TNs: Salon, Pol Roger, PLL, Ducru, Hosanna, Coutet

It was great to join some of the local Boston gang, as well as regular visitor Aline Baly from Chateau Coutet, at Les Zygomates a while back to taste some outstanding wines and enjoy a number of delicious dishes. The caliber of wines was top-notch and it was a very festive environment in which to enjoy them. Nobody knew what wines were brought other than their own and all wines were served blind by the outstanding staff.


1999 Salon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs. This is a delicate pale color, with a very fine bead to it. It features a taut and racy nose of toasted bread, citrus peel, chalk, ginger and blanched almonds. It is energetic, youthful and finely-bred, but still rather tightly-coiled at the core. In the mouth, it delivers a vibrant burst of poached pear, apple and white peach fruit on an airy frame, with vibrant acidic energy and a tangy lemon-lime finish to it. The mid-palate body could maybe stand to put on a little bit of weight, but otherwise this is extremely enjoyable and eminently drinkable for such a young Salon, IMHO.

1988 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Brut. This is a much darker golden-colored wine that also smells considerably more advanced–with lots of roasted nut, dark honey, baked apricot, caramel, copper penny and sherry-like aromas. On the palate, the first thing one notices is the lovely soft-knit and classy texture and outstanding weight of the wine. It tastes of praline, nougat and toasted nuts, with some zesty lime notes riding on top. I never really warm up to the bouquet, but the aged profile of the palate grows and grows on me over time.

1990 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Brut. This is also a relatively dark-colored wine that shows similar sorts of notes on the nose, though this seems less oxidized and just more mature—with fine aromas of dark ginger ale, black bread, chestnuts, earth, chalk and heavy yeast that work well together. In the mouth, this is again beautifully-textured and fine-flowing. It is a bit airier in its flavor profile of citrus, light honey and fresh ginger and also has a greater sense of freshness than the previous wine. But like the previous wine, it just gets better and better the longer you stay with it, and in the end I find this to be rather fun and delightfully enjoyable to drink.

Red wines:

1985 Joseph Drouhin Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru. This wine delivers fresh, somewhat lifted aromas of mountain berries, cherries, tea leaves, white pepper, green cedar and tobacco leaf. In the mouth, it is fresh and tangy, but with a fleshy texture that delivers a solid dose of cranberry, black cherry and dark berry flavors painted with tobacco overtones. It is smooth, medium-weighted and drinking nicely right now.

1982 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac. This wine is intensely perfumed—just pushing up and out of the glass with amazing energy and persistence to its aromas of black cherry, cassis, saddle leather, sweaty horsehide, scorched earth, grilled peppers and fresh-turned dirt. It is dark, feral, dense and intensely expressive, with a wonderful sense of class and beauty to it at the same time. It’s just a wonderful aromatic blend, grabbing you right away and just never letting go all night long. In the mouth, it is a dense ball of sexy sweet fruit, accented by menthol and green pepper flavors that are finessed yet rich and powerful. There is outstanding texture, depth, flow and balance, with plenty of vertical structure still apparent despite finely-integrated tannins and a buffed polish. Really, there is something here for every region of the pleasure centers of the brain. This was a fantastic bottle in pristine shape—the best-tasting and most impressive bottle of the three I’ve had the fortune to drink over the years. WOTN.

2003 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou St. Julien. This wine is a much darker color. It leads with strong notes of cedar, eucalyptus and mint leaf, with a sort of Rutherford dust earth tone sprinkled on top of the cassis and black currant fruit. A lot of us were leaning toward Napa Valley floor as a blind guess based on the lovely aromatic profile. In the mouth, I find it to fun and expansively mouth-filling, but not at all overly-heavy or anything. The fruit and overall feel are warm-toned and the alcohol level seems more obvious, but this is nicely holistic and finely expressive to my way of thinking. It finishes more tightened up and barrel-spiced, but I find it quite tasty and likely to improve with time.

1999 Chateau Hosanna Pomerol. This is heady stuff on the nose, as all kinds of exotic spices and sexy rich fruit waft up out of the glass. Those plum, date, mulling spice, tobacco, coffee bean and menthol leaf aromas are young but layered and multi-faceted. In the mouth, it is creamy, almost lactic in texture, with a generous easy flow to it. It is soft-edged, medium to full-bodied and plenty gutsy while also seeming rather polished. The flavors are warm and rich, with blueberry and black fruit leading the way and accented by all the spice notes. This is really enjoyable and even though tannins do start to creep up after a while, it is drinking quite well just now.

2001 Domaine Bois de Boursan Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee des Felix. There’s lots of feminine red fruit, old leather, tobacco leaf, dry earth, chicory, pencil shaving and funky sweat aromas on display with this last red wine of the line-up. It has a sense of classicism and elegance to it that I like a lot, especially as the fine garrigue and lavender notes start to come in around the edges. In the mouth, it is generous and well-proportioned, with a fine fleshy texture. The warm kirsch and red currant fruit flavors allied to a dry earth and lavender-tinged inner mouth perfume works beautifully. The finish shows off a bit of coffee and herb and the whole thing drinks pretty effortlessly. I enjoyed it a lot and would have no trouble holding for awhile, either.

Sweet wines:

1976 Chateau Coutet Barsac. This was brought directly from the chateau’s cellar by Aline. The bottle was in stellar condition and shocked all of us with its age when it was revealed. First off, the bouquet is quite pretty and utterly classic in its presentation of nectarine, apricot jam, orange marmalade, botrytis cream and nutmeg spices. Then, on the palate, it is impressively well-balanced between the unctuosity of the poached apricot, vanilla bean, custard and yellow tropical fruit flavors and the fine-honed acidity. The whole thing is smooth and luscious, yet controlled and finely-focused.

1966 Chateau Voigny Sauternes. Although this is older, it is paler in color. The nose has an unfortunate medicinal or dirty band-aid kind of note to it that distracts from the underlying elements of apricot and cream aromas. In the mouth, I do find some enjoyable pineapple, grapefruit and hard caramel flavors, but it is in a fairly narrow beam and associated with a bit too much of a raw sugar cane kind of sensibility to say there’s any real sense of class or distinction to this particular bottle. Overall, it really suffers alongside the beautiful bottle of ’76 Coutet. Still, it was fun to try an old wine from a producer I’d never heard of before.


Thanks so much for the notes, Michael. New Year’s Eve Eve At Les Zygomates was a really fun evening with some outstanding wines.
What a great evening.