Champagnes and Burgundies

Gramercy Tavern

Tasted June 8, 2010 by Keith Levenberg with 627 views

Flight 1 (2 notes)

White - Sparkling
1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut France, Champagne
93 points
This is progressing very nicely since the last two times I had this wine closer to release, when it was behaved almost violently unready to drink. Now it's unfurled to the point where you can even call the fruit luscious. It's still very young and lemony, but it's a more sumptuous lemon than the wincingly acidic kind I remember, even starting to show the very beginning of its eventual transition to something more compote-like and tropical, and dense enough to border on the gelatinous. Certainly has a bright future ahead, and while I dunno if it's all that worthwhile peeking in now, at least it isn't punishing like it used to be.
White - Sparkling
1996 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut France, Champagne
90 points
A huge contrast for the Salon, easily capable of dividing the room between partisans of one style or the other, except I think this particular room might have been unanimous in preferring the Salon, not just in its performance but also its style. This is much, much deeper in complexion (both in terms of flavor and its literal color), partially since it's not a blanc de blancs and probably also as a result of the more oxidative winemaking at Krug, though it doesn't actually taste oxidized. Combined with a much flatter effervescence, it seemed to lack some vibrancy in comparison, even though it still has a lot of acidity keeping it acute and tensile.

Flight 2 (2 notes)

2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St. Vivant France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Romanée St. Vivant Grand Cru
93 points
This started out significantly more awkward than its stablemates -- mute aromatically and disjointed on the palate, almost bitter to taste. But with a little bit of time it was able to knit itself together. It eventually picked up a soft scent of cinnamon sticks and smoothed out its texture to the usual RSV silk. It also began to exhibit more overt stalky characteristics in the scent and the back end, and there were points where a whiff of the glass might have turned off anyone especially sensitive to the greenies. But it wasn't so much as to make the wine taste bitter, and may have even freshened it up a little. Still, most people were in agreement that this was the weakest red of the night. There's no question that it was thinner in fruit material than the other vineyards and at times may have even felt somewhat diluted in comparison. But if you forget about making the comparison and just appreciate it for what it is, I think it's tough not to be impressed by the cru's natural suavity.
2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru
99 points
Poured alongside the Romanée-St.-Vivant and immediately showed dramatic differences; this was intensely aromatic with sweet, primary fruit while the RSV was practically mute. In fact the fruit scents were so primary and borderline jammy that you wouldn't be crazy to find something vaguely Californian about it. It's when you taste it that it shows its class. And it bowls you over instantaneously and makes you speechless with praise. Even with an intensity of fruit you could almost call slathering, this somehow managed to pamper the palate weightlessly and wrap it in the most luxurious velvety texture. I often find Richebourg very tensile but this was the opposite, open-knit and positively flowing in soft undulations across the palate, like it actually had a current to it. The flavor lingers awhile for those who care about that sort of thing, but to me the most impressive thing this had going for it was the mouthfeel and I wanted to hold it in forever. Several people preferred this to the La Tâche, and even though it's much closer to the fruit and less exotic in flavor, I think I did, too.
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Flight 3 (2 notes)

2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echezeaux France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
96 points
In terms of which DRC was the most different from the other three, the Grands-Échézeaux was the obvious choice. This nearly approached the Richebourg in the intensity of its fruit -- richer in that department than either the La Tâche or the RSV -- but featured a powerful mineral element to the fruit that none of the others had, like it had all kinds of metal shrapnel dissolved in it. As different as it was in character, though, it was easily in the same league in quality, and by no means did it feel like a step back to taste this after the Richebourg/RSV pairing. It did come across as somewhat more monolithic than the Richebourg, without the same sense of a palpable, dynamic flow on the palate, but the material was nearly as elegant in texture. #01437.
2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, La Tâche Grand Cru
97 points
This was impressive, but also somewhat reserved, showing what it has to offer in more cumulative fashion from sip to sip than the immediate knockout effect of the Richebourg. You have to pay attention. It showed less fruit than its brethren, probably because La Tâche seems to be Ground Zero for the middle eastern spice-bazaar characteristics of Vosne-Romanée, which played a much bigger role in the ultimate flavor (and aroma) here than the fruit did. The effect was a fractal of spices amidst pale reddish fruit, easily making this the most detailed and complex wine in the lineup. But part of the effect of the spiciness and the more reserved fruit was to give this a dustier, grittier texture than the other wines -- not as silky or pampering, making this a little less hedonistic and a little more cerebral than the others. #02155.
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