Tasting Notes from The Emperor

The Emperor’s incredible wine empire is featured in our February 10th Hong Kong Auction in ‘The Return of The Emperor’ (Lots 317-577) , nearly 300 selections (over 100 of DRC!) where every lot is a star! The Emperor has opened some great bottles for me over the years in Hong Kong. Here are a few of the best ones I have shared from The Emperor’s cellar!

The Emperor kept himself and his other guests busy with a magnum of 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil, which was a big, rich, buttery beast, all the more so since it was out of magnum. It was razor sharp and mountainous in its character, long and strong. ‘The longer the better,’ The Emperor sagely advised, and it was easy to see why Clos du Mesnil is the Romanee-Conti of Champagne. This was a laser of Star Wars proportion (98+M).

The Emperor flew back from London just for our dinner together. I felt like a diplomat of significance, so I brought some significant wines accordingly. What I did not bring was the stunning bottle of 1976 Dom Perignon with which we started. One accurately noted, ‘crushed walnuts and quince peel.’ It was creamy and lush with nice apple juice flavors and a touch of burnt granulated sugar. It was tasty, round and fresh, still youthful but about as good as it will ever get (95).

The Emperor definitely started with a 1-2 punch, as the next wine was a 1996 DRC Montrachet. Damn. This was an extraordinary bottle of white wine, showing that signature botrytis along with that Versailles garden action. Rich, long and buttery, this was still young by DRC Monty standards, as most are more developed by age twenty. There was this stony, mahogany edge that melted into an oily finish. The wine kept getting richer, and it developed this sexy, smoky caramel quality (98).

We inched into the reds with a 1937 Haut Brion. While the 1930s is generally considered a lost decade when it comes to Bordeaux, this HB showed admirably. It had a complex nose with aromas of caramel, bookshelf, mocha and some forest. Its palate was creamy and lush, fresh yet mature. There were candle wax kisses to its palate and nice leather on its finish, along with a touch of signature gravel. Secondary flavors of celery soda and molasses rounded out this toasty Haut Brion (94).

The 1928 Leoville Las Cases was recorked by Whitwham’s, a British company I believe, back when recorking was a little less controversial. The LLC had a chocolaty and earthy nose, and some green crept out. Vanilla and cream joined the party, and the longer tannins of the legendary ’28 vintage really shined. There was still finesse to this glassy red, and while the length and finish were superior to the Haut Brion, the character was not (93).

We went back to HB with a 1959 Haut Brion, which had a great nose that possessed rich cedar and smokehouse aromas and loads of cassis. There were black, smoky fruits here, along with rich, buttery flavors with lots of tobacco and more cassis. Iron aromas emerged, along with band-aid and Worcestershire flavors in a tertiary way. There was solid acid to this rock star Haut Brion (97).

The next wine was also from 1959, and ‘the best bottle I ever had,’ per Dr. Feelgood. I think he meant the particular wine, but it could have been every bottle ever as this 1959 Lafite Rothschild was staggeringly good. This was classic in every sense of the word. The cedar, the wheat, the pencil…this was a rich and thick wine that was as good as Bordeaux gets. Sebastien found it ‘deep,’ and there was super sweet fruit with a dry edge. The Emperor found it ‘flawless’ (99).

Now the Emperor was just showing off, pulling out a spectacularly good bottle of 1982 Le Pin. I have an on-again, off-again love affair with Le Pin. Some vintages are everything I could ever want, yet others I find disappointing, bordering on uninteresting. This ’82 was an exciting bottle. ‘From strength to strength,’ was said, and this was a perfect bottle. It was rich, chocolaty, chunky and lush. Chocolate merged into chocolate bar in the mouth, with more raisin and nut flavors. I never had an ’82 Le Pin this good; it was delicious (97).

The Emperor pulled out a 1971 Roumier Musigny. That’s why he is the Emperor. Someone compared it to ‘God singing in the glass.’ It definitely had an incredible, wow nose. There was so much brightness here, along with amazing spice and red citrus fruits. A thick forest added complexity. There was just a hint of autumn in its flavors, along with a kiss of BBQ. There was beautiful freshness to this satiny, sexy wine. ‘Stones up’ (97).

The Emperor started rolling – now it was a 1985 DRC Romanee Conti. There was gorgeous fruit in the nose with sweet red honey, garden and cherry. Fresh, citrus flavors and a kiss of good dirt accompanied green cedar and tobacco. There was lots of earth expressing itself more and more in the mouth, with more tobacco coming out. Some preferred the ’85 best over time compared to the Roumier, but the Roumier thrilled more initially (97).

The 1968 Vega Sicilia Unico was a nice way to end the evening. Its unique, leathery and kinky aromas and flavors showed off that edgy Tempranillo edge, but it was still so young and purple. This was an absolutely delicious wine, classic Vega and perhaps its finest vintage ever (96+).

The Emperor has been a dear friend of mine, one whose kind heart and soul has translated into so many great times together. This is one of the greatest collections I know in Hong Kong, filled with many bottles such as the ones above. I hope you enjoy what is on offer this Friday night in our Hong Kong auction and can add a few bottles from The Emperor to your own collection!


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