Very fresh toasty nose with peach and citrus fruit. Palate is lush and quite big which reminds you it is a pinot noir champ, yet the acidity reminds you that it is from 96 which balances out the big body. Still an infant, a glorious child, will be wonderful with much more cellar age. Greatness in the making.
Sloppy Seconds Mondo Tasting (Bin 75): Golden yellow, larger bubbles, lingering mousse; nutty, red apple, green fruit, tart,; rich and luxurious, good acid, some aged notes, almond, long finish, chalk and yeast on the finish; phenomenal but it never evolved with extended airtime; a brick house of a champagne.
Long time since I had these bubbles and from being sharp and closed it now was almost fully developed. Hard to say if it is a phase. There are many 96´s going this direction right now. There are some being extremely sharp and complex but a lot are falling apart. Is it just a phase? Time will tell.
Very delicate, tender and subtly complex nose. Just about ripe apples, lightly yeasty, notes of flowers, apricots and some aniseed. Harmonius taste. Round, quite full body. Very pure and elegant. Good grip. Ripe apple and yeast, but not a blockbuster. Still shy. Tasted in a 1996 prestige tasting, this came out as too shy and subtle to make any lasting impressions. I lacked the secondary aromas - maybe you'll have to wait 25-30 years for them?
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(Billecart Salmon Clos St. Hilaire) 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
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