cassis all waft up from the glass. Very of itself, lovely profile of tobacco, cassis and more earthy notes, with just a little herb sidebar. Right in the wheelhouse for drinking, elegance personified. And a thinker’s wine—this “gets better” as other wines failed to reach its standard. I’ve been a little skeptical of Cheval Blanc’s reputation in the past. This wine certainly gives it a boost. My #2 tonight, if scoring, probably somewhere around a 93.

1990 Chateau Montrose

Yes,starts a little funky, but the more I swirl, the more I like. All sorts of sweet red fruits mingle with some sous-bois. This is neat stuff, straight red plum and also, surprisingly, tiny bubblegum accent and maybe a nuance of sea air too. Lots of interest here.

1996 Armand Rousseau Chambertin

Plenty robust still, currants and sour cherry with spices and a touch of meatiness. This is a long, long wine—earth and currants in equal measure. It…needs…time, unfriendly and hard to assess now.

1996 Dugat-Py Charmes Chambertin

Hmm—nutty aromatics, big sous-bois component, roasted chestnut…and almost no fruit scents. To taste, this has more interest at this time than the Rousseau, with definite beef accents and other spikes of spiciness to the raspberry-currant fruit. Good.

2004 Dugat-Py Charmes Chambertin

No mean greenies here, just seductive smoked cherry and black strawberry. Very rounded for all its youth, goes down nice with fruit poking through mix of earth, gentle baking spices and sprinkle of sugar. Surprisingly good.

1970 Chateau Palmer

Start of a mini-vertical—they had a mini of Latour as well and I tried a couple, but I concentrated on this stuff. I think this bottle is a teensy bit corked, but can still get to the lighter cigar-edged red fruit. I’d characterize this as pretty in the mouth, attenuated but has some currant and red berry fruit hanging on.

1979 Chateau Palmer

Much more representative, plenty of interest with cigar box, pencil shavings and whispers of plum and berry. Very good, it carries itself well with some blackberry and grilled herbs. A fairly complete wine.

1983 Chateau Palmer

This has a good deal more “presence” than the ’79. Raspberry, currant, tobacco and a li’l espresso greet the sniffer. Very tasty too, perfumed and mix of plum and apple skin. A lovely wine and still with tannins to hold it together at the back end. #7?

1989 Chateau Palmer

Curious stuff, quite horsey and funky at start, licorice, blackcurrant and black pepper come out later to play. This is still brawny and young, but with a quite neat peach skin aspect at the sides of my cheeks. Red plum and red berry throughout.

2000 Chateau Palmer

Tobacco up the yinyang here, with graphite and black fruit, a very aggressive bouquet. Quite chewy at the moment, with redcurrant, cassis and earth. Promising, but not for drinking for at least 10 years.

1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Falletto Riserva

WOW. The roses and strawberry combo is as pure as it gets, and it cascades down my nostrils. This is utterly scrumptious, aromatic replays with a perfectly gentle grip attached. A splendid wine that is full of life. My WOTN, I won’t say it’s the WA’s 97, but could see a 94 score working.

1996 Chateau Leoville Las Cases

Smoky mystery, pencil shavings, black plum and brambles all have a say. Le gout has a fine cedar undertone. This wine doesn’t stay with you but it does have fairly bright black cherry and currant.

2000 Chateau Leoville Las Cases

Huge meat-filled and tabac nose. It’s very powerful at the moment. Palate finds an elevated level of savouriness, but lots of disparate parts jumping around right now. Black pepper, cherry, licorice and raspberry. Sappy at the back end.

2001 Clape Cornas

Very authoritative bouquet, a real interesting petrol sidebar to the cherry and meat aromas. A real nice feel dans la bouche, it has leathery elements circling the plum and cherry fruit with maybe some mushroom sauce just at the very back. Good stuff, maybe #8?

1988 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chappelle

Some chestnuts to go with rich red fruits and maybe a tomato edge. This is still a mite young, but presenting with great verve, redcurrant and sweet raspberry with slices of licorice.

1953 Chateau Pichon de Longueville

Well, how would tossed hay maybe with smoked wood sound as an aromatic descriptor? That’s all I can come up with, but it is NOT unpleasant. And you know what? This is OK. It’s still plenty alive, with bouncy red berry, meats (only on taste, not in texture) and all with a sweet backtone. I like this.

1979 Chateau Margaux

Some nice wood mustiness and small berry fruit make up the nose here. Tasty and structured with the berry fruit replays, but no real sizzle.

1998 Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux

Server says “waxy and lanolin, the Semillon effect”. I say oxidized. This is very in line with the bottle of this I served a couple years ago and makes me worry about my last one. Ah, well.

2000 Peter Michael Chardonnay La Carriere

Very oaky nose, some yellow tropical fruit, but hard to find. Apricot and apple are in the palate, but still surmounted by the obtrusive oak. Not for me.

1996 Peter Michael Les Pavots

This presents with black cherry, black licorice, mint and a swatch of petrol. To taste, it’s a Bordeaux in sweet swaddling. tobacco and some peppercorn and some herbs, but soft and ‘California merlot-like’. Not too bad.

1928 Chateau Latour

I was in the right place at the right time as they carted this unmarked bottle out of the back. AN experience. The nose is very pure soy sauce. On the palate, it has a little initial spark, but dies right quick. Mushroom, maybe a little olive and cranberry seemed to be there. Cooked? Who can say with something this old? I’ve never had even close to an opportunity like this. Great to try.

2003 Chateau Latour

Cigar, leather and spice box with horsey and pain grille. Boy, this grabs your cheeks somethin’ serious. Plum, a little licorice and a load of pepper and cedar right now. But the fruit is plenty rich enough to balance the tannins and spice. Not in a place to drink right now, but in 15 years, this might be the WOTN.

2005 Chateau Latour

Explosive nose right now, full of herbs, pepper, wood varnish and sous-bois with, I think, elderberry and currant underneath. This has superb structure but is completely closed on the palate, impossible to assess beyond cedar, cinnamon and lots of subsumed fruit.

1982 Chateau Gruaud Larose

From Magnum, sooo Gruaud. Saddle leather and horse and red raspberry all combine in an intriguing nose. Dans la bouche, this is approaching being approachable, lots of bright red fruit is starting to peer out of the barnyard and leather profile with a long, warm finish. Extremely representative and if you like this stuff (and I do) you’re very happy. #3.

Mike - I’ve never been to make it to one of these events. I’ve heard that this year’s was one of the best yet due to smaller crowds. Looks like you got to sample some great wines.

hey Mike, nice notes

we tried many of the same wines, I unfortunately just missed the Giacosa

I was much happier with the 59 Yquem, it just needed 3+ hours of air, the lenght of the flavor was incredible.
I also was a bit more into the lovely Palmers, the 83 was soo good now.

Agree with you on the burgs, 96 was not coming out to play, loved the nose.
Cheval Blanc was really nice, my #2

From an education perspective it is good to try wine that is too old, and we do not have that chance often. 1928 latour was not that good, certainly a curiosity, but short, mushroomy and cooked - not enjoyable, 1955 DRC Echx was just an acidic shell, fruit gone, might have been OK if slow ox’d as I did sense sweetness left. Shame on how that bottle was lost in the confusion.

I am not convinced that this is the venue to taste old wines, fun non-the-less.

Mike, great notes and it was nice to see you again (John too!)

My favourites (and by favourite I mean wines that really stood out of the crowd and wines that I will remember) of the nite were the 2003 Latour (wow), 1996 Giacosa Falletto Riserva, 1990 Cheval Blanc and the 1971 Latour.

I was also impressed with the 2001 Clape Cornas, the 1983 Palmer and the flight of La Chapelle’s (88, 94 and 98). The 2004 Colgin IX Estate Syrah was very showy as well if you like them big and brawny. Both the champagnes were great too - the 1999 Clos de Goisses was drinking a little better than the 2000 Billecart Cuvée Nicolas François.

John: Tracey and I both really enjoyed the 1928 Latour. We had one of the first pours so I don’t know if the bottle was decanted carefully or not. Out samples were definitely very old but did not come across as stewed in the slightest to me. If asked blind, I’d have guessed that it was from the mid 60s. Not profound but I’m really glad to have had the chance to try it and enjoyed it for what it was.

I’m not in to the stickies like you and John are but I enjoyed how interesting and advanced the 1959 Yquem was (almost like a tawny port) while I found the 1990 to be rather ordinary (not bad, just not very memorable).

As for duds… I didn’t care for the 2003 Chapoutier L’Ermite - to me it could have been a ripe CA Zin. The 2000 Peter Michael Chardonnay La Carriere was too much for me (and you know I like my big CA chards). The Margaux’s were nice enough and while not a dud in the lineup (79, 95, 96), they didn’t live up to their lofty reputation compared to the Palmers.

I loved that there were fewer people this year. I could get to just about every bottle that I wanted at a much more leisurely pace this year. I agree with John that this isn’t the best environment for some of these wines as its hard to stick with a single glass long enough.

All in all though, a really great and world class event.


Thanks for the notes guys! Sorry I had to miss it, there were quite a few wines I wanted to try, especially the Giacosa, Rousseau and Latour’s.
I guess the trend continues on the older DRC at the pre-auction; they have all been pretty dissapointing or cooked.

Wonderful notes Mike.
I love that 96 Falletto Riserva.
Yummy stuff.

nice notes…the clos de la barre is perhaps one of the worst gambles i have made in my wine days. pretty much spot on with the several crappy ones of this i have had. thankfully, some of the others i have might, i say might, be better.

Thanks for adding your notes, John and Ken, as always fun to see what we liked and what we diverged on. Peter, you were definitely missed, especially when we got to talking about the Giacosa! Hope all is well out there for you…will you be back over the holidays at all?

Things are good, I’ll be back for two weeks for the holidays.