Nick's Spectacular Birthday Dinner (Hippopotamus Restaurant, Wellington): Colour deep bright garnet. A lovely spicy, musky, luxuriant bouquet of red and some black berries. High toned with a floral top note. On palate, a serious, broad shouldered and structured Burgundy. Muscular, extracted and very powerful. Again there were very bright 1996 vintage acids in evidence here, providing serious energy, precision and focus to the wine. But compared with some other 1996s, there is the dry extract in the La Tâche to more than match and carry that acidity. There is incredible purity in this wine and microscopically fine grained and cultured sweet tannins. The flavour spectrum was complex, red and black berries, with excellent minerality. For Nick and me this was our joint WoTN, with the Giacosa, and clearly, for me anyway, the best of the four outstanding 1996 Burgundies. Interestingly, Nick noted that the two DRCs were probably more open four hours earlier when he had decanted them. An optimal drinking window is hard to assess for these wines but I might well give this wine 5+ more years if I had a bottle! Another excellent food match here: both DRCs paired beautifully with the duck leg confit dish.
La Tache dinner (The Boardl Room at Capella Hotel Georgetown): Another youthful example like the 88, intense red fruit driven nose, red cherry, cherry tart and rhubarb, a hint of stems, white pepper, raw button mushrooms and earth. Exceptional concentration, intense tart red fruit driven palate impression, mineral, bright acidity, nicely integrated tannins and long finish. One of the youthful wines of the evening, a vin de garde!
At Ai Fiori in NYC, our hosts had an in with the somm who allowed us to bring this bottle. First red of a very big night.
Decanted for about an hour. Medium garnet red, slightly cloudy. Incredible nose, red fruits, lavendar, bacon fat. I would describe the nose as restrained, not jumping out of the glass but full and elegant. Texture of the wine is incredibly smooth. Palate of dusted cherry, plums, minerals, black tea, savory meats. Long and nuanced finish that highlights secondary flavors.
This is clearly an amazing wine, still very youthful at 18 years old. Complex and fresh at the same time, no doubt this has a long arc in front of it - it would be great to try again in 5 years. Great experience for those willing to spend the freight for this wine. There is an ethereal quality to Burgundy that keeps you coming back and paying the prices - La Tache captures this better than any wine I have had.
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(DRC La Tache) 1996 was the main event on this night, and DRC and Leroy went head to head again, beginning with a 1996 DRC La Tache. Its nose was intense, with all the screech of 1996, aka acidity. The inevitable mint and spice came second, along with cedar and green wood. The palate was finally starting to show some flesh and fruit; the knock on the vintage is the opposite. The great acidity of 1996 shone through, along with forward strawberry flavors. Jean-Marc Roulot found it ‘powerful yet elegant’ and preferred the LT to what followed (96).
(Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche) Medium dark red violet color; beautiful cigar box, raspberry, black raspberry, herb, tobacco, thyme, incense nose; tight, spice box, tart raspberry, tobacco, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (much tighter than when tasted one year ago)
(DRC La Tache) There was one wine left on this magical beginning to this month’s HK venture, my 1996 DRC La Tache. This bottle delivered an outstanding experience, more so than the bottle I had about six months ago at Bipin’s DRC weekend. It had that ‘wow’ factor, even after some stiff competition from Bordeaux. This was more like the 1996 La Tache I remembered, with more meat on its bones. There was lots of winter in its nose, like cedar in a frozen forest. Mint and layers of penetrating t ‘n a rounded out its cavernous nose. The acid of 1996 was shining brightly here, and flavors of mint and menthol lined up like soldiers for its forceful palate. It was rich, saucy, hearty and long, and its fruit has finally fattened out just enough for it to be ‘next level,’ although I could see the monstrosity of its acid not being for everyone. Vincent observed ‘milky’ characteristics, part of its green tannin flavors, which were delicious in a foresty way. I vascillated between 96 and 97 points until the last drop, so let’s call it (96+).
(DRC La Tache) JJ found the 1996 DRC La Tache like ‘Bordeaux.’ I found it classic ’96 – screechy with its long acid, but it also had some fatness to its fruit, decadently both purple and red. Slate, rubber tire and minerals all blended with the acid, and menthol was hidden underneath. It felt like the menthol will ultimately take over the character of this wine in time. The palate was coy, softer than I expected, still possessing length and grit with nice tannin definition, and more menthol and slate on its finish. The nose was special, but at the moment, the palate of this LT was shut down, although the wine still screams potential
(Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche) Dark cherry red color; gorgeous rose garden, tart cherry and spice box nose; wow! concentrated spiced tart cherry, spice box, mineral, iron and rosehips palate; long finish 97+ pts.
(DRC La Tache) but the 1996 vintage seems to be producing more doubting Thomases as time passes by, at least for the red wines. Some feel that the wines are too screechy (too much acid) and that the fruit will never fatten out. The 1996 was indeed a stark contrast to the 1999, lean and very shut down by comparison. The wine indubitably had great acidity, and its nose also revealed a ‘greeness’ and ‘underbrush.’ There were nice, clean mineral flavors; the ’96 was clearly not as concentrated as the ’99 but was still a lean, mean fighting machine, and while I still found it in outstanding territory, Rudy and Rob were not willing to give it ‘5 star’ status just yet
(La Tache) was better than the one I had last week with its racy, spiny nose, which the other bottle had as well, except this bottle was also full of sweet fruit - cherry, raspberry and red currant to be precise. The nose was also firm with its minerals, slate, vitamins and pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg. I was astounded how sweet this bottle of 1996 was. There was a touch of rubber galoshes in there, in a good way like on a rainy day. Tasty and very 1996 with its acidity and stony and stalky personality, the 1996 was a touch young and mean on its palate but still great. Paul found it 'too structured,' while Aubert saw the 1966 in it
(Romanée-Conti La Tâche) The deepest colour yet - looks quite old though with its mahogany colour and browning rim. The nose is a little gamey and still shows some mushroom - but this time much more subtle - together with high tones and jammy red fruit. Beautiful texture and weight in the mouth. This is the first wine with such volume. There is again a crescendo effect as you savour the wine, the finish being of bitter chocolate coated red fruits. Still a rasp to the tannins and lovely acidity. Very classy.
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