Robert Parker 98
The 1978 La Tâche Grand Cru is admittedly a wine that I have always wanted to taste, just the stratospheric price tag prohibiting me from doing so…until now, thanks to the generosity of my host rather than me winning the lottery. My expectations were understandably sky high given the reputation, but I was not disappointed because it lived up to everything I hoped for. Mature in color with wide bricking on the rim, the nose is utterly bewitching with fragrant scents of orange peel, iron piping, damp undergrowth, wild mushroom and a hint of dried blood. It felt intense yet beautifully defined. The palate felt fully mature after 38 years, the tannins completely melted. While there is not the weight of the 1978 Romanée-Conti, there is a sense of presence and grandeur imbued by this La Tâche. The balance is perfect, the symmetry beguiling, and it gently fans out on the pure, caressing finish. It offers everything you could wish from a mature Pinot Noir, a hauntingly beautiful wine that I shall remember for a very long time. Tasted September 2016.
Anticipated maturity: 2017-2030
The 1978 La Tâche Grand Cru is a wine that it took me almost 20 years to taste and then two came along within the space of a few months. This example was almost identical to the bottle previously tasted in Hong Kong in 2016. Again, it delivers a bewitching bouquet with traits of undergrowth and fern that intertwine with the precisely defined red fruit. It takes a little time for the subtle ferrous note to emerge. The palate is medium-bodied, multi-dimensional and conveys presence rather than mass or density, which I suspect it did in its youth. Symmetrical with disarming focus, you are taken aback by the way it fans out and persists in the mouth. It is a ballet dancer performing a perfect Swan Lake. Stunning. Tasted at the La Paulée in Beaune.
Anticipated maturity: 2018-2035