Vintage Tastings

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A record of some of the world's best and most historic wine events ever held, as captured by the one and only John Kapon.

What Are Vintage Tastings?

John Kapon's Vintage Tastings are a collection of memories and experiences taken to paper, the result of a commitment to recording the ephemeral art and privilege of tasting fine wine.

Although ratings are based on a 100 point scale, JK believes there is no such thing as a 100 point wine. Point scores assigned to each wine are his own intensely personal attempts to quantify the quality of each experience.

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JK's Top Wines of 2017

  Wine Score Tasting Notes
1 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild 99+pts For our ‘Greatest Wines Weekend,’ which featured about 100 of the World’s finest and rarest wines ever made, there was one wine that stood above the rest: the 1945 Mouton Rothschild.  It remains on my all time Top Ten list, and it doesn’t look to be leaving any time soon.  “There had to be one wine of the weekend, and it might as well have been the 1945 Mouton Rothschild.  ‘OH YEAH’ is how my notes started.  This wine was everything it could be and should be, an absolutely perfect bottle.  It was nutty with aromas of caramel, cream, cedar and carob.  This was sexy everywhere, tall dark and handsome, all that and then some.  This was a superman amongst boys, and it still felt like it had a long way to go.  It ended up being wine of the weekend.
2 1990 Henri (for Georges) Jayer Echezeaux 99pts Any bottle of Jayer is now officially a special occasion.  A recent bottle in Tokyo of 1995 Jayer Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, which I never even knew existed, proved to be an exhilarating bottle, punching above its weight class and then some.  A bottle of 1990 Henri (for Georges) Jayer Echezeaux was even more so, thanks to the cellar of Wilf Jaeger at a recent ‘Hommage a Wolfgang Grunewald’ dinner in LA.  I need to write that dinner up.  “Spectacular!!!  Aromas and flavors of purple, grape, currant and blackberry put on a show.  Spectacular kept appearing in my notes, as did great balance between its fruit and acidity.  This was a long and strong wine, and I couldn’t stop drinking it despite two other superlative 1990s in the flight, those being Rousseau and Leroy Chambertins.  There is Burgundy, and there is Henri Jayer.
3 1971 DRC La Tache 99pts I, along with many Burgundy lovers I know, have long been partial to 1971s, especially when they are DRCs.  I have this wine about 15-20 times, and 15 or 20 more times would not be enough.  Another of the all-time great La Taches, and something about where it is right now that makes it my favorite of the three 99ers.  “The 1971 DRC La Tache was another perfect bottle, smoky and sexy in every which way.  This was a great, thick wine that exuded greatness.  This wine was full of ceramic spices and had cement on its finish, sleeping with the fishes style.  This was a bottle that ended all discussions, there was no need for life thereafter.  It was ‘so good.
4 1999 DRC La Tache 99pts It is tough to find a wine less than 20 years old better than the 1999 DRC La Tache.  Aubert once told me that the ‘99s might be the best vintage ever made at the Domaine.  Need I say more?  “The legend of all legends, the 1999 DRC La Tache, delivered another near perfect performance.  ‘Amazing,’ was all that needed to be said.  This is one of the greatest Burgundies ever made
4a 1992 Ramonet Montrachet 99pts The Ramonet was toasty, milky and caramel-y, this was a bang zoom kind of wine and one of the greatest white wines ever made.  Flavors of mint, corn, syrup, butter and kinky white chocolate had me talking GOAT.  Maaaaaaaaa.
5 1978 DRC La Tache 99pts I think La Tache is another given for any year’s Top Ten, and so many vintages to choose from.  This year, I only have three : )  Gentleman Jim and Lady Agah brought a perfect bottle to our December Holiday Auction at Bouley in New York City.  We had already had a ’59 Latour, a ’59 Haut Brion, a ’91 Chave Cuvee Cathelin and dozens of other wines.  Nothing except the Cathelin was even close.  Didn’t take a note as notes are tough to take at auctions, but I sure as heck remember.
6 1961 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 99pts There is nothing quite like old Bordeaux.  Yes, for the first 30 years, nothing can compare to Burgundy.  After that, for the next twenty years, it can be a coin flip.  When it comes to fifty years or older, it is tough to beat Bordeaux, and I had a perfect bottle of 1961 La Mission Haut Brion at age 56.  By the way, La Miss might be the best Bordeaux of the 20th Century pound for pound, vintage after vintage.  “I wrote, ‘so great’ three times.  Its charcoal, gravel and leather married perfectly with its mature fruit flavors of cassis, blackberry and chocolate.  The character of this wine really stood out.  It just felt like another class of wine whether weight or society.  This was an anytime, anywhere bottle
7 1921 Chateau d'Yquem 99pts It’s amazing how people forget how good Yquem is.  I get it, it’s tough to drink a whole bottle of sweet wine, you really need an entourage.  But when you get a great old one, it is tough to beat, especially at the end of a night.  Even a young one, starting with 2001.  A bottle of 1921 Yquem proved epic this year, although my notes weren’t epic due to a massive number of bottles consumed beforehand.  “There were a few epic sweet wines served at the end of this epic lunch, a 1921 Yquem (99), a 1863 Taylor Single Harvest Port (98) and a 1900 Krohn Reserva Port (97), I think.  Game, set, match.  I was no match for The Maestro, but I am definitely game to try again
8 1989 Chateau Petrus 99pts Another “regular” on any of my Top Ten lists is the 1989 Petrus.  I can’t wait to have it every year for the rest of my life.  “‘Humdinger, Part 2,’ was next, that being the 1989 Petrus.  While half the tasters preferred the HB, one-third preferred the Petrus, including me.  The Mogul found it ‘opulent,’ and it most certainly was.  This was another decadent wine, but in that Pomerol way, textbook in every sense with its purple fruit, heavy cream and chocolate kisses.  As good as it gets, and btw, the 1990 is not in the same category, sorry
9 1988 DRC Romanee Conti 98+pts Unfortunately, I think the 1988 DRC Romanee Conti was the only bottle of RC I had this year.  No, I had a corked bottle of 1962, and yes, it hurt.  This bottle of ’88 was thanks to The Maestro, and an absolute thrill.  “A ‘serious’ blind wine was served next, and the Romanee Conti guesses came quickly.  There was this autumnal oil to the nose, along with sweet brown sugar, menthol, gingerbread and more spice.  This was a ‘crazy time’ wine.  More sweet brown sugar and oats played together nicely on the palate, and this lip smacking red had a citrus spank to its finish that hurt so good.  It wasn’t from the 1990s, not 1980s, had to be 1978 RC, I mused.  It was a stunningly good bottle of 1988 DRC Romanee Conti.  Wow.  I was impressed, not only how good, but how much more ready it was than I thought an ’88 would be.  I need to investigate a few more from this vintage in early 2018!” 
10 1989 Chateau Haut Brion 98+pts In tenth place, we have a “regular” guest, the 1989 Haut Brion.  Simply put, this is one of the greatest Bordeaux ever made, and I am not sure there has been a wine made this spectacular in Bordeaux ever since, well besides #8 on this list.  The 1989 HB always delivers.  “What can I say about the 1989 Haut Brion that I haven’t already said over and over again.  It, along with the 1989 Petrus, are the two greatest “young” wines I have ever had, and the youngest wines I would include in my ‘Top Ten’ lifetime category (I would let them share a spot lol).  This wine has been great every time I tasted it and has never shut down.  ‘Humdinger’ summed it up nicely.” Tasted three times with consistent notes