On Thursday, March 19, 2015, ten of us gathered at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica for the final dinner of the 2007 series which is referred to as the “Mostly Montrachet” dinner. This event, just as the title implies, consists primarily of Montrachets from the vintage and a few other very expensive wines – invariably the Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne and Meursault Perrieres and usually the Leroy Corton Charlemagne. This dinner, which is always a celebration of the vintage (and for me for having survived another year) is traditionally held in the Burgundy Room at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica. Melisse has two Michelin stars, which probably tells you all you need to know. Chef and owner Josiah Citrin and Wine Director Brian Kalliel were in very fine form again this year – as I think the photos below will indicate.

As in the other two tastings, all of the wines were served single blind (except for the two ringers – which were double blind and known only Brian Kalliel and me). As we did with the other two tastings this year, we held the reveal on the wines until after everyone had voted on and ranked their top five wines of the evening. This turned out be the most remarkable “Mostly Montrachet” dinner we’ve ever had. The wines and the food courses are described below.

My thanks to Andy Gavin for all of the great photographs he took at the dinner.

CHAMPAGNE & APPETIZERS
Beef Bernaise, Santa Barbara Ridgeback Prawn Ravioli, Liberty Duck Breast, Marche Chery and Caper Chip
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1996 Philipponnat Clos de Goisses Champagne (2 750ml bottles)
We had two bottles that came out of the same six bottle case and they were a bit different from each other. The first bottle showed youthful citrus aromas and a hint of melba toast; this was quite dry, had intense citrus and minerals flavors, lots of structure and a very minerally finish. It was a great bottle but it begged for a bit more time. 95+ The second bottle exhibited more developed fruit aromas and flavors – peach and citrus and almost no detectable toast in aromas; the fruit flavors on the palate were softer and this was very appealing in a different way. A more sumptuous fruity finish. 94 The contrast between the two bottles here made it like drinking two completely different champagnes.

FLIGHT ONE
Stonington Maine Diver Scallop with grilled leeks, cardoons and Crème de Brandade
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#1 [2007 Drouhin Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet]
Light gold color; amazingly sweet and intense honeysuckle and lime blossom aromas – very reminiscent of Bienvenues at its finest; concentrated key lime flavors – quite intense – and the very good acidity hiding under that key lime sweetness; very long sweet finish. I thought this was pretty amazing Montrachet and it was my fourth favorite wine of the night, but I was definitely splitting hairs making the final choices. A few people downgraded this a bit for its very sweet BBM like aromas. N.B. I thought this was the best Drouhin Montrachet I’ve had in over two decades – since the 1985. Group Rank: 9th place, 4 points (0/0/0/1/2) 96

#2 [2007 Prieur Montrachet]
Light gold color; slightly sweet citrus aromas; on the palate this had lemon-lime citrus flavors with a hint of coconut like Coche; some power and a lot of minerality here; very nice complete wine. It seems like this must be the Coche MP. Group Rank: 2nd place, 27 points (1/3/2/2/0) 95

#3 [2007 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres]
Light gold color; light pear and green apple aromas; some light, very bright lemon citrus flavors and a ton of minerality on the mid-palate and the finish. A very long minerals and fruit finish. I really like this and it has gobs of potential room to improve. My fifth favorite wine of the night I’m guessing this is the Boillot Montrachet. Group Rank: Sixth place, 8 points (0/0/2/0/2) 95++

#4 [2007 Henri Boillot Montrachet]
Medium gold color, more developed apple aromas here; relatively fat, applesauce flavors. The longer this stayed open the more mature the aromas and flavors got. I think this is advanced. Michael Zadikian, Ron Movich and I all feel strongly this is advanced, but the rest of the group doesn’t think it is advanced but a couple of people think this is “off.” By the end of the night, the aromas were developing almost sherry-like hints. Drink up now Group Rank: Tied for 12th place (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 93|92 Advanced

FLIGHT TWO
Atlantic Turbot with Porcini Mushroom, Celeriac, Black Barley and Roasted Celery Broth
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#5 [2007 Bouchard Montrachet]
Medium gold color; slightly sweet white flower aromas; on the palate this had concentrated pear and lemon-lime citrus flavors; definitely a high acid wine and this bottle had some notable phenols apparent on the mid-palate; pretty amazing amount of minerality and length on the finish. This isn’t 100% integrated yet, but I think this will be an awesome wine with some more time. My third place wine of the night Bouchard? Group Rank: 11th place, 3 points (0/0/1/0/0) 96

#6 [2007 Louis Latour Montrachet]
Light yellow gold color with light green hints; sweet white flowers and pear aromas; on the palate there are pear flavors with great density and weight like a Corton; really amazing weight and yet this has tremendous elegance on the palate and a really graceful long finish. Really impressive wine My second favorite of the night Group Rank: 1st place, 36 points (5/2/1/0/0) 96

#7 [2007 Le Moine Montrachet Cuvee C]
Almost medium gold color; white flowers and green apple aromas; on the palate the fruit esters taste completely different – pears and some light lime citrus with good depth; a long very elegant sweet fruit and minerals finish. Group Rank: Fifth place, 14 points (1/0/2/1/1) 94

#8 [2007 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne]
Light gold color; sweet flowers aromas – almost honeysuckle; this is another really sweet and very fruity wine on the front part of the palate; however, it has a lighter texture than the others. There is some sneaky acidity here that gets buried by all of the sweetness until the finish. Group Rank: Tied for 12th place (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 95

#9 [2007 Ringer No. 6: 2007 Ramey “Hyde Vineyard” Chardonnay]
Medium gold color; sweet pear aromas with some oak – more oak apparent than the other wines. Some pear and citrus flavors with both breadth and richness; good acidity showing in the finish and a peacock’s tail on the finish. This is the Ramey I’m sure, but this bottle is more mature and a bit less compelling than the bottle on night two. Group Rank: Tied for Seventh Place, 7 points (1/0/0/1/0) 92?

FLIGHT THREE
Roasted Jidori (Hay-Baked) Chicken with smoked carrots, braised Swiss Chard, and Potato Mousseline
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The Jidori “Hay Baked” Chicken sealed into the Cast Iron Pot


Jidori “Hay Baked” Chicken
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The Chicken As Served

#10 [2007 Ringer No. 7: 2007 Leflaive Batard Montrachet]
Medium gold color; white honey and white flowers aromas; sweet pear fruit and some citrus fruit tart flavors; this had very good fruit depth and acidity, yet I can’t quite square the white honey aromas with the citrus flavors and good underlying acidity. Overall, a very nice impression. Group Rank: 11th place, 1 point (0/0/0/0/1) 95

#11 [2007 Jadot Montrachet]
Medium gold color; some sweet lime citrus aromas with a little background SO2; light lemon-lime citrus flavors which is amazingly mineral laden wine; the minerality practically jumps out at you. There is wonderful subtlety and elegance in this wine; the fruit and acid and very good, but the minerality is really amazing. This just kept getting better with time. My favorite wine of the night. Group Rank: Third place, 23 points (2/1/1/2/2) 96|97

#12 [2007 Le Moine Montrachet Cuvee P]
Medium gold color; lemon-lime citrus aromas; intense lemon-lime flavors with some richness on tne back end; a very long thick fruity finish. This is pretty much a full throttle Montrachet. Group Rank: Fourth place, 20 points (0/3/1/2/1) 95

#13 [2007 Ramonet Montrachet]
About half way between light and medium gold color; prominent white flowers aromas ; very concentrated lime citrus flavors with very prominent acidity and notable phenols. This is just a baby; seems to have a huge amount in reserve here. Drinking this, I suddenly had the mental image that I was strapped into an Apollo capsule sitting on top of a huge Atlas rocket waiting for my butt to be blasted into space any second. I think it has tremendous potential, but give this another three or four years to see how the ride turns out. Group Rank: Tied for 7th place, 7 points (0/1/0/1/1) 94++

#14 [2007 Sauzet Montrachet]
Nearly medium gold color; this had forward, rich and somewhat advanced peachy aromas; somewhat two dimensional on the palate, fruit salad flavor with notable peach bits. I think this is advanced; so did Michael Zadikian, but the others were dubious. Group Rank: Tied for 12th, 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 92? Advanced

DESSERT
Apple Tart Fine
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1989 Von Simmeren Hattenheimer Mannberg TBA (375ml)
Deep brown color; diesel fuel and botyrtised fruit aromas; very rich, dried fruit flavors with fairly prominent phenolic bitterness in the middle of the palate; the best feature by far is the very long brown sugar finish. I have very mixed feelings about this wine. 89/93?

1994 Fritz Haag Braunenberger Juffer Sonnenuhr BA (375ml)
Medium gold color; fresh apricot and floral notes in the aromas; apricot and tropical fruit with very good acidity and a very long sweet tropical fruit finish. 95

My thanks to Ron Movich who brought the great dessert wines.

It was a fabulous evening. The food was extraordinary, the service was excellent and the wines were truly awesome. I thought the wines performed better overall than at any other “Mostly Montrachet” dinner that we’ve held over the last 10 years. There were some absolutely HUGE surprises. Here is the list of wines we had ranked by group preference from 1-14:

RANK___Total Points
1 2007 Latour Montrachet 36
2 2007 Prieur Montrachet 27
3 2007 Jadot Montrachet 23
4 2007 Le Moine Montrachet Cuvee P 20
5 2007 Le Mone Montrachet Cuvee C 14
6 2007 Coche Meursault Perrieres 8
7 tie 2007 Ramey Hyde Chardonnay 7
7 tie 2007 Ramonet Montrachet 7
9 2007 Drouhin De Laguiche Montrachet 4
10 2007 Bouchard Montrachet 3
11 2007 Leflaive Batard Montrachet 1
12 tie 2007 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne 0
12 tie 2007 Boillot Montrachet 0
12 tie 2007 Sauzet Montrachet 0

The five names at the top of the “leader board” have never been there before. Make no mistake, the Latour, Prieur and Jadot were absolutely awesome wines. The Le Moine wines also showed quite well.

I thought that the really youthful wines of the night that need more time to show how great they really are were the Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres (yes, we also tasted a bottle of this wine on night one) and the Ramonet Montrachet.

David Ramey’s 2007 Hyde vineyard Chardonnay did double-duty as a ringer this year and it did very well even against the much stiffer competition among the Montrachets. (I didn’t think the bottle on Night Three showed as well as the bottle we had with the Batards on night two, but it was still a well-liked wine with one first place vote.) Mr. Ramey has clearly established, on both nights two and three (as well as in past vintages wihich operated with different voting rules), that his Hyde Vineyard bottling definitely belongs in the conversation when assessing the world’s best chardonnays.

Premox Stats for Night Three and All Three Nights of the 2007 Dinners:

There were no oxidized wines on night three and the group overall didn’t think we had any advanced wines (although myself and two others thought that the Boillot Montrachet and Sauzet Montrachet were advanced and the Boillot Montrachet was almost borderline oxidized.)

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From the premature oxidation perspective, looking at this on a historical basis, the 2007 vintage performed very well. While seeing the oxidized and advanced Domaine Leflaive wines on night two was quite alarming (as was the emergency follow-up tasting on Leflaive done by some of us thereafter), from an overall perspective, the 2007s were, by the narrowest of margins, the best-ever peforming vintage from a premox perspective that we have had to date. The 2007 wines were in a virtual photo finish with the 2004 vintage, which is a very good sign considering that most of the 2004s are really excellent to drink today.

1996 vintage (tasted at 10 years of age):
Corked: 2/28 (7%)
Oxidized: 5/28 (18%)
Advanced: 3/28 (11%)
Total advanced plus oxidized: 8/28 (29%)

1999 vintage (tasted at 7.5 years of age):
Corked: 1 or 2 of 4 (2% to 4%)
Oxidized: 9/44 (20%) Highest percentage of oxidized wines ever
Advanced: 3/44(7%)
Total Oxidized + Advanced: 12/44 (27%)

2000 vintage (tasted a 7 and 7.5 years of age):
Corked: 1/58 (2%)
Oxidized: 9/58 (16%)
Advanced: 7/58 (12%)
Total Oxidized + Advanced: 16/58 (28%)

2001 vintage:
Corked: 0/43 (0%)
Oxidized: 4/43 (9%)
Advanced: 7/43 (16%)
Total Oxidized + Advanced: 11/43 (26%)

2002 vintage:
Corked: 3/64 (5%)
Oxidized: 5/64 (8%) or 6/64 (by my count) (9%)
Advanced: 5/64 (8%) Tied for lowest percentage of advanced wines ever
Total oxidized + advanced: 11/64 (17%)

2004 vintage:
Corked -- 1/63 (2%)
Permanently Reduced- 1/63 (2%)
Oxidized--3/63 (5%) Second lowest percentage of oxidized wines ever
Advanced-5/63 (8%) Tied for lowest percentage of advanced wines ever
Total Oxidized + advanced- 8/63 (12.7%) Second lowest total percentage ever

2005 vintage:
Corked: 1/66 (2%) [Corked bottle of Raveneau MDT replaced on night one]
Oxidized: 4/65 (6%)
Advanced:16/65 (25%) Highest percentage of advanced wines ever
Total Oxidized + advanced: 20/65 (31%) Highest total percentage ever/b]

2006 vintage:
Corked - 0/28 (some controversy about one wine)
Oxidation - 0/28 group consensus; but two partially oxidized later 0%/7.1%
Advanced - 4/28 14.3%
Oxidized or advanced - 6/28 21.4%

2007 Vintage:
Corked - 1/71 1.41%
Oxidation - 3/71 4.23% Lowest percentage of oxidized wines ever
Advanced - 6/71 8.45% or 9/71 (my count) 12.68%
Oxidized or advanced - 9/71 12.68% (lowest group total ever) or 12/71 (my count) 16.9%