Vintage Tastings (click to search again)

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White - Sparkling

1996 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Clos Saint-Hilaire

Pinot Noir more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
We segued to a pair of Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir), the pair of Blanc de Noirs, to be exact. The 1996 Billecart Salmon Clos St. Hilaire had a breadier, yeastier nose, much gamier and earthier than the previous two blends. Someone hastily said, ‘it’s walking the Krug,’ meaning it was showing better, but I found it closer qualitatively despite the obvious stylistic differences. Its finish was also explosive and full of earth, breed and length. King Angry Ray noted, ‘the fruit is so pure, you don’t even notice the lack of dosage.’ The Clos St. Hilaire had the complexity of a quarry full of all types of rocks, minerals and vitamins, possessing incredible acidity, structure and length. Flavors of anise developed, and the finish gained this novocaine-like complexity in this numbingly good Champagne. I asked Ray if he thought this was better than Krug, and he succinctly observed, ‘Just different. More red fruit here.’ The Hilaire more so than the first two bubblies needs time to age; they all will benefit by age, but the Hilaire seemed to be the most brooding, complex and least approachable overall 97 points
White - Sparkling

1996 Bollinger Champagne Vieilles Vignes Francaises

Pinot Noir more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
The other Blancs de Noir on official tap was a 1996 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises, which had the most exotic nose so far and ‘a lot of bread’ per BB, but it was not close to the Hilaire. Its bread aromas came across as soaked in some sort of almond syrup. Yeasty and toasty, there were lots of nut and vitamin flavors and outstanding race and zest here along with a tangy finish. For some reason, it was the only one of the younger bubblies that I didn’t see improving in overall quality, but that does not mean it will not develop aromatically and stylistically; I just think it will always be 95 points
White - Sparkling

1995 Krug Champagne Clos d'Ambonnay

Pinot Noir more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
A ringer made its way into this first flight, possibly the first tasting of this newsworthy cuvee here in America. It had something to do with King Angry, Bad Boy Bruce, some Russians and a drop point, but I can’t remember any more of the details. The 1995 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay, the first release of Krug’s Blanc de Noirs $3000 a bottle cuvee, was finally here. Reticent aromas of vanilla sundae were present; it had the white chocolate, the walnuts and the whipped cream on top. The palate was dry and underwhelming at first; it was shy, simple and not giving much. It had pleasant citrus flavors, but to be frank, it did not come close to any of the first three in quality. Bruce was quick to say how it needed some time, and Robert was quick to point out the vintage handicap of 1995 versus 1996, but still, at $3000 a bottle one wants to feel winegasm at first sip, no? An hour later, though, I must confess Bruce was right. The d’Ambonnay opened up and became much more buttery in the glass, hinting at Montrachet-like complexity. Bruce observed, ‘You can really see the difference; imagine twenty years.’ True, but the d’Ambonnay was not great enough to overcome the fact that it was from 1995, and it still possessed a lack of density in the mouth overall. It will be interesting to taste the 1996 94 points
White - Sparkling

1996 Krug Champagne Clos du Mesnil

Chardonnay more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
The 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil, however, took things up another notch; its intensity and pitch were noticeably better. Also a Blanc de Blancs cuvee, the Clos du Mesnil was muscular, buttery and rich with ‘massive slate and chalk’ per BB. This was truly Montrachet, with tremendous acidity and a thunderous personality. Flavors of lime and white chocolate rounded out this insanely complex and spectacular Champagne. BB told all how this was ‘the greatest land in Champagne’ and how much correlation there is between this vineyard and that of Romanee Conti. It was truly great 98 points
White - Sparkling

1955 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
The 1955 Krug I did not have the pleasure of tasting the night before, but none of that pleasure was deferred by having it 18 hours later! This turned out to be wine of the night, or at least next night! The nose was still delicious with amazing aromas of vanilla, apple and hazelnut. It was still sweet with a touch of varnish around its edges. It was a ‘wow’ wine, also delicious in the mouth, buttery, citrusy and rich, again Montrachet-like but more so than any other. Big Boy gave a speech about how ’55, not ’59, is the best vintage of that decade for Champagne. Oily and butterscotchy, it was so dense that it left a liquid sugar impression in the mouth. This was ‘serious stuff,’ and not even out of magnum 99 points
White - Sparkling

1996 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
The 1996 Krug was the third time I have had this recently released Champagne and the best of the three. Robert Bohr was all over its green apple right away. I was all over its vanilla cream, its earth and seemingly deeper, nuttier nose. Still fresh, of course, the Krug also had aromas of white meat, that green apple, oil and bread. It was really racy and popped in the mouth, more so than the Pol Roger, explosive and full of citrus flavors on its finish. The breed here was exemplary, as were its bread aromas and flavors. A regal finish rounded out this classic 96 points
White - Sparkling

1928 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Grand Vintage

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
Finally, something from the twenties appeared lol, a magnum of 1928 Perrier Jouet in outstanding condition. It had amazing color for a ’28, and there was orange everywhere in its profile, which was exotic and forward yet subdued like its age. White fruits and nougat were also found in both the nose and the mouth, along with white smoke and Indian yogurt flavors 94 points
White - Sparkling

1953 Philipponnat Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
We were quickly back on track with a 1953 Philipponat Clos des Goisses, a magnum that was recently disgorged and came directly from the cellars of Philipponat. This was the bottle that took three swipes. It came across vigorously youthful at first, but still had gamy flavors of earth and white brick once it unwound a bit. White mocha, espresso bean and duck wonton flavors joined the party in this increasingly complex magnum, which became a bit Montrachet-like over time 95 points
White - Sparkling

1964 Pol Roger Champagne Brut Vintage

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
Midnight was about to strike, and out came a jeroboam of 1964 Pol Roger. The third quarter of this game was about to begin, and Big Boy had his saber ready, preparing to duplicate the rarely seen sabering of a jeroboam of Champagne. I have only seen this accomplished once before, by Big Boy himself last New Year’s Eve. Make that twice, as Big Boy did it again, which is no easy task. The ’64 was a bit advanced unfortunately, but still drinkable and enjoyable, even almost great for a few minutes. The nose was very butterscotchy and full of vanilla, deliciously mature with loads of honey, straw and golden aromas. It was rich, tasty and creamy at first, but it faded quickly thereafter 92 points
White - Sparkling

1975 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
A magnum of the very first vintage of Churchill was next, the 1975 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill. I had had this once before, also courtesy of Big Boy, at 2006’s holiday BYO party. Unfortunately, I lost my notes and the fifty wines I sampled on that legendary night, never to be shared again. Big Boy immediately crowned the Churchill as ‘6 star Champagne,’ and went on to add ‘the best of 1975.’ It was clean and racy with touches of vanilla, wheat and smoke. Incredibly long in the mouth, there were lots of limestone and slate flavors along with a touch of benevolent cat’s box. ‘Deleriumly focused,’ I wrote. It is not proper English, I know, but still appropriate; one of the joys of wine language is the ability to make your own words up! It was so focused that it made me deliriously joyful, for those of you that need translation. Linearly long, I added. There were also flavors of anise and lime on the rocks in this increasingly gamy and edgy Champagne, and even a hint of banana 96 points
White - Sparkling

1975 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
There was some 1975 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill to be had again, and it was still bright and fresh, zippy and lemony, limy and racy with excellent mineral flavors. It was still agile, tasty and fresh and didn’t miss a beat from the previous night.
White - Sparkling

1995 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
Somehow, I got a swallow of 1995 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill that someone brought, I believe, which was very good but a bit lost in the shuffle at this point. Lean, racy, zippy and vitaminy with anise and citrus qualities is how I found it to be 92 points
White - Sparkling

1996 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
We started appropriately with an ambassador of sorts, the 1996 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill. It’s an ambassador not only due to the man after whom it was named, but also because it remains a great value (arguably greatest) for one of the Top Ten luxury cuvees made in Champagne. In fact, at a December dinner at Chateau Lafite, I was reminded how good even the regular non-vintage Pol Roger is when it was served before dinner. That, too, remains one of the great buys in bubbly, still less than $30 a bottle. The 1996 was a great way to start off the evening, delivering an outstanding experience from the word go. Its nose had picture perfect balance between its sweetness, fruit and structural components. Big Boy called it, ‘Krug-like with its green apples.’ Golden aromas showered over its minerally, slaty, racy and wound personality. BB kept harping on its ‘slaty’ qualities, also appreciating its ‘mid-palate depth.’ It did have that, flashing its fruit in the mouth like an Ali jab. There was great toast to this complex bubbly, but BB felt it was ‘missing the pitch and citricity of 6-star,’ though I countered that it was still a bit young for 6-star status, and that many wines need to blossom into that category. However, a couple of other bubblies would soon remind us that 6-star status is something that can come across even at a young age 95 points
White - Sparkling

1970 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
The other notable bubbly that I missed was still plentiful the day after, that being a magnum of 1970 Cristal. While 1970 may be a step down from some of the other notable vintages of the previous and next decade in Champagne, this Cristal was spectacular and clearly the Champagne of the vintage when it come to 1970. Its nose was nutty and warm, full of orange peel, burnt caramel, yeast, marzipan and mahogany aromas. Its palate was citrusy and vimful, possessing delicious cream soda, cinnamon and mahogany flavors. This magnum was stunningly good, eighteen hours later as well, although Rob was quick to point out that it wasn’t left out all night like the Salon and was kept in the fridge, though still sabered and open. He also observed that it was ‘much nuttier, had a longer and deeper mid-palate and great acidity’ compared to the Salon. It was certainly the best ’70 that I have ever had, all the more impressive by its stellar day two showing 96 points
Red

1962 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche

La Tâche Grand Cru Pinot Noir more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
The magnum of 1962 La Tache quickly asserted itself as red wine of the night. Sweet and dank, its nose was full of mesquite, black cherry oil, game, rose, iron and old, wilting flowers. Secondary aromas of band-aids crept in. Its palate was rich and bordering on syrupy, definitely oily and complex with its flavors of rose, brick and garden. Flat-out delicious, there was crazy complexity and a rainbow of fruit flavors (black, purple and red makes the red wine rainbow), and finally a kiss of gingerbread to this gamy wine 97 points
Red

1959 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti

Romanée-Conti Grand Cru Pinot Noir more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
A magnum of 1959 Romanee Conti was next. I must have had this wine on six or eight occasions already in my young life, and while this magnum was still ‘good,’ it was not one of my best experiences with this wine. The nose was rusty, oily and nutty, full of rich mahogany nuances. Hearty bouillon flavors were complemented by good earth, tobacco and steak sauce ones. Smooth and reticent yet still rich and long, cedar joined the party both aromatically and flavor-wise. Bruce found it ‘pure’ and outstanding, but for me, it fell just short of that status 94 points
Red

1959 Domaine G. Roumier / Christophe Roumier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses

Pinot Noir more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
A trio of reds were next, beginning with a rare magnum of 1959 Roumier Chambolle Musigny Amoureuses. The nose was full of sweet strawberry fruit, and its palate was full of the most distinct mesquite flavors. Rich, round and lush, the Amoureuses had lots of cherry fruit flavors and a finish that was almost fully integrated. Subtle, classic flavors of garden and bouillon eventually emerged. Bruce shrugged his shoulders about the wine, and Robert added that ‘it was pretty yet clearly chapitalized’ and possibly topped, adding that it was ‘pleasant but not profound.’ Its depth of lushness was impressive though 93 points
White - Sparkling

1964 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut

Chardonnay more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
It was getting close to 2AM, and before I knew it, there was a two-minute warning in effect, as Cinderellas started looking for their glass slippers, and guys started turning into pumpkins left and right. I love it when last call is a magnum of 1964 Salon. The Salon had an UNREAL nose, worthy of capital letters. That sexy, vanilla wafer quality was on full display, and its palate was super spiny. Ray noted its ‘volatile acidity,’ and the magnum was so spiny and penetrating that it almost seemed stripped of its fruit. It was super-wound in true superhero fashion, long and intense and full of unyielding lime, stone and rock flavors. I fell into a trance of bubbly bliss, all of them dancing around me, giggling playfully and beckoning me into the dark, cold night. Somehow I forgot to write down a score for the ‘64… …and then there was the day after. Big Boy emailed me at 11am, telling me I had to come over and taste some of these Champagnes that were still open and filled. I could barely move, and after a very low key day recovering while writing these very notes you are reading, I finally stumbled back to the scene of the crime to experiment and experience great Champagnes the day after. …the 1964 Salon was still fizzy, more candle waxy with a touch of lanolin and a kiss of oak, vanilla and nutmeg. It was still unwinding and unfolding in its nose, and leaner overall, yet still strong on the palate. It had rocky waterfall flavors with slate and a touch of sawdust. Flavors of white chocolate and exotic wood also developed. Big Boy admired ‘so much acid.’ Citrusy and still going, the Salon was excellent 18 hours later! However, it had lost its center a bit. Ultimately, I decided it was still 5 star territory from what Big Boy and I could remember from the night before; he was certain that it fell off a bit the day after, though (95M).
White - Sparkling

1971 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut

Chardonnay more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
The 1971 Salon was staggering out of magnum. Bruce cooed over its ‘old style,’ while Robert compared it to a great, old Krug. It had a toasty and nutty nose that oozed sexy qualities and hedonistic vanilla and caramel aromas. In the mouth, it was rich with an incredible center of acidity, still vibrant yet starting to show a hint of gamy, mature flavors. Its flavor profile was as complex as the wheel itself, revealing vanilla wafer, wheat, desert, corn, oats and even pineapple. Its crazy complexity was sheer genius 98 points
White - Sparkling

1976 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut

Chardonnay more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
The 1976 Salon also had that sexy vanilla edge to its nose but was showing more orange fruit and blossom aromas as well. A drop of honey and gingerbread also came forward as did this distinct frosted shredded wheat edge, either that or some Cream of Wheat with some brown sugar; it was somewhere between the two but definitely in that morning cereal category. The palate was drier than the nose made me expect; it was shredded without the frosted, more citrusy and barely holding onto its excellent status. Lean but not that mean, the ’76 was still ‘old school’ and admirable, just not up to snuff after the ’71 93 points
White - Sparkling

1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut

Chardonnay more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
We took a turn towards Le Mesnil and familiar grounds. The 1996 Salon was at the top of the ladder right away, as usual. This Blanc de Blancs (100% chardonnay) cuvee was clean and pungent, complex and full of anise and minerals. Clean, lean and mean, the Salon was racy like Ricky Bobby and ready for sponsorship with its wintry wonderland of flavors. With its laser-like precision and deft personality, the 1996 Salon showed why it is one of the Champagnes of the vintage again 97 points
Rosť - Sparkling

1955 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé Vintage (Reserve)

Champagne Blend more

Vintage Tastings

, John Kapon
New Year's Eve 2007 (1/2/2008)
An oxidized or just plain off 1955 Veuve Clicquot Rose ruined the streak of great bottles (DQ).
  • Reviews: 22 /
  • Wines: 21

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