DRC La Tâche, Richebourg, other great Richebourgs and Chambertins

Martin Weiner's home in Westwood, Los Angeles, California
Tasted Friday, February 18, 2011 by Richard Jennings with 1,192 views

Introduction

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Martin Weiner (pictured above right) is a buddy of mine who has been in the wine business for over 45 years. He’s semi-retired now, although he still consults on cellars and does valuations. (My post linking to the recent Grape Radio episode featuring Martin can be found here: http://www.rjonwine.com/martin-weiner/wine-appraisals-grape-radio/.) He also hosts monthly tastings of fine wine–like great Burgundies, mature first growth Bordeaux, top cuvees of Chateauneuf-du-Pape–at his home in Westwood, where he lives with his lovely wife Carol. I’ve attended a lot of Martin’s tastings, where he also cooks some dinner to keep us going, since 2002, when I lived in L.A. I still make the trip down when there’s a lineup that entices me, like these Richebourgs and other Burgundy Grand Crus, including three DRC bottlings with some age on them, and a ’90 Armand Rousseau Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. As it turned out, it rained my whole trip down by car on a Friday afternoon from where I work in San Jose, with the rain intensifying, along with high winds and hail, starting about two hours away from Martin’s. It got a little scary for awhile, especially on the Tejon Pass, but I felt those DRCs calling me, and that kept me going. I periodically peered through the blistering rain at the cars alongside me wondering what was keeping them doggedly on the road on that unpleasant night. I hope some of those other drivers were looking forward to fine Burgundies too.

While we had a lot of very good Burgundy that night (and I was only about 20 minutes late for the tasting, despite worse-than-usual rain-related jams on the L.A. freeways, which caused several L.A.-based attendees to arrive even later than I did), the wines that enticed me down were, not surprisingly, my wines of the night. The single most awesome wine of the tasting was the 2000 La Tâche. This was the eighth vintage of La Tâche I’ve tried (others, going back to ’67, include delicious but still tight ’96s, and very good ’89s, ’88s and ’98s), and I gave it the highest score of any La Tâche I’ve tasted, 97 points. Coming from a vintage that has been pretty open and approachable at the grand cru level for a few years now, this one was likewise open for business, with a gorgeous roses and cigar box nose, and a delightful spice box, dried cherry palate. It will go another 15 to 20 years, but is already quite delicious, starting to show secondary flavors on top of the concentrated, delicious primary fruit.

My second WOTN was the ’90 Rousseau Clos de Bèze. Rousseau is the second biggest owner of this vineyard, with a 1.42 hectare parcel. Eric Rousseau, grandson of Armand and current winemaker, uses about 15% whole cluster and 100% new oak for the Clos de Bèze. I’ve had over three dozen bottlings from this vineyard, and this, along with the ’02 and ’00 from this same producer, are definitely among the best I’ve tasted, showing why this is one of the two greatest vineyards of Gevrey-Chambertin, along with Chambertin itself. This wine is plush but balanced and poised, with delicious red fruit and minerality. It will easily go for two to three more decades.

My third best wine of the evening was the ’99 DRC Richebourg. At 95-plus points, it is one of the greatest of over 45 Richebourgs I’ve tasted, topped only by a ’98 Leroy and an ’02 Anne Gros, and the best of the eight vintages of DRC Richebourg I’ve tried. I loved the distinctive Asian spice notes on this wine, and the very long finish. Earlier in the evening we had another classic DRC Richebourg, the ’76. I’ve had that wine five times in all now, and this was one of the best bottles of those five. It was full of cigar box and tart oranges, still showing very firm tannins at 35 years of age.

Also impressive on this evening was the ’00 Gros Frère et Sœur Richebourg, which I think is showing very well now. The buddy seated next to me, Eric Cotsen, was very impressed with the Josephy Roty Charmes-Chambertins–we had both the ’02 and ’05. I liked them too, but found them both a little riper and oakier than I prefer. I think they’ll integrate pretty well, though, with another several years of bottle age. Among the younger wines in our tasting, I quite liked the ’06 Thibaut Liger-Belair Richebourg, which is pretty already, but which should really be a lovely wine with another few years of age.

For the rest of our grand crus, and detailed tasting notes, see below.

Flight 1 - First Flight (3 Notes)

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  • 2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Richebourg 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru

    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; nice tart red fruit, strawberry, tart raspberry, vaguely saline, chalk nose; tasty, pretty, tart raspberry, tart strawberry, menthol, mineral palate with good extract, needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish 92+ points

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  • 1995 Domaine Bruno Clair Chambertin-Clos de Bèze 91 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru

    Bricking medium dark red color with pale meniscus; tart red fruit, earthy, tart baked cherry nose; tight, tart red fruit, cinnamon, tart rhubarb palate with firm tannins, needs 5-plus years; medium-plus finish

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  • 1996 Dominique Laurent Mazis-Chambertin 91 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru

    Bricking medium red color with pale meniscus; smoky, tart cranberry, savory nose; very tart, tannic, tart cranberry, mineral, very tart cherry, rosehips palate with lots of structure and medium acidity, needs 6-7 years; medium-plus finish 91+ points

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Flight 2 - Second Flight (3 Notes)

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  • 1996 Frederic Esmonin Griotte-Chambertin 89 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru

    From magnum - slightly bricking, medium dark cherry color with pale meniscus; tart cranberry, mineral, rare steak nose with a touch of band aid; tasty, tart cherry, tart cranberry, mineral palate with focus and medium acidity; medium-plus finish

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  • 2003 Joseph Drouhin Chambertin 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru

    Slightly bricking medium cherry red color with 3 millimeter clear meniscus; wild cherry, strawberry, tart cherry nose; plush, tasty, ripe cherry, cherry pie, raspberry palate, ready now; medium-plus finish 92+ points

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  • 2004 Domaine Ponsot Chambertin 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru

    Bricking light medium red color with 3 millimeter clear meniscus; earthy, green herb, rhubarb, baked cherry, rhubarb nose; tasty, tart baked cherry, rhubarb, tart red fruit, mineral palate with structure; medium-plus finish

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Flight 3 - Third Flight (3 Notes)

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  • 2005 Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin 86 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru

    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; tight, bretty, tart red fruit, oak nose; brett, tart red fruit, oak palate with firm tannins, needs 8-plus years; medium-plus finish 86+ points

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  • 2002 Jean-Pierre Mathieu Charmes-Chambertin Aux Mazoyeres 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru

    Bricking light medium red color with 2 millimeter clear meniscus; earthy, strawberry, hibiscus nose with herbal stems; tart wild strawberry, herbal, hibiscus, mineral palate, needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish

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  • 2003 Gros Frère et Sœur Richebourg 88 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru

    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; oak, vanilla, raspberry, baked raspberry, berry nose; oak, tight, ripe raspberry, berry palate, needs 5-6 years; medium finish 88+ points

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Flight 4 - Fourth Flight (3 Notes)

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  • 2002 Louis Jadot Chapelle-Chambertin 88 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru

    Medium cherry red color with three millimeter clear meniscus; baked red fruit, cherry, strawberry, oak nose; chocolate, baked raspberry, baked cherry, shortbread palate with soft tannins; medium-plus finish 88+ points

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  • 2006 Bernard Dugat-Py Mazoyères-Chambertin 89 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru

    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; oak, red fruit nose; tight, tart red fruit, tart cherry, spice, tart raspberry, smoke palate with soft tannins; medium finish

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  • 2003 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Richebourg 91 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru

    Bricking medium dark red color with pale meniscus; touch of brett, baked red berry, VA, red bean nose; roasted red berry, baked cherry, raspberry palate with sweet tannins and some charm, needs 3-4 years; medium-plus finish

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Flight 5 - Fifth (and blind) Flight (4 Notes)

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Flight 6 - Sixth Flight (3 Notes)

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Flight 7 - Seventh Flight (3 Notes)

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  • 1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg 95 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru

    Dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; cigar box, Asian spice, hoisin, dried berry nose; tasty, elegant, velvety textured, Asian spice, dried cherry, raspberry, tart raspberry palate, youthful but approachable; long finish 95+ points

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  • 1990 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin-Clos de Bèze 96 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru

    Medium cherry red color with eight millimeter clear meniscus; vaguely savory, tart red fruit, mineral nose with depth; tasty, plush but poised, balanced, youthful, tart cherry, spice, baked cherry palate; medium-plus finish 96+ points

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  • 2000 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 97 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, La Tâche Grand Cru

    Slightly bricking medium red color with ten millimeter clear meniscus; sexy, roses, sous bois, cigar box, dried cherry nose; grippy, dried cherry, cigar box, spice box, green herb stems, mineral palate, delicious now but will go 15-20 years; long finish

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