Before this tasting my preference sheet on Montrachet was maybe 2-3 bottles, so with 26 wines from the 1999 Vintage in the line-up, I and others at the table was in for an once in a lifetime experience.
My good friend Joe Belmaati hosted the tasting and just hearing him tell how the wines was sources from around the world, made you realize that this is not the type of wine you just go and buy at the supermarket or local wine shop or even in your own country.
Perfect scene for such a tasting was Søllerød Kro (yes once again) and we kicked of @ 12:00 with a 3 course lunch and took a one hour walk in the beautiful surroundings before we sat down again @ 17:30 for a 6 course dinner. Even though I took a lot of pictures I almost felt obligated, also to take notes on such a day.
We knew before hand that we had 7 flights in front us and also knew how the flights were composed, but the serving order was a secret.
Food (Once again brilliant and Jan you still rock!!!!)
Lemon sole with leeks and mussels
Forest mushrooms, broth and brioche
Lobster with cauliflower, almonds and lemon
Bonus: Scramble eggs with breadcrumbs and white truffles from Alba
Lobster with carrot and dill
Scallops with Jerusalem artichokes, Pear and hazelnut
Lobster bisque with celery and tarragon
Turbot with egg yolk potato and onion
Pheasant with mushrooms, chestnuts and sauce aroma
Apple with salted caramel and cranberries
Let the 1999 Le Montrachet madness begin:
(If you click on the flight numbers you will see a picture of the flight)
This was the first lesson on how the wines evolved in the glasses and how you needed to taste them with and without food, to make some sort of fair judgment. This was also a reminder on how great Burgundy white wines can actually handle pretty high temperatures and still gain complexity.
Fontaine Gagnard - I got the first wine wrong as it gained strength and tallness in the glass. It started off with a neutral nose and some flower water which I found a bit impure. The taste was to some degree too soft and flabby, but when it was paired against the food it suddenly shined. The mineral profile was on the rise and even the acidity was firming up, which made the elegancy better. To me the best wine of this flight.
Jacques Prieur - I also got this wine wrong, but just the other way around. At first, it had a better nerve and concentration - even a better level of minerality. Unfortunately with air it's oily and burned butter notes takes control and it's even on the verge of transforming into caramel. On the palate it's also an issue, as this oiliness prevents it from having a real acidity smack and it ends up being a bit too chewy for my palate.
Gagnard Delagrange - oxidized.
Flight 2 :
Réne Fleurot - what a babe. Overwhelming complexity, refined, butter, pine needles, lavender, lemon peel and basically just utterly resistible on all levels. Taste is also pure pleasure - delicate and precise. My kind of wine and everyone around the table had it as a clear flight winner.
Remoissenet - A panel splitter. I was in the camp, who didn't like it that much. It had a bizarre note of paint and ink (some didn't think so). On the palate it burned somewhat - I never came to terms with it.
Lamy-Pillot - oxidized.
Rogeot-Dupin - Also a wine which divided the table as some found signs of oxidation. Personally I think we were already seeing the oxidation ghost from everywhere and I just found it to be a rather developed wine. It's a wine with an oily fruit core, burned butter, toast and this very mature style. The burned butter notes were unfortunately too dominated on the back palate, taking away a fair amount of lightness and elegancy.
Bouchard Pére et Fils
Louis Jadot - First wine of the night, which I initially found almost too much of everything. Opulent style - big, fat and oily - almost creamy to some extent, with notes of vine gums and overall hard to find class and grace in a wine of such character. However the taste was better; big fat and juicy still, but not burning at all and really long. When you weight nose vs taste, it gives some sort of meaning, but it will never be my kind of wine.
Joseph Drouhin - Again a rather oily and buttery wine, but filled with deep layers of complexity. It has a far better sparkle and energy rising from the glass and it makes you pay more attention, compared to Louis Jadot. It has divine notes of mild breadcrumbs with exotic flowers and a really perfect wine with the food.
Louis Latour - hmmmm...certainly a wine with reasonable level of lilies flowers and chalk, but there were constantly (even if it was secondary) a note of acetone, which irritated me. I think I was the only one who found this note, but others around the table agreed that the wine was somewhat rustic.
Bouchard Pére et Fils - was a surprise winner of this flight. Astonishing fresh wine, with Puligny-Montrachet character - flowery overload, pine needles, honey, nuts and my favourite note; mint. Taste is incredible nice with tremendous tallness and energy. It was discussed if the wine was a bit too commercial and not intellectual enough - yes maybe, but it was impossible not to praise its divine drinking pleasure.
From here we took a break and a one hour walk in the beautiful surroundings.
Back for more and thinking white wine again, but restaurant manager Jan Restorff thought differently and came in with a decanter and Champagne in it.
Have to confess that this Champagne was like coming home and a reminder were my wine heart belongs. Enough romantic drooling....
The Champagne...apples - not greenish, but a little bit of brownish character also. Bio scents with baby banana, oxidation and also vanilla oak perfumes. I guessed Selosse and Version Originale, but it was a bottle of Initiale (Disgorged 15. October 2008). Personally I loved it - maybe just because it was a fresh breeze and just that personal Champagne reminder. Some found the oak and oxidation character a bit disturbing, but what do "they" know about Champagne ;-).
Chartron Et Trebuchet
Chateau de Puligny Montrachet
Chartron Et Trebuchet - Notes of hay, straw, caramel and burned butter. Taste is oily and flabby - not good.
Chateau de Puligny Montrachet - Again a wine which you can discuss is too commercial with cheerful notes of Polynesian vanilla and melted butter. But then again - it comes across as being incredible tickly fresh and has a long silky aftertaste. It went down with no problems at all and a clear winner of this wine.
Guy Amiot - now this was a funny wine as it actually gave some good laughs around the table. Forgive me, but some thought it actually smelled of shit (literally). Personally I wouldn't go that far, but it sure was bizarre. I found more notes of arm sweat, but the most bizarre thing was actually the taste which was fairly alright and flowery. But of course it's takes two to tango and one had a broken leg here.
Flight 5 (The big boys)
Domaine de la Romanée Conti
Domaine de la Romanée Conti - Loved the combination of a fresh and flowery spectrum, but also a second layer and deeper layer of intense fruit core with more pronounced sweetness and exotic notes. However it collapses on the palate where it moulds too much and never slips a too silky and somewhat short finish. When the bottle was revealed, there were several disappointing faces around the table - as we all found it to be average.
Ramonet - A panel splitter as it had notes of peppermint and spices which some found intriguing, while others found it disturbing. Personally I found the depth here incredible impressive and it's for sure a highly intellectual wine which seems still to be on the young side. There were also a note of fennel here, which I found a bit balance disturbing, but then again, it's typical a note which will integrate and resolve itself over time. Taste is long, deep and again confirming its youth with a lot of structure brushings on the back palate.
Comtes Lafon - A wine which switched a lot of back and forth in the glass. At first it's shy and when it opened with air and warmth it's with brown sugar and caramel. On the palate it's rather strange. When it hits the mouths it feel seriously wild with enormous strength, but it has almost no acidity which just killed everything for me.
Domaine Leflaive - I believe I had an affair this night with glass number 4 - or did I dream the whole thing? Glass number 4 was the star of the night and if to prevent me from going into an adjective orgy, I can best describe it like this: Some wines are simply just spectacular for being like a little treasure box. Wine number 4 is such a wine, and what I adore mostly here is its alluring affect. Take one jewelry from the treasure box and come back later when you have sniffed some of the other wines in this flight and another will be waiting for you...and another, and another......etc. This wine is out of this world complex with truffles, soil, minerals, vanilla and brownish apples. Everything is wrapped with this allure and mysteriousness and it's just mind-blowing on the palate too. I have also written on my paper, that it's not a wine for the untrained taster....have no idea what that actually means, but you can rest assured that I bloody liked it.
Now from here the game seemed to be set in on finding a rival to Domaine Leflaive - it didn't happen...but still I was amazed by the diversity that were still to come.
Lucien Le Moine
This flight was actually one of the best of the night as its consistency was of very high standard, but also because it added to the diversity of Montrachet and by being the freshest flight of the day.
Lucien Le Moine - Not particular "Montrachet-like", but more in the direction of Puligny-Montrachet character with lilies, toast, limestone and limejuice. Taste is very tickly, refreshing, clean, and friendly and with the right proportion of oiliness, which certainly didn't hurt the mouth coating appeal. Having said that, I still felt the wine didn't have that magic touch of length and fill in both taste and complexity. Still - let's not forget that we have a great wine in the glass.
Marc Colin - fascinating wine as it had a splendid blend of an elastic and silky fruit core, but also high levels of minerality. With air this wine opened several layers and I was especially drawn to a Champagne lookalike note of Macadamia nuts and almonds. To me the best wine of this flight.
Michel Coutoux - Who brought a Sauvignon Blanc into this flight? That's how it smelled - with gooseberries and fennel. It was not the kind of wine you immediately fell in love with, even if I like Sauvignon Blanc a lot. However, the fact that it was surely different and had an incredible high acidity kick, made you analyze it from a very youthful angle, which actually made it a bit interesting. Overall - mysterious wine with some sort of appeal, which feels horrible young at this stage. Not a winner - not a looser, but definitely interesting.
Henri Boillot - Very rich Montrachet, with an almost tropical silky nose with butter, vanilla and almonds. I missed some tallness here as it's almost too smooth. However the taste is better - here you have the acidity and actually a lot of freshness. But it was still the wine I preferred the least in this very high standard flight.
Oliver Leflaive - An easy and understandable Montrachet, with limestone, toast and flowers in general a fairly good energy from the glass. Taste stays on the same path; clean, oily and friendly. Again one of these wines, which is very easy to drink and indeed a nice bottle, but to break the magic sound barrier I would have liked to see a bit more nerve and complexity. But alright - wine is also about laid back drinking.
Etienne Sauzet - by far the most backward wine of the day. Despite a very shy nose of chalk and lime it has an incredible clarity and intensity. Taste is painful young as well - super intense with a scary high pitched acidity. Definitely not a first site charming wine, but nevertheless I found myself using a lot of time with this glass. I think I have decease with wines of high clarity and acidity....who said Riesling and Champagne? ;-).
Baron Thénard - One some points it reminded me of glass 1; Oliver Leflaive. Has the same easygoing and very friendly style. Also a very rich and rewarding wine. But again, not particular complex....just a notch below Oliver Leflaive though.
Vicent Giradin - Now this was a different wine. Herbs and spices dominating the nose, but also chalk and lime. Feels very young and has a brilliant aura of mysteriousness, which adds to its complexity. Taste is again young, high in nerve, tallness and acidity. Reminded me of Chablis to some point and again it's one of those glasses you kept coming back to.
1959 Lafite Rothschild
In the last few days I have thought about how I should write this tasting note without praising too much on my own self-righteous palate. It would be an understatement to say that this bottle was in mint condition - it was more than perfect. It's also the best Bordeaux I have ever tasted and I am astonished how fresh this wine was. No signs of age what so ever - incredible. The balance is unheard and from those who used points around the table, there were only one appropriate rating for such a wine; 100 pts. What's the problem then? Well - in order for a wine to be perfect and me doing summersaults, it has to be an emotional wine - and it wasn't...at least not for me. My good friend Claus Lyster, who also attended this tasting, had the same feeling and we talked about this after the tasting. He said - "The wine was incredible, but Bordeaux is just so boring...it's cedar wood, cigar box and pencil all the time...and it's always like that". Well, I will have to agree, even if such a comment is rudely generalizing and this wine had lots of secondary layers and gears to win the lawsuit. So my deepest respect for this wine, which is technical perfection, but personally not an emotional wine to me
I think it's the oldest red wine I have ever tasted and it was not at all dead. Of course it doesn't have the fill and complexity like its neighbor glass; 1959 Lafite Rothschild - but it actually fresh as hell. I guess it to be from the 1970's - so there you go. Again classic, cedar, cigarbox and pencil...yes yes...it's there - but refined and interesting. On the palate it feels older - not much fill and structure left - but for sure drinkable.
2 Sauternes were also served...believe it was Climens...can't reminder the vintages...NO MORE.
Even if I like the idea of tastings with broad defined themes, where you can go into detailed food & wine pairings, I still prefer tastings like this. Horizontal and Vertical or just small defined themes are always the best, as it learns you something. If it's the newcomers in Champagne, a vertical tasting, or 26 different Montrachet's from the same year - the common factor is insight to make you understand wine better.
Joe - if you are reading this - thank you, for an unforgettable day.
Ps. Finally - a wine tasting with sunlight. More pictures here