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Ponsot, Clos de la Roche..... Janos, Tokaji Eszencia.....


Friday night dinner at home with Bobby & Bea Cotton and their young daughter Sara - our visiting good friends from Switzerland - and Miriam, their friend and host in Israel.
Wonderful food [courtesy of Dorit], really fine wines and cosy atmosphere all contributed to a very lovely evening.

Shrimps and calamari in warm vinaigrette sauce with avocado and tomato salad with coriander
1989 Chevalier Montrachet, Jean Chartron
Sweet potatoes cream soup with nutmeg and vermouth
1994 Rioja, Ramirez de Ganuza
Calf liver with bacon and truffled puree
1988 Clos de la Roche, Ponsot
Cheese and fruit plate
Souffle Grand Marnier
1983 Tokaji 'Eszencia', Janos

As I have reviewed both the Chartron 1989 Chevalier Montrachet and the Ramirez de Ganuza 1994 Rioja in the past [both 18.5-19/20 wines!], I'll concentrate here in the other two wines.
Clos de la Roche 1988 Dom. Ponsot

12/2000. Acquired at auction Sep-99 for $180.
Ponsot Clos de la Roche can be among the very best wines in the world! When this inflexible Domaine gets it right - their rendition is second to none. Point in case are the 1983 1985 and [so they say] the 1995.
This is my first taste and my only bottle of the 1988.
COLOR: Really light brownish-red, pale even for a (B) wine. Noticeable clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Beautiful forward nose that is completely harmonious. Ripe red fruit, some leather, wet forest floor and a fine 'Bourgogne Nose'. Fragrant, though not particularly powerful or expressive. Not your typical Ponsot Clos de la Roche.
TASTE: Surprisingly smooth and delicate, almost fragile on the palate. Sweetish mature fruit, wholesome and elegant. Medium concentration and somewhat lacking in grip. Still, very stylish and extremely tasty.
LENGTH: Medium but very satisfying finish.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied Grand Cru. More mature and forward than what I'd expect. Good fruit and plenty of winyness but almost devoid of tannins (and this is the very tannic 1988!). Subtle and delicate though, with a good backbone and fine balance.
OVERALL: Very fine if not really on par with the '83 or '85. Will keep a few more years but I doubt if it will get any better.
MARK: 18/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Maybe.

Tokaji Aszu 'Eszencia' 1983 Arvay Janos

12/2000. Bought in Budapest Oct-98 for $60.
The ultimate Tokaji. The 'Aszu Eszencia' is a Tokaji made solely from the Aszu (i.e late harvested Botrytis-affected) grapes without blending them with a base (dry) wine.
I have once tasted a glass of 'Eszencia' in Budapest, but never opened a full (500 cc) bottle, and a 17-years-old one at that.
Janos Arvay is considered among the top Tokaji producers. Common wisdom has it that Tokaji production during the communist era was of notoriously low quality. I am not sure though weather this applied to the highest grades too. We'll see...
COLOR: Very distinct orange-red color. Looks viscous and fat.
NOSE: Medium-keyed nose of apricot, lychee and honey. A whiff of sherry-like madeirization is apparent but not at all distracting. Interesting, pleasant and unlike any other wine.
TASTE: Super concentrated and extremely sweet, somewhat balanced by searing acidity though. White fruits and jam easily conquer one's taste buds. Almost too much of a good thing on the palate.
LENGTH: Very long and persistent honeyed aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied dessert wine. Decent alcohol level of 12% (and remember, this is not a fortified wine!), extremely concentrated with the good acidity making an effort - that is not altogether successful - to balance off the immense sweetness.
OVERALL: Superb! An interesting and tasty wine that is completely different from anything I have ever encountered.
MARK: 18.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.