On Wednesday, January 15th we gathered at Michelin Starred L’altro in Hong Kong for one of the most anticipated dinners HDH has ever held in Asia: a tasting of 1985 Burgundies from the H.B. Harris Jr. Collection. There is nothing hotter in Hong Kong right now than Burgundy, and putting together a group of Burgs from a vintage that is becoming scarcer and scarcer combined with a desire to taste from the Harris Collection proved to be one of the most sought after seats for any event we’ve ever held in HK.
As we waited for guests to arrive, Paul Hart tasted through the wines one by one to make sure they were all in top shape. I was moving around the restaurant and kept walking back to the room with the wines to find Paul making a peculiar face as he tasted through another bottle. Each time I shuddered thinking a bottle was off but what I initially feared was looks of dismay were actually looks of shock and awe. “Stunning”, “Unbelievable” and “Amazing” were a few of the one word answers Paul returned my inquires of concern with.
It wasn’t until a couple hours later; after greeting guests with 2006 Cristal and tasting through a few Leflaive White Burgs at the start of dinner did I get to experience for myself the absolutely stunning beauty of these wines. We started with an ’85 Bonnes Marres from Roumier. It would be a bit of hyperbole to say the room went completely silent as soon as the wine was poured, but any ancillary conversation going on quickly ceased as people first put their nose in the glass to discover, what I felt, was as close to perfection as can be found in a glass of wine.
Conversation at my end of the table moved back and forth from our amazement at how youthful and fresh the wines were showing to how absolutely delicious they were. As we moved into the Chambertins from Ponsot and Maison Leroy the magnitude of greatness increased in step. It wasn’t that any one wine was astoundingly better than the other, but more so that the consistency of quality across the board never ebbed for a second. DRC, RSV was next before we finished off with a Vosne-Romanee , Beaux Monts from Henri Jayer.
When it was all done the two wines that stuck with me the most were the Roumier and Jayer, the first and final wines of the evening. But I say they are my favorites most likely because they are the first and last thing I remember tasting as much as any
other reason. In fact I can’t remember another dinner we have hosted were there was such a strong consensus that there wasn’t one or two stars of the night, that the entire five were transcendent, amazing and nearly beyond description.
It was a magnificent evening of tasting back into history and in to the cellar of a wonderful man with an astounding vision for his collection long before the world cast their eyes so eagerly upon those leafy green rows of Burgundian gold.