The 30th session of the Academy for Ancient Wines is held as usual at the Macéo restaurant. We are 41 members divided into four tables and the wines, officially announced for 63 will be in fact around 70 because of last minute generosity. Needless to say, we will not miss anything to drink.
I arrive before 4 pm at the restaurant with Béatrice who will help me throughout the evening. I am going to open the bottles and gradually I am joined by four friends who come to both help me but also support the morale of the opener (and theirs) with some wines not in the program. Thus, the first-comer opens a magnum of Krug Grande Cuvée with a cream label which indicates that it is over thirty years old. He brought this magnum low but we know that it does not hinder its quality, which is the case. If we start drinking at 4 pm, how will we be at the end of the evening? The Krug is so good, with a patina of old champagne particularly greedy! During this time I open the wines, helped by my friends that I help as soon as appears a situation that seems inextricable. A friend opens for the openers a Burgundy Aligote 1957 excellent freshness and energy, which we find so good that we will add it to the program of group 1 to which we are three out of four attached. Another contribution is a Sparkling Seyssel of Ain, nice sparkling very pleasant because unpretentious. But we work anyway! It so happens that I had distributed to the enrolled at the academy the list of vintages that would be present at the 30th session. The oldest is 1929 and one of the friends present who brought one of the two 1929s had asked me in the form of challenge: will you bring older? As if to titillate me a little more, he brought for the opening session a bottle without a label, without a capsule, with a cap that goes beyond and which is tied with a very fine string that would never have been suitable for a champagne . Through the glass we see a dark beige liquid cloudy. The friend does not know what it is and thinks of a wine of the beginning of the 20th century, without being able to guess its color. I open the bottle, I feel and I cry, « but it’s a cider. » The fragrance is unequivocal. We drink this Cider around 1910 which has a well controlled acidity, a nice taste of crushed apple and drinks well. What a nice surprise ! My friend challenges me with a wine older than 1929. He did not know that I had brought for the openers the secret weapon, which I decided to serve only when all the other wines were open: the rest of the bottle of Malaga 1872 opened two days ago. We are very concentrated and respectful because this rich wine is of a divine essence. Coffee, spices, tobacco, chocolate, are exhibited with infinite length.
At the opening, many wines have shown the same behavior of the cork: when we decapsule, the cork drops into the neck and back up above him, in the vacuum created, a little wine. As in other opening sessions, we can think that weather conditions have an influence on the behavior of the corks. Twice, something that almost never happens, Beatrice had to pour the wine out of two bottles whose cork fell into the wine, risking polluting it.
Overall, opened wines show very few faults, with just one burgundy and one Algerian wine appearing corked.
The contributions are very much in line with the philosophy of the academy and I was able to congratulate the members on the quality of the contributions. It is not the same for logistics contributing to the establishment of the event, the number of incidents of all kinds multiplying to infinity. So I announced that the rules will harden for the next session.
The champagnes of the aperitif are all from my cellar and I wanted to play on diversity: Champagne Collery Herbillon brut – Champagne Hediard Brut Rosé – Champagne David-Barnier – Champagne Laurent-Perrier Extra Brut – Champagne François Giraud Brut – Champagne Mailly -Champagne Cuvée Des Echansons 100% Grand Cru – Champagne Grande Cascade Rosé – Champagne Pierre Gerbais brut. All these non-vintage champagnes of various qualities were appreciated by the participants. One of the members added two magnums of Champagne Legras and Haas, of a beautiful vivacity and a perfume of a crazy youth. I liked the Hediard rosé, made by P. & C. Heidsieck, sharper than the Colley Herbillon but a winemaker present told me he preferred the Colley Herbillon, deeper. Some friends were able to taste the centennial cider.
We sit down to the table and here are the wines assigned to each group.
Table 1 : Champagne Dom Pérignon P2 2000 – Bourgogne Aligoté 1957 – Clairette Les Coteaux du Languedoc sec Emile Rouaud 1929 – Château Roumieu Bordeaux Supérieur blanc sec 1957 – Château La Cabanne Pomerol 1961 – Château Mouton-Rothschild 1952 – Château Reignac 1949 – Château Cheval Blanc magnum 1955 – Fleurie Girodit-Henry 1943 – Vosne-Romanée Bouchard Père & Fils 1971 – Vosne Romanée Colomb-Maréchal 1929 – Vin d’Algérie rouge d’Oran domaine Sénéclauze 1955 – Domaine de Castel-Fos Bordeaux Supérieur liquoreux #1960 – Tokaji Eszencia Aszu 1988.
Table 2 – Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1989 – Chablis 1er Cru Côte de la Fourchaume Domaine Philippon 1969 – Meursault Caves Nicolas 1961 – Château Terrey Gros Cailloux Saint-Julien 1969 – Château Fourcas Dupré Listrac Magnum 1970 (2 tables) – Château Lynch Bages 1975 – Château Jura-Plaisance Montagne Saint-Emilion 1952 – Château Nénin 1949 – Chambolle Musigny Piat & Cie années 60 – Vin d’Algérie rouge d’Oran domaine Sénéclauze 1959 – Monbazillac Louis Monbouché 1933 – Château d’Yquem 1996 – Tokaji Eszencia Aszu 1988.
Table 3 : Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1989 – Meursault Genevrières Louis Latour 1969 – Vin de l’Etoile Réserve du Prince Maurice Bouvret 1953 – Château Bouscaut Graves rouge 1981 – Château Bouscaut Graves rouge 1964 – Château Pavie Valette 1976 – Château Talbot 1966 – Château Latour 1950 – Châteauneuf-du-Pape Lagoste & Cie 1967 – Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Reccioto Secco 1959 – Barolo Alfredo Prunitto Alba 1967 – Château Clos Haut Peyraguey 1er Grand Cru Classé 1959 – Vénérable Pedro Ximenez Pedro Domecq Jerez 1959 – Tokaji Eszencia Aszu 1988.
Table 4 : Champagne Pierre Gerbais brut – Champagne Jean de Reyt à Chaigny les Roses 1979 – Pinot Gris J. Salzmann Tokay d’Alsace 1959 – Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1986 – Château Fourcas Dupré Listrac Magnum 1970 (2 tables, 2 et 4) – Château les Ormes de Pez 1961 – Château Lynch Bages 1958 – Aloxe-Corton Louis Latour 1955 – Nuits Saint Georges les Boudots Lionel J. Bruck 1969 – Vosne-Romanée Léon Grivelet-Cusset 1955 – Vosne-Romanée Jessiaume Père & Fils 1959 – Cornas Auguste Clape 1982 – Château Rayne Vigneau 1989 – Tokaji Eszencia Aszu 1988.
Being in group 1 I drank the wines of this group, but generous academicians also made me taste wines from their table. The menu provided by the restaurant is: grilled mackerel, scallions and shallots confit with olive oil / minestrone of black eyed peas and spring vegetables / rack of Auvergne lamb with spices, strong juice and vegetable tart / cheese some offered by academicians / roasted fresh mango, lime meringue and candied rhubarb.
The Champagne Dom Pérignon P2 2000 is of a rare power. He is wildly young and conquering. He will have to quiet down to enjoy his class. He blossomed while warming himself.
The Bourgogne Aligoté 1957, which had been opened for openers, is frank and very friendly. This Monthélie wine is very pleasant, unpretentious.
The Clairette Les Coteaux du Languedoc dry Emile Rouaud 1929 had troubled me at the opening because his nose was that of a sweet wine very caramelized. In fact in the mouth it is dry as indicated by the label. It is more a wine of curiosity than of structure but which does not lack charm.
Château Roumieu Bordeaux Supérieur dry white 1957 has a glorious fragrance and impressive presence on the palate. It is the white Bordeaux in all its nobility with in addition to sugary suggestions as it often happens for the dry wines of the Sauternes houses.
The winemaker who brought the Château La Cabanne Pomerol 1961 which is not his domain is criticizing it while at our table we like his delicate velvet. I kindly point out that it is because it is his contribution that he criticizes it. Because wine without being transcendent is frankly good.
The Château Mouton-Rothschild 1952 is a real big Mouton. Its grain, its mache, are of a nobility of very great wine. It has no defect, it is noble and perfect and would compare readily to the great vintages of Mouton as 1955 or 1959.
The Chateau Reignac 1949 is a beautiful curiosity but I cannot let myself be seduced. It is a beautiful year and a beautiful construction, but it lacks the emotion. It was one of the two wines slightly corked for our group.
I added this morning Château Cheval Blanc magnum 1955 so that one of the wines of our group can be assigned to the group of the one who brought it. I took this low level magnum and I must say it is a marvel. It has the power and the grain of a very noble wine but it adds a charm superior to that offered by the Mouton. And its length is extreme. I naturally tend to like the wines that I bring, but here I am happy with the delivery of this great wine.
The Fleurie Girodit-Henry 1943 has everything for him. He could return the favor to many great Burgundy and it is a rare readability that adds to his pleasure. It is a wine of pleasure.
The 1971 Vosne-Romanée Bouchard Père & Fils, which I also added at the last moment, also has a low level, but we do not feel any defect. It is the beautiful fresh burgundy in full possession of its seductive assets. I love this Burgundy of suggestion.
The Vosne Romanée Colomb-Maréchal 1929 is an exceptional year. It is felt in the width of the structure of this wine. But I preferred the message of 1971 and several other Vosne-Romanée other tables, because we had a nice provision of this appellation. Vosne-Romanée Léon Grivelet-Cusset 1955 and Vosne-Romanée Jessiaume Father & Son 1959 are more romantic than the 1929.
I have the eyes of Chimène for the wines of Algeria and therefore in principle for the Algerian red wine of Oran Sénéclauze domain 1955. Objectively it is simpler than the wines of Frédéric Lung, but it has a natural charm with coffee suggestions that I love.
The Domaine de Castel-Fos Bordeaux Sweet Superior # 1960 is nicely sweet but simple. I like these infantrymen. Of course, next to great sweet wines, he cannot support the comparison. But it’s nice to drink.
I added to each of the four tables a Tokaji Eszencia Aszu Disnoko 1988. This sweet wine is a fragrance. He is rich and so captivating in his performance of seduction and with his taste of dried grapes that we would drink until the end of the night. I preferred it to the Venerable Pedro Ximenez Pedro Domecq Jerez 1959 who is much stronger and leaden, almost stunning with its caramelized and roasted strength.
Along the way I was brought wines from other tables. The Château Fourcas Dupré Listrac Magnum 1970 assigned to tables 2 and 4 is produced by the winemaker of our table. Alas the bottle has a little taste of cork. It happens.
The very nicely structured Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1986 impressed me less than other guests. I have the palate more sensitive to older wines.
The Château Bouscaut Graves red 1964 is quite nice but I did not pay him the necessary attention.
The friend who brought Château Talbot 1966 is proud and he is right because it is a solid Talbot of a beautiful year.
The Château Latour 1950 is a big Latour but maybe not the biggest of the huge burgundy 1950s that I bus as Haut-Brion is mostly Pétrus.
The Chambolle Musigny Piat & Cie 60s that we could not expect much is a very nice and pretty burgundy.
The Monbazillac Louis Monbouché 1933 is indeed shading the Domaine de Castel-Fos Bordeaux Liquoreux Superior # 1960 from our table. It is a little roasted.
The Aloxe-Corton Louis Latour 1955 with a beautiful level that I added this morning is part of the authentic Burgundy I love. It must be said that 1955 is a blessed year in Burgundy.
Overall, the quality of the contributions of this edition of the academy is very beautiful. If I had to classify the wines that moved me the most: 1 – Château Cheval Blanc magnum 1955, 2 – Château Mouton-Rothschild 1952, 3 – Magnum Krug Grande Cuvée cream label, 4 – Château Roumieu Bordeaux Superior dry white 1957 , 5 – Fleurie Girodit-Henry 1943, 6 – Tokaji Eszencia Aszu Disnoko 1988.
I have kept in this ranking only wines from my table, because for others, even big, the fact that I get a drink quickly then another does not allow me to make a real judgment. There are other wines in the other tables like the Latour 1950 or the Vosne-Romanée wines that deserve a classification, but let us stay within the scope of my table for a ranking.
The menu was very good. Only the minestrone is not the friend of the wines. The service was excellent and Gwen did a service of the wines of very high level. There were some 50% regulars and 50% new ones among tonight’s members. We had three English speakers from three different backgrounds, one Chinese, one German, two Belgian and one American. Beautiful cosmopolitanism. The male population was largely in the majority. It must quickly correct that. To make me forgive this injustice I offered the only woman at my table, on the sly, the last glass of Malaga 1872. It will not be enough to make me pardon this sprain to parity.
All turn signals of this thirtieth session are green. It was a very nice session of the Academy of ancient wines, with beautiful wines, drunk in one of the most pleasant atmosphere we have known.
(all the pictures are on the articles below : 6 articles)