Martin Weiner's home in Westwood, Los Angeles, California
Tasted Friday, February 18, 2011 by Richard Jennings with 1,182 views
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.