La Tache tasting notes by Allen Meadows (October 2003)
2000La Tâche: Quite deeply colored with the classic La Tâche nose of dried rose petals plus a fantastic array of aromas and spices too numerous to even try to describe that lead to fine, detailed and beautifully textured flavors and terrific length. This is not a La Tâche for the ages as it simply doesn’t have the structure and density but it is remarkably complex and has sneaky finishing intensity. I liked this a lot for its superb style, grace and penetrating minerality but those who expect the usual level of power and structure won’t find it in the 2000. This is actually approachable now though it should age for at least a decade, perhaps longer, simply on the incredible balance that it displays. 92/2012-18
1999 La Tâche: Everything that I saw from cask made it into bottle intact and words remain inadequate to describe just how good this wine is. Classic La Tâche in every respect with its incredibly pure, marvelously intense oriental spice box nose, flavors of hoisin and pure pinot extract of indescribable complexity and length. The big tannins are completely wrapped in velvet and the finish simply does not quit. Destined to become one of the all time great vintages of La Tâche. 98/2015-30
1998 La Tâche: (“We are extremely pleased with how this wine has turned out and it should improve for many years to come” – Aubert de Villaine). Stunning nose of red and black fruits, oriental spices, tea and leather notes. Intensely sappy flavor with Burghound.com 127 October 2003 wave after wave of ever changing flavors. The personality here is edgy, cool, confident and pure with the ripe acidity framing the flavors and the finish here is wonderfully focused. 94/2010-18
1997 La Tâche: (“A solid wine in the context of the vintage but it is not a comparative standout” – Aubert de Villaine). Very floral and nicely spicy with elegant, relatively fine flavors that display solid intensity though less body and sappiness than the ’98. There is very good supporting acidity which tends to highlight the lighter but nicely focused, medium weight flavors. A very good rather than great La Tâche. 90/2009-17
1996 La Tâche: (“It’s quite possible that the ’96 will be the longest lived of any La Tâche produced in many years” - Aubert de Villaine). Fantastically pure with the classic spice box, hoisin and soy nose followed by big, rich, very structured flavors that display notes of earth, leather and tea. The tannins are big, ripe and are completely buffered by the sap with length that is simply phenomenal. This remains completely primary in character and seems not to have budged at all since it was bottled. A genuinely great vintage for La Tâche that should improve for another decade and last for 50 years. Very classy juice. 96/2010-20
1995 La Tâche: (“This is in need of at least another 15 years even though it is not particularly structured; be sure to give it plenty of air” - Aubert de Villaine). Stylistically, this borrows elements from both the ’97 and the ’96 as it combines moderate floral notes with most of the spice, soy and hoisin of the ’96 plus the densest flavors of any vintage to this point. The mid- palate doesn’t have quite the same sap of the ’96 and the long, dusty finish offers a hint of chocolate. This too has the potential to be very long lived. 93/2010-20
1994 La Tâche: Aromatically ripe with hints of the classic La Tâche nose but there are also hints of under ripe fruit. The flavors coat the mouth and they are still quite firm and youthful but the back end displays more than a trace of astringency and a healthy dose of austerity. Perfectly good for the vintage but not exceptional. 88/2006-14 (As noted in Issues 4 and 7, I have experienced a fair amount of bottle variation with the ’93).
1993 La Tâche: (“Severe, closed and understated but I am convinced it will be a great La Tâche” - Aubert de Villaine). This too evidences a slight floral quality, and a fascinating mix of earth, leather, tea and spice notes plus an interesting green bark component. The slightly austere, tannic, wonderfully rich flavors are dense, in fact extremely dense with excellent depth and terrific complexity and a finish that seems to go on forever. Though there are now hints of secondary aromas, this remains very young, structured and remarkably intense. When you get the right bottle, the ‘93 can be a real stunner. 95/2008-15
1992 La Tâche: When first opened, the nose is quite floral with a curious geranium component but with air, the aromas evolve toward spice and dried rose petal notes followed by medium weight, rich, nicely sappy flavors of good if not great elegance and length. Really very pretty and very fine in the context of the vintage. 89/now
1991 La Tâche: (“A great wine and it may eventually equal the 1990” - Aubert de Villaine). I have long been an admirer of this wine as it is dazzlingly elegant and very densely fruited with knock out aromas of spice, dried rose petals, clove, anise and black pepper followed by somewhat austere, rich, concentrated and gorgeously persistent flavors. The intensity here is really something to see and it just oozes class and refinement. 96/2007-16
1990 La Tâche: (“A great vintage for La Tâche but several others are its equal, including 1991 and 1999” – Aubert de Villaine). Stunning, massive, full-on, classic La Tâche nose that displays almost unbelievable complexity with so many different elements that it is impossible to even begin to describe them all; the primary components include ethereal and still fresh pinot fruit, clove, knock out spiciness, anise, hoisin, soy and a trace of earth but these elements only hint at the sheer depth. The flavors are big, rich, refined, classy, penetrating and superbly powerful yet everything is in perfect balance and there is more than sufficient sève to balance off the still considerable tannins. The finish is intense, pure and so long that it is haunting; I can literally still taste this wine for days after I’ve had it because it has such a dramatic and emotional impact. This is one of the finest, perhaps even the finest young Burgundy I have ever been privileged to try and it only seems to get better with each passing year. In short, this is absolutely brilliant. 99/2010-30
1989 La Tâche: (“This seems to be stuck in a time capsule as it does not appear to be aging – it clearly needs much more time” - Aubert de Villaine). I completely agree with M. de Villaine’s comments as the ’89 really has not perceptibly budged in the last 5 years as it remains completely primary and while all of the classic La Tâche spice aromas are there, the complexity and depth that most vintages display by age 13 are not yet present. That said, the potential is clearly here as there is real concentration to the very fresh flavors supported by a solidly tannic backbone. One reason I’m persuaded that this will ultimately mature into a fine example in that the finish is extremely complex and long and thus the aromatics should eventually follow. 91/2007-15 This trio was tasted in February, 2003. Burghound.com 128 October 2003
1988 La Tâche: (“A very powerful vintage and still improving and even though this is not too far away from its peak, it should hold for many years” - Aubert de Villaine). Somewhat subdued and reserved on the nose with the classic nose of Asian spices, hoisin, soy and a trace of oak followed by sweet, long, structured and beautifully complex flavors. There is fine length here and the power is impressive. This is still a bit tight but this is finally beginning to unwind. I would give this another 5 to 7 years in the cellar and drink over the next 10 to 15 years. 93/2008-20
1987 La Tâche: This clearly retains its essential La Tâche character as there is lovely spice and surprisingly good volume for the vintage but the austere tannic structure is beginning to dominate and it’s hard to see this ever harmonizing completely. While cellaring the wine further will likely soften the structure, I fear that the fruit will have faded before this occurs. As such, I would be inclined to drink this sooner than later though there is no rush. 87/now to 2012
1986 La Tâche: A wonderfully elegant and pretty nose with fully mature, elegant, fine, ultra spicy aromas framed by the barest hint of sous bois leading to medium weight, relatively fine flavors and a long but fairly tannic finish. This resembles the ’87 in the sense that time will eventually resolve the tannic structure but it’s hard to see the nose ever improving from here. This is an undeniable success for a difficult vintage. 89/now to 2007 (I have had the opportunity of tasting the ’85 on more than a dozen occasions, including large format bottles and I have frankly never understood its acclaim. To be sure, it’s a perfectly good La Tâche but when I see the eye-popping prices that it routinely brings at auction, I personally find this nothing short of remarkable as there are clearly better vintages available for substantially less. In fact, Aubert de Villaine has more than once expressed his mystification to me regarding the near mythic popularity of the ’85 as well).
1985 La Tâche: (“A vintage of pleasure but it offers less class and nobility than the best vintages; completely ready to drink” – Aubert de Villaine). As I noted above in my comments, the ’85 is a fine La Tâche but well short of profound with lovely spice but completely mature aromas and nicely complex, full resolved flavors and a long, fine and pure finish. There is no benefit to holding the ‘85 further and even from magnum format, I would be inclined to begin looking for occasions to enjoy it; to be clear, it’s not in decline but it is as good as it’s ever going to be. 90/now to 2010 (The 1980 and 1981 were tasted in May, 2003 and both showed exceptionally well).
1981 La Tâche: Classic La Tâche nose of Asian spice and dried rose petals followed by medium weight, beautifully complex flavors of excellent depth and fine length. While this is by no means a great example, it is as good a 1981 as I've had in a long time and drinking perfectly now though certainly capable of holding if not improving. 91/now Note: I've experienced some bottle variation that may or may not have been due to storage.
1980 La Tâche: This leaps from the glass with soaring and ultra elegant, superbly spicy, completely mature aromas followed by medium weight, rich, detailed, wonderfully complex flavors and a finish that displays earth and a touch of the animale. This has begun to lighten now but it remains a wine of exquisite subtlety that is almost ethereal in its purity. By no means a wine of power but I find this to be a real stunner with one of the two or three best noses in this entire range of vintages. Completely ready to drink though it’s holding well. This strongly vies for wine-of-the-vintage honors. 94/now The ’78 is another vintage of La Tâche that I have had the pleasure of watching evolve for quite a number of years. It has reached a point in its evolution that quality storage has become paramount because less than pristine bottles are marred by excessive sous bois notes.
1978 La Tâche: (“1978 is a great vintage and very rich; perfect now”. Aubert de Villaine. Meadows: 1978 was marked by a miserable growing season and it wasn’t until the last 3 weeks before the harvest where very hot weather set in and essentially saved the vintage. The Domaine did not begin picking until October 16, an incredibly late date by today’s standards, when it is rare to see anyone picking in October. 1978 is incontrovertibly the greatest vintage up to 1993, easily surpassing 1985, 1988 and 1989 and edging out 1990. Whether 1993 will eventually be its equal still remains to be seen.). Strong hoisin, soy and Asian spice notes but this is finally beginning to thin just a bit after a long run of drinking perfectly. The flavors remain the concentrated, sweet, very rich essence of mature burg with superb length and quality depth though it no longer possesses the detail and finesse it once did. This is still a wonderful wine but it has seen its best days as the alcohol is now showing strongly and it should be drunk over the next 5 years. 92/now to 2007 or so
1971 La Tâche: (“This vintage produced the highest sugars I have ever seen; the ’71 is a very powerful wine though not necessarily the best balanced. I particularly like the combination of power and finesse and it’s ready now” - Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: 1971 produced a great many extremely rich and ripe wines of excellent concentration because there was so much millerandage, or very small berries that deliver a very high proportion of dry extract relative to the amount of juice. The crop in general was very small and the Domaine began harvesting on September 27. There was a good deal of hail though interestingly, the La Tâche seems to show almost no effect whereas the Romanée-Conti is clearly marked by it.). Compared to two prior bottles tasted in the last 12 months, this was positively explosive and delivered everything one would reasonably Burghound.com 129 October 2003
expect and more from a great, fully mature Burgundy. Classic and very ripe old burg fruit intermingles with a wonderful array of spices, especially anise and soy all framed by a touch of caramel. The flavors are extremely rich, sweet and wonderfully concentrated with a deep, very sweet essence of pinot finish that still retains glimpses of its former power. The tannins are fully resolved and the finish is nothing but pure silk and velvet. Prior bottles have been in the 92 to 94 point range. This bottle: 95/now to 2010
1969 La Tâche: (“Our ’69s were extremely seductive when young and retained this characteristic for the first 15 years or so of their lives as they were blessed with very ripe and clean flavors and supple tannins. However, they were never meant for a long life and should be drunk up as they perhaps lack a bit of acidity.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: I have always liked the ‘69s, finding them for years to be almost as good as the ‘66s as well as being a first class terroir vintage as the wines were always beautifully transparent. Interestingly, the vintage as a whole was noted for its acidity while the Domaine’s wines do seem to be a good deal less vibrant than many of the best wines of the vintage. In short, a fine vintage in general but not a great one for the Domaine. As an aside, 1969 is in my view the decisive vintage for Burgundy in terms of it once and for all breaking free of the English wine trade’s insistence on linking the quality of Bordeaux and Burgundy as the ’69 Bordeaux were incontestably boring). The classic La Tâche nose remains intact with sweet Asian spices and plenty of secondary development and rich, medium weight flavors that are beginning to lean out and the finish is now displaying some edgy acidity poking through. The tannins are largely resolved but again, they come up on the finish and the sweetness is not quite enough to completely buffer them. In short, this is good but no longer exceptional and unless you have bottles that have been stored under near glacial conditions, the time has come to drink up. 89/now
1966 La Tâche: (“We had excellent harvest conditions, beginning on October 5th with a perfectly clean crop and good quantity. In short, it was perfect in every way and we did virtually no triage (sorting) work. Here at the Domaine, we produced very powerful wines and the wines are blessed with good acidity and they’re not lacy but rather solid and dense. While the ’66 La Tâche is drinking well now, it will continue to hold.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: Despite the fact that this was a tough growing season, 1966 is generally the third best vintage of the decade behind 1962 and 1964 but ahead of
1969; that said, for the Domaine itself, the ‘66s are perhaps a touch better than the ‘64s but clearly behind the ‘62s. The aspect of the ‘66s that I admire the most is the richness and in my view, the ‘66s were not surpassed at DRC until the ‘78s. Most ‘66s are tiring and it is only the very best wines, stored in impeccable conditions, that still convey the true quality of the vintage). Some bricking though the center is still ruby. The wonderfully elegant nose is still quite fresh with some remaining vestiges of primary fruit though it has now largely passed into secondary aromas trimmed in the classic La Tâche spice and plenty of anise, clove and hoisin notes. The rich, full-bodied, beautifully detailed flavors display a slight edginess to them as there are the beginning traces of acidity poking through on the snappy finish. To be sure, there is plenty of richness and velvet to buffer most of the acidity but it may not for very much longer. Still, a real beauty of a wine and one that is perhaps slightly more reserved than many vintages. 92/now
1964 La Tâche: (“1964 was a big harvest that was very ripe and like ’66, we had excellent harvest conditions, which began on October 4th. Our wines are still drinking well and there is no rush to finish them. They were wonderful young with plenty of finesse yet good body and a lovely tenderness to them. I am completely enamored of our ‘64s.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: I would echo the comments of M. de Villaine as ’64 has always been a very rich vintage, for both reds and whites, that for years lived in the shadows of the reputation of a rainy and iffy ’64 Bordeaux vintage. The Domaine made excellent ‘64s though again, they are as a group behind the superb ‘62s and very fine ‘66s. Indeed, a recent head to head tasting of the ’64 and ’62 Richebourg clearly favored the ’62). Remarkably, this was still tight and backward aromatically though with air, the hallmark La Tâche spiciness began to emerge along with simply a superb range of complex aromas that are still quite fresh; indeed, it was akin to an aromatic fireworks show that rivals the ’59 and ’62 for best in the tasting. Likewise, the flavors were somewhat narrow at first but when they finally got rolling, the richness and depth were incredible and while this remains a structured wine, there are no hard edges. The finish is full, sweet and incredibly long and this is holding well. A flat out terrific performance. 97/now but be sure to give it air
1962 La Tâche : (“The ’62 is a point of reference for me a nd one of the greatest examples of La Tâche ever in my experience. The essential character of the wine is clearly one of discretion but it is, in my view, a simply brilliant example and one that is for me truly a measure by which all other vintages of La Tâche will be judged. The ’99 may very well surpass it but that remains to be seen.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: Though it required over 30 years before collectors finally caught on, 1962 has clearly emerged as the finest vintage of the decade, edging out 1964 and 1966. Interestingly, 1962 was not particularly well regarded for many years and even an average plus vintage like 1961 was regarded more highly. The growing season was cool until August and it rained in September, which further delayed the harvest. The general ban de vendange was declared on October 8th but the Domaine did not begin its harvest until the 15th. As to the Domaine, 1962 is indeed one of the greatest vintages of this storied place though it perhaps has never received the acclaim of certain others, probably because it is not a powerful, rich and massive vintage but rather one of delicatesse and understatement yet the purity of expression is almost unrivaled. A recent bottle of the ’62 Richebourg was simply magnificent). Even better than the bottle I had at the April, 2002 Acker tasting and words simply cannot express the astonishing aromatic complexity and for me this is the most complex nose of any vintage reviewed here. Much like the ’71, the flavors no longer have the sap and power they once did but the purity and detail are mind boggling. Silky, refined and altogether classy with a finish that goes on and on. This is a wine of drama and emotion - in short, quintessential La Tâche that is knee-bending in its brilliance and while there is no reason to wait, it appears to have the stamina to last for another decade at this level. In short, this is a genuinely complete wine of absolute genius. 99/now to 2010
1961 La Tâche: (“In 1961 we bottled barrel by barrel and there was still quite a bit of gas in the wines. Also, not all of the lees were clean near the bottom and thus we’ve experienced more bottle variation than we’re happy about. However, good bottles are very impressive if not quite so good as the ‘62s.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: The ’61 red Burgundy vintage was for many years quite highly regarded though I suspect that this had more to do with the stellar reputation of their Bordeaux brethren than the wines themselves. Yields were low, lower than ’62 or ’64 and slightly lower than ’69. To be sure, the wines were quite good through the 1970s and most of the 1980s but I have never thought the vintage was much above average. Today however, most of the ‘61s are tiring. The Domaine, which began the harvest on October 7th, made fine ‘61s and in my experience, the La Tâche was the best of the range, easily surpassing a good but not better Romanée-Conti. In fact, a recent bottle of La Tâche was simply spectacular, holding its own if not surpassing a perfect bottle of the ’43). The bottle at the tasting was lovely but tiring and took over 90 minutes to really begin to open. Another bottle tasted in May, 2003 was much better with the following note: A simply stunning nose of sheer elegance and incredible breed with all of the spice, hoisin, soy, dried rose petal and sweet earth notes imaginable followed by rich, full, wonderfully complex flavors that dance across the palate, ending in superb length. The only nit is that it is starting to thin out now on the backend, revealing a touch of acidity. Otherwise, this is a brilliant example for the vintage and it towers over the Romanée-Conti, also recently tasted at the Domaine. While it is certainly holding well and will continue to do so, there is no advantage to holding this further. By far the best example I have ever had of this wine. 94/now
1959 La Tâche: (“1959 was a big harvest with an extremely ripe, very mature crop that we brought in earlier than was usual in that era, which is to say September 25th. Our wines drank well for the first 20 years of their lives but now they should be drunk. The vintage reminds me a lot of 1990.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: I have always loved the ‘59s and it was one of the vintages that so seduced me to the charms of Burgundy when I took my first tentative steps down the road that leads to Burgundy in the 1970s. Though ’59 is not the greatest of post-war vintages, it is one of the very top as the wines are complete, rich, intense and possess truly extraordinary depth and power and remarkably enough, the best ’59s are still going strong. In short, 1959 would make my list as one of the top 10 vintages of the century. The ’59 La Tâche has always been a relatively tannic and robust wine though the last bottle that I had some years ago was drinking well). Relatively discreet and understated yet fantastically complex nose of fully mature and secondary fruit aromas liberally laced with caramel, earth and the classic La Tâche oriental spice notes that merge seamlessly into incredibly rich, dense and pure flavors of stunning depth and length and the only, extremely minor nit is a touch of alcoholic warmth on the finish. Otherwise, this is flawless and drinking perfectly with nothing but sheer silk and velvet in the mouth. A brilliant effort that is as good as it’s ever going to be. I would be inclined to find a reason to drink up sooner than later. 96/now to 2010
1955 La Tâche: (“The ‘55s were perfectly good wines at the Domaine if not really distinguished. There was an Indian summer with a medium size crop and we began harvesting on the 14th of October.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: The 1955 vintage was average at best and I have had relatively few standouts with the exception of a few of the Leroy wines, in particular the Chambertin. Most ‘55s today are showing somewhat roasted and stewed notes and should be approached with caution. I have no recent experience with the ’55 La Tâche though a bottle in the late 1980s was quite good if not better). Heavy bricking with no ruby left. This was quite funky at first but with extended air, it eventually revealed aromas of anise, spice, clove and the barest trace of sous bois and earth notes, leading to rich, still nicely intense flavors that finish with a mouth coating texture of pure velvet. While the richness is admirable, the freshness is now gone and if it is held much longer, the wine will undoubtedly devolve into entirely tertiary aromas and flavors. Drink up. 90/now
1952 La Tâche: (“1952 was a very good year. We began the harvest on September 29th, bringing in a ripe and clean crop. I have always liked the purity of the La Tâche though I have not tasted it in a long time.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: 1952 is a mixed vintage as I’ve had some spectacular wines though most now are tiring, which is no surprise after fully 50 years. It is a very tannic vintage and in certain respects, resembles the ’52 Bordeaux in style. My most recent experience with a ‘52 from DRC was a bottle of Richebourg, tasted in 2001 at the Domaine itself, which was holding well with plenty of life left). Quite brown with no trace of ruby or even orange left with really pungent volatile acidity. This is clearly not what it should have been and I have no other recent experience. Not Rated 1949 La Tâche: (“1949 was closed for years and years and even a bottle tasted in 1972 was still closed. However, once it opened it showed just how magnificent it is and it is undoubtedly one of the finest vintages we at the Domaine have ever produced. The wines are still solid and spicy yet with real breed and class.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: 1949 is for me the greatest post-war vintage of all, combining perfect balance, elegance, transparency, power and richness in the way that only great Burgundy can. The malos were extremely long for the extremely small crop and while some prefer the incredible richness of ’47 or the power of ’45, for this observer, the ‘49s are what great Burgundy is all about. No recent notes on any of the Domaine’s wines but in the ‘80s, I had several bottles that are among the greatest wines I have ever tasted). The first bottle opened had a very low fill and not surprisingly was quite oxidized – essentially dead on arrival. Our host graciously consented to open a second and it too show some oxidative notes but not to the point where it completely dominated the nose as there was enough complexity to be enjoyable because of the sheer richness on the palate. The round, supple, still nicely powerful flavors were extraordinarily rich with terrific depth though showing some signs of surmaturité and a lack of vibrancy. This bottle may very have had storage issues and based on prior bottles of the ‘49 (see my comment above), it wouldn’t surprise me. 88/now
1947 La Tâche: (“The 1947 harvest was extremely hot and since we did not have any effective ways of cooling the musts, the fermentations happened quickly. Interestingly, despite the extremely warm harvest, the wines have breed and class and are not over ripe. They are however ready and storage is extremely important because otherwise the ‘47s are tired.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: 1947 is the greatest year since 1929 in my view, surpassing ’34, ’37 and ’45 though few ‘47s have held up as well as any of these vintages as it wasn’t not nearly as tannic. The crop was extremely clean and for this era, the harvest began in mid-September, which is incredibly early. Still, the vinification presented some problems and while the heights of the vintage are as good as ’45 or ’49, it is less consistent. No recent notes on any of the Domaine’s wines though a bottle of ’47 La Tâche drunk in the late 1980s was still alive and well and most impressive). Moderate bricking but not yet completely to the center. As one would expect, the nose is extremely ripe with hints of volatile acidity though not so much as to be off putting yet there is something less than completely clean here. The flavors however are sweet, velvety, wonderfully rich with surprising vibrancy and length. This is delicious and is now moving into that essence of pinot phase that older burgundy sometimes does. Still, the wine’s power suggests that it is not yet ready to go gracefully into that vinous good night and if well stored, I would expect bottles to continue to show well. That said, there is clearly no reason to wait. 89/now
1945 La Tâche: (“It’s generally not appreciated but there was hail damage but even so, we had an exceptionally good, extremely small harvest because of the frost during floraison. We made extremely good wines but I don’t believe they are truly great and most of them are tiring now.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: One of the greatest of the post war vintages and certainly one of the longest lived. It was the last year for Romanée-Conti on the old pre-phylloxera vines as they were grubbed up after the harvest. I have had any number of fine old ‘45s though many of them today are still tannic but have lost the freshness of their fruit and most have, not surprisingly, become entirely secondary and tertiary in character. The ’45 La Tâche though has an immense reputation, second only to the incredibly rare and legendary ’45 Romanée-Conti). Bricked all the way to the center with some brownish tint creeping in. The nose here is extremely advanced with pronounced tertiary aromas that hint at the spice that was once there, all liberally laced with strong earth notes and noticeable VA (volatile acidity). Happily though, the flavors are still remarkably pure and seriously complex with a spicy, velvety, moderately tannic finish. On the palate, this is still a gorgeous wine but one that is clearly in decline and I can’t see any reason to delay drinking it sooner than later. 94/now
1943 La Tâche: (“I love the ’43s and especially La Tâche. It was a true war time vintage with almost no intervention of any kind; there was no sugar for chaptalization or anything else for work in the vineyards. The best examples of the vintage are pure and fine and well stored bottles are great. I would call the ’43 La Tâche a serene wine.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: 1943 is one of those surprising vintages in that nothing went particularly well during the growing season with frost in the spring and hail in July yet I have tasted a number of solid wines, including a sensational bottle or two of the ’43 La Tâche. It is clearly the best of the war time vintages, not including of course ’45 which everyone considers to be a “vintage of the peace”. I’ve tasted the ’43 La Tâche twice in the last month, when it’s from good storage is nothing short of phenomenal; a bottle of ’43 Richebourg, also tasted last month, was classy and pure but tiring). Simply mind boggling complexity and I feel almost silly trying to describe the sheer breadth of spice aromas, nuanced dried flower notes and sweet incense hints all framed in anise and earth. The full-bodied, velvety, indeed silky flavors are deep, rich and incredibly complex and offer superb mouth coating sap and stupendous length. This took every bit of 30 minutes to open but once it finally got going, it just kept expanding and growing and while this does not have the power of the '45, it is an extremely impressive effort, especially for the vintage. 95/now
1942 La Tâche: (“1942 was a perfectly good if not exceptional vintage for the Domaine and again, there was no intervention of any kind. We harvested relatively late, which enable us to harvest grapes with sufficiently high sugars to make quality wine but this was not the case everywhere.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: I’ve had some very good bottles of the ’42, the last as recently as last month but even at its best, it’s not as good as the ’43. The harvest started early, in fact on the 13th of September but the grapes were under ripe and it was only the few growers like DRC who waited that made anything of real interest. The vintage might have been better regarded had there been sugar to chaptalize it but alas, there wasn’t). While still very pretty and beautifully complex on the nose, this particular bottle wasn't especially fresh and the flavors, while again intact with no sous bois in evidence, were rich but a bit tired. I've had better bottles and they range from 87-90 points; all are drinking perfectly now. 89/now
1937 La Tâche: (“1937 is a very concentrated vintage, certainly more so than any of the other vintages of the 1930s, including 1934. At the Domaine, I view our ‘37s as some of the finest we have ever made because even though there is great richness, it is complemented by excellent spice and a seductive delicatesse.” Meadows: 1937 produced some incredible wines and remarkably enough 65 years later, wines that are still youthful and quite tannic. They were closed for decades though seemed to begin opening up in the 1980s, an incredible 50 years later. As a vintage, ’34 is better regarded but at the Domaine itself, it appears that ’37 gets the nod with ’37 being more backward, concentrated and tannic whereas ’34 created more elegant, purer yet lighter wines). This bottle, most unfortunately, was oxidized beyond recognition and was completely undrinkable. Not rated.
1929 Les Gaudichots: (“1929 is a sublime vintage and along with 1999, is perhaps the greatest vintage we have ever made. If the wines have been well stored, they are still young and should continue to last for years.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: 1929 is undoubtedly one of the century’s greatest vintages, ranking toe-to-toe with 1915, 1923, 1949 and 1959 though at this level of perfection, it seems a bit silly to try and rank one vintage over another. As an side, it was the second in a series of good to great vintages ending in the number 9 and only 1909 and 1939 being true disappointments. The genius of ’29 is its ability to combine a forward and generous nature with elegance, purity, concentrated flavors that have more than withstood the test of time. An all time classic vintage). Heavy bricking but still ruby in the center. This began with a slightly funky nose that eventually blew off to reveal wonderfully expressive, rich, almost liqueur-like aromas with evident spice nuances on the now almost completely tertiary aromas. Despite the well-matured nature of the aromatics, the nose is not tired or fading but rather quite vibrant and virile, indeed somewhat reminiscent of an octogenarian distance runner that never seems to tire. The rich, velvety, silky flavors are lacy and detailed with a fascinating blend of complexity and power plus plenty of old vine sap on the terrifically long back end. This would have been one of the show stoppers of the night had it not been paired with the equally amazing ’23. This is still a gem and holding perfectly; in short, there is no rush. 95/now
1923 La Tâche: (Nicolas bottling). (“The 1923 vintage continues to amaze me as it doesn’t ever seem to change and thus it may live forever. I’m kidding in a sense but the wine has been like this since the day that I met it and the best way I can describe it is to say that it is not a young wine but neither is it an old wine. It’s truly an exceptionally good vintage for us.” Aubert de Villaine; Meadows: Many old Burgundians still talk about the 1923 vintage as one of the top two or three vintages of the century. It was one of the smallest harvests in the history of the Côte d’Or with a very cold and wet spring followed by a hot and dry summer. The crop was small but extremely clean and very ripe with incredible concentration and plenty of buffering sap. I have had only one other ’23 from the Domaine, the Romanée-Conti, which I had in May along side the 1921. It was spectacular and still youthful though I had the barest of preference for the ’21). Much like the ’23 Romanée-Conti tasted earlier this year, this is amazingly youthful with some bricking but still plenty of deep ruby in the middle. Cola, Asian spices, earth, anise, hoisin, clove, cinnamon stick and some secondary fruit notes that are extremely ripe and rich lead to big, powerful, fantastically deep flavors blessed with buckets of sap. There is the barest hint of acidity and still some firm tannins on the finish but the sheer elegance and impeccable balance make this an extraordinary wine. This is still on cruise control and while it will not improve from here, which is itself an amazing statement for an 80 year old wine, there is certainly no rush to drink up. In short, a pure and incontestably pristine example of greatness. 97/now