The 100 point Wine (?)

I’ve always thought that awarding a wine 100 points…..or 20/20 if you prefer the traditionally British scoring system – to be rather egotistical.   When declaring something to be perfect, it seems to me that you are also indicating that you believe you have absolute knowledge about that item.  That you know, absolutely, categorically that it could not be improved upon.

And I don’t claim to know that.  So I don’t give 100 point scores.

Not even privately, in my head.

Yesterday I attended a dinner with two friends at which we were lucky enough to drink extraordinary wines.   Three Burgundies and one Bordeaux.   It was one of those dinners that makes you laugh out loud at the absurdity of your good fortune.  “How on earth did I end up here, doing this, today ? ? ?”

My heartfelt thanks to those friends that made this evening possible.

As regards the wines themselves, one might argue we did everything wrong:  the red wines were served simultaneously, inviting invidious comparisons between three special red wines – which certainly all merited being considered alone.  The wines were as follows:

1999    Puligny Montrachet, Les Enseignieres, Coche Dury (94/100)

Medium yellow gold.   Bright and lively, yet full coloured.  Having had this wine before I should have had the courage of my convictions and asked the excellent sommelier (at The Square) to decant it a couple of hours in advance:  it seemed slightly jaded initially but tightened and freshened and revealed more and more fruit in the glass.  Really lovely; but not typically ‘Coche’ for me – this is broad, orangey ripe, creamy.  But after some time in the glass not a bit jaded.   Bang on.

1989 Château Pétrus, Pomerol (98/100)

Hugely fragrant with that Pétrus scent that I’d (try to) describe as Asian spice, smokey nuts and clove.  I kept on picking up different nuances over the course of the evening – one minute I picked up fennel seed, then cumin or curry leaf, the next liquorice, tar, toffee.  Sometimes fruity; sometimes waxy, leathery and just a bit feral !  Very concentrated, very deep and very powerful on the palate.  Almost too much of a good thing: huge opulence; flavours of blueberry, spice, plum pudding, caramel, aniseed, and saffron.  Finishes very powerfully with savoury toffee.  Colossal.  I love it, but I couldn’t drink a bottle by myself.

2005 Chambertin, Domaine Armand Rousseau (96++?/100)

….At this moment in time, this is by far the tightest and most restrained of the three reds which we drank. Which doubtless did it a disservice. As the evening went on, this was developing beautifully in the glass.  Indeed – if we’d opened it 24 hours in advance (or given it 20 years in cellar, much more appropriately !) this could well have been the standout wine, but today it was all in reserve.  But lovely, nonetheless.   Reticent initially, then mineral, with hints of cinnamon, raspberry and leaf.   Later on I picked up notes of stem, smoke and rose petal.  Very long and palate saturating, with almost citric purity. Crisp red berries, maybe. Long, bitingly concentrated finish.  But not especially giving or generous today, you sense that this needs time:  a lot of it !

2005 La Tâche, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti  (100/100 (!) (?))  

I had my first mouthful of this after finishing a glass of Pétrus and was rendered speechless.

Almost unbelievably, not only does it rival or exceed Pétrus 89 for sheer power and intensity (!),  – it has a rapier like delineation and focus, that makes it seem…..just….more.  Irrespective of region; irrespective of age.    I just can’t imagine there being a more perfect young wine.   There couldn’t be, could there ?  The intense scent of 2005 La Tache was in perpetual flux over the course of the evening.  Initially I picked up herbaceous elements of hawthorn, briar, and even mint or menthol.  Later it seemed to have acquired all sorts of notes of spice, gravel and smoke.  On the palate this is combines enormous scale, silky texture, painful intensity and total precision.   Totally, totally fresh, vibrant, rich, and even now, at what you might expect to be an awkwardly early point in its evolution, it is breathtakingly brilliant.

Coche, Petrus, Rousseau, Tache