Krug 96 from magnum

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

24 December 2017

Did I get your attention?

Good, because that was not the only bottle that we enjoyed. Tis the season to drink well. And, well, I enjoyed myself too much, as I had left my written notes behind from a fabulous, over four hour lunch on 22 December at Black Salt, one of the best seafood restaurants in Washington D.C. … This was a great lunch with true wine loving friends. We were nine very happy people, enjoying some magnums from fine Burgundy, Champagne and from other regions, as well as regular format bottles.

My notes, only from memory, are however as usual: if in bold, I liked in particular. If red and bold even more. And when underlined, too, wine nirvana! The great DCWino – Mr. Kevin Shin – took excellent notes himself, for more assessments.

Pair of glorious magnum bottles of Champagne
Krug 96 proved to be the wine of the lunch. But the Ledru was wonderful, too!

  • 1996 Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée – France, Champagne
    Well, I suppose this is rather perfect. Alas I left my written notes at the restaurant so here from memory. Gorgeously precise fruit driven flavors at first then a burgeoning notion of white truffle that begs fine cuisine, which we got – in spades – at Black Salt. The texture was at once velvety smooth and vivacious, the energy of the 1996 vintage shining through and although the color and even the tertiary aspects suggest a quicker than expected evolution – this was a magnum bottle! – the wine was literally singing over lunch, and we kept going back to it. Thanks be to magnums and thank be to Krug. (100 pts.)

With Amy Ray, and going back several times to this glorious magnum of vintage Champagne


  • 2003 Marie-Noëlle Ledru Champagne Grand Cru Cuvée du Goulté Blanc de Noirs Brut – France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
    Perhaps unfairly compared to the Krug vintage 1996 magnum, served alongside, this wine was nonetheless delicious, made from hand picked grand cru grapes from Ambonnay and Bouzy. Pinot Noir did well in the heat of 2003, at least based on other bubblies I have tried from this vintage. Coming from magnum certainly lent more freshness to the wine. The overall impression was of a creamy texture with fine red berry fruit expressions. Notes from memory as I had left my written notes at the restaurant … (93 pts.)

Veritable grower Champagne that was a pleasure to drink.

Pair of white Burgundies, with a great showing from Comtes Lafon 2001

  • 2001 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Charmes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
    What a charming expression of Chardonnay from Meursault, even if it lacks the spinal column and tension from, say, Les Perrieres, this Lafon was a victory already for not being at all premoxed: not at all! Now, beyond that, I kept coming back to this wine as one of my overall favorites of the lunch because it conveyed such pleasingly spherical balance: the palate conveyed both density and charm, with fine vivacity, representing the expression of the excellent 2001 vintage for whites. Bravo! (95 pts.)

One of my favorites from the lunch, veritably charming this Meursault-Charmes

  • 2007 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
    Coming after the Comtes Lafon Meursault-Charmes, this was clumsy and disappointing. Indeed, coming from a magnum – and a more recent vintage – this wine was noticeably more evolved in both color and taste. While not bad at all, one expects (much) more from the producer (and price). The palate was indeed rich and dense, but lacked the balance of the preceding wine, and showed just a touch of hazelnut. The fruit was there however and just having it alone, it would be fine enough with white fish in a cream sauce for example or seared scallops with chanterelles. (91 pts.)

Some great seafood to go with the bubblies and the whites: Bravo Black Salt!

A pair of Condrieus

  • 2013 Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu Les Chaillées de l’Enfer – France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Condrieu
    A disappointment, showing excessively evolved color and taste and lacking verve on the palate. Almost past due; if you have any of these vintages, drink up! Some enjoyed this more than others.
  • 2016 Domaine Duclaux Condrieu Les Caillets – France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Condrieu
    A very pleasing Condrieu, sur la fraicheur, as the youthful vintage displayed much charm of white stone fruit and subtle floral and spice aromatics. A smooth palate with energy and elegance. Bravo! (93 pts.)

Two magnum red Burgundies: one corked, but the other glorious

  • 1999 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques Vieille Vigne – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
    Another magnum bottle and brilliant wine! Too young, as coming from magnum, but time in glass (our lunch lasted four hours at least) began to show off more aromatic charm, with dark cherry and beguiling floral aspects akin to fine perfume. The palate from the get go showed amazing structure and length, not quite primary, but not far off. Certainly ripe fruit, fine tannin and very smooth (especially with time in glass) and veritably vinous on the palate. Bravo indeed! (96 pts.)

From a magnum, this 1999 was superb!

  • 2000 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche Cuvée Lucie – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
    Mildly corked? There was something not quite right about the nose and palate. Too bad, as this was a magnum bottle! NR (flawed)

Oldies but relative goodies

  • 1978 Labouré-Roi Richebourg – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru
    Again notes from memory as I stupidly left my notes at the restaurant. Paired with the 1969 Chambertin from Bouchard Aine & Fils, this was superior if not fabulous. Still, it conveyed lovely sous bois, a certain richness of texture and feel on the palate. Towards the tail end of its drinkability but not tired at all, just smooth and pleasing. Depth, certainly, but not as opulent as one would expect from Richebourg. Overall, a very pleasing wine indeed, nearly 40 years on. (94 pts.)

Fine mature Richebourg. What else?

  • 1969 Bouchard Aîné et Fils Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
    Again, notes from memory, but paled in comparison to the 1978 Richebourg with which it was paired. Solid, aged Burgundy, rather fading in intensity, and not coming across particularly as a grand cru from what is a fabled vintage. Just OK. (87 pts.)

Blind tasting of three Clos de Bezes – and the Jadot kicked ass 

  • 2009 Louis Jadot Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
    Delectable and rich, but firm and this is to be expected from Louis Jadot. A very pleasing expression of ripe dark fruits, black cherry and blackberry, with opulence and structure on the palate. Needs another five years at least of aging before entering a proper drinking window. Time in glass brought forth more charm, but I kept going back to the 1999 Fourrier from magnum for more pleasure. (95 pts.)

Delicious grand cru 2009.

  • 2008 Remoissenet Père et Fils Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
    Also served alongside the Bouchard 2008 and the Jadot 2009, this was a bit of a disappointment as it lacked the intensity and depth one should get from a grand cru of this calibre. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Bouchard Père et Fils Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
    From memory, a slight disappointment because it showed a bit of green. And yet, there was density and substance to the palate. I just did not enjoy it (nearly) as much as the Jadot 2009. (90 pts.)

Endgame with Rieussec and Yquem!

  • 2001 Château Rieussec – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Voluptuous, creamy, opulent and flavorful. Quite youthful, too, and displaying the rich style of Rieussec that some tasters appreciate more than others. I found it still too youthful and am pleased to have another four bottles of this in my cellar. Just a delicious Sauternes from a great vintage that could use more time in your cellar to gain a bit more elegance. Long finish! (94 pts.)

David Ehrlich happy with a couple of great Sauternes

  • 1982 Château d’Yquem – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Of course 1982 is not a great vintage for Sauternes, with rains coming at the wrong time, but as the French adage goes: Petite année? Grand vin! And here we have a grand vin shining with lovely botrytis induced black tea notes, along with white apricot and white flower, exuding subtle opulence and elegance that charms the palate and follows through to a long finish. Not the most concentrated vintage to be sure, but as Robert Parker noted in his earlier review of this vintage, Yquem brought in much of the crop before rains had done too much damage, and then waited until the vineyards dried out, bringing in their last grapes in early November. (94 pts.)

What a great lunch this was. As far as I am concerned, this was the official Christmas celebration in terms of great wines! Thanks to all who attended and brought such fine wines.

And Merry Christmas to all !

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