Tasting Report: Bonhams Pre-Auction Event, January 2008

Tasting Report: Bonhams Pre-Auction Event, January 2008

Hit another tasting event this week (check out September 2007’s report here). My notes are less copious this month; the wines were good on the whole, but nothing knocked me off my feet. Here are some thoughts on what was especially interesting over the course of the evening.

Nothing of exceptional note among the whites, especially since the 1994 Montrachet was being held back, pronounced corked. But there was plenty of good stuff among the Burgundies being served. A 1990 Jayer-Gilles Nuits St. Georges was a classic example of Burgundy, the kind of thing you could drink all night with a thick lamb chop. Domaine Dujac’s Chambolle Musigny, 2001, was also outstanding, though of course much younger. Also enjoyed the 1999 Mugneret Echezeaux, but it was much meatier in style than the Dujac.

Two full tables of Bordeaux tonight, with good and, well, less good on display. Two 1970s were feeling tired and old, but the 1970 Lynch Bages proved that even this unheralded year could put out some solid wines. Ditto the ’78 Cheval Blanc. Generally considered a middling year at best, this was a rich and very drinkable vintage. No less than four wines from the heralded 1982 vintage were poured, with both Palmer and Montrose standing out as the highlights. Some patrons were declaring the Ducru Beaucaillou to be corked, but I found it completely drinkable, though far from the best wine on the table. The 1990 Gruaud Larose, also from a fantastic year, didn’t disappoint.

Best luck was had in Italy, with both 1988 Gaja and 1997 Sassicaia proving why these are cult wines of the region. The Gaja was perfectly aged, mixing wood, fruit, and charcoal into an exceptional drink. Both a 1999 Nebbiolo and 1997 Barbera were fine Piedmont vintages, too.

On to California, where I found the 1975 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard a severe disappointment, long since past its prime and, possibly, corked. Wonderful to get to put two Opus One vintages head to head: The 1996 easily outpaced the 2001, which was just way too tight for easy drinking yet. Best of the lot: Grace Family’s 1994 Vineyard 29 Cab, a “just right” California Cabernet that I could have drank all night.

Complete ratings follow, broken up by table:

1993 Chassagne Montrachet, Les Vergers, Ramonet – B
1994 Montrachet, Sauzet – didn’t try, corked
2000 Chassagne Montrachet, Les Champs Gains, M. Niellon – A-
2001 Peter Michael Chardonnay, Mon Plaisir – B+
1996 Gewurztraminer, Mambourg, VT, Tempe – A-

1983 Clos des Lambrays, Domaine du Clos des Lambrays – B-
1990 Nuits St. Georges, Les Prulieres, R. Chevillon – B+
1990 Nuits St. Georges, Les Hauts Poirets, Jayer-Gilles – A-
1995 Bonnes Mares, J.F. Mugnier – A-
2001 Chambolle Musigny, Dujac – A
1999 Echezeaux, D. Mugneret – A
1999 Marcassin Pinot Noir, Blue Ridge – didn’t try, empty when I got there

1970 Chateau Nenin, Pomerol – B
1970 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, St. Julien – B
1970 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac – A
1978 Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion – A
1982 Chateau Gloria, St. Julien – B
1982 Chateau Palmer, Margaux – A-

1982 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou, St. Estephe – B+
1982 Chateau Montrose, St. Estephe – A-
1983 Chateau Cos d’Estournel, St. Estephe – A-
1983 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste, Pauillac – A-
1983 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac – A-
1990 Chateau Gruaud Larose, St. Julien – A
1994 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, St. Julien – B+

1997 Barbera d’Asti, Braida Ai Suma, G. Bologna – A-
1997 Tignanello, Antinori – B
1997 Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido – A
1999 Nebbiolo d’Alba, B. Giacosa – A-
1998 Barolo, Sperss, Gaja – A
1996 Sardon Del Duero, Cuvee el Campanario, Abadia Retuerta – B+

1975 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard – C-
1991 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate – B+
1994 Vineyard 29 Cabernet Sauvignon, Grace Family Vineyard – A
2000 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon, Herb Lamb Vineyard – B+
1996 Opus One – A-
2001 Opus One – B+
2002 Colgin Syrah IX Estate – A-

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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