Princeton eBob Coche Dinner

The Ferry House, Princeton NJ

Tasted February 7, 2006 by psmith with 1,266 views

Introduction

The impetus for this blowout evening was Stuart "Beaunehead" Niemtzow suggestion that Coche-Dury uses, or at least used, too much oak. Herwig Janssen has a different opinion, and a dinner ensued, with Herwig generously supplying the whites for the event. As opportunities like this don't come up too often, I hopped in my car and made the 500-mile drive to Princeton. My limited Coche experience had led me to the same conclusions that Stuart had come to, but I can happily say I've been won over….now it’s simply a matter of finding the money to afford them!

Flight 1 (3 notes)

The four white flights were arranged progressively and, when possible, by vintage, starting with villages-level Meursaults from Coche, Lafon, and d'Auvenay.

White
2002 Coche-Dury Meursault France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
91 points
Fat, mineral-driven with oak accents well balanced by a firm dose of acidity. Youthful with a promising future. Villages weight and body, but a class rarely seen in wines at this level.
White
2002 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
88 points
Austere lemon curd notes with a pronounced minerality but comparatively expressionless and lacking the textural appeal of the Coche. My Lafon experience is limited but to me their wines seem quite similar, almost regardless of vintage and pedigree. Still, a quality wine that I'd be happy to drink most any day.
White
2002 Domaine d'Auvenay (Lalou Bize-Leroy) Meursault France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
92 points
Actually, I'm not sure whether this was d'Auvenay or not - it had the standard label, but never actually said "d'Auvenay" on the bottle. Either way, a superb Meursault. The wine showed a pronounced oaky "buttered popcorn" character on the nose that scared me a bit. Fully balanced and really flashy on the palate. Juicy and full of mouth-watering acidity. Excellent...it's a shame they make so little.

Flight 2 (3 notes)

Next the Rougeouts and a wonderful Caillerets:

White
1990 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Rougeots France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
82 points
Apple cider color, and similar flavor profile. Not dead by any means, but old for my tastes. Some interesting salted ham notes and pine-sol, though with an acidic core that keeps the wine at least somewhat lively. An exact copy of a bottle of this I had early last year.
White
2000 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Caillerets France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
93 points
Another level. Stylistically similar to Coche's villages wines, but quite refined and patrician, in an unabashed sort of way. A rich palate but clearly holding back. Unquestionably a long and glorious future.
White
2000 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Rougeots France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
92 points
Accessible, explosive, and with a wonderfully oily texture, though it doesn't handle its body with the authority of the Caillerets. Noticeable oak influence, but not nearly as bothersome to me as some others. Only glimpses of the pedigree of Coche's higher-level wines.

Flight 3 (3 notes)

Then the Perrières, at which point my very good wild mushroom risotto came out.

White
2000 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
94 points
A similar nose to the '00 Caillerets, but an extra intensity and grandeur. Great purity on the palate, with penetrating minerality and a restrained use of oak. Large-scaled, and still with more in reserve, but manages to remain light on its feet. Not quite the focus of the 2001.
White
2001 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
95 points
Penetrating intensity, and a huge core, but carries its weight so well. While very young, still quite expressive and with remarkable purity. An acid profile typic of the vintage that will require time. Wonderful.
White
2002 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
flawed
Corked!!!

Flight 4 (1 note)

And finally an exceptional example of the legendary Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemange.

White
2001 Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
97 points
All the class of the Perrieres and more. An opulent, stony profile and a beautifully oily palate, all kept in focus by a laser-sharp minerality and firm acidity. Obviously restrained, and in an '01 mold will need significant time, but quite showy even at this point. Awesome.

Flight 5 (3 notes)

By this time appetizers were done and we switched to reds for the main courses. Ray Tuppatsch generously brought a selection of old Burgs that provided a natural place to start.

Red
1972 Domaine Marion Chambertin-Clos de Bèze France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
85 points
High-toned old Lemon Pledge notes but some underlying breeding and a meaty, masculine profile.
Red
1971 Domaine Marion Chambertin-Clos de Bèze France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
94 points
Beautiful high-pitched masculine strawberry fruit and spice with some mature volatile notes that add class. Still quite vibrant, and with no signs of sliding anytime soon. A really excellent wine.
Red
1969 Domaine Jacques Prieur Chambertin France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
90 points
Youthful black cherry notes and an odd, meaty funk that was suggested to be some Syrah addition. Good weight and depth with still dominant tannins. A bit muted - never really opened up the way I thought it might.

Flight 6 (3 notes)

The next flight was sort of a comparison of 1ers, though the Ruchottes (made by Roumier) found its way in here as well.

Red
1997 Domaine G. Roumier / Christophe Roumier Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Clos de La Bussière France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru
88 points
"Rustic" black cherry and floral notes. A classy restraint on the palate supported by a structure lacking in a number of '97s. Very good.
Red
1996 Dominique Laurent Pommard 1er Cru Les Épenots France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pommard 1er Cru
88 points
More obvious fruit profile with some earthy funk but a high-toned, acidic finish that cuts the wine short. Not classy or expressive, but still quite enjoyable.
Red
1997 Michel Bonnefond Ruchottes-Chambertin France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru
87 points
Strangely chemical and floral, without the masculinity I normally find in Gevrey wines (though my experience with Ruchottes is very limited). A firm acidity uncharacteristic of the vintage, but lacking the class I expect.

Flight 7 (3 notes)

Keeping with the northern Cote de Nuits theme of the previous flight we moved on to a couple of Dujac CdlR and a delicious Musigny. My very solid piece of veal came out around now as well.

Red
2000 Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
92 points
Accessible but clearly capable of lasting. Very Dujac with ripe black cherry and a perfumed floral character with stemmy tannins. Impressive.
Red
1999 Domaine Jacques Prieur Musigny France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Musigny Grand Cru
93 points
Stunning nose - classy and patrician but unquestionably beautiful. Surprisingly accessible for a '99 with an almost weightless profile only given away by the fine, well-balanced tannic structure. Exceptional.
Red
1998 Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
91 points
Giving but quite young. Floral with some pretty sweetness. Depth of fruit holds up well to the stemmy tannins. On revisiting a strange, Cabernet like ripeness; still, another '98 that looks like it should turn out just fine.

Flight 8 (4 notes)

Well, I was starting to feel it at this point, and drinking the La Tache while coherent seemed like a good idea. After that my notes started to get shorter, and a bit harder to read. A couple more burgs and my palate was fried.

Red
1993 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, La Tâche Grand Cru
96 points
Wonderfully exotic strawberry and spicy notes. Youthful but considerably more giving than the hard shell of tart cherry present right after opening. Some deeper black notes. Great purity and indescribably sexy with a firm core of '93 acidity. The purest, and most enjoyable, example of La Tache that I’ve had.
Red
2001 Domaine Dujac Echezeaux France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru
92 points
Dujac first, Echezeaux second. Heady with a great earthy funk and class. Remarkably open for an '01. Bright future.
Red
1996 Bernard Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
89 points
Black and brambly. Initially a bit funky but opened up really nicely. Firmly structured with significant potential remaining.
Red
1998 Domaine Robert Groffier Bonnes Mares France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Bonnes Mares Grand Cru
92 points
Accessible dark and intriguing Bonnes Mares earth and dark masculine notes. Built to last, but the tannins seem quite ripe and in balance.

Flight 9 (3 notes)

The Beaucastels for the next flight provided a great change of pace as my palate was too shot for Burgundy.

Red
1989 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
93 points
Mint and funky Beaucastel Mourvedre notes. Full of class on the palate, with a sweet black-cherry fruit and sweaty leather profile. In need of significant age, the '90 is considerably more accessible at this point.
Red
1990 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
93 points
Bright, sexy cherry fruit with only a hint of Beaucastel funk. Large-scaled, ripe, and full of grainy tannin. Doesn't have quite the potential or exotic profile of the '89, but considerably more accessible at this point.
Red
1981 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
95 points
Mature and beautifully classy. Sweaty leather and uplifting glue notes. Wonderfully resolved. What it lacks in youthful explosive power it more than makes up for in its expressiveness.

Flight 10 (1 note)

With everyone packing up an unopened wine on the table seemed out of place and provided an excuse to stay for another few minutes. Bad idea. I might have been past my prime, but the wine was far from it, and exceptionally hard to evaluate at this point. Live and learn I suppose.

Red
1995 Louis Jadot Musigny France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Musigny Grand Cru
Hideously young. Meaty and dense, quite tannic and wrapped up. Those with light years more experience than I saw great potential here but hard for me to get a read on. Hold!

Closing

The Ferry House was exceptionally accommodating and allowed us to stay at least an hour after the other guests had left. I'd be happy to return. Another must visit in Princeton is Thomas Sweet Ice Cream recommended by Keith, who serve their own version of the Blizzard, more aptly named the "Blend-In". It was about 25F outside so walking around Princeton at 11:00AM with a sundae-like concoction did get me a few stares, but the classic vanilla/heath combo was worth it. Next time I'll find a more daring choice.

All in all, a wonderful evening of great conversation and wines that more than justified the 16 hours I spent in the car to get there.

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