15 wines which have illuminated the year 2014mercredi, 7 janvier 2015

During 2014, I have drunk 1003 wines. Such a figure is rather normal as for 14 years I have in my files 12,333 wines for which I have comments. Among these 1003 wines, 235 were older than 50 years, with an average age of 76 years corresponding to an average millesime of 1938.

I have selected among all these wines 15 which represent what I try to discover in the world of wines.

1. Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1939 vigne originelle française non reconstituée. This bottle is extremely rare as the grapes of phylloxeric vines were vinified and bottled separately. When I called Aubert de Villaine saying that I had just opened a Richebourg 1939 (his birth year) whose perfume is incredible, he told me : “would it be from original not reconstituted vines?” and he added : “if it so, you have in hand a fortune”. And I told him “too late, it is opened”. And the wine, prephylloxeric was a pure wonder, a wine of eternity

2. Champagne Salon 1943 : invited by Didier Depond, president of Salon for a friendly lunch in the domaine, I had the incredible chance that he opened this champagne knowing that it is my birth year. Fantastic champagne which is my greatest Salon. Only ten 1943 remain now in the cellar of Salon. What a gift.

3. Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 1996 : this wine is produced with a volume ten times smaller than the yearly volume of the Montrachet DRC. This wine had such an incredible energy, that it has impressed me a lot. One week later, visiting domaine Leflaive, I saw Anne Claude Leflaive having a large smile. She kissed me and thanked me for the nice words that I had for this 1996. And being so glad, she opened in the cellar a Montrachet 1993 to thank me.

4. Auxey-Duresses Les Clous, Domaine d’Auvenay, Lalou Bize-Leroy magnum 2006 : drunk in Les Crayères, the famous restaurant of Rheims, the man who invited the table ordered three magnums of this incredible wine. I have rarely drunk something so pure and so dynamic as this fantastic and unusual wine

5. Château d’Yquem 1893 : having drunk approximately 100 millesimes of Yquem, I consider that the 1893 is the most archetypal of all. There are Yquems which are great and atypical like the 1921. But the 1893 is the most in the historical line of Yquem. I opened two bottles from my cellar for one dinner and the two were fantastic as I expected, with mango, apricot and a perfectly controlled sweetness

6. Nuits-Saint-Georges 1899 : the producer is not readable. I opened it to be drunk on 31 December 2014 at midnight. It was so glorious, with a taste of eternity that I am sure that this wine is prephylloxeric, bringing a great emotion

7. Grand Musigny Faiveley 1906 : drunk with friends, this wine has what one expects when he collects and drinks old wines. All is balance, strength, charm with a feeling of perfection. The perfect Burgundy

8. Champagne Billecart-Salmon magnum 1961 : this champagne is exactly what everyone would like to drink as the representation of a perfect and comfortable champagne. It is extremely impressive to have attained such quality

9. Hermitage La Chapelle Paul Jaboulet Aîné rouge 1947 : drunk in a dinner with legendary wines, I have ranked it first. It is in the league of the best ever La Chapelle. It is not at the level of the 1961, my best ever red wine (for one exceptional bottle), but it is very near. A wine which has everything, velvety, silky, with an enormous charm

10. Domaine de Bouchon Sainte-Croix-du-Mont Café Voisin 1900 : Café Voisin was in the 19th century the most famous restaurant for its cellar, exactly as was La Tour d’Argent in the 20th century. I have bought some old bottles of Café Voisin and not knowing what was Domaine de Bouchon, I did not know what to expect from the wine of a very dark bottle. What a surprise when I drank a lovely sweet wine of an incredible complexity. A fantastic surprise. Studying more, I discovered that there was a Sainte Croix du Mont which was Domaine Bouchon. I love such surprises.

11. Romanée Conti Domaine de la Romanée Conti 2000 : for New Year’s Eve, I wanted to have a Romanée Conti and a young one. I use to drink RC either too young when I drink them from barrels or newly put one the market, or rather old (all in all I have drunk 41 vintages of the DRC Romanée Conti). I asked Aubert de Villaine which year to drink and he suggested 2000. He was right. This wine has the perfection of the legend plus a delicious youth. A great moment, enlarged by the fact that we drank at the same moment the Nuits 1899, separated by 101 years

12. Champagne Clos du Mesnil Krug 1979 : Among all the Clos du Mesnil I consider that the first one produced, the 1979, is the greatest of all. And the one which I drank confirmed my analysis. This is the example of the most sophisticated champagne which exists, among “still young” champagnes

13. Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1929 : a complete curiosity for me as i did not imagine that it could be possible to find one. Brought by a friend, it had all the characteristics of a perfect CdP, with no suggestions of Burgundy wine as young Rayas often give

14. Champagne Salon 1964 : apart from the 1943 mentioned above this is one of the greatest Salon. This one was elegant and vibrant

15. Madère Moscatel 1875 : I have had the chance to make a working trip to Madeira with some sommeliers including one World best sommelier. We have drunk more than 80 Madeiras, all different and full of passion. This is the one that I preferred. I have bought one (only one) during this trip to drink one again.

I have drunk many other legendary wines, but I found these 15 particularly emotional, when there is a « story » around.