World class wine dinner:26 wines incl DP P2,PYCM Batard,DRC Ech,Unico,Erasmus,Gaja,Flaccianello,Ausone,Dal Forno...

Fourteen members of our wine dinner group celebrated its 23rd Millennium dinner in the Cork Room of our usual restaurant venue for this occasion, bouchon.

Although we drink exceptionally well week after week throughout the year, this event is to feature wines at the top echelon of all categories, the creme de la creme, if you will.

And also as usual, we have way too many wines, but on this night, I handled it by hydrating 24 hours in advance and carefully sipping my way through the evening while enjoying some of the fabulous cuisine this restaurant consistently provides.

The menu:
We started with 3 stellar champagnes, the first two I took with a DOMinated theme of 02 Dom P2 and 08 Dom Chef de Cave Legacy:

2008 DOM PERIGNON BRUT CHEF de CAVE LEGACY EDITION- first, note the different glossy label that distinguishes this from the usual olive drab colored label; this was released in late 2018 prior to the “regular” release of the 2008 in early 2019 and was made to honor the transition from Richard Geoffroy to Vincent Chaperon as the cellar master/ Chef de Cave, which occurred on January 1, 2019; Geoffroy had been the main man for over 3 decades and Chaperon had worked under him since 2005; Geoffroy claims this is the best Dom he made since 1990 which was made possible by a super ripe, balanced harvest and at least 8 years of elaboration in the cellars; 2008 is the first time the estate has released a Dom out of order (the 2009 was released before the 2008) but the estate loved the wine so much they felt it warranted additional aging; I did not find much other detailed info about the wine other than it came in at an atypical 14% abv.

Tasting notes:
It seemed to be too much to ask this young bubbly to already have reached a place of balance, but it was evident from the nose through the tail; it’s loaded with fresh and ripe citrus and golden delicious apple notes with accents of spice and ginger as well as being super rich and elegant and having everything going for it, having bright acidity, power and finesse, a charming taste profile and a creamy mousse; I followed it for over an hour in the glass and it held a steady course with all of the goodies in tact through the entire journey; IMHO, this is as good as any Dom since 1996, if not 1990.

2002 DOM PERIGNON P2- the Plenitude editions are exceptional opportunities to revisit stellar vintages after extended lees aging and recent disgorgement. Moet & Chandon rebranded their former Oenotheque in 2014 by calling each of the 3 stages of release Plenitude as in P1, P2 and P3. P1 refers to the first release about 8 years after harvest, P2 is about 15 years and P3 20-30 years. The P2 will spend 15 years on its lees as opposed to 6 years for P1. P1 is sealed with a crown cap which gives a steady and predictable oxygen transmission rate, at least for a decade and P2 is corked which they feel preserves the freshness better. Also, P1 is dosed at 7 gpl whereas P2 is at 4 gpl.

Further elaboration: As older vintages rest on the lees in the cellar, it does not improve steadily as might be expected and as many wines do. Instead, it remains relatively flat for years at a time and then when nature has had her ways, makes a quantum leap to a new quality plateau, where it again remains flat in terms of improvement for many years. Internally, the staff at Dom Perignon refers to these leaps as “plentitudes,” and have concluded that they occur just 3 times. The 1st plentitude takes about 7-9 years and results in the Dom Perignon most of the world knows, having made its first big improvement. The 2nd happens after another 10 years or so, the 3rd in another 10 years or so (these times are very subject to nature). After the 3rd, there are no more leaps but rather a slow and steady improvement, at least up to the nearly 100 year point they are still trying. Dom Perignon that is not resting on its lees never experiences the 2nd or 3rd plentitude.

Tasting notes:
The nose was super inviting with promises to please albeit on a serious basis; I got a hit of ginger, menthol and fennel followed by nice citrus notes that translated into lemon zest on the palate along with buttered apple and pear; there’s a nice streak of spice that runs all the way through to the back end; for me, it’s the mouthfeel that stands out as the hallmark, aided by a top cream like thick texture; although big enough, I actually expected this to be even bigger than it was, mindful of the massive 2000 P2. It received votes for the white WOTN.

2008 PIPER-HEIDSIECK CUVEE RARE BRUT MILLESIME- 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir from 11 crus including Villers-Marmery, Vertus, Montgueux for Chardonnay and Aÿ, Verzy and Ambonnay for Pinot Noir; no oak and full ML; it was left on the lees for 10 years and then aged for a year after disgorgement in 11/19 with a dosage of 10 gpl.; it took a pretty stellar bubbly to follow the first two {02 DP P2/ 08 DP Chef de Cave} and this one handled it quite well; with a hallmark of elegance and balance, this fine bubbly had lovely white flower aromas that complimented the ginger accented lemon and lime notes joined by some vanilla and spice once gracing our palates.

Next up come 4 fabulous white Burgundy:

2016 BONNEAU du MARTRAY CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU in magnum- minerals and flint provide a nice accent to the apple, pear and citrus fruit that dominate the aromatics and taste profile while being delivered in a creamy, luscious texture that makes for a special treat and in the large bottle format, enough to enjoy a decent pour over the evening.
2013 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY MEURSAULT-CHARMES 1er Cru- to say this Charmes is charming is maybe waxing poetic, but it’s also right on; this lovely mineral and citrus laden wine offered a plethora of flavors that unfolded throughout; it was mellow, worthy and quite relevant.

2015 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY ABBAYE de MORGEOT CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET 1er Cru- this was so pleasing with lots of fruit from pear and apple to orange, lemon and lime accented by a touch of brioche and minerality; it had bright acidity and a smooth mouthfeel.

2015 PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY BATARD MONTRACHET GRAND CRU- this was a wowzer from the first sip and forever; we’d just had 3 really fine white Burgs, but this took it to another level with more of everything; it was full bodied, super rich and extremely giving; sourced from 85 year old vines, it had an array of aromas from white peach, tangerine, pear and citrus fruit to honeysuckle, clove and anise; it was round and seamless and had a silky texture that carried all of the goodies to the back end where everything just hung on for a grand finish. It got many votes for the white wine of the evening which included the champagnes.

Now, we go to the reds and there were many and from all over the globe, most were very good, some were epic:

2008 DOMAINE de la ROMANEE CONTI ECHEZEAUX GRAND CRU- when this was first poured, I missed out on the table conversation and just experienced it without any bias other than the label which was certainly enough; the first thing I noticed was an unexpected strong hit of pepper in the nose and then in the taste; next came its richness and weight; it was delicious, but more of a Northern Rhone and in fact, that was my comment; in a blind tasting, I’m calling it N. Rhone; I like pepper, so it wasn’t the end for the world for me; it also had spice laden blueberry, red raspberry and red cherry which were super flavorful and a velvety texture, but most had it as being not up to DRC standards.

2014 DOMAINE GROS FRERES et SOEUR ECHEZEAUX GRAND CRU- youthfulness, balance and a more varietally correct profile distinguished this Ech from the DRC; initially, there was a metallic aroma that fortunately blew off allowing the nice red fruit to express free of any off putting notes; it was full bodied but easy on the palate with a soft mouthfeel that left a lasting impression at the end.

The next two wines featured a top flight producer in Priorat that makes Grenache/ Garnacha based wines from organic and biodynamically grown fruit; I believe there is a small amount of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon used in the blend as well; the name, Clos Erasmus, comes from the Dutch philosopher, Erasmus von Rotterdam, who is famous for, amongst other works, ‘hymn to madness’.

2000 CLOS I TERRASSES ARASMUS PRIORAT- this bottle was flawed with VA and other unidentifiable compounds that rendered it undrinkable.

2005 CLOS I TERRASSES ARASMUS PRIORAT- fortunately, we got a really good bottle here and I got to sample the magnificence that has been expressed about this producer but never before experienced; the nose had some eucalyptus, pine and mint notes that joined red cherry/ berry fruit to make for a delicious taste profile; it was deeply concentrated, super rich and quite opulent.

To rest, clean and prepare our palates, we took a break with this next wine:

1979 SANCTUS JACOBUS ZELTINGER SONNENUHR RIESLING BEERENAUSLESE- medium amber color; aromas of smoke and honey were first apparent before super ripe apricot came in amidst a touch of TCA that was more evident in the nose than the taste; it had a honey like texture and past mid palate, some pear and yellow peach arrived to join and continue on. NO PHOTO

Back to the reds with 4 more flights of 2:

2014 GAJA SORI TILDIN BARBARESCO- there was a bit of Brett in this bottle, but enough redeeming qualities to merit a taste; leather, clove and talc provided nice accents to the cherry and black currant fruit; it had a silky texture and lot of depth.

1996 FONTADI FLACCIANIELLO della PIEVE COLLI della TUSCANA- 100% Sangiovese; this mature gem was ready to give and give it did with chocolate and tobacco laden wild cranberry and cherry; it was very rich and full bodied and had some weight and amazing complexity plus enough structure to suggest it will still be shining for another decade or two.

2005 CHATEAU TROPOLONG MONDOT ST- EMILION- 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc; this was a super serious wine from the nose through the tail; even the dark, vibrant color was intense; aside from a few Massetos, it may be the biggest Merlot based wine I’ve had; spice, leather and licorice provide perfect accents to the black raspberry, black currant and blackberry; it had layered depth and complexity and a loooong finish to seal the deal. Maybe the most amazing thing about this bottle on this night was that it did not get many votes for WOTN, if any.

2003 CHATEAU AUSONE ST-EMILION- thanks to this group, I`ve had quite a few bottles of this vintage and all have been extraordinary; this bottle followed suit and gave often and generously; beyond all of the pleasant aromas and tastes comes incredible balance and a classic example of power and finesse; in between, notes of black and blue fruit dominate the taste profile and are augmented by a touch of leather, cedar and earth; it’s super smooth mouthfeel just adds to the allure and for me, this is a real treat I’d like to experience every time I venture in to Right Bank wines; amongst many other stellar reds on this night, this was my fav.

{2} 2005 SPOTTSWOODE ESTATE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- it`s rare to have a duplicate for this event, but we got one and surprisingly so, considering the expanse of the entire lineup; since both bottles were really good, no problem; the wine is comprised of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and for me, both bottles had similar notes although one was decanted the other was not; these are big and robust wines that have lots going on and when it was all over, it was about pure pleasure; aromas of cedar, chocolate and mint provided accents to the black currant fruit and continued on to be joined by a nice addition of blueberry; they had layered complexity, were full bodied and had a long, appreciated finish; this wine is extremely varietally correct and although drinking superbly now, it can age another 10+ years before reaching its apogee.

2010 DAL FORNO ROMANO AMARONE della VALPOLICELLA- 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Croatina, 10% Oseleta; abv 17%; RS: 6 gpl; we’ve enjoyed many a bottle of this fine wine from numerous vintages and I was looking forward to another one on this occasion and it manifested; the taste profile certainly compliments knowing how it is made with its raisiny fruit; concentrated sweet and spicy black mission figs, blackberry, plum and black cherry fruit stands out along with leather and eucalyptus; one would expect the texture to be like molasses, but its not all that thick nor heavy. This delicious sweet wine would probably have been better served just before the dessert wines and had I known there was only one more dry red, I would have held on to it and tasted it afterwards; nonetheless, my palate was able to make the shift and enjoy what would become the best red WOTN.

1994 VEGA SICILIA UNICO RIBERO del DUERO- 85% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon; as with the Dal Forno Amarone above, understanding how this is made helps to understand why we get what this offers on the palate; it spends the first 2 years in huge 220 hectoliter vats, followed by 22 months in all new oak barrels, both French and American, and then is racked into older barrels for the next 2 1/2 years; finally, it spends its last 2 1/2 years back in the large vats before bottling after almost 9 years of oak aging; would that suggest concentration, depth, complexity and seriousness? most certainly; I got mint chocolate and coconut laced dark fruit on the nose which once tasted also picked up smoke and cigar box notes along with concentrated black currant and black cherry; it was so good, it was almost too much of as sensory overload; the consensus had it as the red WOTN.

Next came a plethora of dessert wines and I’m ok with a sip or three on most nights, but I’m completely satiated and pass.

Here’s some of the sweeties that were poured, all from half bottles:


Too many wines? Yes. Too many great wines? Never. Enough stemware? I took 8 glasses plus the restaurant provided 4. Great food and service? Over the top. Would I do this again? My calendar is marked for the 2nd Saturday in December 2022 and I already have some wine brings in mind.



These two seem particularly creme-worthy…

I love these notes, too, not just the evocative class of the wines. I appreciate you laying out the P-Dom values, especially. Tremendous, cogent background info. To which, I am imagining listening with maybe one ear open while otherwise in another place with these mouthfeels…

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It is good to be Blake Brown! Great notes and Happy Holidays to you are your family, Blake. Your notes are ‘must read on WB’!


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Another BB vicarious thrill! Thanks Blake!

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Great wines but you probably appreciated the company even more. Keep enjoying life to the fullest. YOLO!
Happy holidays!

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What a great event Blake.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas.

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Thanks Nick. Deeply appreciated.

Many thanks Ed. A return best wishes to you and yours for the holiday season and beyond.

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Much appreciated Mike.

You make a great point as I most certainly appreciate the folks in this group. Among many of the common denominators is the delight of sharing our mutual passion.

Happy holidays to you as well.

It was a great event Don and one that you can easily relate to.

All the best during and after the holidays.

Nobody writes up a big tasting event like Blake. Amazing read.

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I always look forward to your posts. This one was truly a world class!
Thanks for the explanation of the “plenitude”. I didn’t know the specifics.
I purchased a bit of the '08 Dom Perignon on release. Some arrived with the regular label, but six arrived with the Legacy label. As you mentioned, it was to commemorate the retirement of Richard Geoffroy. It is the same cuvée as the “regular” DP, which was released a little later and spent a few extra months on the lees.
I look forward to sharing a glass (or 26 bottles!) someday.

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Hey Chris- many thanks and the best of the holiday season to you and Joanne. Hope to see you soon.

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Thanks Warren. I had read the 08` DP Legacy possessing more lees time than the reg, but now when I look for the source, I do not find it, even from the house.

I too share the idea of communing with you some day. We just need to make it happen

Excellent notes as always Blake!

My impressions from our special night . . .

bubbles . . .
2008 Dom Perignon Brut ‘Chef de Cave’ Legacy Edition: bright citrus bursts from the glass; palate is awash with golden fruit; sharp jagged mouthfeel speaks to its youth and ability to age; long finish that seems never ending; put this away for another five years

2002 Dom Perignon P2: flinty minerally nose; fleshy mouthfeel; white-Burg with bubbles; caramel-laden finish; still smiling thinking about this nearly perfect experience
2008 Piper-Heidsieck ‘Rare’ Brut Millesime: intense effervescence; light, refreshing and citrusy; suffered the unfortunate fate of following the two Dom’s

white Burgs . . .
2016 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne, Grand Cru (Magnum): fleshy, youthful, and decadent; Spring Break in a bottle

2013 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Meursault-Charms, 1er Cru: as fun as the Martray was, this turned it up a notch; dances across the palate with spine-tingling acid; thrilling

2015 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Abbaye de Morgeot Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru: some bitterness up front, but rounded out nicely, then finished with a touch of anise

2015 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Batard Montrachet, Grand Cru: double ‘wow’; nose of ripe golden pineapple followed by an unctuous palate laden with sweet rich tropical fruit (maybe even some guava); long palate-coating finish with a hint of candied melon; easy White WOTN for me

reds . . .
2008 Romanée Conti Echèzeaux, Grand Cru: always nice to start a red flight with a DRC; effusive intoxicating perfume of purple and red (especially ripe raspberry) fruit and floral notes, followed by layers of dark and smokey fruit on the palate; finishes with a touch of bitterness which detracted from an otherwise wonderful experience

2014 Gros Freres et Soeur Echèzeaux, Grand Cru: sweet candied red fruit profile up front, with an underlying core of dark cherries and dark soil; nowhere near the level of perfume or fruit as the DRC

2000 Clos Erasmus: immediately hit with VA, varnish, medicinal eucalyptus notes; dumped
2005 Clos Erasmus: sweet, rich, creamy fruit with a pronounced oaky streak that still needs to integrate

intermezzo . . .
1975 Sanctus Jacobus Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese: nose of dirty dishwater and old paint thinner, which is hard to get past; however, complete transformation on the palate which was full of sweet fleshy fruit despite being more than 45 years old; fun experience

2nd round of reds . . .
2001 Gaja Sori Tildin: some VA on the nose; palate is full of dark red\dark purple fruit and a touch of milk chocolate; still quite tannic; complex layers of concentrated dark fruit, but lacked the lift I would have expected; not sure if this needs more time to come together or whether it should be drunk up before the negative elements overtake the positive

1996 Flaccianello: nose of Band-Aids initially off-putting, but blew off quickly and revealed a beautiful leather-laden wine, silky smooth on the palate and replete with Italian-ness as well as a long palate-coating (yet elegant) which is enough to garner a ‘wow’; fully integrated and resolved; wonderful; don’t miss this window

2005 Troplong: showstopper nose of effusive boysenberry and black raspberry; on the palate, very tactile, with a chewy mouthfeel; abundant black fruit and molten black licorice; delicious (1 vote for WOTN)

2003 Ausone: wow, extraordinary; perfectly integrated, perfectly balanced; elegant but not soft; instead, lifted with impeccable structure and a lithe spine of blackberry; still plenty of tannins as evidenced by the mouth-puckering finish; my WOTN (3 votes for WOTN)

2005 Spottswoode – bottle #1: wonderful notes of eucalyptus and abundant dark sweet fruit which is in no way over the top; unfortunately, hampered with a green pepper streak and a bitter, astringent finish
2005 Spottswoode – bottle #2: more pronounced green pepper streak on the nose, however, the finish was much better than bottle #1

2010 Dal Forno Amarone: extraordinarily complex, with dark sweet fruit and exotic spices; the layers of flavor intermixed perfectly with the sweet tobacco leaf; despite its heft, concentration, and power, never ponderous or clumsy, instead, somehow enough acid and structure to keep it all in check; my second favorite WOTN, just barely losing out to the Ausone (4 votes for WOTN)

1994 Unico: black raspberries and dark cola up front, with charcoal and pine tar on the finish; still quite dense, concentrated, chewy, and youthful; great structure and balance; easily go another decade or more; yet another special Unico (4 votes for WOTN)

dessert . . .
2010 Baumard Quarts de Chaumes: rich without undue sweetness; in a perfect place

1979 Moulin Touchais Coteaux Du Layon: lovely streak of orange rind permeates the experience; not going to improve; time to drink up and enjoy while there is still some life in this

1997 Dal Forno Recioto: wow, my Dessert WOTN; exceptionally complex with layers of darkness that envelope you at every sip; like stepping into a tobacco\cigar store back room and reveling in the distinctive nuance of each jar of tobacco

2004 Dal Forno ‘Vigna Sere’, Possito Rosso vino Dolce: a masterpiece of towering blackness; I’d give the ’97 Recioto the edge now for its level of complexity, but with time, this could evolve into something that even greater

2007 Valdana ‘Montecristo’, Aleatico Passito Dell’elba: and just when you thought a wine could not get any darker than the Dal Forno’s, the Valdana walks into the bar; not sure I’ve experienced a darker, more concentrated wine; thick and unctuous, like black motor oil with grip; once past the imposing nature of the beast, you are rewarded with a wonderfully unique dessert wine, with hints of Tootsie Roll and orange rind beneath the blanket of black

2008 Dr. Loosen Riesling Eiswein: impeccably balanced lush fruit lifted by crisp acid; perfect way to end the night

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1994 VEGA SICILIA UNICO RIBERO del DUERO- 85% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon; as with the Dal Forno Amarone above, understanding how this is made helps to understand why we get what this offers on the palate; it spends the first 2 years in huge 220 hectoliter vats, followed by 22 months in all new oak barrels, both French and American, and then is racked into older barrels for the next 2 1/2 years; finally, it spends its last 2 1/2 years back in the large vats before bottling after almost 9 years of oak aging; would that suggest concentration, depth, complexity and seriousness? most certainly; I got mint chocolate and coconut laced dark fruit on the nose which once tasted also picked up smoke and cigar box notes along with concentrated black currant and black cherry; it was so good, it was almost too much of as sensory overload; the consensus had it as the red WOTN.

That is impressive it was wine of the night that late into the tasting!

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Thanks Blake for taking the trouble and effort to write up this amazing selection of wines. I am just too lazy and I admire your impressive note taking work ethic. Evocative notes too btw


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As emailed and as in the past, I always enjoy your notes Henry and aspire to achieve more brevity and concise descriptors as you do.

We shared another great night and I look forward to many more my friend.

Good point John. Fortunately, I had not reached palate fatigue by this time and could enjoy all the treasures this had to offer.