Part III --10 top-rated Montrachets and the Coche big three from the 2005 vintage @ Melisse February 27, 2013

On Wednesday February 27, 2013 ten of us gathered at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica California for the third and final night of the 2005 vintage assessment and oxidation check dinners. This dinner, which is usually a celebration, is called the “Mostly Montrachet” dinner. Befitting the name, we tasted 10 different 2005 Montrachets (one in two different formats) and the big three from Coche-Dury (Corton Charlemagne, Meursault Perrieres and Meursault Genevrieres).

external image RoomatMelisse_zpsb495a6df.jpgThe Private Room at Melisse Awaiting Our Arrival
This photo and the ones below were taken by Andrew Gavin, one of the attendees. Andy has several more photographs of the event on his own blog site, All Things Andy Gavin: http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2013/03/01/mostly-montrachet-at-melisse/

Melisse remains one of California’s Michelin Two Star restaurants and with good cause. For many of us it is the best restaurant in Southern California. Chef de Cuisine Ken Takayama always tries some new dishes for this event and manages to come up with some dazzling ones. Overall, the food was exceptional - especially the various appetizers and the Roasted Jidori Chicken served with the Coche–Dury wines. Sommelier Brian Kalliel again proved why he’s considered one of the top sommeliers on the West Coast orchestrating everything with in a marvelously efficient manner.
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Left to Right - Paul Woolls, Brian Kalliel, Brian Devine and Don Cornwell
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Appetizer Course
Lobster Bolognese
Blue Fin (Toro) Tuna, Chrysanthemum, Pistachio and Black Mustard
Liberty Duck Breast, Turnip and Marche Cherries
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The Blue Fin Toro was really amazing

1988 Alain Robert Les Mesnil Blanc de Blanc Tete de Cuvee Reserve Champagne (en magnum)
Light gold color; citrus and peach and a touch of melba toast in the aromas; fairly intense citrus, citrus zest and minerals on the mid palate (this champagne is not shy – it grabs you); citrus zest and a lot of minerality on the finish. I’d like this even more if the citrus zest wasn’t just a touch to the bitter side. 94

Flight One-Montrachet (served single blind except for wine #6)
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True Day Boat Scallop with Camelina Seeds, Celeriac and Meyer Lemon

#1 [2005 Bouchard Montrachet]
Light-plus gold color; key lime and white flowers aromas; on the palate, it has pear and light citrus flavors with modest acidity; the best feature is a particularly long minerally finish with just a touch of citrus fruit. This is clearly less dense than some of the others, but it is elegant and it’s not advanced or oxidized (on this night a rarity among the Montrachets.) My fifth-ranked wine of the night. Group Rank: 5th, 5 pts – (0/0/0/0/5) 94

#2 [2005 Marc Colin Montrachet]
Light gold color; some reduction aromas and background citrus; much bigger and more dense than #1, this has green apple fruit and a lot of texture; there’s an impression of phenols here more than the acidity; a bit on the heavy side and not very elegant wine for Montrachet; much more alcohol than #1. Decent but not that impressive for Montrachet. Group Rank: Tied for 7th, 1 pt (0/0/0/0/1) 93

#3 [2005 Drouhin Marquis De Laguiche Montrachet (750ml)]
Medium plus gold color; very sweet orange and somewhat alcoholic aromas -- very close to sherry-like aromas (we debated a bit over whether this was partially oxidized or just advanced); on the palate it was a little better- a fairly sweet lemon custard flavor, but the finish was toasty and bordered on oxidation again. Hard to rate this – a 92 for the mid-palate and 85 for the rest, so maybe 88 overall. The group consensus was that this was very advanced. Group Rank: Tied for 9th, 0 pts 88-Very Advanced

#4 [2005 Jadot Montrachet]
Medium full gold color; unmistakably strong sherry aromas exuding from the glass; totally gone and undrinkable. Unanimous agreement that this was oxidized. Group Rank: Tied for 9th, 0 pts DQ-Oxidized

#5 [2005 Lafon Montrachet]
Medium gold color; very sweet overripe pear aromas with a touch of yeast; on the palate this initially came across as thick and dull and bit leesy; and there was a notably warm sensation on the finish (alcohol). After nearly four hours of air, after many had left, this seemed quite a bit better – still overripe on the aromas, but the yeasty/leesy components were gone and there was some decent fruit on the mid-palate and the alcohol didn’t seem so noticeable. Group consensus was very advanced. [NB At the price being asked for this wine a ridiculously bad value] Group Rank: Tied for 9th, 0 pts 87|92-Very Advanced

#6 [2005 Drouhin Marquis De Laguiche Montrachet (magnum)]
Medium gold color; fully mature peach and pear pastry aromas; very nice lemon chiffon pie flavors with some nice minerality on the finish. Some elegance here. Just wish it wasn’t so obviously advanced in the color and aromas department. The group consensus was that this was much better than the 750ml.bottle but still somewhat advanced. Drink now. Group Rank: Tied for 7th, 1 pt (0/0/0/0/1) 94-Advanced

Flight Two – Montrachet
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Dover Sole Filet with Potato Gnocchi, King Oyster Mushrooms, Wild Spinach
(N.B. This dish looks much more interesting than it tasted. An extremely rare disappointing food course from Melisee)

#7 [2005 Henri Boillot Montrachet]
Medium gold color; very ripe apple turnover aromas; very rich and somewhat heavy apple pastry flavors without much acidity; this got a bit toasty and ponderous on the finish as the evening wore on; thus, the split score. The group consensus was this was advanced. Group Rank: Tied for 7th, 1 pt (0/0/0/0/1) 92|89-Advanced

#8 [2005 Ramonet Montrachet]
Between light and medium gold color; gooseberry and light white flowers aromas; very sweet lemon-lime fruit and minerals on the mid-palate and finish with a little bit of layering effect but with just a trace of bitterness on the late part of the finish that got a little more prominent by the end of the evening. My number four wine of the night, but by the end it was a closer race. Group Rank: 4th, 22 pts (0/0/2/8/0) 95|94

#9 [2005 Sauzet Montrachet]
Medium full gold color; sweet pear and floral aromas; on the palate this had white nectarine flavors but was a bit flabby; the finish was pear fruit and modest minerals. Based on the color alone, I thought this wine was advanced, but the rest of the group didn’t label it advanced (probably because good wines seemed few and far between among the Montrachets.). Group Rank: 6th, 2 pts (0/0/0/0/2) 93 (advanced color).

#10 [2005 Le Moine Montrachet]
Deep gold color but not quite brown; sweet sherry aromas and ripe peach flavors but with a very odd astringency on this wine. Group Rank: Tied for 9th, 0 pts DQ-Oxidized

#11 [2005 Fontaine-Gagnard Montrachet]
Medium gold color; sweet gooseberry and peach aromas – odd combination; on the palate this had overripe peach flavors that seemed clearly past their prime; someone said the wine smelled like a trip to the dentist’s office. The group consensus was that this was very advanced. Group Rank: Tied for 9th, 0 pts 92-Very Advanced

Flight Three – 2005 Coche-Dury Wines
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Roasted Jidori Chicken with Baby Broccoli, Braised Yuba, Vadouvan Spice

#12 [2005 Coche-Dury Meursault Perreries]
Light gold color; aromas of white flowers and meyer lemon; concentrated meyer lemon and minerals flavors with a clear sense of layering and breath-taking depth; very good acidity here; there is an extraordinarly long lemon and minerals finish on this wine. This has to be the MP. This could even improve with time. My number one wine of the night. Group Rank: Tied for 1st, 44 pts (5/4/1/0/0) 97+

#13 [2005 Coche Meursault Genevrieres]
Light gold color, but the deepest color of the flight; white flowers, pear and sweet citrus aromas; this had a somewhat fatter texture, pear and citrus flavors and modest sweetness; there is very nice acidity here too but it’s a bit more masked than #12; a very long slightly sweet pear and minerals finish. This seems to be the Genevrieres. By the very end of the night the finish on this wine seemed less fruity and more austere. The components to age and perhaps improve. My third favorite wine of the night. Group Rank: Third, 30 pts (0/2/6/2/0) 95+

#14 [2005 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne]
Yellow color with hints of green like Chablis in a good vintage; it is absolutely amazing to encounter a wine that looks this young as the last bottle of 65 wines from the vintage; slightly sweet green apple aromas with just a touch of vanilla (oak); intense green apple flavors and really great acidity; a very long minerally finish with an apple butter texture. This is clearly the Corton. This wine is truly young and has potential for further improvement. My number two wine of the night. Group Rank: Tied for 1st, 44 pts (5/4/1/0/0) 96+

Dessert Course
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Apple Tarte Tatin with Ricotta Ice Cream, Black Sage Syrup

1995 Turley Roussane Alban Vineyards Late Picked Reserve (375ml)
Slightly milky amber color (reminiscent of some German BA and TBA wines); an amazing cornucopia of botrytised and candied fruit in the aromas and highly complex and layered flavors with amazing levels of sweetness but yet the acidity of the best German TBAs and Eisweins; this was a truly awesome dessert wine. My friends Ron Greene and Ron Movich, who are both stickies collectors, went crazy over this with Ron Greene comparing it to some 59 Germans he’s had. There’s no question that this is the best California dessert wine I’ve ever had and for me this easily eclipsed the wonderful 90 Y’Quem from night two. 98

Postscript statistics and comments:

Corked: 0/15 (0%)
Oxidized: 2/15 (13%)
Advanced: 5/15 (33%)
Total Oxidized or advanced: 7/15 (47%)

Cumulative Premature Aging Statistics--Nights one, two and three

Corked: 1/66 (2%) [Corked bottle of Raveneau MDT replaced on night one]
Oxidized: 4/65 (6%)
Advanced:16/65 (25%)
Total Oxidized + advanced: 20/65 (31%)

With all of the results in, 2005 is the worst year ever from a premature aging standpoint. While the percentage of oxidized wines was only 6% -- the second lowest overall percentage to date, the percentage of advanced 2005 wines was really appalling -- 25%. The combined total of advanced and oxidized wines for 2005 (31%) exceeds the total for the 1996s (29%), the 1999s (27%) and 2000s (28%).

Unfortunately, the overwhelming number of advanced wines we experienced over the first two nights of tasting 2005s just got worse when we got to the Montrachets. The group agreed that 7 of the 11 examples of Montrachet were either advanced or oxidized. I personally felt one more wine (the Sauzet) should be added to the advanced list, which made my personal total 8 out of 11. It was an extremely depressing showing for Montrachet, especially in light of the prices many of them command in the current market. But the Coche wines saved the evening. All three of them were youthful and absolutely brilliant and all showed potential for further development. If you have 2005 Coche wines, be happy. If you have any Montrachets from any of the producers other than Ramonet, Marc Colin and Bouchard, drink them soon or abandon ship

The 2005 Vintage “Mostly Montrachet” dinner served as an appropriate tombstone for the most open and advanced vintage we’ve experienced in eight years of doing these vintage assessment dinners. It seems apparent in retrospect that the 2005s suffered from over-ripeness and, for whatever reason, the Montrachets as a group represent the worst case scenario of advanced wines from the 2005 vintage.

Cumulative Cheers and Jeers

Cheers go to:

  • Coche-Dury - Absolutely brilliant wines. Proving, once again, that premox (or the lack thereof) is a function of winemaking, not something caused by circumstances not under the winemaker’s control.

  • Colin-Morey - Pierre-Yves had all five of his bottles finish in the top eight rankings for the first two dinners and no oxidized or advanced wines.

  • Roulot - His two Meursaults were fabulous. On the last night, I found myself wishing that Jean-Marc made Montrachet too.

  • Paul Pernot – two excellent and youthful wines in the top five on night one; his best showing ever

  • Leflaive finished first and second on night two with all three wines in the top 10, but these wines are not in the usual reductive Leflaive style. Quite open and drinkable now.

Jeers go to:

  • Le Moine - 4 bottles with 2 oxidized, 1 advanced, 1 good

  • Jadot – 3 bottles with 1 oxidized, 1 advanced, 1 good. (Proving, once again, that one’s expectations can never be too low with post-1999 Jadot whites.)

  • Lafon – 3 bottles with 2 advanced and 1 good

  • Bouchard - 3 bottles with 2 advanced and 1 excellent

  • Mikulski - 2 bottles of the same wine – 1 oxidized and 1 very advanced. I actually thought even the second bottle was partially oxidized.