The first installment of our 2007 Vintage Assessment and Premox Check Dinners was held on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at Valentino Restaurant in Santa Monica, California. The subject for the evening was grand cru Chablis from the top producers (along withe on Raveneau 1er which we perenially include), Meursault, and Corton Charlemagne. We had a total of 30 wines divided into four flights.

The 2007 white burgundy vintage received much fanfare from the producers and critics at the time the wines were released in 2009. I tasted a good number of them on release and I thought the Cote de Beaune whites were the most exciting new vintage I had tasted since 1985. I tasted very few Chablis but the few I tasted were exceptional, even at the premier cru level. So I’ve been looking forward to doing our annual comprehensive tasting of the 2007 vintage for some time. Judging by the response to the invitations, so was everyone else.

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With 420 stems required for the burgundies, we once again taxed the limits of the restaurant, but Valentino’s new sommelier, Paul Sherman, handled it flawlessly. The large rectangular table set up at Valentino is truly ideal for this type of event.

Valentino, which is owned by Pierro Selvaggio, has been a fixture of the Los Angeles fine dining scene for decades. It is well known for its Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine cellar as well as its Italian regional cuisine. The dinner arrangements were well planned by Giuseppe Mollica, Valentino’s director of special events, and the service was top notch as usual.

The wines and food courses are set forth below. All of the wines were served blind and none of the attendees knew the identity of our one ringer for night one. This year all of the voting was completely blind with the attendees ranking their top five wines identified by the number on the glass.

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

Appetizer Course
Arancinette Of Seafood, Oysters With Lemon Gelato,
Diamonds Of Mushroom Polenta, Taleggio Flatbread And Black Truffles
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1996 Henriot Cuvee Enchanteleurs Champagne (two 750 ml bottles)
Two dramatically different bottles. First bottle: Peachy color; aromas of melba toast and citrus; on the palate it was a mix of toasty elements and very high pitched grapefruit/lemon citrus. Drinkable but no one was impressed. Nothing like any other bottle of this I’ve had. 87-flawed. Second bottle: much lighter yellow color (more like a 96); brilliant bubbles, with lemon bread aromas; on the palate this was meyer lemon and loads of minerality, particularly on the finish. This could actually improve with another year or two of aging. 93+

Flight One – Grand Cru Chablis (and one 1er)
Crudo Di Pesce With Salmon, Ahi Tuna, Yellow Tail With Citrus & Colatura
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#1 [2007 Raveneau Chablis Blanchots]
Light yellow gold color; sappy aromas with a green fruit/green herb (rosemary) element that suggests Preuses to me; quite faint on the palate at first, develops some fruit with time in the glass. Late in the tasting this was much more shrill and balanced to acidity. Dauvissat Presuses? Group Rank: 12th place, 6 points (1/0/0/0/1) 92?

#2 [2007 Ravneau Chablis Clos]
Light gold color; green apple and green herb aromas; light green apple flavors too with medium acidity; this is a light bodied Chablis with some elegance and minerals on the finish. Fevre Preuses? Group Rank:Tied for 15th, 3 points (0/0/1/0/0) 91+

#3 [2007 Raveneau Chablis Montee de Tonnerre]
Light yellow color – marginally lighter than #1 and #2 and not quite gold; aromas like lemon hard candy; only modest weight on the palate, some lemon and minerals; better finish here. Raveneau MDT? Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 93

#4 [2007 Fevre Chablis Valmur]
Light yellow gold color; very badly corked – even I can easily detect this one and I have less sensitivity than most; on the palate, this had more obvious fruit than any other wine in this flight and degree of richness and a touch of vanilla (oak), but the corked aromas make it undrinkable. I fear this is a Clos. Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) DQ - corked

#5 [2007 Raveneau Chablis Valmur]
Some odd reduction aromas, including a cheese smell – eventually lemony aromas emerged; another lighter styled Chablis; relatively lean citrus fruit flavors with some minerals; this really has great underlying structure and needs time; later it seemed to have some of the Preuses green fruit/rosemary markers in the aromas. Group Rank: 19th, 1 point (0/0/0/0/1) 93

#6 [2007 Dauvissat-Camus Chablis Clos]
Medium gold color; sweet almost tropical fruit aromas with some toasty oak tones; on the second pass it seemed even more oaky; there are some simple tropical fruit flavors that don’t match the aromas in terms of intensity, but this has a very thick viscous texture; then, at the end of the finish there’s a sweet apricot like character. Based on the color, toasty aromas and apricot flavors on the finish, this might well be advanced/borderline to going oxidized. The woody aromas remind me of the some of the Fevres from 2002 and 2004. Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 89???

#7 [2007 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Preuses]
This is another medium gold wine almost as deep as #6; faint pear and green apple aromas with some light oak tones; very light, simple green apple flavors with moderate underlying acidity.. This seems to fit the Cote de Beaune profile more than Chablis, but it doesn’t have the expected weight/depth for top grand cru Chablis. Can this improve with time? Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 91+?

#8 [2007 Fevre Chablis Clos]
Light yellow gold color; aromas of midori (lime) liquer and a hint of leechee fruit; on the palate this had medium density flavors of lime and pears; much more depth and density than the other wines in the flight; there is minerality too, but it is kind of sneaky and comes in behind the fruit; very good acidity and shows up in the finish. Lots of room for improvement I think. Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 93++

#9 [2007 Fevre Chablis Preuses]
Between light and medium gold color; aromas of lemon and white flowers tones; tight, light creamy lemon flavors; moderate acidity and some minerals on the finish. An elegant overall impression. Group Rank: Tied for 17th, 2 points (0/0/0/0/2) 92

Flight Two -- Meursault
Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea Sauce And Couscous
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#10 [2007 Lafon Meursault Genevrieres]
Medium plus gold color (darkest of the second flight); peach aromas with hints of orange citrus; similar flavors with quite a bit of richness and density for modern Meursault; moderate acidity shows on the sweet citrus-peach finish. Not really my style of Meursault, but quite good in its own way. On my second pass, after we had discussed the flight as a group, this wine struck me as likely advanced. Group Rank: Tied for 17th, 2 points (0/0/0/1/0) 93? (late impression-advanced)

#11 [2007 Roulot Meursault Poruzots]
Color between light and medium gold; light lemon citrus and white flower aromas; this has very bright lemon flavors, considerable acidity and great structure, but it is relatively thin (at least for now) Stayed stable through the evening. Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 92

#12 [2007 Roulot Meursault Charmes]
Medium yellow gold color; light key lime aromas; fairly light key lime/lemon flavors with very good acidity and then a huge finish with lime and minerals that hits like a big wave. Group Rank: Tied for 15th , 3 points (0/0/1/0/0) 94

#13 [2007 Ringer No 1—Coche-Dury Meursault (Chaumes de Perrieres)]
Between light and medium gold. Some reduction aromas here – almost like Leflaive, eventually becomes citrus and white flowers; citrus and minerals flavors; the immediate impression here was structure, and there was a bit of layering here, finish has some minerals but doesn't quite match up to the mid-palate for me. [NB: there are at least three different cuvees of the 2007 Meursault, which come from different vineyards. This one came from Europe.] Group Rank: 3rd, 20 points (0/1/4/1/2) 93

#14 [2007 Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots]
Between light and medium gold color; light white flowers aromas; very bright lemon custard flavors with great acidity and minerality; long mineral dominated finish; very impressive wine. My number three wine of the night. Group Rank: 5th, 13 points (0/1/3/0/0) 95

#15 [2007 Hospices de Beaune-Roulot Meursault Genevrieres]
Medium gold color; apple and pear aromas; this is a very forward, voluptuous and densely fruited wine; mostly pears on the palate; there is a decent amount of acidity that shows up late; very minerally finish. Group Rank: 14th, 4 pts (0/0/0/2/0) 94

Flight Three: Meursault Perrieres (and one Pretender)
Lobster Risotto
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#16 [2007 Colin-Morey Meursault Perrieres]
Light yellow gold color; some light SO2 here, which gave way to some initially faint lemony aromas; on the palate this had some very sappy, awesomely concentrated lemon-lime citrus flavors with very good acidity; fairly tight but very minerally finish. Upside here. Group Rank: 4th, 16 pts (1/2/0/1/1) 94+

#17 [2007 Lafon Meursault Charmes]
Between light and medium gold color; white flowers aromas; starts with fairly sappy key lime, then acidity and minerals; good minerality on the finish. On my second pass this seemed to have faded a good bit in the mid-palate. But for that, I would have given this a higher score. Group Rank: 13th, 5 pts (0/0/0/2/1) 93

#18 [2007 Lafon Meursault Perrieres]
Medium gold color; prominent pear aromas here; this has very sappy pear and citrus flavors with lots of complexity and a little layering as it broadens into a nice citrus-mineral finish. I liked this more the first time through than on the second. My fifth overall wine of the night. Group Rank: 8th, 10 points (1/1/0/0/1) 94

#19 [2007 Roulot Meursault Perrieres]
Between light and medium gold color; some citrus, pears and a hint of coconut that reminds me of Coche; this is a very tight, but obviously sappy and concentrated wine; serious concentration of pear and citrus flavors with very good acidity and abundant minerality on a very long finish. Fabulous wine. My number two wine of the night. Group Rank: 1st, 45 points (4/3/3/2/0) 95+

#20 [2007 Matrot Meursault Perrieres]
Medium plus gold color; this had bizarre apple cider aromas; on the palate it had very ripe to overripe peach, and orange citrus flavors and very leesy character. Not fun to drink and impossible to finish. Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 80-advanced

#21 [2007 Bouchard Meursault Perrieres]
Light gold color with some greenish edge tones; powerful key lime and white flowers aromas; very sappy and intense key lime/lemon flavors; this has great acidity and structure and abundant minerality with a very long citrus and minerals finish. WOW! Easily my favorite wine of the night. Group Rank: 2nd, 32 points (4/3/0/0/0) 97

#22 [2007 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres]
Between light and medium gold color; white flowers and citrus aromas; very intense citrus and minerals flavors with considerable acidity; a great deal of structure; powerful citrus and minerals finish but with noticeable phenols in the finish. This wine isn't quite all together yet, but it is awesome. My number four wine of the night. Group Rank: Tied for 6th, 12 points (0/1/2/1/0) 95

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Flight Four – Corton Charlemagne
Pan Roasted Napa Quail With Pancetta And Sage
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#23 [2007 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne]
Between light and medium gold color; sweet green apple flavors; flavors of apple and white honey with surprisingly good acidity on the finish. Unusual. [NB In retrospect, since the Bouchard Corton is normally quite good, I’m not sure what to make of this bottle.] Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 93

#24 [2007 Colin-Morey Corton Charlemagne]
Light yellow gold color; light white flowers aromas; citrus flavors and a lot of acidity, but seems a bit disjointed—at least for now. Gives an impression this could improve with time, but I’m not sure. Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 91+?

#25 [2007 Faiveley Corton Charlemagne]
Medium yellow color; lemon citrus aromas; green apple and lemon candy flavors with lots of minerality; this really grew on me as I kept going back to it, showed more power and depth and a nice finish. The best wine of this flight and my number six wine overall. Group Rank: Tied for 6th, 12 points (2/0/0/0/2) 94+

#26 [2007 Jadot Corton Charlemagne]
Medium gold color; intense green apple aromas; very big and overly rich apple flavors with some toasty elements in the finish; this is pretty clearly advanced. Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 90? Advanced

#27 [2007 Henri Boillot Corton Charlemagne]
Medium plus gold color (darkest of the flight); very rich caramel and honey aromas – clearly advanced; fat, rich apple pastry flavors; quite drinkable despite being advanced. Group Rank: Tied for 20th (last), 0 points (0/0/0/0/0) 93 Advanced

#28 [2007 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne]
Light gold color with a greenish edge; very light citrus aromas; light citrus flavors with considerable acidity and structure; very tight; some phenols on the finish here; this opened up just a little bit on the second pass. Group Rank: 9th, 9 points (0/1/0/2/1) 93

#29 [2007 Simon Bize Corton Charlemagne]
Medium gold color; light pear and citrus aromas; flavors a little more oriented to the pear side with great acidity and depth; a very nice finish. Group Rank: 11th, 7 points (1/0/0/1/0) 94

#30 [2007 Girardin Corton Charlemagne]
Between light and medium gold color; pear/apple aromas; more mid-palate depth than #28 and #29 but a little less impressive finish; some acidity and a touch of phenol on the finish. This may improve with more age. Group Rank: 10th, 8 points (0/1/0/1/2) 93+?

Dessert Course
Seasonal Fruit Tarte with Gelato
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1971 Chateau Y’quem
Dark brown and this seemed quite off to me on the palate, but at least a couple of others said they liked it. Maybe I was suffering from palate fatigue ???

Postscript statistics and comments on premature oxidation:
Corked - 1/30 3.3%
Oxidation - 0/30 0%
Advanced - 3/30 10% or 4/30 with my additional late discovered bottle of Lafon Genevrieres 13.3%
Oxidized or advanced - 3/30 10% or 4/30 13.3%

Everyone was pleased that we didn’t have any outright oxidized wines on night one, but we’ve had this happen before only to have several on the subsequent nights. I think that the distressing thing (or perhaps the reassuring thing, depending on your viewpoint) was that the four advanced wines came from producers with a prior history of oxidation-related issues -- Jadot, the number one poster child for premox since 2000, Matrot, Boillot and Lafon. The fact that none of the wines from Bonneau du Martray and Fevre are on that list is a pleasant surprise.

Some preliminary thoughts on the 2007 vintage at 7.5 years of age

The Meursaults performed fabulously and met or exceeded all of the reviewers' early expectations. We all agreed that the 2007 Chablis notably under-performed versus the early very laudatory reviews which suggested that 2007 is a classic vintage. The Chablis wines did not improve over the course of the evening either. The Cortons were generally very good (mostly 93-94 point wines) but they didn't match up to the Meursaults, and my scores were generally one to three points lower than the early reviews by Messrs. Meadows and Tanzer.

Cheers go to:

Roulot -- 2007 is a truly great vintage for Roulot, even for his Hospice Meursault Genevrieres

Bouchard -- without any doubt the best Meursault Perrieres I’ve ever tasted from Bouchard (but the Corton Charlemagne fell well short of the early laudatory reviews from the critics.)

Coche-Dury – Jean-Francois Coche was in great form in this vintage and his Meursault Chaumes de Perrieres from seven year old vines outclassed many of the big names

Faiveley – The Corton Charlemagne was easily the best Corton from Faiveley in about two decades and this bottle was consistent with another one I had in 2013.

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From left to right -- Erick Pangilnan, Larry Hoffman and Liz Lee, studiously working their way through the final flight of Corton Charlemagnes

Night two is scheduled for March 4 at Valentino. We will taste 25 or so of the top wines from Bienvenues-Batard, Criots-Batard, Batard Montrachet and Chevalier Montrachet.

Night three is scheduled for March 19 at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica. That's our "Mostly Montrachet" night.

-Don Cornwell-