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james suckling uncorked

More Magical Burgundies … For Lunch, No Less


Posted: Dec 15, 2006 3:37am ET

Just got back from lunch with Henry Tang and friends. He wanted to make a great impression on Frédéric Engerer, the president of Château Latour, who is here for Paulo Pong’s birthday celebrations.

I think he did more than that!

I just had probably the greatest lunch of my life. Or at least, I had one of the most amazing wine lunches. Here is what we tasted, and the non-blind scores I gave each: 1989 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet (94 points), 1989 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche (96), 1978 Latour (81. Herbal! I have had better bottles), 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg (93), 1978 Domaine Michel Gaunoux Corton Les Renardes (92. What a surprise!), 1978 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche (98), 1978 Henri Jayer Richebourg (100!), 1961 Domaine Michel Gaunoux Pommard Grands Épenots (92), 1958 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg (92. And my birth year!) and 1959 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti (91. Slightly corked—should have been close to 100 points!!!).

The wine of the lunch was the Jayer. Henry has to be the greatest collector of Jayer wines in the world. And the old man—not Henry Tang but the late Henri Jayer—was the master. God rest his soul. The 1978 Henri Jayer Richebourg had the typical ripe fruit and spice character of Jayer Burgundies, but it also had an amazing freshness and tannin structure. It was so fresh and long. It went on for minutes on the palate. I am sure that the late winemaker would be so happy to know how amazing his wines are today. He might roll over in his grave to think that a wine like the 1978 Richebourg might go for $10,000 a bottle! Gulp …

Anyway, great Burgundies are, as I said yesterday, breathtaking. Better than ??? Who knows? I hope my girlfriend, the Fox, is not reading this … great Burgundy is great, but the Fox …

Last night was an interesting tasting as well. Paulo Pong, the birthday boy-cum-wine merchant, opened up with a dinner at Gaddi’s at the Peninsula Hotel and poured blind the five first-growths in 1986 and 1996. His birth year—young man indeed!—is 1976, so he wanted to include a few top vintages that ended in “6.” Not sure it makes sense, but who’s asking?

Anyway, the 1986 was, as expected, dominated by the Mouton-Rothschild. The wine (97 points) is no longer the tannic monster it once was. In fact, I have had it twice in the last four months and it is rich and generous now. Just open it at least two hours in advance. The 1996 winner was the Lafite (95), as expected by the 12 people at dinner. But I have to say my tastings in Bordeaux last September put Latour very close—but we had a bad bottle last night. The first-growth 1996s are opening very well now. And I think in another year or two they will be just right. Give them a little time. They are not the long agers that you think. Stay tuned for a story on the vintage with a comparison to 1995.

Off to another dinner and tasting … I need to take a deep breath.

Jlpef@uol Com Br
Sao Paulo BR —  December 15, 2006 11:38am ET
Sounds great, but don't they serve any food?
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  December 15, 2006 11:51am ET
Amazing bottles! Question. How long did it take you to fly from Italy to Hong Kong??
Max Gutmann
December 15, 2006 6:39pm ET
James,After those wonderful wines,what cigars didyou smoke?
James Suckling
 —  December 15, 2006 8:48pm ET
Maxito! I had a 1975 Rome & Julieta Prince of Wales Cabinet Seleccion. It was a cedary refined smoke...
James Suckling
 —  December 15, 2006 8:49pm ET
Karl: It took me 11 hours, Rome to HK.

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